Sunday, August 24, 2008

Counterfeit Revival - Book Review

In light of the Lakeland 'Revival' and what we learned about Todd Bentley I asked around about books that dealt with this movement that I was largely ignorant of. Hank Hanegraaff's book Counterfeit Revival was recommended to me. Now in the arena of dealing directly with the Lakeland Revival this book will provide you with no help since it was written prior to those events. But what it does do is shed a lot of light on the soil that Lakeland sprang from.

There is much to praise in this book and some things that need to be critiqued. We will begin with the praise. This book was very well researched. I always keep a close eye on where the information is coming from (I prefer footnotes, I hate having to flip back to endnotes over and over again, which is the case with this book), and to his credit Mr. Hanegraaff cited repeatedly from the works of the people he was discussing. He also appeared to have contact with some (he made references to interviews and conversations). This all tends to give him credibility when exposing the error of another.

Also he did an admirable job of taking the historical claims of the Counterfeit revivalists and exposing them through the work of the historical figures appealed to.

The core of the book is an exposure and refutation of the ministry and claims of some extreme and downright wacky Pentecostals (now I am not a Pentecostal hater, real Pentecostals are opposed to the people dealt with in this book, besides most of my family are Pentecostal, lots of love). These folks are seeing and encouraging bizarre behavior and saying it is from God, they are also making grandiose claims that simply don't stand up under scrutiny, and they are handling the Word of God poorly (when they bother at all).

Mr Hanegraaf goes into extreme detail exposing these errors, however I have a small problem with his approach. He uses a kind of subtle mockery that I found a little annoying. He frequently introduced leaders in this movement as Counterfeit Revival leader so and so. I found this practice and others like it to be a little snarky. I also find constant alliteration frustrating and cheesy and this is the Bible Answer Man's stock in trade.

Overall, a helpful book in understanding where this phenomenon is coming from. It is also an easy read. But there are a few quirks that detract from the general quality of the book. And while there is a great deal of pointing out the error of the movement he has few corrective measures. So a fun read, lots of good information, good diagnosis, but look elsewhere for the cure.


Lorikate said...

I read this book when I had first heard about Todd Bentley. In Hanegraff's defense, sometimes you have to shake your head at the sheer gullibility of "Christians". Do they really have to swallow everything they're fed? I laugh at the foolishness of what's being said, and the inability to discern. But that's just my personal opinion. Another good book is Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur. It was written a while ago as well, but gives you the basics of what they believe. Another good one is The Holy Spirit by Billy Graham. Both books are well thought out, and factual - less condescending - you might say.

Jamie Fugate said...

Condescending is the right word for the weakest aspect of the book, but I think that his careful research kept him from distortions. So like everything else in our fallen world, its a mixed bag.