Wishing Hank “The Bible Answer Man” Hanegraaff God Speed As He Leaves Evangelicalism for the Orthodox Church

Wishing Hank “The Bible Answer Man” Hanegraaff God Speed As He Leaves Evangelicalism for the Orthodox Church

Hank Hanegraaff becoming a member of the Greek Orthodox church

When I heard the news that Evangelical stalwart and Bible Answer Man Hank Hanegraaff had converted to Eastern Orthodoxy I nearly fell out of my chair.


I mean, the minute I first saw the headline I had to assume it was a satirical article done by The Babylon Bee. He’s THE Bible Answer Man after all, one of Evangelical Christianity’s biggest defenders?  The guy practically has “Made in Calvary Chapel” stitched on his undershirt.   What’s next?  John MacArthur speaking in tongues?  John Piper announcing he’s become a “grace preacher”?

With a syndicated radio show heard by thousands across America, Hanegraaff is a guy who has staked his identity (and financial security) on being the arbiter of what IS and IS NOT Biblical Christianity, or as Hanegraaff himself would often phrase it, what was “within the pale of orthodoxy”.

So what would cause a guy who made his living guarding the Evangelical “City Gate” suddenly jump ship and go Beyond the Pale. (Sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂 )

I’m sure Jesus had something to do with it but first…

A Little Background

Because of the Evangelical circles I ran in during my years in Colorado  I  had the pleasure of meeting Hank Hanegraaff on a couple occasions.  Nice guy, but often when I listened to his “call in” Bible Answer Man radio show where he would deftly (the man is very talented) answer apologetics questions from across the country I would usually find myself agreeing with Hanegraaff in principle but wondering, “couldn’t he bring his “truth” in a more graceful or life-giving way?”

Why did Hank Hanegraaff’s Christianity seem to to approach faith the same way J. Evans Pritchard approached poetry in the film Dead Poet’s Society?  Take something that is supposed to be mysterious and beautiful and reduce it down to a thing that could be plotted systemically on an “x” and “y” axis.

Apparently though, despite decades fighting for “Biblical Truth”  Hanegraaff began to see for himself what Robin Williams explains to his class in the film, “We ain’t laying pipe, we’re talking poetry!”

Life & Truth.

Like many of us who find ourselves increasingly at odds with the Evangelical Christianity Hanegraaff began questioning the empty feeling his Evangelical faith was supposed to be filling.

As he explains on a recent episode of the Bible Answer Man broadcast:

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?”

When the Bible Answer Man begins asking if he’s “even a Christian” you know he’s on the road to recovery. As many of us who have traded our “certainty” for “mystery” and a sense of “having arrived” with viewing faith as a journey, the Bible Answer Man has been begun to rethink things.

Like Nicodemus coming out at night to meet with Jesus, Hank began visiting an expression of Christianity in the Eastern church that valued approaching Christ not simply through Biblical knowledge but in a life giving experience.

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.

Not surprisingly a renewed appreciation of the Eucharist followed his conversion:

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 just as Jesus promised Nicodemus, Hanegraaff will continue to perceive the Kingdom of Heaven at work in places he couldn’t see before.

Needless to say  however the announcement of Hanegraaff’s recent conversion has sent shockwaves throughout the Evangelical world.  Ironically now many in the Evangelical community are judging his experience and Christian journey with the same “x” & “y” axis tool to which he himself previously judged others and has been deemed to now be outside the pale.

While Hanegraaff has insisted nothing has changed he is already experiencing some fallout from his conversion.  The Bott radio network that syndicated the Bible Answer Man on a number of stations across the country have dropped the show citing that they no trust Hannegraaff to be “thoroughly Biblical”.

There is always been a price to be paid when people choose to follow Christ.  It maybe to soon yet to tell whether Hanegraaff has begun a wonderful new journey, or whether the gravity of the Evangelical world will pull his recently launched ship back into orbit before reaching an escape velocity.  For his sake though I wish him well Buen Camino and God Speed!