The Impact of the Living Stream Ministries Cult on Hank Hanegraaff
As most of you probably know, Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, recently converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. Note what Hanegraaff says
His journey to Orthodoxy began with a trip to China, when “I saw Chinese Christians who were deeply in love with the Lord, and I learned that while they may not have had as much intellectual acumen or knowledge as I did, they had life,” he said.
On the flight back, Hanegraaff wondered if he was even a Christian. “I was comparing my ability to communicate truth with their deep and abiding love for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is very interesting because it relates directly to the most popular post on my blog. Most of you are probably unaware of the post, but it continues to receive more hits than all the others. The False Gospel of Witness Lee and the Living Stream Ministries gives an overview of the cult’s teaching and compares it with Christianity.
The “trip to China” that Hanegraaff refers to was a trip to investigate the cult (here’s a brief 3 minute account of the visit). The original Bible Answer Man Walter Martin declared the cult a cult. Several decades later, Living Stream Ministries had grown in wealth and began suing publishers who called them a cult, successfully bankrupting some. When they came knocking on Hanegraaff’s door, he had no interest in losing any money. This short wrietup Greed: Case Study in Bad: CRI explains Hank’s love for money (see also Money, Money, Money). A 2000 LA Times article “Casting Stones” (before the LSM study) reports how the relatives of Walter Martin were demanding Hanegraaff’s resignation.
[I]n recent years, Martin family members have expressed concern about Hanegraaff’s leadership.
After a public rift with Hanegraaff in 1996, Darlene Martin, widow of Walter Martin, resigned from the institute’s board. Last October, the family sent Hanegraaff a letter detailing objections to his leadership.
“He’s not the man we believed him to be,” said Jill Martin Rische, Martin’s eldest daughter and executor of his estate. “We just want someone in charge who will continue the clear vision my father had for CRI.”
That vision, to be a leading think tank with a focus on evangelizing, has floundered, according to Rische, 42, who lives in St. Paul, Minn.
Instead, she claims, Hanegraaff has used the nonprofit CRI as a platform to sell his books and promote his two for-profit organizations.
For more details, see The CRI Connection.
So to avoid being sued by Living Stream Ministries (they sued Harvest House for $136 million), lo and behold, a special issue of the CRI journal appeared titled “We Were Wrong!” in which they retract their former claim that Living Stream Ministries is a cult.
Here are two typical quotes from the cult.
Ultimately, the church is a group of people who are in union with the Triune God and are mingled with the Triune God. The Triune God and the church are four-in-one. Because the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all one with the Body of Christ, we may say that the Triune God is now the “four-in-one God.” These four are the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and the Body.
Witness Lee, A Deeper Study of the Divine Dispensing p.203-204
New Jerusalem is actually a corporate person who includes the processed and consummated Triune God and, as the issue of God’s complete salvation, all the chosen, redeemed, regenerated, sanctified, renewed, transformed, built-up believers in Christ.
The Gospel in Romans
I concluded my original post on Living Stream Ministries with this:
If Hanegraaff and the others involved at CRI honestly believe that Witness Lee and Living Stream Ministries teach “sound orthodoxy” then they are just as damned as Lee.