Bible Answer Man Sues Apologists

by Dwayna Litz - November 14, 2006





Hank Hanegraaff, the self-styled “Bible Answer Man” will have to give an answer to God someday.[1] He will have to give an answer for why he has sued a Christian brother and is now suing another Christian brother in a court of law and disobeying the Bible, the Bible he quotes famously as the “Bible Answer Man.” Hank additionally is siding with the “Local Church” in a lawsuit against apologists and Harvest House Publishing.[2] Is Hank’s foray into these legal battles indicative of biblical incredulity on his part in light of passages such as 1 Corinthians 6, or does he just not know what 1 Corinthians 6:1, 7-9 states? Shouldn’t the “Bible Answer Man” revere all chapters of the Bible from which he teaches? Would that standard be too high?

Just look at us. Have we come to the place in the American Church where we can take any proud, irreverent interpretation of “being persecuted for righteousness sake” straight to the bank? Surely the Bible Answer Man would not teach us such a lesson. Would it be too presumptuous of us to expect the Bible Answer Man to live in obedience to the Bible, like we are all commanded to live as Christians?

Harvest House, John Ankerburg, and John Weldon are being sued by the Local Church [see update: Part 2], and Hank is supporting this lawsuit. Gretchen Passantino has chimed in, too, to aid Hank against these apologists in this lawsuit. It is funny how most of Hank’s audience is not aware of this lawsuit against apologists. As I have spoken to radio hosts and Hank’s “fans”, they have all seemed astounded at this news. If there is nothing wrong with it, then why not feature this story on a segment of the radio show? Christians would be interested in your answer, Hank!

This recent letter in support of the Local Church is only the latest in Hank’s suing record. Hank currently has a law suit filed against Dr. Bill Alnor at Spiritual Counterfeits Project.[3] Moreover, Hanegraaff counter-sued another Christian, Brad Sparks, a former employee of CRI back in 1995. Here are some of the details from Brad:[4]

 “…I, along with my wife and children, were punished for publicly speaking out. We suffered from Hank Hanegraaff's $400,000 of harassment from an international secular law firm (Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher) (according to figures given in CRI's audited annual financial statement for June 30, 1995), as well as from an unknown amount CRI spent for a private detective agency (Allied Management Resources), which was conveniently withheld from the audit report. That was approximately how much CRI donor money was spent by Hank without the donors' knowledge or approval of such shocking amounts (roughly 10% of the CRI budget), all to protect Hank from accountability…It apparently does not even include an unknown amount of money spent on Hank's and CRI's countersuit against me [Brad Sparks] (undertaken without even a pretense of Matt. 18 action), which the audit report also conveniently failed to mention. And it doesn't include any amounts spent in July 1995 after the cutoff date of the audit (such as the $20,000 settlement).

"I was forced to settle my case because of the abuse and vicious tactics engaged in by Hanegraaff and CRI…CRI has certainly taught the cults a thing or two using all this CRI donor money to frustrate and harass me with high-priced lawyers and private detectives. If my case was so ‘baseless’ and ‘frivolous,’ as Hank and his minions claim, then how come with all these hundreds of thousands of ‘ministry’ dollars to pay $200- to $300-per-hour attorneys, they still couldn't even prove it ‘baseless’ in a court of law?”

Hank Hanegraaff obviously has no qualms about Christians suing Christians.

"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?" I Corinthians 6:1

"Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!" 1 Corinthians 6:7-9

So, it begs the question, does the “Bible Answer Man” care about what the Bible teaches? Maybe he has given that verse about not suing a “new interpretation” which is another current trend in disobedience to stifle the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

 “Vengeance is Mine, and I will repay” (Romans 12:19), and no amount of money can appease God’s wrath!

Does it matter to Hank that Walter Martin defended the faith against the cults?  Walter Martin used to spend his time defending the Bible, not defending the cults. Here is what Walter Martin had to say about the Local Church: 

“Witness Lee worked with Watchman Nee and in the 1940s was sent… by Watchman Nee to carry forth his specific views…What you begin with in the Local Church is exactly the error committed in the kingdom of the cults…We are dealing with: this is the church of the recovery. Christianity has suffered great reversals, and it has to be recovered. What is the agency of the recovery? Witness Lee’s theology and the Local Church. So, when they are in session…and we are in session…they are the church of Jesus Christ, and we are not. Well then who are we? We are told by the Local Church that we are the ‘Daughters of the great Whore of Babylon’, all the denominations are the ‘Daughters of the Whore’…” –Walter Martin, “Witness Lee and the Local Church”[5]

 In a day where cults are being called “sacred tribes” by Christians, this news of Hank Hanegraaff siding with the Local Church should not be surprising. May we pray for Hank Hanegraaff and never get used to the wrongs committed against God in this current age of apostasy…even when the wrongs are from people who are known for having Bible answers. 

Details from Jill Martin Rische’s blog at , October, 2006:

In the 1970s Walter Martin met with Witness Lee in an effort to discuss the theology of the Local Church before he commented on it publicly. Walter Martin felt that the Local Church was dividing the Church of Jesus Christ. They were using methods of evangelism and biblical interpretation similar to those used by the cults, and Walter Martin believed they were in serious error. Bob and Gretchen Passantino did extensive research on Witness Lee and the Local Church at Dr. Martin’s request. They provided him with the primary documentation he needed to challenge them. As a result of this research, Walter Martin gave his lecture on the Local Church:

Today, it seems not much has changed in the methodology and beliefs of the Local Church.[6] CRI must agree that not much has changed,[7] and yet, Hank Hanegraaff and Gretchen Passantino (Christian Apologists) decided to publicly support the Local Church against John Ankerberg and John Weldon (Christian Apologists) and men with a record for a bold defense of the Christian faith.

Is “The Local Church” a Cult?

Is the Local Church a cult of Christianity?

Why the Local Church was included in the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions

Friend of the court or friend of the cult?

CRI’s statement explaining its Friend of the Court brief

Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:38):

Flippantly against the command of God’s Word on filing lawsuits, here is a quote from Hank and Gretchen to explain their position, as if the truth set forth in the Bible simply does not matter:

"We believe the court’s dismissal to which this appeal is being made was a dangerous, precedent-setting decision that greatly interferes with our First Amendment rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion. Furthermore, this precedent sets a lower standard for religious publishing than for secular publishing and demeans commitment to truth. Finally, we believe the consequences of the court’s decision are life- and liberty-threatening to Christians living under repressive, religiously persecuting regimes."[8]

Jill Martin Rische responds to Hank’s Claim:

“They seem to think that by throwing around big words and phrases like ‘First Amendment rights’ and ‘dangerous precedent setting decision’ that this somehow justifies their sneaky behavior. . . it does not…First, they advocate Christians suing Christians--because it protects free speech and free exercise of religion. Second, they accuse Harvest House of lowering the standard for religious publishing…As for commitment to truth . . . (wait--I have to get my inhaler)…Third, they drag in the great saints of God from across the seas--people living through hell every day of their lives for the glory of God--and say that they (Hank and Gretchen) are supporting the Local Church for their sakes! …How can this egocentric lawsuit set any precedent in the U.S. or overseas? Sorry Hank and Gretchen, it's just not that important…”[9]

Recapitulation from Jill Martin Rische:

“The Local Church sued Harvest House, John Ankerberg, and John Weldon in December, 2001, claiming they defamed them in the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions. [10] Then in August, 2006, Hank Hanegraaff and Gretchen Passantino filed statements with the Texas Court of Appeals in defense of the Local Church--and consequently--in support of the Local Church's position in this lawsuit. Why did they do this? Only God, Hank, Gretchen, and the Local Church know the answer to that. The Local Church is upset--they reject any link to the word cult. My answer to the leaders of the Local Church is this: if you are truly Christian brothers, then show the love of Christ. You have no business taking your brother to court. You are acting more like cult members than Christians. Stop it now. To Hank I would say this: Actions speak louder than words. Either stand by CRI's position on the Local Church, or take it down. Don't say one thing and do another--that makes you a double-minded man (James 1:23). And while you're at it, drop your lawsuit against your brother in Christ, Dr. William Alnor. Where is the love of Christ in your actions?…How foolish are these lawsuits in the light of God's instructions to us? You tell me: And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:32). Who is being kind? Who is tenderhearted? Who is forgiving? I think my father got it right when he pounded the pulpit and said, ‘The whole world is going to Hell around us, and we're fighting about nothing!’” [11]

“File a Complaint” In Defense of the Bible:

The Local Church:
John Ankerberg:
Gretchen Passantino:
Hank Hanegraaff:


Since Hank has already proven that he WILL sue apologists, please keep in mind that these statements are purely my opinion and the opinions of the other Christians quoted and no slander, libel or defamation is intended herein. [12]

“For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.” (1 Peter 2:19)

“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God…Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (1 Peter 4:17, 19)

 Dwayna Litz

Part 2 - December 12

Apologists Speak Out:

Back when I used to listen to “The Bible Answer Man” radio show with Hank as host, I recall books being promoted by Norman Geisler on the program. Interestingly, he was lauded as a great apologist by Hank, given his current stand against this lawsuit (as quoted below). We can only presume that this is of authentic significance, testifying to a concern beyond a mere conflict of interest. (See the section below which I have bolded for emphasis)

“My name is Norman L. Geisler. I am the Dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary near Charlotte, NC. I am an author, co-author, or editor of over sixty books and some 200 articles on cults, apologetics, theology, and related topics. I have four earned degrees from accredited schools (B.A., Th.B., M.A., and Ph.D.).

"I have been teaching on the college or graduate level for 47 years. I have written many articles for The Christian Research Journal published by the Christian Research Institute (CRI) whose president is Hank Hanegraaff. These including [sic] a two part series on The Essentials of the Christian Faith, which sets forth doctrinal norms for determining which groups fall short of the claim to be Christian and can thus be appropriately labeled as unorthodoxy, heretical, or a cult.

"I am aware that Hank Hanegraaff, President of CRI, has filed an Amicus Brief urging this Court to grant the Petition for Review filed by The Local Church, Living Stream Ministries, et al. in the above captioned case. To the contrary, I believe that it is critical that this Court deny that Petition. I state my reason for this position below.

"In over fifty years of research on doctrinal matters, it is my professional opinion that 1) It is doctrinally appropriate to label some groups by the terms unorthodox, heretical, or a cult. 2) It is appropriate to use these labels of The Local Church.”[1]

December 1, 2006—Local Church Appeal is Denied:

Texas Supreme Court Denies Petition for Review of Defamation Lawsuit Against Harvest House Publishers and Authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon

On December 1, 2006, the Texas Supreme Court denied review of the Local Church and Living Stream Ministry’s $136 million libel lawsuit against Harvest House Publishers and authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon. At issue in the case was the book Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions (ECNR), which The Local Church claimed was defamatory of them.

So, at least for now, this matter has been laid to rest. I will keep Hank in my prayers. As I have written this article, I had moments of personal sadness, remembering how much I used to love his radio program and how God used his radio program to inspire me to tell others about Jesus. Listening to him used to make me want to get out there and defend the Gospel!

Well, reading about Hank today still makes me want to defend the Bible and the ways of the Holy Spirit, but it is a different defense—to stand against these grievances which have been going on behind the scenes at CRI (documented in this article and other articles such as the LA Times) through Hank’s example of leadership. And I can only listen to him discerningly with a heavy heart these days, to observe voyeuristically what I pray to avoid in my own life as I learn from what has happened over time at the Christian Research Institute. His actions have spoken louder than his words to me, and I can’t hardly listen to his radio program anymore.

I am inspired today afresh in apologetics from listening to taped recordings of the original Bible Answer Man, Walter Martin, and I never cease to be excited and exhilarated in the ministry of evangelism, even when an article must be written to defend the Bible and the humble ways of the Holy Spirit against unbiblical tactics of the current CRI.

Dwayna Litz

[1] Matthew 7: 22 (see also John 3:36; 10:14; 14:15 and1 John 2:3-4; 9-10)


[3] Lawsuit is not against Spiritual Counterfeits Project. 

[8] Jill Martin Rische’s blog, , October 18, 2006 [emphasis added]

[9]; see posts for October 15,18,19, 2006