Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff is a well-timed expose of the Prosperity “gospel” (AKA Word of Faith) and it’s leaders. In these early years of the 21st century, a number of prosperity preachers have developed an increasing sphere of influence. They tell people, in person and on television, that Christians should not be poor, that perfect health is our birthright, and that God is bound by the laws of the universe to give us whatever we ask. How does this fit in with traditional Christianity? How should we respond to this kind of preaching?
My response has generally been to just turn to the channel and not worry about it. After all, if someone else wants to give their money to a TV preacher, so be it. But, these “prosperity preachers” are gaining a widening audience, including some of my friends and neighbors. How should I respond to them? Is the prosperity message truly dangerous or just a ploy for money?
That’s where Christianity In Crisis comes in. I don’t have to watch hours of TBN or read volumes by these Word of Faith (or prosperity) preachers now to know what they preach and believe. (Actually, I tried to read Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen, but couldn’t finish it. After about the second chapter of reading that my headaches would get better if I could just get my act together, I decided that I’d be much better off not finishing it!!) Hank Hanegraaff has done extensive research into the writing and work of the prosperity leaders. His book goes through the theology of these practitioners, including their view of God, atonement, faith, wealth, and suffering. He concludes with getting back to the basics of true Christian doctrine.
I found this book quite helpful. I knew that the prosperity preachers were not quite on the right wavelength, but I didn’t realize quite how heretical many of them have become. Frighteningly, most of these teachers deny the basic teachings of orthodox Christianity. More frighteningly, many Christians don’t know enough to recognize the fraud!!! Hanegraaff spends the last part of the book emphasizing the truths of historical Christianity to help readers see the falsity of the prosperity movement.
My only real argument in this book is that Hanegraff claims that we must refute evolution to show evidence for God. He obviously does not believe that God used evolution as a mechanism for Creation, but it is distressing that he does not accept that God could have chosen this method of Creation. However, this is about 1% of the entire book, so it is a minor criticism.
I very strongly recommend this book. I found it very helpful to clarify my thinking on the subject. When my friends bring up the subject of the prosperity “gospel”, I can discuss it gently but with some knowledge of my position. If I need to, I can also do further research on this topic. The Church needs to get back to historical, orthodox Christianity. Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century is a step in the right direction.