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Hendrik H. Hanegraaff

Interview, Biography and Testimony

from the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 2: Number 5, 1989.

The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.

Hendrik H. ("Hank") Hanegraaff is president and chairman of the board of Christian Research Institute (CRI). Prior to becoming president of CRI, he served for three years as a member of CRI's Board of Directors and was selected by Dr. Walter Martin to be chief executive officer of the ministry in 1988.

Hanegraaff, a multi-talented individual, has a rich and varied background which has uniquely equipped him to lead CRI into the future. He came to faith in Christ as a result of examining the scientific evidence for creation, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration of Scripture. Hanegraaff was discipled under the ministry Dr. D. James Kennedy, and served as a staff member of Dr. Kennedy's international Evangelism Explosion ministry. It was at Kennedy's church that Dr. Martin met Hanegraaff and expressed amazement at his memory, the only one he had encountered "that is better than my own." Through mutual admiration and a kindred spirit they developed an intimate and lasting friendship.

Hanegraaff is the founder (and has served as president) of Memory Dynamics. Memory Dynamics is focused on using memory principles (mnemonics) to facilitate teaching Christians to (1) internalize Scripture and biblical information and (2) effectively communicate the gospel and answer typical objections to the historic Christian faith. Hanegraaff has taught the internationally acclaimed Memory Dynamics seminar in churches, schools, and corporations throughout the United States and abroad.

Hanegraaff first became interested in memory development as a new Christian after experiencing an overwhelming desire to know God's Word. He began to memorize Scripture verses each week, but was quickly frustrated upon realizing that -- after several weeks of memorizing by repetition -- he could not remember what he had memorized the first week.

After researching memory techniques of teachers as far back as Simonides in the fifth century B.C., Hank became convinced that anyone could memorize quickly and with relative ease if just shown how.

Often described as a "walking computer," Hanegraaff claims only to have a trained memory, the result of a process he now shares with thousands worldwide. "People don't have bad memories, simply untrained memories," says Hanegraaff.

Utilizing his God-given talent for reducing the complex to simple and understandable terms, Hanegraaff authored Personal Witness Training: Your Handle on the Great Commission, an inherently memorable program designed to equip committed Christians to sensitively and effectively communicate the gospel and answer typical objections to the Christian faith. In unforgettable teaching sessions, Hanegraaff leads believers through the steps for becoming effective witnesses for life. Using enjoyable memory associations along with a relaxed style of teaching, he demonstrates firsthand that learning can be fun. During the training sessions, participants are introduced to "Evangel, the Good News Bear," who becomes the key to remembering a wealth of information. The sessions equip believers to communicate not only what they believe but why they believe it as well.

Dr. Martin said of Personal Witness Training (PWT), "It is the most significant program ever developed for equipping Christians to communicate their faith; it is not only innovative but also the most theologically astute presentation of the gospel I am aware of." Hanegraaff plans to incorporate this same kind of innovation in CRI's ministry of defending the historic Christian faith against the cults, the occult, and aberrant Christian theology.

A serious student of Dr. Martin, Mr. Hanegraaff has grown through the assimilation of Martin's books and tapes, as well as under his personal guidance and tutelage. His mastery of Martin's materials, memorization of the Scriptures, and ability as a public speaker enabled Hanegraaff to fill in for Dr. Martin as his speaking and travel schedule intensified.

When Dr. Martin selected Hanegraaff as the leader who would take CRI into the decade of the 1990s and beyond, he said "Hank personifies the next phase of development for CRI and is uniquely equipped through his dynamic leadership abilities, knowledge of the God's Word, and teaching ability to make sound, biblical apologetics a simple yet effective tool in the hands of the laity. His success as a businessman, strategic planner, author, and speaker have equipped him to lead the ministry of the Christian Research Institute aggressively into the future and to build on the work that I by God's grace began."

Among the books and materials authored by Hanegraaff are: Memory Dynamics: Your Untapped Resource for Spiritual Growth, Memory Dynamics: Your Key to a Rewarding Education, and Your Memory and the Proverbs: Keys for Successful Daily Living.

In addition to other areas of Christian service, Hanegraaff has served as a faculty member of the Development Association for Christian Institutions and as a pastor and the director of PWT at the 10,000-member Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta, Georgia.

Through his God-given talent of making the complex simple, then transferable through memory training, Hanegraaff's vision is to see CRI become a vehicle for equipping thousands of Christian lay men and women around the world to effectively share and defend their faith.

An Interview with Hank Hanegraaff President of Christian Research Institute

Interviewed by Ron Rhodes, Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter

Ron: Hank, when did you first become involved with CRI?

Hank: I first became involved with CRI as a board member three years ago. Then in October 1988 -- at Walter Martin's request -- I took on the added responsibility of Executive Vice President.

As a backdrop to my involvement with CRI, I want to mention that Walter believed that CRI's ministry would be more important in the decade of the 1990s and beyond than when he originally founded it in 1960. Walter believed we live in a time in American history that might be described as the post-Christian era, a time in which literally millions of Americans consider the historic Christian faith to be merely one of many valid roads to peace with God. Moreover, Walter believed that America is on the verge of an outbreak of organized evil. And because of this, he believed there had to be an organization like CRI that would be a bastion for orthodoxy.

It is toward this end that Walter and the CRI board of directors have been developing a strategic plan over the past few years for continuing CRI's ministry into the 1990s and beyond. I am honored and humbled that Walter requested me to lead the organization into the future. And I'm truly grateful that he had the wisdom and foresight to prepare this organization for continued growth beyond his lifetime.

Ron: I know that Dr. Martin thought highly of your memory system and its application to apologetics. What were his feelings on this?

Hank: Dr. Martin had always been intrigued with the idea of using memory as a tool for internalizing information on the cults. The goal, of course, would be to "equip the saints" for ministering to cultists. The process would involve three basic steps: (1) People can obtain concise, well-researched information about the cults from CRI; (2) They can then memorize or internalize this information; so they can (3) Apply this information in counter-cult apologetics and evangelism.

Ron: From a personal standpoint, why do you feel that CRI's ministry is important?

Hank: My feeling is that God has singularly laid His hand upon CRI. The threat presented by the cults and the occult has never been greater, and CRI is on the cutting edge of "equipping the saints" to deal with this growing problem.

I believe CRI is going to have more and more opportunity to reach people who are spiritually starving. I have noticed in recent months that people are increasingly spiritually hungry. The sad thing is that cultists -- like the Moonies, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses -- are making concentrated efforts to "feed" them. They are often willing to do more for a lie than Christians will do for the truth.

With the growing cult problem, the need for equipped Christians has never been greater. This is where CRI comes into the picture. CRI can show Christians how to take the deviations of the cults and use them as springboards to share the gospel.

Ron: What are some of your goals as the President of CRI?

Hank: In terms of priority, some of the more important goals are: (1) Continue building a broad base of financial support to sustain CRI's ministry. This ministry was built on the prayers and gifts of generous individuals all across the country, and the ministry will continue to grow as more and more partners join with us in combatting the cults. (2) I would like to see the "Bible Answer Man" radio broadcast expand into every major radio market in the country. God has mightily used this broadcast, and I believe He will continue to do so. (3) I would like to see the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL increase its circulation. As well, I'd like the JOURNAL to move from a triannual to a quarterly or more frequent publication. I'd also like to see it carried in Christian bookstores, schools of theology, libraries, and churches all across the country. And (4) I would like to see CRI continue to grow as a first-rate primary research institute. With thousands of cultic groups flourishing in the world today, CRI's research capabilities must remain a top priority.

Another priority is the goal of creating an exhaustive computer database which churches, educational institutions, and individuals all over the world can access for accurate, in-depth information on the cults. Because the cult problem is growing on a worldwide basis, it makes sense to provide a means of obtaining quick, reliable information on the cults. We are already laying the groundwork for this database.

Ron: Speaking of "all over the world," you visited CRI's Brazil office. Why did you go there?

Hank: A primary purpose was to help the CRI Brazil staff come up with a development strategy. Until now, most of the financial support for CRI Brazil has come from CRI's International Headquarters in the United States. Very little of it has been in Brazilian funds. I feel that it's crucial for CRI Brazil to develop a support base from within the country through church support. I'd like to see CRI Brazil eventually become financially self-sufficient.

Ron: Why does CRI need an office in Brazil?

Hank: The primary reason is that Brazil -- though commonly thought of as one of the world's largest Catholic nations -- is in reality the world's largest spiritist nation. Today there are an estimated 70 million spiritists in Brazil.

The first cult center I went to in Brazil was the Spiritist Federation of the State of Sao Paulo. I wanted to see firsthand why this religion is so popular. People were streaming in and out of this spiritist headquarters . . . hundreds, maybe even thousands in a single day. I discovered that mediums and channelers within the building claim to be able to help people with all kinds of problems, like broken relationships, financial difficulties, and sickness. These mediums endeavor to summon spirits to "help" the afflicted and needy.

It was sobering to see a large church next door that was completely locked up with no one around. That in itself told me a lot about the spiritual climate of Brazil.

Ron: Did you have any opportunities to share your faith while you were in Brazil?

Hank: Yes. One day I was walking with Paulo Romeiro (CRI Brazil Director) and Paul Carden (CRI's International Coordinator), and we saw two Mormons speaking to a Brazilian. After the Mormons walked off, Paulo talked with the one just proselytized while Paul and I went to talk with the Mormons. Paulo was able to share the gospel with this man, and he became so interested that he came to the CRI office the following day for more information. And we had the opportunity for a good dialogue with the Mormons as well. We were excited that God opened these doors of opportunity for us.

Ron: In terms of how CRI's International Headquarters relates to CRI Brazil and other offices CRI may establish in other countries, how would you describe your philosophy of leadership?

Hank: In terms of leadership, CRI's International Headquarters can function as a catalyst for beginning operations in other parts of the world. Ultimately, however, it is my philosophy that those organizations need to be handled and operated indigenously by the people in that particular culture. We may act as a catalyst in terms of the resources needed to get them started, but again -- the whole idea is to train and equip the people in that culture so that we can pull out and go to other cult-infested areas of the world. This way CRI can launch countercult ministries throughout the world that are self-perpetuating organizations.

Ron: Hank, bottom line -- what is CRI's mission in the world?

Hank: I am absolutely convinced that the greatest need today in the evangelical Christian church is for equipped Christians -- Christians who know how to share their faith, who know how to answer objections, who know how to take the deviations of the cults and use them as springboards to share the good news of the gospel. Toward this end, CRI's distinctive mission is to equip Christians to "make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15).

The Personal Testimony of Hank Hanegraaff

On a wet, windy January day in 1979, three people from a church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, knocked on my door. The contact came at a time when I had very little interest in spiritual matters; yet, this visit marked the beginning of a whole new life for me.

Although I enjoyed the benefits of growing up in a Christian home, I always had recurring doubts about the existence of God and the validity of the Scriptures. Moreover, I was convinced that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was nothing more than a fairy tale for adults, and that evolution was a proven, scientific fact. For all practical purposes, I was an atheist and was determined to handle my life my way; God simply did not fit into my plans or my lifestyle.

Nonetheless, the night of the visit, I listened attentively as my three visitors sensitively and effectively presented the good news of the gospel. Not only did they clearly present the gospel, but they also confidently answered my questions about the existence of God, the resurrection of Christ, and the inspiration of Scripture. Though I did not make a commitment to Christ that night, the seeds were planted.

Chuck -- one of the visitors -- was aware I was an evolutionist and suggested I attend a local creation-evolution seminar. "After all," he said, "if you consider yourself an evolutionist, you ought to at least look at the other side of the coin. Then you can make an informed decision based on the evidence."

Several days later I found myself irresistibly drawn to this seminar. And in a very short time it became clear to me that evolution was not the proven, scientific fact I thought it was. I discovered that it was nothing more than a theory -- or more accurately -- a low-grade hypothesis.

During the seminar I discovered that evolution flies in the face of the basic laws of science. One of these, the 2nd law of thermodynamics, says that in any ordered system there is a tendency for that system to decay toward a state of disorder and deterioration. The evolutionary hypothesis feebly attempts to argue just the opposite: that the tendency is toward order. The 2nd law of thermodynamics and other scientific laws convinced me that however man came to exist on this planet, it couldn't have been by evolution.

This seminar marked the beginning of a personal quest for truth that would last three months. I began by examining the evidences for the resurrection of Christ, the foundation stone of Christianity. Among other books, I read Evidence That Demands A Verdict, by Josh McDowell, and The Law Above The Law, by John Warwick Montgomery. I discovered that belief in the Resurrection does not necessitate a blind leap into a dark chasm because it is based on irrefutable facts. I remember thinking at the time that the evidence for Christ's resurrection is so overwhelming that no one can examine it with an open mind desiring to know the truth without becoming convinced that it is the truth.

The evidence continued to mount as I investigated the claim that the Bible is the Word of God. I discovered that the Bible was written over a period of about 1600 years, by forty different authors, on three continents, in three languages, on hundreds of different subjects, without contradiction, and with one central story line: God's redemption of mankind.

Moreover, the Bible is proved to be the Word of God by fulfilled prophecy. I had not realized that the Old Testament contained approximately 500 prophecies on the life of Christ, made at least 400 years prior to His birth. What are the chances, I reasoned, of all these prophecies coming to pass if the Bible weren't the Word of God?

After my three-month quest for truth, I became convinced that atheism as a belief system is completely unreasonable. All the evidence was stacked against it. It was not long after this that I found myself on my knees one night asking Jesus Christ -- whom I had denied for years -- to become the Savior and Lord of my life. And though there was no real emotional experience accompanying my conversion, I remember I was absolutely willing to turn every area of my life over to Christ.

As a new Christian, my life changed dramatically. Before becoming a Christian, my life was characterized by a pervading sense of inferiority. I never felt as though I measured up. The only way I knew to make myself feel significant was to acquire wealth. It was as though I was saying, "Look at me. I'm worthwhile. I have a beautiful home and own lots of nice things."

After I became a Christian, however, God began to work a transformation in my heart. This involved replacing my feelings of inferiority with a sense of confidence. And this confidence is not based on what I have or don't have, but on my assurance that God loves me and has a perfect plan for my life.

This new found confidence was tested not long after I became a Christian when the silver market crashed. I lost virtually all I had in a few short months. I felt as if I were in the eye of a hurricane. Things were going awry all around me, but I felt a sense of peace and calm that was hard to explain. It was a peace that transcended my circumstances.

Not long after my conversion, I was integrated into vital church membership and began to grow in my faith. It was there that I learned how to become an effective witness for Christ and how to train others to do the same. Since then, sharing my faith and training others to communicate the gospel has become a lifestyle for me.

As I grew in my faith, I developed an insatiable hunger to know God's Word. I wanted not only to get into the Word but I wanted the blessing of getting God's Word into my heart. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to go about memorizing the Bible with good retention. My attempts to memorize Scripture ended in constant frustration. But I found the solution to my problem in a study of mnemonics, the science of memory. I began to assimilate and apply memory systems used with great success throughout the centuries, including the most current discoveries in memory training.

As the application of these techniques bore fruit in my own life, I was asked to show others how they could learn to use the abilities God has blessed us all with to remember His Word. This led to conducting memory seminars for churches, schools, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. This -- in turn -- led me to discover the basic parameters of the ministry to which God has called me. He has called me to teach people how to memorize or internalize the Word of God and biblical information, and share the good news of the gospel with others.

How does this relate to my involvement with CRI? The answer to that question for me is simply this: Subsumed under communicating the good news of the gospel is answering typical objections to the historic Christian faith and dealing with the deviant doctrines of the cults. With this in mind, I believe that memory can be used not only to internalize the Word of God, but also to internalize information about the cults and Christian apologetics. One of my goals therefore is to take the massive amount of information we have on the cults, distill it to an irreducible minimum, make it simple and transferable so the average person can grasp it, and put it into a memorable format so people can internalize it. I see this as complimentary to CRI's mission to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

End of document, CRN0012A.TXT (original CRI file name),
"Hendrik H. Hanegraaff, Interview, Biography And Testimony"
release A, February 7, 1994
R. Poll, CRI

A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.

Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute.

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