Note: In order to really understand this, the reader must do his best to read a lot of links provided. Also, see the discussion with Perry Robinson in the comboxes.
Triablogue has been linking to Perry Robinson’s blog where he lays out over several blog entries over several months, the history of what happened at CRI with Hank Hanegraaff, and Hank’s recent conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy. (See my other articles on Hank Hanegraaff’s conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy.) Perry is a former employee of CRI and was fired (it seems, for asking too many questions, etc.); and later converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church. When Hank Hanegraaff recently also converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, but was still promoting basic Protestant Evangelical doctrine at CRI, and not really accurate about many things within Eastern Orthodox theology, Perry has rightly been speaking out about this at his blog and in interviews.
Listening to whole interview that Perry Robinson did on the link with Paul Vendredi in this article, brings up lots of feelings of sadness and discouragement over what Hank Hanegraaff did to CRI and Walter Martin after Martin died.
When I first heard about how Hank Hanegraaff took over CRI (please read the whole thing, especially how Darlene Martin, Walter Martin’s widow, described what happened to her; and Walter Martin’s daughter, Jill Martin Rische). I remember hearing hearing Jill Martin Rische on Janet Parshall’s radio show; sometime between 1996-2000 – I don’t remember exactly, ?), I became disillusioned with HH and CRI, but I kept listening for a while because Dr. James White was on the show about the King James Version Only Controversy and his radio discussions/debates with Roman Catholics Jimmy Akin and Tim Staples (along with finding web-sites/ blogs like
on the web) and I slowly realized the shallowness of the apologetics of CRI and at the same time I had become Reformed in my theology and local church issues /but was still learning how to “put it all together”, etc. Hank around that time also promoted Joni Eeareckon Tada’s book, When God Weeps, (her PCA pastor at the time Steve Estes, co-wrote it with her) – that was the best book I had read that explained God’s Sovereignty and Suffering. He also had John MacArthur on the program at least once, if I remember right, so I had to find a way to continue to trust God to work out whatever was going on behind the scenes, and at the same time use discernment and stay in the word and in prayer and “watch over your own heart” (Proverbs 4:23).
Hank, on the BAM radio show, for a while allowed debate on the issues of Calvinism vs. Arminian theology and related issues, but he was also promoting Joni E. Tada’s book; and when I read it, it make me think HH was Reformed, but then later he came out against Reformed theology and was very strident against Calvinism and called it “believing that God created us puppets and “Chatty Kathy dolls”, (robots, no will at all, etc.)
For details on how the Martin family has been accusing Hanegraaff of sinfully taking over CRI, see here under several sections, especially, “Behind the Scenes” – the whole thing seems to comport with what Perry Robinson and others have been saying. The Rische’s documented a lot of other problems with Hank Hanegraaff. Much later, after I already stopped listening to the BAM show and decided to just let God work out all the unknowns and secret sins that were going on;
They also provided several audio tapes of Walter Martin (from his Sunday School classes) saying basically the same thing as the last paragraph in the above article. Read the whole article linked above. I remember listening to some of those linked above and hearing Dr. Walter Martin speak highly of Hank Hanegraaff and his gifts in marketing and business, etc. – whether Walter Martin meant for that to mean that Hank would be the President of CRI AND for Hank to be the main Bible Answer Man on the radio program, replacing more qualified people like Craig Hawkins, Ron Rhodes, Rob Bowman, and Kenneth Samples if Walter died, I doubt that, but that is up for interpretation. One reason I did not write about this stuff in previous blog articles about Hank Hanegraaff, is that a lot of this is a matter of “he said, she said” kind of thing that I do not have time to sort out on my own; and even now, it makes me wonder if the whole thing is just an example of jealousies between family members and lots of mixtures of both good and bad motives and actions on both sides. Here is an excerpt of Cindee Martin Morgan’s article: (see the audio tapes also; I don’t have time to track down every detail.)
These tapes bear witness to the fact that Dr. Martin did not leave CRI without an anchor. Twenty years ago he was faithful to fulfill his responsibility the Lord had given him, and to this day the anchor holds. Walter Martin successfully navigated the ‘ship’ of CRI and was faithful to protect her until the day God called him home.
“Hank Hanegraaff personifies the next phase of development for CRI and is uniquely equipped through his dynamic leadership abilities, knowledge of God’s Word, and teaching ability to make sound, biblical apologetics a simple yet effective tool in the hands of the laity. His success as a businessman, strategic planner, author, and speaker have equipped him to lead the ministry of the Christian Research Institute aggressively into the future and to build on the work that I by God’s grace began.” Dr. Walter Martin, 1988, Christian Research Newsletter, vol.. 2, no. 5, 6.
[Addendum: See in the combox. Perry Robinson has informed me that the date (1988) of this statement is wrong. It is 1989, after Walter Martin died, and Perry wrote that even CRI had to admit that and change the date. I wonder why Cindee Martin Morgan did not change the date?]
When those tapes came out and I heard it ( 2010 ?), I thought, “oh, this is a lot more complicated than I thought”, so I decided to put it out of my mind again, and trust in God to work it all out. (see the many audio clips that is provided here of Walter Martin and his Sunday School classes that speak well of Hank Hanegraaff, etc. )
Although I did become disillusioned with him and CRI, I still thought his books were pretty good (as far as they go), and I especially liked his takedown of the whole Word of Faith movement, etc. (Christianity in Crisis, IMO, is still very good and accurately describes the whole Prosperity / healing / Name it – claim it heretical teachings. I did not realize that others did a lot of the research work (like Brad Sparks, who filed a lawsuit against Hank, etc.) and, that according to Perry Robinson, a lot of it was originally from Michael Horton’s work in “The Agony of Deceit”, etc.
But now with all the recent information that Perry is providing, along with the strange way that Hank is trying to hold onto Protestant-Evangelical faith/ doctrine, and also Eastern Orthodoxy, and how he is proving that he does not understand enough of EO yet; based on everything Perry testifies to and documents, along with the Rische family website of Walter Martin, it seems that Hank was doing the same thing that he accused the Word of Faith heretics of doing (doing ministry for money and greed), but on a smaller scale. He was using balanced mainstream Protestant Evangelical doctrine at least partially, to make money and used it like a business marketer. ( I don’t doubt that HH has some level of sincere belief in Christian truth and history.) His was much more subtle and it seems, as far as I can tell, that Perry is right on this. (along with the other former CRI employees that HH got rid of over the years). I was also surprised back in the early 90s when Craig Hawkins suddenly was not on the air BAM program anymore. I always liked Craig Hawkins and was impressed with his knowledge of cults and the Bible, and his tone and demeanor.
I always appreciated Rob Bowman, Ron Rhodes, and Kenneth Samples, and I was also surprised when they were no longer on the BAM show. It does seem that Hank slowly got rid of people who questioned too much or disagreed with him too much.
The whole thing with Hank Hanegraaff and CRI and the way he took over the leadership and subsequent years, and now his “conversion” to Eastern Orthodoxy, if someone takes the time to research and read and listen to Perry’s material, (and the other information from the two different daughters of Walter Martin, linked above) is very shameful and grievous and drags Christ’s name in the mud; for it can be used by unbelievers, atheists, skeptics, and the heretics like Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and Benny Hinn (any of the Word of Faith heretical teachers), etc. to use against sound doctrine; and they will probably feel justified; and will give others occasion for “the unbelievers to blaspheme the name of God” (Romans 2:24).
It would be interesting to me and many others I am sure, if Perry Robinson would explain how and why he went from being Reformed to high Anglicanism and then to the Eastern Orthodox church. What kind of Reformed church was he a part of? (Presbyterian or Reformed Baptist ?)
Perry said he took 4 years to read through the Early church fathers. I can respect that. What was hard for me to believe was that when Francis Beckwith (former President of Evangelical Theological Society and a good writer against abortion) claimed that he read them all with comprehension in 3 months. (and then went back to Roman Catholicism). I suppose that can be done if one has the time, and I guess Beckwith is just really smart, etc.; but it is hard to believe that it is done with actually meditating and thinking through all the historical theological issues and using other books to help on understanding the big picture. ( or I am just incredibly slow and dumb.)
This whole issue shows the need for local church accountability structures that should have been in place with CRI and Walter Martin to help in the transition if he died; and also the need for Hanegraaff to have been accountable and to have had more training in theology and historical theology; at least he should have an M.Div. (historically, this has been based on Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3, where it says that a church leader must be “able to teach” and “refute false doctrine”, etc.) and had been commissioned by a local church to do the ministry of CRI. One of the reasons many Evangelicals are becoming either Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox is because of the lack of local church authority and accountability and lack of perspective on church history and historical theology. It behooves Protestant Evangelicals to be diligent and be always reforming in these areas. The mistakes of Hank Hanegraaff should not repudiate or discredit the good Evangelical doctrine, teaching, and apologetics that was done over the years at CRI; but it should give us all humility and crying out for balance and mercy from the Lord to do ministry properly with local church authority and accountability. Even the apostle Paul and Barnabas were accountable to a local church and confirmed and sent out by a Biblical local church with a plurality of leadership before they started their first missionary journey. (see Acts 13:1-4)
Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers (a plurality of leaders/elders, see also Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-4): Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. Acts 13:1-4
Saul, (the apostle Paul) and Barnabas had already been serving in the local church there for a while (Acts 11:26, with the time until Acts 13, it may have more than several years). When a Biblical local church confirms and sends people out for a new ministry, the Holy Spirit also sends them out. (church planting, new pastoral work, evangelism, missionary work, or Para-church work.)