In the News

Concerning My Recent Travel to Iran…because Truth matters

In an age in which internet fabrications travel half-way around the world before truth has had a chance to put its boots on, the apostle Paul’s words ring through the centuries with added urgency: “Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Ephesians 6:14). As the waist is the center of your body, so truth is central to the full armor of God. Without the belt of truth, the covering that protects you from the devil’s schemes simply crumbles to the ground and leaves you naked and vulnerable. Truth, like all other pieces of the armor of God, is in actuality an aspect of the very nature of God himself. Thus, to put on the belt of truth is to put on Christ—for Christ is “truth” (John 14:6). And Christians are called to be bearers of truth.

As Os Guinness has so wonderfully explained, Christianity is not true because it works (pragmatism); it is not true because it feels right (subjectivism). It is not true because it’s ‘my truth’ (relativism). It is true because it is anchored in the person of Christ. Thus, “The Christian faith is not true because it works; it works because it is true. It is not true because we experience it; we experience it—deeply and gloriously—because it is true. It is not simply ‘true for us’; it is true for any who seek in order to find, because truth is true even if nobody believes it, and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it.”

Unfortunately, I’ve recently encountered further personal examples of how the internet can be used as a means of propagating falsehood.  

FALSE ACCUSATION: Hank Hanegraaff joins Occupy Wall Street and Muslims in anti-Israel conference in Tehran, Iran.

TRUTH: First, I have never joined or, for that matter, endorsed Occupy Wall Street (OWS). I have simply defined it as spontaneous activism fueled by social media.  Instead of blaming the government for social ills, OWS is bent on blaming the prosperous. Instead of awakening the political right, as the Tea Party did, OWS appeals to the political left who want equal distribution of wealth. I communicated my doubts that the OWS movement would have staying power. Although the Tea Party’s message is codified in two words, “smaller government,” which is comprehensible and can serve to galvanize a following, by contrast OWS’s message seems unclear: Are the banks to blame? Is it Wall Street? Is it Failed bureaucracies? Is it Capitalism?  As former President Bill Clinton said when interviewed by Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel, “They knew what they were against, but they didn’t quite know what they were for….They had a vision. They had no program and they had no organized political party. That’s the problem that the Occupy Wall Street people have.”

Furthermore, rather than joining Muslims at what is being characterized on the Internet as an anti-Israel conference, at both the University of Tehran and Allameh Tabatabai University I publicly opposed the radical socialist views of Imam Abdul Alim Musa of The Islamic Institute for Counter Zionist American Psychological Warfare.

Finally, I should also note that I engaged in spirited debate with Rabbi Weiss, whose calling card contains the moniker, “Pray for the speedy, peaceful dismantlement of the State of Israel.” From his perspective, the Jews were exiled for covenant unfaithfulness and therefore the notion of Zion prospering is reserved for the coming of a future messianic figure. While I strongly disagreed with the rabbi’s anti-Israel stance, I think he would readily agree that I engaged him with gentleness and with respect, in both public and private communications.

FALSE ACCUSATION: Hank Hanegraaff is a “Jew-hater.”

TRUTH: This is a patently false and slanderous accusation. I am against racism in any form. Far from facilitating race-based discrimination on the basis of eschatological presuppositions, Christians must be equipped to communicate that Christianity knows nothing of dividing people on the basis of race. Just as evangelicalism now universally repudiates the once-common appeal to Genesis 9:27 in support of slavery of blacks, we must thoroughly and finally put to rest any thought that the Bible supports the horrors of racial discrimination wherever and in whatever form we encounter it, whether within the borders of the United States or in the hallowed regions of the Middle East. Indeed, during WWII, my family was devoted heart and soul to the Dutch Resistance Movement, refusing to give in to either racial discrimination against Jews or the Nazification of the populous.

Furthermore, as delineated in my book The Apocalypse Code, I am anything but anti-Israel and consistently oppose anti-Semitism: “There is no precedent for supposing that God favors Jews over Palestinians or vice versa. At the end of the day, our heavenly Father is not pro-Jew—he is pro-justice; He is not pro-Palestinian, he is pro-peace. In fact, the priceless material with which our feet are fitted for readiness in battle ‘against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12) is nothing less than a gospel of peace that works inexorably toward justice and equity. Only a gospel of peace and justice through faith in Jesus Christ is potent enough to break the stranglehold of anti-Semitism and racism fueled in part by bad theology. This is made explicit through a vision to unclean food that Peter experienced in Joppa. Only after he encountered the gentile centurion Cornelius did Peter fully comprehend the import of the vision. ‘I now realize how true it is’ said Peter ‘that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all’ (Acts 10:34–35).” 

Finally, I am not anti-Israel; I am anti-Christian Zionism. Christian Zionism supposes that the Jews are going to be herded back in the Holy Land where two-thirds will be killed. Christian Zionism is not only anti-Semitic with respect to the Palestinians, it is detrimental in that the Jews are going to suffer for the sins of their fore-fathers.

As I pointed out in The Apocalypse Code,

The Dispensationalists’ theory of two peoples of God has had chilling consequences not only for Jews, but for Palestinian Arabs as well. Unlike early dispensationalists, who believed that the Jews would be regathered in Palestine because of belief in their Redeemer, Many contemporary Dispensationalists hold to the theory that Jews must initially be regathered in unbelief solely on the basis of race. Such unbiblical notions put Christian Zionists in the untenable position of condoning the displacement of Palestinian Christians from their homeland in order to facilitate an occupation based on unbelief and racial affiliation.

The tragic consequence is that Palestinians today form the largest displaced people group in the world. As Dr. Gary Burge, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School, explains, “Israeli historians now talk about the mass and planned expulsion of the Palestinians, an early form of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ The most troubling national confession has been the destruction of at least four hundred Palestinian villages, the ruin of dozens of Arab urban neighborhoods, and several massacres that would motivate the Arab population to flee.” If America required people of African descent to carry special ID cards or to leave the country to make way for people of European ancestry, we would be condemned as a nation that promoted racism and apartheid. Attempting to justify our actions on the basis of biblical proscriptions is even more unthinkable. Says Burge, “Any country that de facto excludes a segment of its society from its national benefits on the basis of race can hardly qualify as democratic.”

This is precisely why Zionism has been labeled a racist political philosophy. As Burge notes, “In 1998, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel accused the government of race-based discrimination and ‘creating a threatening atmosphere that makes violations of human rights more acceptable.’”

As a closing thought, may I simply say that while the lack of discernment and civility displayed on the internet is astonishing, it becomes all the more appalling when those who claim Christianity propagate that which is untrue in an unloving fashion.  

—Hank Hanegraaff