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Hank Hanegraaff Converts To Orthodox Christianity

hank hanegraaff was received into the Orthodox Church

Hank Hanegraaff, host of the Bible Answer Man radio show, entered the Holy Orthodox Church. His chrismation took place on Palm Sunday at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC.


UPDATE: On his April 11 broadcast, Hank Hanegraaff addressed his reception into the Orthodox Church, and recited the Nicene Creed in response to a question from a listener. Here is the audio of the broadcast:


Hanegraaff is a prominent figure in Evangelical Christianity. His work as an author and radio host has made him a popular apologist for the Christian faith. His conversion to Orthodoxy will come as a shock to many of his long time listeners.

hank hanegraaff is chrismatedThe Bible Answer Man show helped in my own spiritual journey. Listening to his show gave me a balanced, nuanced approach to Christianity. It countered the anti-intellectual religion that drove me away from church. His book Counterfeit Revival gave voice to my own concerns about Pentecostalism. It exposed the heresy of the Word of Faith movement and its proponents. Hanegraaff was a source of nourishment and hope as I sought the true faith.

I have not listened to his show in some time. But my understanding is that he took a more sympathetic approach to Orthodoxy of late. I’ve subscribed to his podcast and look forward to his comments on this conversion.

Hanegraaff’s move away from Evangelicalism is a cause for celebration to Orthodox Christians. This is not so for those he left behind. I have already seen articles online castigating Hanegraaff for “leaving Christianity.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. He did not leave Christianity. He has finally embraced its fullest expression.

Those of us who are Orthodox Christians should pray for Hank Hanegraaff and his family. They have started on a new journey together. We converts in particular should offer our prayers and good wishes to them. We know the road they have chosen. They will be answering questions from confused and hurt friends and family. They will have to explain their decision in a more public forum than we ever will.

Those who are not Orthodox should pray for the Hanegraaff family as well. They have not betrayed Christ nor walked away from Christianity. The Hanegraaff family have embraced the earliest, most complete expression of Christ’s teachings. And all of us would welcome you to use this as an opportunity to explore it as well.

If you are finding this page by searching for news about Mr. Hanegraaff, I’d encourage you to spend some time exploring Orthodox Christianity through the resources on this page. I welcome your comments and questions as well.


Interested in learning more about Orthodoxy?  Subscribe to Finding the True Faith and download my FREE ebook, 10 Questions About Orthodox Christianity.

Comments 39

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  1. What great news! Perhaps this will lead other well-known Protestants to consider the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    As a convert, I can ask you non-Orthodox folks out there: If your church does not believe or practice what the Ancient Church did, isn’t that a problem? Why put your trust in people that created doctrines that were unknown to those that decided what should be in the New Testament and that successfully countered so many heresies long ago?

    If the Ancient Church taught what the Orthodox Church does about the Eucharist and your church considers communion just a memorial – how do you reconcile yourself to that?

    If Martin Luther and John Calvin had been Orthodox priests, they never would have left the Church.

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      We can certainly pray that Mr. Hanegraaf’s journey can inspire others. I am already hearing from readers who are encouraged as they explore Orthodoxy.

      I know that in my own case, a lack of historical context kept me ignorant of the faith of the first Christians. Once I began to understand what the early Church believed, the die was cast.

      You might be interested to know that Martin Luther did make contact with the Greek Church after his separation from Rome. This is a pretty thorough article on the topic: http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/tca_luther.aspx

      Thank you so much for reading and for commenting. Don’t be a stranger.

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      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Everyone is welcome to join in the conversation, even those outside the Orthodox tradition.

      Orthodox Christianity has never attempted to precisely define the nature of the infinite God. Therefore, there’s no real dogma about the forensic method through which Christ offers us salvation. The “faith vs. works” argument simply is not something with which Orthodoxy has ever been terribly concerned.

      God bless, and don’t make this your last time stopping by.

    2. Well – faith without works is dead, to coin a phrase.

      We Orthodox have had our difficulties but we have not had a massive leave-taking as occurred in the West. There were various developments that led to the crisis over indulgences, such as serial creative theologizing and financial need that quite naturally led to the arguments over the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Interesting that the Philippian jailer asked that question – “What must I do – ” he had to do something. Earlier, St. Peter’s listeners asked, “What shall we do?” Peter said, “Repent and be baptized.” They all had to do something. Don’t you think that the jailer was also told to repent and be baptized? Did St. Paul tell people what they had to do and what they must not do? Yes, he did.

      People have to do something. Orthodoxy doesn’t have a minimalist approach to salvation. We don’t ask, “What is the least that I have to do in order to be saved?” Further, we don’t have an emotional commitment to the Reformation because Orthodoxy wasn’t part of that at all. We don’t treat the Faith as if it is an orange, and tear it all apart and then decide whether or not the skin matters or which segments of the orange are vital and which not so much. We prize the whole orange.

      Plus, if the issue were purely about faith vs. works, then the Protestant world would be one big happy family, true? In fact, one can find a tremendous variety of mutual severe criticism by Protestants on the internet. The biggest critics of the heirs of the Reformation are other heirs of the Reformation. There must be a problem with the methodology if there is such a diversity of conclusions based on the same text.

      Long before “faith vs. works,” Jesus prayed in the Garden that we would be one as He and the Father are one. That doesn’t seem to have been a major concern to all the denominations, does it? Melodyland School of Theology students liked to claim that they were “Spirit-filled Christians,” yet that school had at least three instances of many students leaving because of what was going on there. The third time happened in 1979 when I was a student academic advisor at Fuller Theological Seminary. Fuller admitted more than fifty Melodyland refugees, generously giving them credit for their completed courses at Melodyland even though Melodyland wasn’t accredited. Had these students applied to Dallas Theological Seminary, a dispensationalist institution, they probably wouldn’t have been admitted because Melodyland students were charismatics and Dallas doesn’t believe in that.

      I’ll stop here.

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  2. GREEKS, SERBS,AND ALL OTHER ETHNIC ORTHODOX,PLACE YOUR RELIGION ABOVE YOUR ETHNICITY.

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      1. THANKS TONY,MY OPINION IS THAT EVERY PARISH SHOULD AT LEAST 5-6PARISHONERS TO IMPRESS UPON THE BOARD AND PRIEST AT EVERY BOARD MEETING TO HAVE MORE ENGLISH IN THE LITURGY AND MORE OUTREACH IN THE COMMUNITY.

    2. The ethnic issue is a problem but when I was teaching in China, I met on Saturdays (!) for church with other Christian foreigners that knew English because on Sunday my wife went to the Three-Self Protestant church and I went to the Orthodox church. It wasn’t an ethnic thing for us English-speaking Christians.

      It’s tough for immigrants that don’t speak English when they come to America. Catholic Croats are likely to go to a Catholic church where Serbo-Croatian is spoken, true? The same idea holds true for Christians from Thailand that come to the U.S and other groups that leave their homeland. Thirty years ago, when I was an Evangelical, I talked with an altar-server at a ROCOR church about things there and was stunned to learn that they didn’t have much interest in adopting to the world outside their doors. Imagine being someone that walks into this beautiful place and learning that there are no English-language services – none. This church building had been there for more than twenty years. The needs of the immigrant community were paramount. I didn’t see very many young people during liturgy.

  3. WE ORTHODOX HAVE TO LEARN TO COMMUNICATE IN ENGLISH……..PERIOD.OTHERWISE,ORTHODOXY WILL BECOME AN OLD PERSON RELIGION.WE (in AMERICA)COMMUNICATE IN ENGLISH.LETS GET THIS THROUGH PEOPLES HEADS.

    1. I’ll tell you a true story from my China days. In front of the Orthodox church in Harbin there was a gate and someone that managed the gate. To avoid having people wandering in out of curiosity during liturgy, the gate guard would be there to discourage them – though an exception was made for me the first time I came walking by during a service after a couple of my students from my first year teaching there and I had attended the Protestant church service a block away. I guess he saw my big nose and figured, “Why not be friendly?” He was Orthodox himself. He opened the gate and gestured for me to come in.

      I didn’t know what to do. I walked toward the door and went up the steps. He gestured again for me to go in and I did. I walked through the narrow nave right to the left-hand corner where it reached the nave and stopped. Father Gregory was censing vast clouds of incense smoke into the air. The only thought that came to mind was, “This is really old.” That’s it. Then Mikhail Miatov, who served as a combination choir director/deacon, went to the center of the nave and said, “Prokeminon . . . ” I had no idea what was going on. After a couple more minutes, I left. But – sometime after this, I brought an old Russian woman named Eugenia Konstantinovna Ing to the church a couple of times and after that I started going regularly.

      Once in a while, someone might come in during the service after leaving the Protestant church a block away. Our service was in Church Slavonic, so no Chinese unfamiliar with Orthodoxy would understand anything. I had a small booklet with the liturgy in English that I would use with someone that knew some English. If the English wasn’t sufficiently clear, I tried my Mandarin. I had my own Slavonic-English prayer book that Father George Sondergaard, an OCA priest in San Francisco, had given to me. I also tried to explain some of the things in the church. Not bad for an evangelical that did not know he would be chrismated a couple years after returning to America.

      There were Chinese Orthodox priests martyred in China during the Boxer Rebellion and after the communists took over. Father Gregory was working in a nail factory when the Religious Affairs Bureau people came to him about re-opening of an Orthodox church in Harbin in 1984.

  4. Pingback: Hank Hanegraaff Becomes Orthodox - Orthodox Reformed Bridge

  5. James 2:18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

    If it was just by saying a prayer (i.e. faith) then why did Christ say if you love me you will obey my commandments

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      Even saying the Sinner’s Prayer is a work, if we’re being intellectually honest.

      Robert Arakaki over at Orthodox-Reformed Bridge referenced us in his own post about Hanegraaff. He makes a defense of the Protestant criticisms of Orthodoxy.

  6. James 2:18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

    If it was just by saying a prayer (i.e. faith) then why did Christ say if you love me you will obey my commandments. The Orthodox Church is the fullness of the faith. No need to protest any longer.

    Welcome Home Hank!

  7. I pray virtually every day that the absolutely pointless and Prideful Clan mentality will disappear from the minds of the modern day Pharisees.

    Conversion? Do you actually believe the Holy Spirit is jumping for joy that this man has changed the name of his denomination?

    Wake up CHRISTIANS. Pray that the simplicity of Christ overwhelms the pride of seeking out division so you can feel more saved. Millions have quit attending church because theyre sick of witnessing the lust of pet doctrines.

    All over the Internet it’s……All hail Hank for finally seeing we’re the True church. God is way more in to our doctrines. Even the tempered responses have an air of elitism.

    Just look at the first post here—quoting the legalists favorite passage as if now Hank has to earn his salvation rendering the cross pointless. God help us Christians be actual Christians and not sniveling weirdos, I include myself people, and may the Church be one as You are One.

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      First, thank you for reading, and for commenting.

      Conversion is shorthand, and maybe even a poor choice of words, for the experience of being received into the Orthodox Church. We do believe it’s a joyful occasion anytime a child of God comes home, as it was when the Prodigal Son came home to his father.

      I can agree with your assertion that division among Christians is a cause for sadness. But there is no division in the Church, because Christ is not divided (1 Cor. 1:13). For this reason, the Orthodox Church is not a denomination; it is the Church established by Jesus Christ, and all are welcome.

      Forgive me for any elitism or pride. I have no role in Mr. Hanegraaff’s journey, other than to pray for him. I ask you to pray for me that I will not boast of any work done by Christ.

      I also hope you’ll comment on the posts here as often as you like. This isn’t an echo chamber, and I’m happy to hear other opinions. I’d also welcome your email (tony [at] finding thetruefaith [dot] com) if you’d like to talk further about what Orthodox Christians believe, and why we are so happy when someone joins the Church.

    2. Early on in the Church, people had questions for which there were no easy answers. If things were simple, there would have been no New Testament, for oral transmission would have been enough. As problems arose, things had to be worked through. Divisions come because people care so deeply that unity appears to come at the cost of truth. This is a reason, for example, why the Orthodox Church has closed communion – we won’t use the Eucharist as a symbol of unity if others don’t agree with us as to what the Eucharist is.

      Look how John’s disciples didn’t agree with others about when the Resurrection should be celebrated. That was a very big deal but eventually it was resolved. I remember during my Protestant days hearing someone say that the only denominations that talked about uniting were the ones that were dying. Is that true, do you think?

      I’ve heard how Bethel Church in Redding, California is becoming influential because some churches think they have to imitate or fade away. Is that true, do you think?

      I think it’s better to say that people should leave a confused, fragmented world and come home to Orthodoxy.

  8. Excellent response Tony. Understand that my post was to all I’ve read on this topic on the internet not just here.

    Of course, I don’t agree with the idea that Hank or any other Christian from another denomination has come home as the prodigal son or has come home period.

    This idea, also espoused by the Catholic Church, is an elitist move and essentially moot in the year 2017.

    If Christ is not divided, from where did Hank come *Home from? Did he not receive the Spirit from where he was? God has poured out the Holy Spirit in abundance to all no matter where they are

    Acts 15
    And God, who knows the heart, showed His approval by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. 9He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts by faith.

    Acts 11
    So if God gave them the same gift as He gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder the work of God

    I know your not the RCC but I’ll use them to make my point–as it relates tangentially even though I acknowledge it’s a distinction*with a difference……..Now, we all know the bloody and destructive history of the Catholic Church. I’m not a RCC hater either. My Dad’s RC, I don’t think they’re the Antichrist etc– as many Protestants do. But if you were in the 1st century church and went to sleep for 2000 years and we’re asked, if given no choice but to pick who you believed were the True apostolic Church and after witnessing their Works, their pomp, wealth, etc…… Would it matter what meaningless claims were presented to define them as carrying some illusory mantle handed off like batons in the 400 Meter relay?

    Has not God Himself already settled the question by giving the Holy Spirit to all who believe? We all know the numbers. So my point is why can’t we all just, to best of our ability, stand down.

    Now, obviously God has allowed denominations by pouring out the Spirit in the manner he has chosen. So maybe, as has been accomplished many times in the past, the Lord is bringing forth Good out of what is essentially evil( denominationalism is not only from doctrinal disputes but from pride, selfishness, wickedness spawned from power, actual false Christians gaining leadership) using the opportunity in our diverse modern world to draw in and accommodate all cultures and styles as long as the orthodox linchpins of Christianity are present. I don’t know, but one thing is clear–Christ is in control and knows who are His and I got to believe He wants us to stop arguing over what amounts to works in many cases and tone down the attitude perpetuated by the faction mentality.

    Anyway thanks for the soapbox friends 🙂

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      I’m glad to have dialogue with you, or anyone who comments here. I agree that the Internet can be a wealth of misinformation, misunderstanding, and second-hand knowledge. My priest has been quick to correct me if I speak in error here, and I’m grateful for his guidance.

      There’s a saying common to Orthodoxy: We know where God’s Church is; we make no claim about where it is not. God has made Himself known to all of creation (Rom. 1:20), and thus all Mankind has the innate awareness of Him. This means that all expressions of Man’s desire to reconnect with God have some hint of Truth in them.

      The questions for Orthodox Christians is not then, “Where can I find the bare minimum of Truth?” We are not seeking the smallest possible subsection of God’s revelation that will let us squeak by into Heaven. We seek the fullness of His revelation to us. We believe that the Orthodox Church is just that.

      The Church that Jesus Christ founded was assembled by the men that walked and talked with Him for the duration of His ministry. They passed that knowledge down to their successors under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They took care to preserve That which had been given to them. It is preserved to this very day (Matt. 16:18).

      I’m not interested in defending the Roman church, because Rome and the Orthodox Church are not in communion. Protestantism, then, is a protest against excesses of Rome that Orthodox Christians would mostly agree with. Martin Luther’s followers, in fact, reached out to the Orthodox Church not long after his protest, to see if there was commonality (The Church ultimately decided Luther had gone too far in his protest).

      I believe I am on solid ground by saying that God has allowed denominations in the same way he has allowed other sin; by giving Man the free will to choose. Understand that I am not calling Baptists, or Lutherans, or anyone else sinners. I know that I am a sinner; I cannot speak to anyone else’s heart. But denominations are a Protestant invention. They are subdivisions of a group that broke away from a Roman church that itself broke away from the Church established and preserved by Jesus Christ. This is what we mean when we say, “Welcome home” to Mr. Hanegraaff.

      Where you and I agree is that Christ has given us the gift of salvation. We did not, and cannot earn it (Eph. 2:9). What He did give us is the Church, and the fullness that is within it.

    2. Christ is risen!

      John, I am glad that you continue to read what is here. Perhaps we can have as much discussion as there is on MercatorNet, a place that I recommend.

      I suppose an advantage that Islam has is their short list of requirements. Obviously, that hasn’t kept them from going after their own infidels, so having few points to disagree about isn’t a cure for the tendency to diversify that humans have.

      A Protestant minister friend of mine in the UK (I wonder how much longer the UK will be the UK . . .) asked me the other day how much influence Bethel Church in Redding, California has here, as its way of doing things seems to be spreading in Britain. As Will Rogers might have said, “All I know is what I read on the internet,” so I couldn’t help him much. The Bethel participants seem to be very enthusiastic, judging from the YouTube videos that I’ve seen. Their connections with various peculiar other things don’t seem so good. Do you have any impressions about them?

      Yesterday I got to thinking that there is something we could call “Camaraderie Christianity.” In “Camaraderie Christianity” (or “CC,” for short) participants do things that reinforce camaraderie. Doctrine is secondary to the experience participants have with other participants. Change is welcome because it is stimulating. No one likes a humdrum experience. The novel is exciting and regarded as a gift from God and can be defined as a manifestation of God Himself. In fact, these sorts of experiences can validate new doctrines. What can be more exciting than that? What can build camaraderie better than shared participation at the birth of a new thing?

      In CC, behaviors come into existence sort of the way that sub-atomic particles do, are modeled and then mimicked. Consequently, the appearance of this sort of movement or most other movements is kind of like what a big bubble looks like – the shape is always morphing and the colors vary depending on the thickness in the different parts of the skin and the sources of the light that produce the different colors. The bubble lasts until it is gone. Some of our bubbles have lasted a long time. Others, not so much. When they hit something hard, they tend to disappear.

      Now if you’ve had geology in school, you might remember the term “accretion.” This is the accumulation of stuff onto the edges of tectonic plates. California has these and so does Alaska. These bits and pieces of rock “docked” at the edge of the North American plate instead of subducting and being turned into something else. An example of this is the McCloud Belt in Northern California, This is a “terrane” full of fossils that look like things you’d find in the water around Indonesia’s islands today. It is completely surrounded by different kinds of unrelated rock. Some would say that Christmas and Easter are “accretions” because people long ago borrowed ideas from the pagans to get those people to convert.

      Hence, there are self-described Christians that won’t have Christmas trees or even celebrate Christmas. They prize minimalism. By contrast, everything in an Orthodox church – the icons, the processions, the interior design, the vestments, the chanting, the candles, the prostrations (which we won’t do again until Pentecost) – is supposed to lead us to think about God and what his desire is for us – everything. Everything, everything, everything. Bare walls and jeans with holes don’t lead us to think about God. They look like the world outside. Our icons show us people that are not like the world outside. They are holy people that are in Christ. At the beginning of a service says, “Blessed is the Kingdom of God of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” because the Kingdom of God is there.

      I believe that the Orthodox Church has dealt in the best way possible with threats to doctrine and has been flexible with practices that are geographic in origin, if you know what I mean. If we can “baptize” something without compromising our beliefs, we have. This has been a big influence in the way that missions have been done. Start with the true in a culture and build on that, rather than try to replace everything.

      That last paragraphs need work, but I’ve run out of time. I have to go finish yard work that I didn’t get done yesterday.

      Christ is Risen! Truly He is risen!

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      He was received into a Greek parish. All canonical Orthodox churches are in communion with one another, so for a new convert, it’s really a matter of preference when deciding where to attend.

  9. Is his radio work now considered to be something that the orthodox church must now take some sort of authority over, since he is not an ordained Orthodox clergy member???

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      I would assume that he is in consultation with his priest. But there’s no central command, per se. As I’ve said with this blog, I do not speak for the Orthodox Church. My opinions are my own, and I receive correction from my priest as necessary.

    2. Your question, Bradley, is an interesting one. I know of an Orthodox priest (once a Protestant missionary in South America) that lost all his support when he converted.

      If the Bible Answer Man has a board, they will have to decide if they can keep him, even though he isn’t a Protestant anymore. For some, the veneration of Mary will be enough to let him go. Of course, one can point out that Scripture says that all generations will call Mary blessed and then ask when the last time was that the Bible Answer Man board members’ churches called her blessed. In addition, there is the issue of the authority of Scripture. We Orthodox rely heavily on the Church Fathers for interpretation. One’s reliability on interpretation depends on one’s holiness, not primarily on one’s academic reputation.

      This doesn’t mean that the Fathers absolutely agreed on everything. For example, remember the disagreement that Sts. Paul and Peter had that St. Paul referred to in Galatians? Some believed that it was a “staged” thing so that those in the two camps would learn what the truth was through listening to those two men. Others believed that it was a flat-out fierce disagreement. There are things that Origen said that were brilliant and helpful and others that were not. Where he was right, he was right; where he was mistaken, he was mistaken.

  10. Let us all remember that Our Lord handed the keys of the kingdom to Peter. If we truly desire to be one as Our Lord commanded we would align with Peter and his successors

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  11. Hank is the Bible Answer Man. Whether or not he converts to orthodoxy should not matter. He is an apolof Eric. In an age of secularism where Christianity is constantly under attack, why can’t we unite as Christians? The devil encourages decisive behavior as Christians divided are easy to conquer.

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      I agree that Christians should be united. I do also understand that there are real heresies and errors being taught as truth in many places. For us to come together, each must seek out the truest, fullest expression of Christianity, as Mr. Hanegraaff has done. I hope his move will cause others to seek out the faith of the first Christians.

  12. The only thing I really have a problem with is the “conversion” part. If it is all the same , why is there conversion within the ranks?

    1. Ah, but it is not all the same. When Reformed and Lutheran failed to eliminate differences over the Eucharist, among other things, this was just the start of the splintering.

      There is a story, I think in Kallistos Ware’s “The Orthodox Church,” about a German Lutheran that visited Russia long ago. He met a priest or monk and introduced himself. The Russian told him that Protestants and Roman Catholics were two sides of the same coin. I didn’t understand when I read this but I kind of do now. There were influences in the West that the East didn’t get involved with. Some had to do with Augustine, Abelard, and Anselm. Another was the struggle over predestination, a subject that the Jerusalem Council in 1672 dealt with. Unconditional predestination and justification by faith alone were denounced and the Orthodox doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was asserted.

      Consequently, there are important differences between Orthodox on the one hand and Protestants and Roman Catholics on the other. Protestants look at Catholics and think in terms of the Reformation. Orthodox look at everyone else and think of when their ancestors had a parting of the ways. Does that make sense? If you read some of the Orthodox websites, you will see a better explanation than this one.

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      Yours is a good question. As I noted above, “conversion” is maybe not the best word to communicate what happened with Mr. Hanegraaff. He has, as did I, sought and found a deeper, truer expression of Christianity. He found the Church founded by Jesus Christ and passed down by His apostles in an unbroken chain to this very day.

      Conversion has all sorts of Catholic-Protestant connotations. Hanegraaff was received into the true faith.

  13. A good friend of mine would ponder on a group Bible study question and sometimes respond…”Hmmm, I wonder what Hank (Hanegraaff) would say?” I chuckle now as a plethora of sites ask and repond to The Bible Answer Man’s recent converson? Like so many other “converts” to Orthodoxy I say “Welcome Home”.

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