Hank Hanegraaff

Is Christians on Campus a Cult? The Bible Answer Man Answers

Hank Hanegraaff, the “Bible Answer Man” and President of the Christian Research Institute, was invited to speak to a group of college students in southern California. Hank describes the Christians on Campus and Christian Students groups as “an expression of authentic New Testament Christianity” and affirms that the club embraces “the essentials of the historic Christian faith”.

Transcript:

Well thank you very much for that warm welcome. I am delighted to be here this afternoon, I didn’t know I would be here three days ago. And I am particularly grateful to the USC Christian Students club for making this arrangement and I find it highly ironic that I am speaking here by their invitation, because it wasn’t all that long ago that we started a primary research project on the Local Churches. And many of those who were involved with USC Christian Students worship with the Local Churches around the world. We thought this group was an aberrant group at best. I met with the leaders back on August 4th, 2003. And they confronted me with their doctrine, suggesting that they did not believe what we had as a primary research organization, said they believed. Which is, that they were the only church. And they said, “No we don’t believe that. We believe that we are only the church.” We thought that they believe that they could become like God is in the Godhead. And they said, “No, we don’t believe that. We believe in deification very much in that sense that Peter taught about deification: becoming partakers of the divine nature through sanctification.” And then, we thought that they were Modalists; that they believed that God revealed Himself in different modes or manifestations. They said “No, we don’t believe that. We are thoroughly Trinitarian. We believe in one God, revealed in three Persons Who are eternally distinct.” Now I was faced with a delimma as President of the Christian Research Institute. What happens when someone looks you in the eye involved in a ministry and tells you point blank, “No, what you say we believe is not really what we believe.”

So we started, 6 years ago, a primary research project and out of that we ended up doing an article in the Christian Research Journal, which ended up encompassing the entirety of the journal. And the words on the cover of the journal were “We Were Wrong.” And the reason that we overtly communicated “We Were Wrong” is because Truth Matters. That’s our monachre, that’s the statement by which we abide, and live and guide our organization: Truth Matters. We are followers of the One Who said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Him. So again I find it highly ironic that I am here on behalf of USC Christian Students on campus. Many of them have become my dear friends and they are an expression of authentic New Testament Christianity. I have learned to love them and grow with them, have fellowship with them, and sense a oneness with them as we seek to do what we have been commissioned to do. That is, to be salt and light in a lost and searching world.

You are called an ambassador of Christ and most of us are secret agents that have never blown our cover before the unregenerate world. You are called an ambassador. Not just an ambassador for a country, but for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You have the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to move through you in the process of giving a lost son or daughter of Adam the bread of life, the water of life.

Let’s pray: “Father we thank You so much for USC Christian Students on campus for sponsoring this event, for their commitment to You and Your kingdom principles. Father thank You that as Christians we stand shoulder to shoulder with those who have embraced the essentials of the historic Christian faith and in unice, we can say in essentials unity, nonessentials liberty, all things charity. Father I pray that You will bless the Christian groups at USC. Father, may they recognize the potency and they dynamism within them to change the world. Not by might, nor by power, but by Your Spirit.”

Hank Hanegraaff serves as president and chairman of the board of the North Carolina based Christian Research Institute. He is also host of the Bible Answer Man radio program, which is broadcast daily across the United States and Canada – as well as around the world through the Internet at http://www.equip.org

Are the Local Churches a Cult?

The following is an article from The Christian Research Institute’s website, written by Hank Hanegraaff (the Bible Answer Man) himself:

This article first appeared in the Ask Hank column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 32, number 6 (2009). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to:http://www.equip.org

On the basis of a six-year primary research project represented in part in this Special Edition of the JOURNAL, the Christian Research Institute has concluded that the local churches are a genuine expression of authentic New Testament Christianity.

To begin with, the local churches are not a cult from a theological perspective. In this sense, a cult may be defined as a pseudo-Christian organization that claims to be Christian but outright denies essential Christian doctrine. While I personally have differences with the local churches when it comes to secondary issues, such as the timing of the tribulation or the meaning of the millennium, I stand shoulder to shoulder with the local churches when it comes to the essentials that define biblical orthodoxy. With respect to the Trinity, for example, we are united in the reality that there is one God revealed in three persons who are eternally distinct. Although we may disagree on the exegesis of particular passages, this premise is inviolate. Moreover, it is significant to note that in interacting with members of the local churches over a protracted period of time, I have witnessed in them a keen interest in doctrinal precision sadly missing in major segments of the evangelical community.

Furthermore, the local churches are not a cult from a sociological perspective. In this sense, a cult is a religious or semireligious sect whose followers are controlled by strong leadership in virtually every dimension of their lives. Devotees characteristically manifest a displaced loyalty for the “guru” and the group and are galvanized together through physical and/or psychological intimidation tactics. It is unconscionable that the local churches have been uncharitably lumped together with sociological cults involved in the most heinous activities conceivable. Indeed, it is tragic that this classification has been used to persecute and imprison members of the local churches in various regions around the world.

Finally, the local churches are an authentic expression of New Testament Christianity. Moreover, as a group forged in the cauldron of persecution, it has much to offer Western Christianity. In this respect three things immediately come to mind.

First is their practice of prophesying—not in the sense of foretelling the future but in the 1 Corinthians 14 sense of exhorting, edifying, encouraging, educating, equipping, and explicating Scripture. As such, constituents are corporately involved in worship through the Word. Second is their practice of pray-reading as a meaningful link between the intake of Scripture and efficacious communion with God in prayer. And third is their fervent commitment to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).

If the early Christian church had one distinguishing characteristic, it was their passion to communicate the love, joy, and peace that only Jesus Christ can bring to the human heart. As we become entrenched in an age of esotericism, it is essential that genuine believers in all walks of life emulate this passion—a passion I have personally witnessed as I shared fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ from local churches in such faraway cities as Taipei, Seoul, and Nanjing.

In sum, along with Christians from a broad range of persuasions, the local churches are dedicated to both proper doctrine (orthodoxy) and proper practice (orthopraxy). As such, we march together by the maxim, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.” While we will continue to debate secondary issues this side of the veil, I have no doubt that we will spend an eternity together growing in the knowledge of the One who saved us by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone.

Hank Hanegraaff is president of the Christian Research Institute and host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast heard daily throughout the United States and Canada. For a list of stations airing the Bible Answer Man, or to listen online, log on to www.equip.org.

A Brief Affirmation of Living Stream Ministry

The Christian Research Institute’s motto is “Truth matters.”

So they did an extensive research project on Living Stream Ministry and the Local Churches. The Bible Answer Man himself said that their research brought them to the conclusion that:

We are not only convinced that the Local Churches are not a cult, but we are absolutely convinced by exhaustive research that they have much to offer the Body of Christ through their practice of prayer, praise, and the proclamation of the Word, through the oneness that they manifest, and through the multiplication that they have experienced; particularly in the East where every believer is being equipped to communicate the truth and love and grace that only Jesus Christ brings to the human life.

Watch the following video to hear for yourself.

Hank Hanegraaff says:

“Let’s go back to the phone lines. We’ll talk next to Virginia and Virginia is in Scottsdale, Arizona. Hi Virginia.”

Virginia says:

“Hi, Hank. I would like to know about the Living Stream Ministry and if it is a cult.”

Hank replies:

“Interesting that you should ask that question at this particular juncture in history, because we have just done an exhaustive six-year analysis of the Local Churches and Living Stream Ministry. It was a six year research project that was carried out throughout the world, not just in the U.S. but in far away places like London and Pacific-rim nations like Taiwan and South Korea and China. We are not only convinced that the Local Churches are not a cult, but we are absolutely convinced by exhaustive research that they have much to offer the Body of Christ through their practice of prayer, praise, and the proclamation of the Word, through the oneness that they manifest, and through the multiplication that they have experienced; particularly in the East where every believer is being equipped to communicate the truth and love and grace that only Jesus Christ brings to the human life. So the exhaustive research that I just referenced is codified in the Christian Research Journal, in the current edition, in which we say ‘We Were Wrong’ because at the very beginning of our ministry throughout the seventies the Christian Research Institute participated in a fountainhead of misinformation that led people to think that this group was aberrant and perhaps cultic. And that is absolutely not the case.”

http://www.equip.org/localchurch/