There has been much talk over the last couple of weeks about Hank Hannegraaff (known as the Bible Answer Man) converting to the Greek Orthodox Church on Palm Sunday.
There have been some pretty negative reactions to it. Jeff Maples posted an article called Why We Can’t Assume Hank Hanegraaff is Saved and We Should Evangelize Him. In addition, the Bible Answer Man show has been dropped by a network over this change.
What do I think of this conversion? To be honest, I see it as not that big of a deal. It is a part of a trend I have seen among evangelicals (e.g. Francis Beckwith, Holly Ordway) of seeking out liturgical traditions such as Roman Catholicism.
I will admit that I once thought of evangelicalism as being the only correct form of Christianity with very limited Christian presence in other traditions. This was more a reflection of my own background. I grew up in the Anglican Church and for much of my life it was empty liturgy. When I made a personal faith commitment and moved over to the Pentecostal Church, I wrote off people in mainline denominations. Since then, I have encountered many people within the Roman Catholic, Anglican and many other traditions who have a vibrant faith in Jesus. I don’t necessarily agree with all of their beliefs (I no longer hold to the Pentecostal distinctives either) but I can welcome them as brothers and sisters in Christ.
People need to get some perspective on this event. Hanegraaff did not convert to Mormonism or Islam. The Orthodox Church, along with Roman Catholics and Protestants, are all accepted parts of the Christian faith. They hold to the Nicene Creed which is a good definition of Christianity. An Orthodox Christian is a Christian.
In addition, we need to look at who Hanegraaff is and what he says about his faith. There is no reason to believe that he has abandoned any basic tenets of Christianity. He still believes in the Trinity and the incarnation.
You might not fully agree with the Orthodox Church but that doesn’t make Hank Hanegraaff a heretic or an apostate. My prayer is that God will continue to use him and that he will be a blessing within his new community.