While many see a spiritual revival in the recent rise of Pentecostalism and faith healers, Hank Hanegraaff, Christian radio’s wildly popular “Bible Answer Man” and author of Counterfeit Revival, sees nothing short of a hoax. According to Hanegraaff (who is a fundamentalist Christian), the only true path to God is—what else?—the Bible. The following is Hanegraaff’s explanation, excerpted from an August radio interview conducted by Hugh Hewitt, guest host on the nationally syndicated “Michael Reagan Show.”
The kinds of things that have been commonplace in carnivals and communes are now center stage in the church. The principles of sociopsychological manipulation that have been used by stage hypnotists are now being used by pastors.
I was down in Pensacola, Florida, at an Assemblies of God church. One lady was waving her head back and forth wildly for two and a half hours while I was there; she’s been doing it for one and a half years. That’s not only dangerous from a spiritual standpoint, it’s also dangerous from a physical standpoint, because the cervical spine is not set up for that kind of motion.
These manifestations are explainable by natural causes. Certainly they’re harmful. They’re characteristic of neurological diseases such as palsy. And they’re found in the world of the occult. A cultist always dulls the critical thinking faculty, because the mind is seen to be the obstacle to enlightenment. Counterfeit revivalists say—and this is one of the mantras you hear over and over again—”God offends the mind to reveal the heart.” In other words: “Don’t think about this critically— accept it uncritically.” But in Scripture we’re told to be “alert and sober-minded.” We’re not supposed to be out of control.
When people have no barometer for truth whatsoever, anything can go. People are roaring like lions, barking like dogs, writhing on the floor, jerking spasmodically, laughing uncontrollably, and they think this has to be the Holy Ghost. Obviously it does not. This is experiential pandering.
If you go back to Franz Mesmer in the 18th century, he would simply point a finger in the direction of one of his devotees, and instantly they would begin to jerk spasmodically. There was no illusion whatsoever that this had anything to do with spirituality. Mesmer said he could heal people. Now a lot of evangelists in the counterfeit revival are saying the exact same thing. The truth of the matter is this: Mesmer could heal people of psychosomatic illnesses by psychosomatic cures. And so can today’s evangelists and faith teachers. But they can’t heal people of organic diseases. You have these guys—the very guys that are pandering this kind of stuff—walking around with bad toupees. If they really were into the genuine article, perhaps they’d heal their hair.