Sick Of Health And Wealth

Christianity in Crisis,by Hank Hanegraaff (Harvest House, 447 pp.; $16.99, hardcover). Reviewed by Bruce Barron, author of The Health and Wealth Gospel (IVP).

The title may seem melodramatic: the charismatic teachers this book scrutinizes have not created a full-blown “crisis” within Christianity. But with Benny Hinn on the bestseller list, Kenneth Hagin occupying whole shelves in Christian bookstores, and Paul Crouch’s Trinity Broadcasting Network beaming the Faith movement’s message across America, this subject is far from insignificant. Christianity in Crisis’s zoom to the top of bestseller lists shows that thousands of North American Christians are concerned about the popularity of this brand of theology.

Hinn, Hagin, and Crouch are among the leading exponents of a distinctive message that piggybacked on the charismatic movement’s rise to respectability. They all emphasize a Christian’s right to be healthy, prosperous, and victorious in this life, and their ministries are punctuated by prophetic messages and bold, sometimes bizarre, miracle claims and theological innovations.

As the Faith movement has grown, so has the collection of evangelical critics who see it as closer to Christian Science or occultism than to Christianity. In their view, Faith teachers have taken heresy to new heights, as in televangelist Kenneth Copeland’s statement that “You don’t have a god in you, you are one” and his claim that even God must submit to certain laws (e.g., God could not have raised Christ from the dead had Satan not acted “illegally” in taking Jesus to hell).

The Christian Research Institute, still the premier evangelical cult-research organization, has devoted increasing attention to the Faith movement over ...

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