APOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT:
Back when I used to listen to “The Bible Answer Man” radio show with Hank as host, I recall books being promoted by Norman Geisler on the program. Interestingly, he was lauded as a great apologist by Hank, given his current stand against this lawsuit (as quoted below). We can only presume that this is of authentic significance, testifying to a concern beyond a mere conflict of interest. (See the section below which I have bolded for emphasis):
“My name is Norman L. Geisler. I am the Dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary near Charlotte, NC. I am an author, co-author, or editor of over sixty books and some 200 articles on cults, apologetics, theology, and related topics. I have four earned degrees from accredited schools (B.A., Th.B., M.A., and Ph.D.).
I have been teaching on the college or graduate level for 47 years. I have written many articles for The Christian Research Journal published by the Christian Research Institute (CRI) whose president is Hank Hanegraaff. These including [sic] a two part series on The Essentials of the Christian Faith, which sets forth doctrinal norms for determining which groups fall short of the claim to be Christian and can thus be appropriately labeled as unorthodoxy, heretical, or a cult.
I am aware that Hank Hanegraaff, President of CRI, has filed an Amicus Brief urging this Court to grant the Petition for Review filed by The Local Church, Living Stream Ministries, et al. in the above captioned case. To the contrary, I believe that it is critical that this Court deny that Petition. I state my reason for this position below.
In over fifty years of research on doctrinal matters, it is my professional opinion that 1) It is doctrinally appropriate to label some groups by the terms unorthodox, heretical, or a cult. 2) It is appropriate to use these labels of The Local Church.”[i]
December 1, 2006—Local Church Appeal is Denied:
Texas Supreme Court Denies Petition for Review of Defamation Lawsuit Against Harvest House Publishers and Authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon
On December 1, 2006, the Texas Supreme Court denied review of the Local Church and Living Stream Ministry’s $136 million libel lawsuit against Harvest House Publishers and authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon. At issue in the case was the book Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions (ECNR), which The Local Church claimed was defamatory of them.
So, at least for now, this matter has been laid to rest. I will keep Hank in my prayers. As I have written this article, I had moments of personal sadness, remembering how much I used to love his radio program and how God used his radio program to inspire me to tell others about Jesus. Listening to him used to make me want to get out there and defend the Gospel!
Well, reading about Hank today still makes me want to defend the Bible and the ways of the Holy Spirit, but it is a different defense—to stand against these grievances which have been going on behind the scenes at CRI (documented in this article and other articles such as the LA Times) through Hank’s example of leadership. And I can only listen to him discerningly with a heavy heart these days, to observe voyeuristically what I pray to avoid in my own life as I learn from what has happened over time at the Christian Research Institute. His actions have spoken louder than his words to me, and I can barely hear his radio program anymore.
I am inspired today afresh in apologetics from listening to taped recordings of the original Bible Answer Man, Walter Martin, and I never cease to be excited and exhilarated in the ministry of evangelism, even when an article must be written to defend the Bible and the humble ways of the Holy Spirit against unbiblical tactics of the current CRI.
[i] Source: Amicus Brief by Norman L. Geisler, Nov. 7, 2006