Why Hank ‘Bible Answer Man’ Hanegraaff Left the Evangelical Church for an Eastern Orthodox Church

Do you know what a “pastor-preneur” is? It is a term that describes a pastor who acts more like an entrepreneur, and it makes many uncomfortable. It made Hank ‘the Bible Answer Man’ Hanegraaff so uncomfortable, he decided to leave his evangelical church and join an Eastern Orthodox church.

Hanegraaff says his decision to join the St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, North Carolina doesn’t mean he has walked away from the Christian faith.

Hanegraaff is the radio talk show host of the nationally syndicated “Bible Answer Man”, a show dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of early Christianity. The broadcast gives people a way to get solid answers to tough questions about Christianity. The show is broadcast daily in the U.S. and Canada, and is also available via the Internet.

Hanegraaff’s mission is to equip guests against false teachers and false information, in order to defend their Christian faith. Hanegraaff is also president and chairman of the Christian Research Institute, also based in North Carolina. It was founded in 1960 as a conservative Protestant counterculture apologetics ministry.

Hanegraaff is highly regarded as one of the world’s leading Christian authors, having authored more than 20 books and having sold millions of copies. Some of his more popular books are Christianity in Crisis, Resurrection, and the Complete Bible Answer Book.

Hanegraaff is critical of “pastor-preneurs” who are focused on business tactics like branding and filling auditorium seats using complex business formulas. He says that things like this “became troubling to me and I decided I was going to explore.”

Evangelical churches across the United States have become big business. It’s not only the Sunday service, but the book deals, DVDs, screen time and incredible wealth. Hartford Seminary sociology and religion professor Scott Thumma reported to CNN that “the mega church on average has about $6.5 million in income a year.” Thumma went on to say that all the mega churches put together easily add up to billions of dollars in profit.

Pastors have become superstars, like Joel Osteen of Houston’s Lakewood Church that reaches millions of people each week across the United States and around the world. Their yearly budget is close to $100 million. Critics argue that someone can’t be both a pastor and a CEO.

Hanegraaff has embraced the Eastern Orthodox church for its traditions, such as liturgy, repetition, fasting, and the Eucharist and Communion, and he insists that his beliefs have not changed: “I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with evangelicals, with Roman Catholics, with Orthodoxy around the essentials of the Christian faith — meaning the main and plain things,” he said.

Some radio networks have dropped Hanegraaff’s show, but Hanegraaff remains undeterred. “I’ve seen over the years that God closes one door and He opens other doors. For example, we’re now on the Orthodox Christian Network. For me this is not a popularity contest or the size of the platform; it is simply doing what God leads me to do. Let the chips fall where they may.”

Hanegraaff’s information is carefully researched and his answers are well-reasoned. He encourages Christians in their faith and uses the EQUIP model to intelligently teach biblical Christianity.

E= Essentials

Q= Questions regarding cults, culture, and Christianity

U= User-friendly; Hanegraaff takes complex issues and makes them understandable

I= Integrity of both life and doctrine

P=Para-church; Hanegraaff is a big believer in using local churches for both evangelism and education

Hanegraaff’s decision to leave the faith has caused quite the kerfuffle, but as some of his colleagues point out, it is really no big deal. Other evangelicals like Francis Beckwith and Holly Ordway have gone to more liturgical traditions like Roman Catholicism. Hanegraaff joined the Eastern Orthodox church, which is still Christian. He didn’t convert, as one would to Islam or Mormonism. Eastern Orthdoxy is an accepted part of the Christian faith. They believe in the Nicene Creed, the incarnation, and the Trinity.

Some also suspect that Hanegraaff’s recent diagnosis with a rare form of cancer called mantle cell lymphoma may have also been a motivator for his decision to go to the Eastern Orthodox church. Hanegraaff has said that whether he is healed or whether he dies from the disease is in God’s hands, but that he will be using his diagnosis to help and encourage others. Hanegraaff’s cancer is treatable but requires very aggressive chemotherapy. “Obviously finding that you have cancer is a blow to the solar plexus. It is a bitter pill to swallow. But all of that becomes very contextualized when you recognize that our dear Lord holds every breath and every moment of my life in His hand. The Bible is pretty plain about this,” Hanegraaff said.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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