Apologetics

Thoughts on the Message of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church


Q: I am curious about the Bethel Church with Bill Johnson. My church is getting into their music, teaching, and conferences. What advice can you give me?

A: This is a very, very, toxic ministry. I wrote about this in principle in a book called Counterfeit Revival: Looking for God in All the Wrong Places. In that book, what I do is contrast genuine revival from the kinds of things that you are going to find at Bethel Church in Redding, California, with Bill Johnson as the senior pastor.

There are others like Todd White — now the newest rage in these Christian circles. He has tens of thousands of followers. Why? Because he is promising that as he walks through crowds, as he walks through malls, as he goes about his daily life, people are getting healed left and right from all kinds of maladies. And so, there is a great, great propaganda machine that backs him up: Charisma magazine. You have big churches that start talking about it. Pretty soon, very much like what happened with the Counterfeit Revival in Pensacola, Florida, people start flocking to the scene.

The hell of it, if you will, those people who are most desperate — and when you are sick, I can tell you from personal experience, if you are not enveloped in a cloak of peace, you can get very desperate — you want to be healed. This world has its good points (we know the next world’s a lot better), but all of us feel like we have a mission to complete in this world, and so you want to be healed. I still remember with great pain in my heart when I was writing the book Counterfeit Revival, hearing the story of a man whose baby had just died. He was so desperate for a resurrection, and he was listening to a Counterfeit Revivalist in Pensacola, Florida. He drove all the way across the country with a dead baby in an ice chest, a baby on ice, drives across the country, you can imagine the agonizing experience, only to find when he gets there, it is all a hoax. This is precisely what Bill Johnson is unfortunately perpetrating.

They have their healing rooms. They have their schools of supernatural ministry. They emphasize the need of believers to return to a ministry of signs and wonders. They consider miracles, signs, and wonders to be a norm. Now, do I believe in healing? I absolutely do. I absolutely do. But, through proper means. Not through a con artist’s sleight-of-hand / sleight-of-mind kind of shenanigans.

If you look at the theology of Bethel Church, what you in essence find is the theology of a very capricious God. Not only that, but you find loads and loads of examples of the supernatural that really are not examples at all. In other words, this is being hyped. Johnson tells of God having a storehouse of body parts. He says,

Years ago, one of our students had an encounter with the Lord. It was really quite bizarre. In heaven she actually saw this room with spare body parts. You say, “Well that doesn’t exist in heaven.” I don’t know. I haven’t seen it. But she did. And she was with Chris ministering down in Santa Rosa, I think it was. And a gal came up that was in a head-on collision, had really messed up her legs. Used to be a dancer and had very little function….and she says, “I don’t even have a kneecap.” Well, the gal who’d seen the spare parts room in heaven says, “Well, I’ll get one for you.” That’s like, that’s got to be like the ultimate response ever! “Well, I’ll get one for you.” She reaches her arm like this, she brings it down, lays hands on the knees and within fifteen minutes, she has a new knee cap.

Here we have a warehouse in heaven and the spare parts are coming down. This is a common occurrence. In his theology, you are not to pray, “Thy will be done.” This is a nonstarter in this community.

If you look at the Bible, Jesus prays, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:44 KJV). The apostle Paul teaches us to pray in this manner. Peter teaches us to pray in this manner. Who can forget the apostle James? The words ought to be familiar to all of us. Chapter 4 of his epistles says, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’” Then James says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Here are the operative words: “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13–16 NIV). The reason that I bring that up specifically is because in an article that we did in the Christian Research Journal (I do believe it is up on the Web right now), there is an article entitled “Off the Map: Johnson and the Pursuit of Extrabiblical Authentication,” an article written by Bob Hunter. This article really goes into the excesses that you will find in this ministry. In fact, it has a section on what Bill Johnson and company believe when it comes to Christ praying, “If it be thy will.”

I can tell you, having now gone through a bone marrow biopsy, and waiting for the results, the greatest thing in my prayer is to be in the center of God’s will. That is what I really care about. I’ve had a cough that has plagued me for many, many months. It has been undiagnosed, and I have been praying about this, and praying about this, and praying about this, but, always in the context of “if it be your will Lord,” because I have found — I have been on this a long time — I have found that God teaches you so much in your suffering and sorrows. C. S. Lewis said it is His megaphone to a deaf world.

—Hank Hanegraaff

This blog is adapted from the May 2, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Faulty Paradigms Producing Faulty Science

I want to say a little something about an article that I read in USA Today entitled “People Trust Science. So Why Don’t They Believe It?” The article was interesting on a lot of levels, including the fact that a lot of anti-science is being passed off as actual science, which is precisely the problem.

Just as the masses only see what their paradigms allow them to see, so too scientists are not exempt from being bound by paradigms that unconsciously function as what we would call frames or perceptual filters. Put another way, scientists are not immune from being stuck in cycle epistemological cocoons or stuck in their own linguistic hall of mirrors or stuck in their own echo chambers. Therefore, scientists, like virtually all of us, are subject to misperceiving psychological certainty as though it were some kind of epistemological validity.

Moreover, there is also what I like to call stakeholder interests. These interests affect research in the sciences no less than any other discipline, perhaps even more. Add to that motivated blindness, and the elixir becomes ever more toxic. Once you drink the Kool-Aid, it becomes very difficult to perceive the force of inconvenient data.

The problems with objective science, of course, do not stop there: think shoddy research or sophistry or sensationalism. Worst yet, consider the possibility that scientists — I am thinking now in my mind of Bill Nye and James Watson — they are clearly advancing their own parochial cultural agendas. James Watson, for example, was a Nobel Prize laureate — you probably know this, but he was the co-discoverer of DNA, and very, very famous for that. His so-called scientific objectivity though is very, very colored by his worldview. That is why he has a very eugenic view, particularly when it comes to children. It was James Watson who said because of the limitations of present “detection methods, most birth defects are not discovered until birth.” However, says Watson, “If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth….the doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so chose and save a lot of misery and suffering.” Think of the implications of that? You have a child, you look it over for three days, then say, “I’m going to send that one back.” In other words, “I’m going to kill it.”

Bill Nye the anti-science guy has raised his anti-science rhetoric to a new decibel level. He is now suggesting that people (I think people like Kathy and I, living in the developed world) should be penalized for having extra kinds. Why? Because in his benighted view, we are woeful contributors to climate change. Of course, there is nothing original here. Celebrated Baptist pastor, Oliver “Buzz” Thomas pontificates having more than two children is downright sinful.

In truth, whether one has two or twelve, as in our case, is far less important than whether our children grow up to be selfless producers or merely selfish consumers. I have written about that in different places, including The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition (see especially “How Should Christians Think about Global Warming?”)

Regrettably, both Watson and Nye not only suffer from all of the things I have just mentioned, but I think as well a serious case of Christophobia is in play. Bottom line: make sure you examine your paradigm. We do not think as much about our paradigms as we think with our paradigms. We have to cleanse our perceptual lenses.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Is Intelligent Design Really Science? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Serious are the Consequences of Believing in Evolution? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Objections Overruled: Responding to the Top Ten Objections against Intelligent Design (William A. Dembski and Sean McDowell)

What Is Darwinism? Why Science Clings to a Fractured Paradigm (Phillip E. Johnson)

This blog adapted from the April 28, 2017, and April 28, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcasts.

Apologetics

Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5:1–11

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.  With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter 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.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events (NIV).

Do you think the account of Ananias and Sapphira is an example of two Christians being Satan-filled?

Remember that, if you are a believer, your temple is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that temple will not be shared by a demon (1 Cor. 3:16–17; 2 Cor. 6:14–18). Remember also that there are so many people that we would look at from the exterior and say, “Wow! That is a really cool believer that I want to emulate and be like.” But we just look at the exterior, God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Judas is always the favorite example because he was in the inner circle of Jesus Christ and he did the things of the Lord, but Jesus lets us know that he was there not because he loved the Master but rather what was on the Master’s table (John 6:70–71; 12:1–8). There are a lot of examples like that in the Bible.

Ananias and Sapphira knew the Holy Spirit’s power. They had experienced the Holy Spirit’s power. They had seen it unfold all around them in their circumstances; yet they purposed to deceive. They were not simply deceiving human beings but they were attempting to deceive God. If you are really attempting purposefully to deceive God, it is an indication you probably do not know Him in the first place.

Do you think God’s punishment of Ananias and Sapphira was too harsh of a judgment?

First of all, I do not think that anything God does is too harsh. It is a perfect blend of His mercy, love, and grace, taking all converging circumstances into consideration. That is precisely what happened in this case.

You have to remember that this is a nonnormative situation because this is the first recorded sin in the life of the New Testament church. Here you have Ananias and Sapphira, who are accountable for allowing Satan to fill their hearts with lies, for breaking the integrity of the emerging New Testament church. Their sin is not only keeping back possessions but deception; they were lying to the church, and lying to the church can be equated to lying to the Spirit of truth. This is a very, very serious sin. They had conspired to lie, which is to say that they had little regard for the Holy Spirit and for the embryonic New Testament church.

This is nonnormative, but taking all the converging factors into consideration, God’s justice is always perfectly meted out with His love.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related reading, please access the following:

The Great Comfort of God’s Wrath (Drew Dyck)

Was the Early Church Communist? (Jay Richards)

Nadab and Abihu (Hank Hanegraaff)

Does Satan Have Access to Our Minds? (Hank Hanegraaff)

This blog adapted from the March 22, 2017, and April 4, 2014, Bible Answer Man broadcasts.

Apologetics

Snowflake #94: Truth and Life Personified

I want to read a letter. I am going to have a hard time getting through this letter, but hopefully it is as meaningful to you as it is to me. It is written by Eric and Kris and their daughter Alysse.

The letter says,

Hank, I am deeply troubled by the backlash you and the Christian Research Institute are experiencing right now. Please know that we continue to stand with you prayerfully and financially, and are not at all personally wavering in our knowledge that you are a man of God and a man after God’s own heart. We will continue to lift you, Paul, your family, and your ministry up in our daily prayers. We are also praying for your health because I know from the broadcast you are dealing with something there, too. Please let this be an encouragement to you. I continue to praise God for the blessing you are in my life and walk. I would not be a Christian, or the Christian I am today, without your insights and modeling and mentoring. You are beloved by many, and I am proud to be among those ranks. Press on, dear brother, and may we both rejoice in how God will use even this.

I want to tell you a little about the backstory here, but before I do, the grief unspoken for me is that after thirty years, there were several broadcast networks that did not afford our ministry the courtesy of saying goodbye to thousands and thousands of dear friends. Whatever that might mean financially to the ministry of the Christian Research Institute is significant, but in the end, it is all about ministry in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The backstory with respect to Eric, Kris, and Alysse is pretty cool. I met them approximately seven years ago. I reckon Kris had adopted what was known as Snowflake #94. Snowflake #94 had been a frozen embryo for two years, but when I met her, she was a bright and beautiful little girl. I believe at the time she was around four-and-a-half years old. When I held her in my arms, in some real, tangible way, I held the realization, or the very real personification, of life and truth. While I cannot at the moment recall all the details, what I remember is that our broadcast was the impetus in part or in whole for Eric and Kris to adopt Snowflake #94. Why? Because of believing the truth that a fertilized human egg is truly a person made in the imago-Dei, made in the image and the likeness of God. Well, today Alysse in real life is tangible both physically and metaphysically. When she was frozen, she did not have a fully developed personality, but she did have, as her parent’s recognized, full personhood from the moment of conception. She is today a wonderful personality in her own right.

I met these dear people as a direct result of the ministry of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, and perhaps our program was used in a way to bring Alysse to where she is now, eleven years of age. I can tell you, I still carry her picture all these years later. It is a reminder to me that life and truth really do matter.

No matter what you hear, listen to what I am saying myself: I will never compromise the essentials of the historic Christian faith. I recognize wonderful Christians in all kinds of different places. I have seen them in the house churches in China, the progeny of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. I have seen them in the Orthodox faith. I have seen them in evangelical churches. Today, as our whole staff gathered around, at least a good number of our staff, I was looking at each one of the faces, recognizing that they all represented a different branch of the Christian tree. It was a beautiful thing to behold because many of the people that work with me (and I would think maybe the majority) have been with me ten, twenty years, and some far longer than that. Together we are making a difference for time and eternity. I am deeply grateful for those who are standing with us prayerfully and financially in the battle for life and truth.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following:

Compassionate Adoption for the Most Helpless (Richard Poupard)

Should Christians Support a Ban of Embryonic Stem Cell Research? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Stem Cell Obfuscation (Robert Perry)

This blog is adapted from the April 21, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

The Way the World was Changed Through Jesus’ Death, Burial, and Resurrection

Yesterday (April 16, 2017) concluded the week that changed the world. This was an intense week of services, I would imagine, for most Christians. What we were celebrating is known as Pascha. The Old Testament celebration was known as Passover. Jesus is ultimately the Passover lamb. Therefore, the blood of Jesus Christ is better than the blood of bulls and goats. I want to say just a few things about this before the celebration passes all too quickly.

Jesus suffered fatal torment. This is one of the most well-established facts of ancient history. Even in today’s modern age of scientific enlightenment, there is a virtual consensus among New Testament scholars, both conservative and liberal, that Christ suffered fatal torment. Therefore, these scholars agree as well that the body of Jesus was buried in a private tomb. It was the tomb of Joseph Arimathea. As a member of the Jewish court that convicted Jesus, he is hardly Christian fiction.

I think considering the fact that females in ancient Judaism were routinely considered little more than chattel, the empty tomb accounts actually end up providing powerful evidence that the gospel writers valued truth over cultural correctness. Today, we might say “political correctness.” Not only that, but the earliest Jewish response to the Resurrection presupposes the empty tomb. In the centuries following the Resurrection, the fact of the empty tomb was forwarded by the friends and foes of Christ alike.

Now here is the point: Christianity simply could not have endured an identifiable tomb containing the remains of our Messiah. One thing can be stated with absolute certainty: the apostles did not merely propagate the teachings of our Lord; they were absolutely certain that He had appeared to them in the flesh after His crucifixion, after His death, and after His burial. Although we are now two thousand years removed from the actual event, we too can be absolutely certain with respect to Christ’s post-Resurrection appearances.

I love 1 Corinthians 15. It is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture because here the apostle Paul is actually reiterating a Christian creed, and this is not just any creed — this is a creed that scholars of all stripes conclude can be dated to mere months after Messiah’s murder. Now, the creed unambiguously affirms Christ’s post-resurrection appearances. It is free from legendary contamination. Ultimately, it is grounded in eyewitness testimony.

I said this many a time on the Bible Answer Man broadcast, but I think the most amazing post-Resurrection appearance involves James. Because before those appearances, James was embarrassed by all that Jesus represented, but afterward, he was willing to die for the notion that Jesus was indeed God.

Then you look at what happened as a result of the Resurrection. This is unique in human history, because within a span of just a few hundred years, a small band of seemingly insignificant believers succeeded in turning an entire empire upside down. Within days of encountering the resurrected Christ, not merely twelve but thousands of people willingly surrendered their spiritual and sociological traditions. What I am talking about here is the Sabbath, for one. It was transformed into a first-day-of-the-week celebration of the rest we have through Christ, who delivers us from sin and the grave. Not only so, after the Resurrection, followers of Christ suddenly stopped making animal sacrifices. Why? Well, they recognized that the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant because the blood of Jesus Christ was better than the blood of animals. So, the Jewish rite of Passover was radically transformed. In place of the Passover meal, believers began partaking of the Eucharist. In like fashion, baptism took on a brand-new meaning. Prior to the Resurrection, converts to Judaism were baptized in the name of Yahweh, God of Israel, but after the Resurrection, converts to Christianity were baptized in the name of Jesus, and in doing so, believers equated Jesus with Israel’s God.

One thing I am certain, if twenty-first-century Christians could fully apprehend the reality of the greatest feat in history, they (like their first-century counterparts) could turn the world upside down. That is precisely the point.

We are those who will never die. We can be persecuted. We can be even killed, as many Coptic Christians have been lately in the Middle East. We just heard in the news last week, I believe it was Palm Sunday, of Christians dying while they are worshiping Christ. So, we are asking the question, why would anyone die? Well, they know that they will not die. Those Christians are not dead. They are alive; they are in the presence of Jesus Christ, and one day, the body that was blown up in church will be resurrected immortal, imperishable, incorruptible.

Resurrection, bottom line, makes all the difference in the world.

If you haven’t read 1 Corinthians 15, carefully do so, because in that passage Paul makes the four-part argument that I just did. Jesus suffered fatal torment, the tomb was empty, He appeared and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive, and, as a result, they were radically transformed.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 NIV)

This blog is adapted from the April 17, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Addressing PETA’s Connection between Drinking Milk and White Supremacy

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-PETA

I want to make a couple of comments about PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). This is an organization that is increasingly out of control and out of touch. Now going so far as to say that milk has long been a symbol used by — hard to believe — white supremacists. In other words, drinking milk is not only unethical to animals but also racist.

PETA embraces a worldview that elevates animals to equivalency with humans, which at the face of it ought to be ridiculous, or a reminder that we are far removed from a biblical Christian worldview. From their perspective, the truth is this: animals are fellow beings on a level playing field with human beings. Some, such as bioethics professor Peter Singer, have actually gone even further. From his perspective, a disabled newborn has less value than a chimpanzee.

As an animal lover, myself, I embrace the ethical treatment of animals, but hardly the ethics of Singer and the PETA organization. Instead, in the tradition of William Wilberforce — who fought against the tyranny of slavery, a lot of people do not know this, and founded the Royal Society of the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals — I am deeply committed to the humane treatment of pets and to the sanctified preservation of wildlife. All of that because I hold to a biblical world view, which is there exists a hierarchal structure in God’s creation. Within that construction, animals are to serve human beings, in order that human beings might rightly serve the King of Creation. Therefore, treating animals empathetically is biblically mandated; treating them as equals is blatantly misguided.

Like no other creature, human beings are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27), and that should make all the difference in the world. A child is to be cherished on a level that surpasses the cherishing of a chimpanzee. PETA’s rush to ascribe to a chimp the personhood reserved for a child is both wrongheaded and, I might even say, ridiculous.

Commitment to the virtuous treatment of animals is an ethical imperative as sacred to Christians as it is to PETA. They do not have any hold on this issue all by themselves. We say we are created in the image of God; as such we are commissioned to treat nonhuman life with the care and consideration afforded them by the Creator Himself. He is our protector, and we are to be their protectors. While we may eat lamb, as the Lord did during Passover celebrations (Luke 2:41–42; Matt. 26:17–19; cf. Exod. 12:1–28; Lev. 23:4–8; Deut. 16:1–8), we must never treat animals in a way that dishonors their Creator.

This all came up in my mind today reading this idea from PETA that, somehow or another, if you drink milk, there is some tie-in perhaps to White supremacism. Just ridiculous at the face of it.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Thy (Animal) Kingdom Come, Our Will Be Done (Wes Jamison)

Is “Animal Rights” A Biblical Concern? (Dan Story)

PETA or Just PET? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Was Noah an Environmentalist? (Elliot Miller)

Film and Pre-Apologetics: How Noah raises Questions Only Christianity Can Answer (John McAteer)

Is the Animal Rights Movement Benefitting African Wildlife? (Dan Story).

Hiding Among the Animals (Harold O. J. Brown)

This blog adapted from the April 5, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Quote of the Day April 13, 2017

crosses-art-2092530 [b]His torment began in the Garden of Gethsemane after the emotional Last Supper. There Jesus experienced a medical condition known as hematidrosis. Tiny capillaries in his sweat glands ruptured, mixing sweat with blood. As a result, Christ’s skin became extremely fragile.

The same night, Jesus was betrayed by Judas, disowned by Peter, and arrested by the temple guard. Before Caiaphas the high priest, he was mocked, beaten, and spat upon. The next morning, Jesus, battered, bruised, and bleeding was led into the Praetorium. There Jesus was stripped and subjected to the brutality of Roman flogging. A whip replete with razor-sharp bones and lead balls reduced his body to quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. As Christ slumped into the pool of his own blood, the soldiers threw a scarlet robe across his shoulders, thrust a scepter into his hand, and pressed sharp thorns into his scalp.

After they mocked him, they took the scepter out of his hand and repeatedly struck him on the head. Now Jesus was in critical condition. A heavy wooden beam was thrust upon Christ’s bleeding body, and he was led away to a place called Golgotha. There the Lord experienced ultimate physical torture in the form of the cross. The Roman system of crucifixion had been fine-tuned to produce maximum pain. In fact, the word excruciating (literally “out of the cross”) had to be invented to fully codify the horror.

At the “the place of the skull,” the Roman soldiers drove thick, seven-inch iron spikes through Christ’s hands and feet. Waves of pain pulsated through Christ’s body as the nails lacerated his nerves. Breathing became an agonizing endeavor as Christ pushed his tortured body upward to grasp small gulps of air. In the ensuing hours, he experienced cycles of joint-wrenching cramps, intermittent asphyxiation, and excruciating pain as his lacerated back moved up and down against the rough timber of the cross.

As the chill of death crept through his body, Jesus cried out, “‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46). And in that anguished cry was encapsulated the greatest agony of all. For on the cross, Christ bore the sin and suffering of all humanity. And then with his passion complete, Jesus gave up his spirit.

Shortly thereafter, a Roman legionnaire drove his spear through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium, and into Christ’s heart. From the wound rushed forth blood and water, demonstrating conclusively that Jesus had suffered fatal torment.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Apologetics

Grieving the Palm Sunday Terrorist Attacks in Egypt

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Palm Sunday Attacks in EgyptI came into the studio today (April 10, 2017) with a great deal of sadness. As I was worshiping on Palm Sunday, in Egypt there were more than forty-four people killed and over a hundred injured in two Palm Sunday suicide attacks at Orthodox Churches, each carried out by Islamic jihadists. They were at Saint George’s Church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, and then at Saint Mark’s in the coastal city of Alexandria. The attack came just after the leader of the Orthodox Church in Alexandria finished services.

An Islamic State affiliate released a video on Monday vowing that Egyptian Christians are their favorite prey. “God gave us orders to kill every infidel,” cried one of the militants.

Of course, this is nothing new. I think back to a short while ago in Syria. Muslim militants tried to force two Christian women and six Christian men to convert to Islam. Upon refusal, the women were brutally raped and then they were beheaded alongside the men. The same day, militants cut off the fingertips of a twelve-year-old boy in a failed attempt to force his Christian father to convert. When the father refused the forced conversion, he was tortured and subsequently crucified in adherence to the Qur’anic command “Cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” (Surah 8:12).

This has been going on in a place that was once won by the Word. The early Christian church was willing to do all because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They left their sacred fortunes, all that was dear to them, because they loved Jesus Christ. As a result, Asia Minor became Christian. But what was gained by the Word was retaken by the sword, the sword of Islam. Today, the mass genocide of Christians in the Middle East is squarely in the blind spot of so many Christians.

I suppose I start of the broadcast today by simply saying, Pray for the persecuted church, particularly in the Middle East, but all over the world, pray for the persecuted church. Pray. Prayer ultimately is firing the winning shot.

—Hank Hanegraaff

This blog adapted from the April 10, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Sounding the Alarm for Transgender Regrets

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Sound the AlarmI was reading an article before I came into the studio, and quite frankly got emotional. The article was written by Sophia Lee. She is writing for World Magazine. The title of the article is “Sounding the Alarm,” which is subtitled: “Many transgender persons regret what they did to their bodies and souls, and some are pleading that others not repeat their mistake.”

Sophia writes as follows:

Robert Wenman was four years into being a “full-time” transgender woman in Ontario, Canada, when a police officer asked him: “You got all your legal rights by now. Why don’t you just enjoy life as a woman?”

The question left the then-LGBT activist stuttering: Here he was, training a group of law enforcers on transgender rights, yet he couldn’t answer a basic question: Why? Why was he still campaigning, still fighting?

The Canadian healthcare system, after all, had paid for his sex reassignment surgery and 10-day postoperative stay. The court changed his birth records from Robert John to Rebecca Jean. He had a secure job at the Canada Post with full access to female facilities, and his family accepted him. Wenman was the textbook case of a successful transgender woman—so why, he wondered, did he feel he was constantly battling something?

For days, Wenman stewed on the question and thought about all the ways he had blamed “intolerant society” for “the destruction in our souls.” Yet the deeper he searched his heart, the clearer he reached a painful acknowledgment: He had said he was fighting for transgender rights, but he was really fighting an internal battle. “I’ve been trying to fix things on the outside without fixing the inside,” he said.

The idea that anything needs fixing inside a transgender person is anathema to big media. Time calls transgender rights “America’s next civil rights frontier.” The New York Times has, in its own words, “forcefully” advocated a transgender “crusade,” with former Times editor Andrew Rosenthal calling those who question the transgender movement “ignorant, stupid people.” This year, National Geographic joined the crusade, dedicating its first issue to the emerging “gender revolution.”

What’s missing from these stories, however, are the silent laments of individuals who now see their transgender experience as psychological and physical mutilation.

I cannot read the entirety of the story, but let me just progress a little bit with what Sophia Lee wrote. She talked about how

Many underwent irreversible surgery and now regret it….

When a psychiatrist told Robert Wenman he had gender dysphoria and advised him to transition into a woman, every loose piece of his life seemed to lock into place: “Oh yeah! Of course that’s it: I’m really a woman in a man’s body” ….

So in 1991 when a transgender expert told him to transition into a woman, Wenman thought that would solve all his problems…He…began hormone therapy, and he changed his legal documents…he flew out to England and he underwent sex reassignment surgery, and then returned home to Canada in euphoria.

But, there was a problem.

At 6 feet tall with big, manly hands and a masculine voice, Wenman struggled to “pass” as a woman and dreaded being in public. One stranger’s weird look would provoke days of anguish…and kids…gaped at him…

Outwardly, Wenman…giggled with fellow trans “sisters” at local bars, and preached that gender is a psychological construct.

But after seventeen years as living as a woman, Wenman, now sixty years old, has transitioned back to a man. His surgery, unfortunately, is irreparable. Now hearing the stories of husbands who come out as transgender then leave their families he grieves. He says, “I want to shake them and scream, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing!’”

All of this and more in an article “Sounding the Alarm” by Sophia Lee. I tell you it is a very courageous thing that she did to chronicle these stories in face of the preponderance of the narrative in a different direction. Time magazine, New York Times, National Geographic, and it goes on and on. This is an unending narrative. It is very, very shrill. If you say anything counter to this narrative, as demonstrated in the article, you are called “ignorant” and “stupid.” “Be quiet! We have this under control.” But, in the meantime there is a silent holocaust. We are sowing to the wind while reaping the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). Tragic circumstance.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Apologetics

On the Necessity of Confessing Sin

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Confession of SinI was thinking, before coming into the studio today, about how we have lost the ability to think biblically. Having lost that critical ability, post-truth moderns are being quickly transformed from cultural change agents and initiators to cultural conformist and imitators. The problem is pop culture is always beckoning and, all too often, postmodern Christians are taking the bait. Instead of proper spiritual formation rooted in historic Christianity, believers are increasingly enamored with incessant novelty, ahistorical immediacy, spiritual impatience, and an immature exposition of biblical mandates. Here is just one example.

I am hearing it over and over again, as Christian leaders on television, radio, and print have embraced this new fad of telling devotes that continual confession of sin is not only unnecessary but it is tantamount to cheapening God’s unmerited favor or even worst it is kind of like mocking Him.

This of course despite the clear urging of John the apostle that his “dear children” (1 John 2:1 NIV) (so he is talking to believers) in the faith, those who have been forgiven on account of Christ’s name, are to continually confess their sins (1 John 1:8–10). Far from cheapening God’s grace, confession purifies our hearts; it restores the joy of our salvation.

By the way, the prayer of Jesus — this was the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray — includes the petition: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12 NIV) (i.e., forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us). That kind of a petition, like the contrition of King David (2 Sam. 11:1–12:25; cf. Ps. 51), brings with it grace and peace.

Remember what David said? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:17 NIV).

Think about James; he explicitly exhorted believers to “confess your sins to each other” and also to God (James 5:16).

Remember the grammatical construction used with the verb “confess” in 1 John 1:9? Not to get too technical, but this is a present active subjunctive. That is important because it denotes continual confession.

Each time we partake of the Eucharist, we are to examine ourselves and confess our sins so that we will not come under judgment (1 Cor. 11:27–32).

Continuous confession brings with it the certain promise that God is faithful, He is just, He will forgive our sins, He will purify us from all unrighteousness. Perhaps in place of embracing incessant novelty and instant gratification, we do well to look back to the early apostolic church and how they embraced a faith by which they overcame the world.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following:

Grace upon Grace: 1 John 1:8-9 and the Forgiveness of Sins (Steven Parks)

Joseph Prince: Unmerited Favor (Warren Nozaki)

Thanksgiving and the F-A-C-T-S on Prayer (Hank Hanegraaff)