Review of Cindee Martin Morgan's "The Bible Answer Man: Walter Martin and Hank Hanegraaff"
I loved this book! Cindee has brought back so many wonderful memories of her dad, Walter Martin. It is a refreshing work that calls for Christian unity with all our Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant brethren! I get so tired of members in each of these denominations going against the counsel of Martin when he said for us not to major in the minors.This is a main theme in the book. They all hold to the same Creator of all, Triune God, who graciously came in the person of Jesus to do that which we couldn’t do for ourselves, namely cancel the debt of sin, and then rise from the dead. When that is truly believed, the Spirit of God begins radically transforming one’s life. That is Christianity. That is the gospel or the Good News in its essence.
The primary fight I see going on among the members of these groups is the role of works in the Christian life. N.B.: it’s a sanctification or, better, an eternal security issue; it’s not an issue of the gospel or what initially gets one into the kingdom of the saved. Every church declares, for example, that if you’re sleeping with your dad’s wife and refuse to repent, then you aren’t saved (cf. 1 Cor. 5). Does that entail that works are necessary for salvation? This is where clear delineation is critical, and sadly, it is lost by many who are too lazy and comfortable with their own traditional categories. Prior to the Reformation, basically everyone in the 1,500 year history of the Church would say that your lack of work here in indulging in the flesh (cf. Gal. 5) nullifies any salvation you may have had. Salvation for them simply isn’t a once and for all event. People have been saved, are being saved, and will one day be saved. Post Reformation, many--not most--would claim that your lack of work here merely illustrates you never had salvation to begin with, since those who truly are saved do in fact repent of their sins. Regardless and again, the same true gospel is held by both sides. It truly is unfortunate that the Church 1) continues to confuse the minors with the majors and 2) castigates the other side with caricatures. The latter has to do with many of the pre-Reformationists accusing the post-Reformationists of being antinomians whereas many of the post-Reformationists accusing the former of being legalists. For more on this, see my blog "Is Catholicism a False Gospel Like Mormonism?" as well as Colson and Neuhaus’s, eds., Evangelicals & Catholics Together (Dallas: Word, 1995).
Cindee’s interview with Hanegraaff at the end of the book touches on how someone like Hanegraaff, who has converted to Greek Orthodoxy, sees the role of works. He clearly articulates the view I have set forth and underscores what is really important, viz., mere Christianity.
Another interesting piece of this book is Cindee’s take on the controversy that ensued after Martin’s death and Hanegraaff’s installment as CRI’s subsequent president. I have heard of this controversy for years and purposely didn’t care about it… until I read the book. Those interested in what happened owe it to themselves to get Cindee’s take. Given the evidence presented, as well as learning from Cindee in a Facebook message that the whole board voted Hanegraaff into his position, the matter seems incontrovertible. Their vote is the only thing that should matter.
There is also the related matter of Cindee being sued by her own family members, which I found to be very interesting. Given that CRI has the exclusive right to do with their material as they see fit, the lawsuit against Cindee and CRI seems frivolous.
I urge everyone to pick this book up and read it! I have been shaped by both Martin and Hanegraaff. I used to attend Martin's Sunday school class at Newport Mesa and was Hanegraaff's first intern at CRI. (I must say that I was really disappointed not to intern under Martin though.) These men have devoted their lives to carefully examining what the core of Christianity is and they have warned others of those who deviate from it. The Church today needs to humble themselves, stop pridefully assuming there is only their way to look at the ultimate authority of scripture, learn from these other great authorities (Martin and Hanegraaff), and stop the self-inflicted irrelevance of the Faith once for all delivered to the saints. There are more clear-cut enemies of the Faith that require our joint efforts in converting. That is not to minimize the converting of all unbelieving individuals within all these traditions of the Christian Faith, and Cindee does a job good at pointing that out.
R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
May 14, 2020