Countless Evangelicals Are Now Leaving Protestantism And Accepting Roman Catholicism And Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Major Protestant theologian Hank Hanegraaff, the well-known talk show host, and evangelical apologist known as “The Bible Answer Man,” after decades of deciphering the Bible is now Eastern Orthodox.
Of course his departure from Protestantism caused some to state:
“The Bible Answer Man, has left the biblical Christian faith for Greek Orthodox tradition”.
In other words, to some, Christianity is exclusively Protestant, that unless someone is ‘Protestant’, they are no longer Christian. Talk about the criticism that when Catholics and Orthodox state that “only through an apostolic succession church” that one becomes ‘Christian’ to only encounter a Protestant insisting that Luther is the only way truth and the life.
So when 1 Timothy 4 stated: “Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils” this is departing from Protestantism.
So prior to Luther, were Christians “in” or “out” of the faith for fifteen centuries?
Known to millions as the “Bible Answer Man,” 77-year-old Hank Hanegraaff and his wife were received into the Orthodox Church this year on the great feast of Palm Sunday, at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC.
Mr. Hanegraaff can be seen kneeling with a lit candle under a priest’s epitrachelion in the picture to the right. His wife’s hands can be seen as well. The picture originates from the Facebook page of the parish, but has been removed after an influx of comments, including negative remarks from those who appreciated Hanegraaff’s work as a Protestant.
The Bible Answer Man addressed his conversion to the Orthodox faith on his program yesterday, in response to a caller who had seen remarks claiming that, in becoming Orthodox, Mr. Hanegraaff had “left the Christian faith” in which Hanegraaff responded:
I am now a member of an Orthodox Church, but nothing has changed in my faith. I have been attending an Orthodox church for a long time—for over two years, really, as a result of what happened when I went to China, many years ago. I saw Chinese Christians who were deeply in love with the Lord, and I learned that while they may not have had as much intellectual acumen or knowledge as I did, they had life. And so I learned that while truth matters, life matters more, and I remember flying back from China after spending time with just common people who had a deep, intense love for the Lord, and wondering, “Was I even a Christian?”
I was comparing my ability to communicate truth with their deep and abiding love for the Lord Jesus Christ… One man, by the way, said to me, truth matters but life matters more. In other words, it is not just knowing about Jesus Christ, it is experiencing the Resurrected Christ. As a result of that I started studying what was communicated by the progeny of Watchman Nee with respect to theosis and that drove me back to the early Christian Church.
And I suppose over that period of time I have fallen ever more in love with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s sort of like my wife—I have never been more in love with my wife than I am today, and I’ve never been more in love with my Lord Jesus Christ than I am today. I’ve been impacted by the whole idea of knowing Jesus Christ, experiencing Jesus Christ, and partaking of the graces of Jesus Christ through the Eucharist or the Lord’s Table. And that has become so central in my life, but as far as the statement that you mentioned, that I’ve left the Christian faith—nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact I believe what I have always believed, as codified in the Nicene Creed, and as championed by mere Christianity.
Indeed. I can relate. Knowing the truth is one major issue, but living it is completely another. Just having knowledge made me too wonder “was I even a Christian?” How many amongst the protestants even emphasize on “theosis” or the early Christian Church? Being Catholic is what made me understand marriage as a ‘sacrament’, my love for my wife and the necessity to understand sacraments.
But this is also countered with the necessity of ‘having a personal relationship with Jesus’.
Indeed, but it is the ancient church is what defines ‘personal relationship’.
Only the apostolic succession Christian can understand this by comprehending the corporate as described in Matthew 25:
“you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me”.
It is the verse that haunted me for decades. Dealing with other Christians, as if they are Christ Himself, is a form of ‘personal relationship’.
Forgiving sin is just as corporate:
“And to whom you [the priest] have pardoned any thing, I also. For, what I [as a priest] have pardoned, if I have pardoned any thing, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:10)
“I have done it in the person of Christ”. Nothing can be more personal than this.
So if aiding Christians is done in the person of Christ forgiving sinners is also done in the person of Christ by a priest.
Nothing can be more ‘personal’ in this relationship with Christ than this which the Protestant doesn’t have.
Once a true Christian understands this concept, then Scripture becomes a breeze to comprehend as far as our limited capacity can understand the matters of God and His Temple.
The Protestant, by redefining Christ’s mediation as something abstract, without it ever being conduced in any incarnational manner or personal, portraying it as only man directly asking God for forgiveness, in which there is no human authority confirming absolution, this becomes the sort of teaching that Islam has. Paul was clear “I done it [forgiving sin as a priest] in the person of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:10)
After reciting the entire Nicene Creed, Hank concluded, “In other words, I am as deeply committed to championing mere Christianity and the essentials of the historic Christian faith, as I have ever been.”
Hank Hanegraaff succeeded Dr. Walter Martin at the North Carolina-based Christian Research Institute (CRI) since 1989, when he also took over previous-president’s radio talk-show “The Bible Answer Man.” Martin used to debate Catholics like Fr. Mitchell Pacwa.