How to Have Hope in Spite of the Wilting Flower of Christianity in the West?


Earlier this year, Hank Hanegraaff had an illuminating conversation with best-selling author and social critic Os Guinness, which was released as an episode of the Hank Unplugged podcast. The following is a portion adapted from the conversation wherein they talked about remaining hopeful in spite of the reality of “wilting flower Christianity” in the West.

Hank Hanegraaff: In what many consider is your magnum opus, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion, you talk about our age as quite simply the greatest opportunity for Christian witness since the time of Jesus and the Apostles. There is a wide door that Saint Paul wrote about, and it has now been reopened for the gospel, yet that seems so counterintuitive. I think about the world today, and I say, “Wow, we are in desperate need of renaissance, but I do not see any signs of it.” You’re saying that the age in which we live is the most open door for the gospel ever.

Os Guinness: We are the first global faith in the world. Globalization, you could put it that way, is almost in the DNA of the Christian faith, going right back to the promise of the Lord to Abraham in Genesis 12. Today, we are the first truly global faith. We are not doing well in America, and in much of the West, but as we look toward the future with the unprecedented challenges of artificial intelligence, singularity, and things like that, only the Christian faith has answers to some of these titanic questions. I say this is the grand age of apologetics, and we need to get out there persuasively so that people can really hear the good news, and not in some simplistic way but in a way that genuinely answers the challenges that are being raised to humanity.

Hank: You talk about the power of creative persuasion in making a case for the gospel to people who seemingly couldn’t care less.

Os: Yes, you are right. In this country, we’ve got more bitter opposition and hostility than ever in American history, and of course many people are just apathetic. But I think it is a great moment because, as you know well, the alternative answers are visibly failing and many of them are profoundly dangerous. I am just in the middle of another book on the topic of freedom. If you think, “America is the land of the free,” Saint Augustine says you understand a nation by what it loves supremely, and it is no question that America’s supreme love is freedom. But how do you ground it? You cannot go to the Eastern religions. They talk about freedom, but it is a way of renouncing this world. When you look at atheism and agnosticism, they look at naturalistic science, whether it is B. F. Skinner, J. B. Watson, or Sam Harris; for them freedom is an illusion. The fact is, our atheist friends, who form a huge number of people in the intelligentsia in this country, cannot ground freedom, and you cannot apart from the Scriptures — the Jewish and Christian understanding.

Hank: It seems to me that we are at a tipping point. I was in Singapore a couple of times last year and I thought about Lee Kuan Yew, the father of Singapore, who talked about how all civilization is essentially fragile. You have written about this in a number of your books: this tipping point in history where we think that we are invincible. But if we look back at the bleached bones of those who have gone before us, like the Roman Empire and many other civilizations, we recognize afresh that our civilization can fade if we do not ultimately become salt and light in this world. You pointed out that there are a number of threats. There is the threat of an illiberal liberalism, on the one hand; and you have the encroaching threat of Islam, on the other hand. But you think that there is a far greater threat, and perhaps that threat is that while pagans are exercising their job description, Christians are not.

Os: That is right. One way of putting it would be looking at this third threat as the scandal of the American church. The church is not strong anywhere in the West, except the United States and Poland are numerically strong. In most of the other countries, the church is a tiny minority. But the scandal of the American church is that we are a huge majority of the American people, and yet tiny groups like Jews or gays and lesbians — they are less than 2 percent of America — each of them has far more influence — they punch above their weight — than Christians do. The American church is simply not the salt and light. The simple fact is the American church is weak culturally because it is profoundly worldly. It has been effectively assimilated.

Hank: We are no longer cultural change agents; we have become conformed to the culture itself.

Os: Exactly, to put it mildly. This is a real tragedy, and that is why we need reformation and revival. Almost weekly you see sad examples of the ineffectual character of the church compared with other groups. As a culture at large, I call it a cut flower civilization.

If you look at many of the great features of our Western Civilization — human dignity, freedom, justice, equality, and all sorts of things like this — they are actually rooted, most of them, not in Greek ideas (some of them are), certainly not in Latin or Roman ideas, they are rooted in the gospel and the Scriptures at large. Yet, for two-hundred years since the Enlightenment, the West has decisively cut those roots, and now the flower is fast fading.

Hank: One of the reasons I love your books is that there is an optimism in them. On the one hand, you are very candid about the issues you just talked about: cut flower Christianity. That metaphor itself seems to indicate that Christianity in the West cannot last. Yet you do believe in the power of one. You do believe in the fact that twelve men changed the world. Therefore, Christianity not only can survive but thrive. But you also point out the problems in the Global South, which are very, very real. I have spent a lot of time in myriad places in the Global South, and there you see tumbleweed Christianity — Christianity without root. I think in one of your books you wrote about the fact that many people in the Global South are just one unanswered prayer away from reverting to animism, Buddhism, or ancestor worship and the like. When you look at the big scope of things, it seems like a problem that cannot be fixed. Yet, in all of your books, there is a resounding optimism.

Os: That is right. I hope that is so. You can put it two ways. The sort of way to put it in the public discussion is that while many of the generalizations about culture or about the church are rather negative and discouraging, it is the exceptions that are really inspiring. Generalizations are often rather gloomy, but thank God for individuals, and thank God for new initiatives. Something wonderful in the last twenty years is the International Justice Mission, one of the premiere human rights groups in the world today. It grew under Gary Haugen. Examples like this are magnificently encouraging.

On the theological and spiritual level, I believe that we should be as realistic as we can be. Look at the facts in the white of the eye and at the same time always respond with Christian hope, never with fear. Fear is the predominant world emotion. The whole globalized world is interconnected, nobody is really in charge, and people are very afraid, but the refrain of the gospel is Have no fear. With the Lord’s sovereignty, we should never be afraid and however dark the times, we move out with hope. I think this is an imperative for all Christians.

Listen to the full Hank Unplugged interview here (scroll through the list to “Living in a Post-Truth World with Os Guinness”).

Recommended books by Os Guinness:

Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion

Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times (B2002)

Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance (B720)

Unspeakable: Facing Up to Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror (B823)

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (B638)

Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization (B2028)



Does Christianity Offer a Higher or Lower View of the Body?

Hank Hanegraaff: Paradigms allow us to see only what our paradigms allow us to see. We don’t think so much about our paradigms as we think with our paradigms. As Christians, we have unwittingly adopted bad paradigms. It is not just the culture that needs to be liberated; it is Christianity that needs to be liberated from its own cultural captivity.

Nancy Pearcey: That’s right. When we talk about these issues that I address in Love Thy Body, we’re looking at moral issues like abortion, assisted suicide, homosexuality, and transgenderism. In the book, I am very concerned to help people understand the secular paradigms because so many Christians are adopting or absorbing those paradigms without even knowing it. In particular, I talk about the view of the body, as you might guess from the title. I show that the secular view of the body is a very low view of the dignity, value, and purpose of the body; that Christians have absorbed that as well; and that it is not biblical.

The response I am getting from a lot of readers is, “I picked up this book because I thought I’d get some handy arguments against the secular view, and instead it’s transforming me and my understanding of the body and how it relates to these moral issues?” You’re right. It really hits both sides. It helps people be equipped to understand our secular culture and respond more effectively, but to do that it requires also a transformation of our own thinking.

HH: It is critical for Christians to learn to think Christianly and to develop a Christian worldview. Oftentimes, we embrace other worldviews without recognizing that we have embraced the very water in which we swim. The culture in which we love. Expand on that.

NP: Yes. Let’s take maybe the most hot button issue for Christians — homosexuality. Even conservative churches are dividing over this issue. Young people are having a hard time saying what’s wrong with it.

What I help people to see is that homosexuality assumes a very low view of the body. People say, “We should accept homosexuals because we want to be loving.” If you want to be loving, you want to help them to see that the view itself is very dehumanizing and very negative. For example, here is how I would unpack that: no one really denies that biologically, physiologically, anatomically, males and females are counterparts to one another. That’s just how the human sexual and reproductive system is designed. What happens when you embrace a same-sex identity, then? Well, implicitly you’re contradicting that design. Implicitly you are saying, “Why should the structure of my body inform my identity? Why should my sexed body have any say in my moral choices?” Well, that’s a profoundly disrespectful view of the body. The implication is, what counts is, not whether I’m biologically male or female but just my feelings, my desires, my mind, that nonphysical part of me. As a result, it has a very fragmenting impact on a human personality. It’s self-alienating. It’s alienating people from their own bodies.

Those who defend a biblical view of sexuality are not relying on a few scattered Bible verses. What we are promoting is a teleological worldview. Teleology means it has a purpose. We are saying that the structure of your body has a purpose and that it reflects a divine purpose. As a result, it encourages people to live in harmony with their biological sex and leads to a holistic integration of personality.

This gives us a chance to prove the biblical ethic not simply in negative terms — “it’s a sin,” “don’t do it,” “thou shalt not” — which is true, but it is not complete. It gives us a chance to communicate in a positive way. We have a higher view of the body. We have a high view of the dignity and value of the body. We are encouraging people to have a much more positive view of their body instead of the negative one implied by the homosexual narrative.

HH: What is interesting about what you said is that, in reality, so many people in the secular culture presuppose Christianity itself has a low view of the body.

NP: Yes. In fact, I’m getting that pushback from some of my critics. They say, “Wait a minute, it’s Christianity that has a low view of the body that focuses on the next world.”

The problem is that many Christians are out of touch with their own heritage. If you look back to when Christianity started, the early church was surrounded by world-denying philosophies, like Platonism and Gnosticism. They treated the material world as a place of death, decay, and destruction. In fact, in Gnosticism, which taught that there were many levels of deities, the world was created by a very low-level deity, even an evil deity, because, after all, no self-respecting god would get his hands dirty mucking about with matter.

In this context, Christianity was revolutionary. It taught that, no, it was the highest God, the supreme deity, who created this material world, and — what’s more — He pronounced it “very good” (Gen. 1:31). An even greater scandal was the Incarnation. The very idea that God Himself would enter the material world and take on a human body that was totally rejected by Gnosticism. The incarnation is the ultimate affirmation of the dignity of the human body.

Finally, at the end of time, is God going to scrap the material world as if He made a mistake the first time? No! The Bible teaches He is going to renew and restore this world. He is going to create a new heaven and a new earth, which is why the Apostles’ Creed affirms the resurrection of the body. This is an astonishingly high view of the physical world. There’s nothing else like it in any other philosophy or religion.

Love Thy Body, my book, gives people the tools to go beyond the negative message and to deploy positive arguments, showing that a biblical ethic is more appealing, more attractive, and more compelling than any secular ethic.

This blog is adapted from the February 10, 2018, Bible Answer Man broadcast in which Hank Hanegraaff interviewed Nancy Pearcey. Listen to the entire interview on the Hank Unplugged podcast (scroll through the list of episodes to the title “Love Thy Body with Nancy Pearcey”).


Is Hell a Torture Chamber?

What about books, tracts, movies, YouTube videos, and pictures depicting Satan and demons torturing sinners in hell? Wasn’t hell created as a place of punishment for the Devil and his demons?

The Devil and fallen angels are not going to be caretakers of hell; rather, they are going to be incarcerated in hell. This is very clear in the Scriptures, including passages such as Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:10–15. The premise to the question is absolutely right — hell was created as a place of punishment for the Devil and his demons.

Another thing that needs to be pointed out is this: hell is not torture. It may be torment, but it is not torture. The pictures or images that people come back with after they have had supposed trips to hell and back are simply manufactured. They do not correspond to reality.

Hell is ultimately what people have an earnest of today. Those who reject the goodness, grace, and glory of God, which could be theirs, are experiencing hell in the present. But this is an earnest (or token) of the holy wrath that is yet to come.

What happens ultimately is separation from the blessings of God. The Lord will say to those who rejected His love and forgiveness, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). This separation is shown in the intermediate state with the parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31. The rich man had all the fineries of life, but then he dies and ends up in torment. Again, this is an earnest of what is to come, because that rich man ultimately will stand and give an account for what he did in the flesh, and then death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death, which is a complete separation forever from the goodness, grace, and glory of God.

Remember that hell is not torture; rather, it is torment. The torment is that you are separated from the very one you were created to have union with. Again, I think that hell is misconstrued. Quite often, the metaphors used for hell in popular books, and even those found in Scripture, are taken in a wooden literalistic fashion, as though people are going to be consumed or burned with fire that never fully consumes them. Fire is a metaphor for the horror of the holy wrath of God, being separated from the goodness of God, the very one who knit us together in our mother’s womb and created us for fellowship with Him.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here (Hank Hanegraaff)

Why Should I Believe in Hell? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What about Hell? The Doctrine of Hell (Douglas Groothuis)

The Dark Side of Eternity: Hell as Eternal Conscious Punishment (Robert A. Peterson)

C.S. Lewis on Hell (Louis Markos)

The Justice of Hell (Donald T. Williams)

Love Wins: Making a Contradictory Case for Universalism (Doug Groothuis)

We also recommend the following bookstore resources:

AfterLife: What You Need to Know about Heaven, the Hereafter, and Near-Death Experiences (B1076) by Hank Hanegraaff

Resurrection (B545) by Hank Hanegraaff

Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (B1060) by Robert A Peterson

Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment (B1062) edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert A. Peterson

This blog is adapted from the October 24, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Are the Ethics of the Bible Just as Bad as Those in the Qur’an?

The Qur’an has ethics which do not belong in any century, you are right, but should not the same be said about the Bible?

No. The same should not be said about the ethics of the Bible. If you think about the ethics of Jesus Christ and the ethics of Muhammad, they are completely different.

Think about Jesus Christ. He lived in a first-century context, a context wherein women were considered chattel. They were on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder. Their testimonies were not considered valid in a court of law. But Jesus takes women and elevates them to complete ontological equality with men in that culture. He has women in His inner circle (Luke 8:1-3).

Not only is this true with Jesus Christ, it is true with the followers of Jesus Christ. Paul famously said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NIV). Genealogy does not matter. Gender does not matter. Station in life does not matter.

We in fact get the inherent worth of human beings from the Bible — from a biblical ethic. I think if people knew a little bit about history, they would know that we are still benefitting from the ethos and morays of the Bible, which have been thrown to the wind in our culture, but we are still benefitting from them. Even though we are no longer living in the pages of the Bible, we are living in the shadow of the Bible, we are still benefitting from a biblical worldview.

When someone cavalierly says, “The ethics of the Qur’an do not belong in any century and the same thing should be said about the Bible too,” I sometimes wonder whether or not the person is familiar with the Bible, and whether or not the person is able to read the Bible in the sense in which it is intended. I challenge all in the spirit of humility, gentleness, and respect to read the Bible. Perhaps start with the Book of Proverbs.

Every single maxim or principle for successful daily living is encapsulated in the Book of Proverbs. I still remember one time many years ago doing a seminar for a large corporation, and I was extemporaneously quoting the Proverbs. “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts” (Proverbs 24:3-4 TLB). As I was going through proverb after proverb, people were going, “Wow, that is amazing! I’ve never heard such erudite business principles.” Then I told them, “I am simply quoting from Solomon from the Bible.”

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Is the Qu’ran Credible? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Could the Bible Command a Rape Victim to Marry Her Rapist? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Could a Good God Sanction the Stoning of a Disobedient Child? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Can Christians Legitimize a God who Orders the Genocide of Entire Nations? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Did Muhammad Believe in Women’s Rights? (Mary Jo Sharp)

Five Differences between Sharia and Old Testament Law (David Wood)

Fundamentalist Faith and the Problem of Holy Wars (Elliott Miller)

Hollywood vs. History: Kingdom of Heaven and the Real Crusades (Daniel Hoffman)

Was Israel Commanded to Commit Genocide? (Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan)

Is the God of the Old Testament a Proponent of Total War against Noncombatants? (Matthew Flannagan)

A full-orbed assessment of Qur’anic ethics can be found in MUSLIM: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion by Hank Hanegraaff. More information on how the Bible (biblical ethics in particular) shaped Western civilization can be found in The Book That Made Your World by Visahal Mangalwadi, How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt, and Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry by Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett.

This blog is adapted from the October 19, 2017, Hank Unplugged episode “MUSLIM: What You Need to Know.”


Do Wrong Beliefs about Jesus Hinder or Affect Salvation?

Question: “My wife is a believer in Jesus Christ and on fire for the Lord, but she has difficulty believing that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God. Will this hinder or affect her salvation in any way?”

I do not think it is the absence of knowledge that damns; rather, it is the despising of knowledge that damns.

One of the things that we know for certain as we read through the Scripture is this: there is only one God. The Scripture is very plain and clear about that. Look at the Old Testament, for example. There is the Hebrew Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NIV).

Now, if you continue reading the Bible, you recognize that the Father is God. The Bible is explicit about that (see John 17:1–3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4; Ephesians 1:3;1 Peter 1:3–5).

You also realize that the Holy Spirit is God. One example in the New Testament is Acts 5, wherein Peter condemns Ananias, who lied about selling a piece of property and donating all the proceeds to the church. The Apostle said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God” (vv. 3–4 NIV). In this case, lying to the Holy Spirit means lying to God.

Another example in which the Holy Spirit is equated with God is 2 Corinthians 3:17–18: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (NIV; cf. Romans 8:9–11). The Holy Spirit is omnipotent (Genesis 1:2; Luke 1:35), omnipresent (Psalm139:7–9), omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10–11), eternal (John 14:16; Hebrews 9:14), and personal (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13–14; Acts 8:29; 15:28; 16:6; Romans 5:5; 8:14–16, 26–27; 15:30; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Corinthians 12:11; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

The Bible is also very clear with respect to Jesus Christ being God—being of one essence with the Father. For example, Colossians 1, which declares Christ to be “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (vv. 15–18 NIV). Another example is Hebrews 1, which declares, “About the Son [the Father] says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy’” (Hebrews 1:8–9 NIV; cf. Hebrews 1:3; Psalm 45:6–7). And, of course, John 1 declares “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1 NIV). Anyone reading through the Gospel of John with an open mind sees Christ repeatedly identified as God. After Jesus demonstrated the power to lay down his life and to take it up again, the disciple Thomas did not identify him as “a god” but as “my God” (John 20:28). The original Greek language of John 20:28 is unambiguous and definitive. Literally, Thomas said to the risen Christ, “the Lord of me and the God of me.”

Moreover, in Romans 10:13, Paul equates calling on Christ with calling on Yahweh (Joel 2:32). And in his letter to the Philippian Christians, Paul declares that Jesus, “being in very nature God [in the form of God], did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant [the form of a servant], being made in human likeness” (NIV). Paul goes on to conclude by equating bowing to and confessing the name of Jesus with bowing to and confessing the name of Yahweh, further demonstrating that Jesus is Himself Almighty God (see Philippians 2:6–11; Isaiah 45:22–25). I do not know how it could be any clearer.

The Bible is telling us that there is one God, that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. But also the Bible tells us that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally distinct (see Matthew 28:19; John 14:15–21, 26–27; 15:26–27; 16:5–15).

In other words, the Father does not become the Son, and the Son does not morph into the Holy Spirit. You have one God, subsisting in three persons, who are eternally distinct. That is what the Bible teaches.

Now, you say it is hard for your wife to get her head around that; I will tell you, it is hard for me to get my head around that, too. I oftentimes tell people, “If you can get your head around that, your God is too small.” This means that the God we serve can be apprehended but cannot be comprehended. He is beyond our ability to fully comprehend, and that is not only true for this present time but also it is true for all eternity. The Bible is clear that Jesus is God, that the Holy Spirit is God, and that the Father is God, but there is one God with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being eternally distinct.

What I am talking about again is this: it is not the absence of truth that damns; rather, it is the despising of truth that damns. What I am suggesting is that there can be many professing Christians unable to communicate what I just communicated, but I am not looking at them and saying, “Those people are lost.” That is not my province; rather, that is in fact the province of the Holy Spirit. However, as you read about the Lord — doing what the Lord asks us to do, getting into God’s Word, and getting God’s Word into you (Deuteronomy 6:6–9; Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119) — as you learn more and more about God, you have to follow what God says, as opposed to recreating God in your own image.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Who Is the “Us” in Genesis 1:26?  (Hank Hanegraaff)

If God Is One, Why Does the Bible Refer to Him in the Plural? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is Oneness Pentecostalism Biblical? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Allah, the Trinity, and Divine Love (Jonah Haddad and Douglas Groothuis)

We also recommend the following book:

Muslim: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (Hank Hanegraaff)

This blog is adapted from the November 8, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Christ, Allah, and the Sword

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39 NIV).

Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Does this not contradict His message of peace? If the “sword” mentioned by Jesus is never to be taken literally, can Christians concede that the “sword” mentioned in the Qur’an was never meant for Muslims to take literally? 

The “sword” Jesus talked about is not literal. It symbolizes conflict. Someone says, “Well, then do not take Islam literally when you have the Surah of the sword.” But, the reality is that one should be taken literally; the other quite obviously should not be taken literally. I say that because if you look at the history of Islam, you have fourteen centuries of advancement by sword. If you look at the model of Christ, you have almost two thousand years of advancement by word.

Do you ever see Jesus Christ doing what Muhammad did? Do you see Jesus in Jerusalem slaying people? Do you see Him killing the Jews that would not listen to Him? Muhammad beheaded hundreds of Jews. One is quite literally using the sword; the other is using, in this case, the sword as a metaphor.

Jesus’ metaphor of the sword is quite plain. The sword divides, and ultimately truth divides even more. We follow the one who is the way and the truth, but when we do, there is a division between mother and father, and sister and brother.

In the end, Jesus was very plainly living by a dictum. That dictum was shown in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:47–55; cf. Mark 14:43–52; Luke 22:47–53; John 18:1–11). There the soldiers come to arrest Him and one of the disciples — Peter — takes out a sword and whacks off the ear of a solider. So, Jesus did not suddenly say the rallying cry, “Let us kill them; pull out your swords!” No. Jesus healed the soldier missing the ear. Then He said to Peter, “Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52 NIV).

The distance between Muhammad and Jesus is the distance of infinity.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Muhammad and Messiah: Comparing the Central Figures of Islam and Christianity” (David Wood)

Five Differences between Sharia and Old Testament Law” (David Wood)

Is Religion the Root of Evil?” (Hank Hanegraaff)

If Christianity Is True, Why Are So Many Atrocities Committed in the Name of Christ?” (Hank Hanegraaff)

Learn more about Islam in MUSLIM: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (B2043) by Hank Hanegraaff


Politico Whitewashing Abortion

I saw an article in the Washington Examiner entitled “Politico Whitewashes Horror of Aborting Triplites.” The article by Philip Wegmann points out that “Dostoevsky observed that ‘man could get used to anything,’” and “Orwell explained” much the same thing “how political jargon gives a ‘defense of the indefensible.’”

Wegmann goes on to say,

Rather than admit that the only way to turn triplets into twins is to kill a baby, Politico hid behind a euphemism. And rather than react in horror at the death of a child, they printed a splashy graphic to explain “the decline of triplets” as if the procedure was the equivalent of filling a dental cavity. In short, they casually whitewashed slaughter.

The article points out precisely how they do that. This is graphic, but I think it needs to be heard: the doctor uses ultrasound; that ultrasound is used in order “to maneuver the unborn baby into position,” then “a syringe of toxic potassium chloride is inserted in the mother’s belly…that long needle is stabbed into the child’s little heart until [the child’s heart] stops beating. Politico just calls it a ‘reduction,’” but the “real horror goes unnoticed when imprecise language transforms a callous abortion into an unremarkable ‘reduction’” and “the public can become accustomed to the most revolting of horrors if they are pre-packaged correctly. Dostoevsky and Orwell were right all along.”

I happened to write about this subject in The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition, Revised and Updated. There I put forth an acronym. The acronym A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N, so that people are equipped to annihilate A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N arguments. While I will not go through the entire acronym on the show today, I do want to highlight the “O” in A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N.

The first “O” in A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N I dubbed the “opium” effect. This is in keeping with the article I just read to you wherein clever codewords are the opium of the pro-abortion lobby. Those code words are specifically designed to dull human sensibilities to something that is absolutely horrendous: the horror of abortion. We see this all around. For example, the moniker “Planned Parenthood.” That may well be the quintessential example. The positive ring of the words masks the horrific reality. To abort a preborn child is tantamount to terminating a life. As Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger famously pontificated, “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” Such killings again are positively repositioned as prochoice prerogatives. The preborn children terminated, well, they are indelicately rendered fetuses and prolife advocates are profanely recasts as social extremists. Again, this is the opium effect, the effect of clever code words. This has been used to great effect within this holocaust that is going on within our midst.

Abortion is the painful killing of an innocent human being, and we ought to get that squarely in our psyche. We ought to be able to communicate this because it is painful for the child, in that methods employed involve burning, smothering, dismembering, and crushing. It is killing in that, from the very beginning, that which is terminated fulfills the criteria necessary for establishing the existence of biological life. That includes metabolism, development, the ability to react to stimuli, cell reproduction, and the like. I say it is the painful killing of an innocent human being, innocent in that the preborn child deserves protection, not capital punishment. The painful killing of an innocent human being, in that the child was killed is the offspring of human parents, has a totally distinct genetic code.

Since abortion is nothing short of terminating the life of a person created in the image of God, it is important for us to get this information into our minds.

— Hank Hanegraaff

Blog adapted from the October 18, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.


The Identity of Mystery Babylon

My question is about “Mystery Babylon”—“the great prostitute”—in Revelation 17. I notice similarities between Jerusalem and Mystery Babylon. Who is Mystery Babylon? Have the events concerning Mystery Babylon already taken place, or are they still future?

One of the seven angels with one of the seven bowls came and said, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries” (Rev. 17:1–2 NIV).

What is going on here is pretty interesting. When you read Scripture in light of Scripture, you recognize who is in view. Reading through the Old Testament, we see the prophets of God repeatedly speaking of the prostitution of Israel and the prostitution of Judah (cf. Exod. 34:11-16; Deut. 31:14-22; Jer. 3:1-10; Ezek. 16:1-59; 23:1-49; Hos. 1:1-2:13). The prostitution of the northern kingdom and the prostitution of the southern kingdom. In each case, the prophets use graphic language to depict Israel, who was called to be a light to the nations but instead prostituted herself with the nations.

When we get to Revelation, we recognize that Revelation is four-hundred-four verses with two-hundred-seventy-eight of those verses alluding to other parts of Scripture, primarily Old Testament passages. We should immediately think, the clue here is given to me by reading the other passages — Israel is in view here. Israel is the prostituted bride.

We have a grand metanarrative in Revelation—John’s version of the Olivet Discourse (cf. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21)—in which we see a persecuted bride, the seven churches in the epicenter of a Caesar cult. There is also a prostituted bride. Some of the people in those churches, particularly those in Laodicea, were in bed with Rome, which is the Beast. The Roman Emperor wanted to be called “Savior and Lord” in place of Christ. You were supposed to say, “Caesar is Lord and King,” as opposed to saying, “Christ is Lord and King.” That answers the second part of your question. This is not about the twenty-first century. This is about what happened in the first century.

When you read Romans, you intuitively know that Paul is writing to Christians in a first-century epoch. The same thing is true with John in the Book of Revelation, his expanded Olivet Discourse. He is writing to seven churches — he says so in the introduction — seven churches in the epicenter of a Caesar cult and he is telling them to be faithful and fruitful. They are going to suffer for a short time, but their vindication will be an eternal vindication.

The Book of Revelation, then, was not written to us, but it was most certainly written for us. Just as there are prostitutes in Scripture, and Israel prostituted herself with the nations, so too there are those who act the part of prostitutes. They are not true to the Lord Jesus Christ. They give Him a kiss as did Judas, as opposed to saying with the thief on the cross, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following;

Who or What Is the Great Prostitute of Revelation 17? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong (Hank Hanegraaff)

These bookstore resources are also recommended:

The Apocalypse Code (B1026) by Hank Hanegraaff

Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (B793) by Steve Gregg

This blog is adapted from the October 9, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics, In the News

Porn and Despair: Hugh Hefner’s Legacy

I mentioned on the September 28, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast the passing of Hugh Hefner. Hefner, of course, was the founder of Playboy. He died at the age of ninety-one. I wanted to say a little more about Hefner in that as I was reading the newspapers this morning, I saw the media still continues to extol his legacy. I think about Pamela Anderson who said, “Outside of my family, you are the most important person in my life,” or Larry King who remembered Hefner as “a GIANT in publishing, journalism, free speech and civil rights.” Dennis Rodman said he was “an Icon of all Icons” and “#GameChanger.” Norman Lear said, “A true explorer, a man who had a keen sense of the future.” Kim Kardashian weighed in, saying she was “honored to have been a part of the Playboy team.” Bruce Kluger in USA Today said, “So long Hugh Hefner, thanks for the glorious gig…My girlfriend hated it, but what could be better than writing about the Playmate of the Month.”

Not all reviews, however, were positive. David French wrote an incredible article that underscores the bitter fruit of Hefner’s life’s work. The bitter fruit that helped poisoned American families. In National Review, the article entitled “Hugh Hefner’s Legacy of Despair.” While I will not read the entirety of the article, I do want to refer to some of what David French correctly wrote. French says,

Hugh Hefner didn’t invent pornography…Hefner, however, played his part, and the part he played was immensely destructive to our nation’s cultural, moral, and spiritual fabric. Hefner mainstreamed porn, he put it in millions of homes, and he even glamorized it — recasting one of America’s most pathetic industries as the playground of the sophisticated rich. He then grew to a ripe old age, consorting with women young enough to be his granddaughters. He was America’s most famous dirty old man.

And now he’s dead…

It’s hard to calculate the damage he did, but the cultural rubble is all around us. My generation is perhaps the first to grow up with easily accessible porn…

The effects have lasted a lifetime. Boys grew up believing they were entitled to sex on demand, and the sex would always be amazing… They learned that monogamy was confining, that promiscuity was liberating, and that women should always be hot….

How many families have broken to pieces when a wife discovers her husband’s secret addiction and realizes that she’s not enough — that she’s never been enough…? How many men have grown to hate themselves for their psychological dependence on the saddest of habits? The testimonies from porn nation are devastating….

To see men become addicted to porn is to watch character formation in reverse….They lie habitually to cover the extent of their habit…even when their wives are allegedly “open” and sexually liberated…The screen alone is never enough, the wife is never enough, and the addict so often seeks mistresses, prostitutes, or both.

Another family breaks. More lives fall into despair….

And yet, the secular, progressive guardians of our public morality — you know, the people who think you’re a horrible person if you don’t recycle or if you use the wrong pronouns — all so often don’t just tolerate but celebrate the sexual “liberation” that is part and parcel of porn nation.

So many A-list celebrities spent time at the Playboy Mansion…Our president has. The evidence is on his office wall.

French concludes his article by saying, “When I think of Hugh Hefner, yes I mourn, but I mourn because the bitter fruit of his life’s work has helped poison the families of people I know and love. He is gone, but his legacy lives on. And his is a legacy of despair.”

One of the consequences of autonomy on the part of humanity where we rationalize God out of existence is that we sacrifice truth on the altar of subjectivism. Ethics and morals are no longer determined on the basis of objective standards but rather by the size and strength of the latest lobby group. As a result, we have no enduring reference points; thus, societal norms are now in the present reduced to matters of preferences.

Obviously, one of the most devastating consequences of the repackaging of Satan’s age-old deception is the sexual revolution. I was talking to Mary Eberstadt on a Hank Unplugged about the sexual revolution. It lies at the root of many of the ills that we are facing in society today. Its bitter fruit is toxic and poisonous. Unfortunately, even in the pulpit, America has capitulated, but certainly in the secular community.

I once heard that noted evolutionist Sir Julian Huxley when asked why people so embraced the theory of evolution had a quip, which is quite memorable, he said it is because the concept of a creator God interferes with our sexual mores. As a result, we have rationalized God out of existence. To us, He became nothing more than the faint and disappearing smile of the cosmic Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Now, I think of that response. It is pithy. It is memorable. But it eloquently captures the spirit of the evolutionary paradigm. Once you take God and relegate God to the status of a Disney character, what you have in return is freedom from all constraints. The ability to make up your own rules.

Hugh Hefner glorified sex in the media. It has been glorified as well in movies and through music. It is glorified by Madison Avenue. Not in the way it was intended to be glorified. One of the greatest gifts that God has ever given to humanity has been perverted. Today, we only have one rule, and that is Life has no rules. It is all a part of attempting to rationalize God out of existence in order to do away with His laws of morality, which is as absurd as voting to repeal the law of gravity because people have fallen off buildings and bridges and boats. Obviously, even a unanimous vote cannot change the deadly consequences for someone who later attempts to jump off of a ten-story building. My point here is simply to say that we cannot violate God’s physical or moral laws without suffering, disillusionment, destruction, and even death as consequences.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related reading, please access the following:

What’s the Problem with Pornography? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Effects of Porn on the Male Brain (William M. Struthers, PhD)

Darkening our Minds: The Problem of Pornography among Christians (Joe Dallas)

Sexual Sanity for Women in a World Gone Mad (Ellen Dykas)

The Normalization of Premarital Sex: Satan’s Master Stroke? (Elliot Miller)

“You Shoulda Put a Ring on It:” Witnessing to Cohabiting Couples (Joe Dallas)

Sex, Lies, and Secularism (Nancy Pearcy)

Sex, Lies, and Christianity: Reclaiming Biblical Sexuality (Melanie Cogdill)

Defiling the Undefiled (Joe Dallas)

Single in Christ and a Sexual Being (Ellen Mary Dykas)

Modesty, Objectivism, and Human Value (Richard Poupard)

The following books are recommended titles for an apologetic’s library on the devastating effects of porn on culture:

The Game Plan: The Men’s 30-Day Strategy for Attaining Sexual Integrity (B827) by Joe Dallas

Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain (B1087) by William M. Struthers

This blog is adapted from the September 29, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Recognizing the Canon

Who put the Bible together? Who chose those books to be bound together in that order?

That is a good question. Some of it is fairly self-evident. Let me start by giving you just a little analogy. If you look at certain Gospels, that are oftentimes considered to be Gospels, that were left out and read them, you will immediately realize why they are left out.

Over the last decade or so, for example, a Gospel that has gotten a lot of press is the Gospel of Judas. It is supposed to be far, far superior to the Gospel of John, and there is a lot of static on this on the Web. One day — and this has been quite a while ago — I decided to pick up the Gospel of Judas and, along with a colleague who has worked with me almost twenty-eight years, we sat in my office and read the thirteen papyrus pages. When we got done, we were on the floor laughing. Laughing because of the absurdity of the Gospel of Judas. In other words, people talk about it in glowing terms, but when you actually read it, you see the difference between that and the literary masterpiece that we call the Gospel of John or even the five books of John, including his epistles in the Book of Revelation.

I think the more fundamental answer to your question is that the books that we have in our Canon, or the books that were used in the early Christian church, obviously Jesus giving ratification to the Old Testament Canon but with respect to the New Testament Canon, these are books that were widely distributed and read prolifically in the early Christian church. They were letters. Those letters were not letters that were determined by men to be canonical or part of the Canon of Scripture; rather, they were discovered to be canonical based on the principles of canonicity.

A canon is a measuring rod or a stick by which you measure, and there are principles associated with that measure, and these books fall in line with those principles, including the principle of perspicuity. The principle of perspicuity means that the books are clear and consistent not only within themselves but also amongst themselves.

The operative way of taking about the Canon of Scripture is this: it is not human beings determining but human beings discovering.

When you are talking about the Old Testament, that Canon was established early on. That Canon was ratified by Christ and the Apostles prior to the time the New Testament Canon came into existence. I mean, there was a long time when there was no such thing as a New Testament Canon. The New Testament Canon came into existence over time. But, the practices of the early Christian church have been perpetuated to this day through Christ, through the Apostles, and through the early church fathers — Fathers like Ignatius of Antioch and later through the early New Testament catechism, a first or second century document. So, upon the basis of the tradition that has been passed down from Christ to the Apostles to the church fathers, we also have a tradition whereby we know what was used, what was circulated, in the early Christian church. That is how the Canon came to be.

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20-21)

For further related study, please see the following:

Is the New Testament Canon Authoritative or Authoritarian? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Fictitious Gospel of Judas and Its Sensational Promotion (Daniel Hoffman)

The Gnostic Gospels: Are They Authentic? (Douglas Groothuis)

Overcoming the Media Mania of the Gnostic Gospels (Paul Maier)

Please also check out these resources in our e-store:

Memorable Keys to Essential Christian D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E (P401) by Hank Hanegraaff

The Origin of the Bible (B1089) edited by Philip W. Comfort

The Canon of Scripture (B329) by F. F. Bruce

This blog is adapted from the 9/18/2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.