Bleeding Hearts and Propaganda:
I wrote Heresy Hunters to call for healing in the Church. One of my friends, a highly respected pastor, endorsed the book with these words: "Heresy Hunters is a well-written, theologically sound, and forceful call to the Church to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:3)
Almost immediately, however, I realized that some people were not going to take kindly to my attempt to bring reconciliation. On the heels of the positive reviews came some bitter denunciations.
One of the first indications of how serious some people were taking me occurred when I was a guest on a radio show in LA hosted by John Stewart, July 28, 1993just a couple of weeks after the book was released. I was debating Gretchen Passantino, a woman I had mentioned in Heresy Hunters. I found myself debating not only Passantino, but John Stewart as well. Then, halfway through the show Hank Hanegraaff, president of the Christian Research Institute, suddenly "dialed in."
I had the distinct impression I was the only one of the four of us who had no idea Hanegraaff would be part of the show. I felt as though I had been "ambushed." At any rate, I found myself backed into a corner by three debate opponents.
Such a scenario makes it impossible to have a conversation. It is like baiting a bear. You put a man in a ring and surround him with sparring partners, hoping he will make a fool of himself. It is the Christian version of Crossfire only worseon Crossfire there normally are equal numbers on each side of the issue.
Hanegraaff was very indignant. He said I had not shown him the "common courtesy" of informing him I was writing a book like Heresy Hunters. That was nonsense. As I mentioned in the previous chapter, at the behest of Dr. Gordon Lewis, I had written a very polite letter to Hanegraaff in October of 1992 months before the book was published, in an unsuccessful attempt to establish a discussion with him.
Further, I had talked with a member of his CRI staff about my first newsletter "Heresy Hunters!: Are They Themselves the Real Heretics?" a year before my book was published. She called me because "CRI was concerned" about my direction. We discussed the subject for more than an hour. Finally, in a letter, Ed Decker reminded Hanegraaff that they had discussed my book at the Christian Booksellers Convention a year before it was published. In a letter to both Hanegraaff and me the day after the radio show, Decker quoted Hanegraaffs remark to him at that time: "We are friends of Jims. We promote his ministry. Why would he be out to get me?"
But despite the evidence that he knew about my book at least a year before publicatoin and thought I was "out to get him," Hanegraaff denied it in the most explicit terms. He said, "I say one more time with all integrity before the Lord, I did not know you were working on it, I never saw a letter from you I can say with full knowledge that the Lord is listening to me right now I never discussed that with Ed Decker "
Detailed information regarding everything cited in this chapter, including photocopies of pertinent correspondence, is available by writing me for a catalog. This information is contained in several reports totaling more than 200 pages.
WHAT I SAID ABOUT HANEGRAAFF IN HERESY HUNTERS
Of course, I was not out to get Hanegraaff at all. In reviewing what I wrote, I am struck by the fact that I had been very kind to him in my book. It is important to repeat what the Bookstore Journal said about my book:
[Spencer] writes with great clarity and persuasion, crafting his sentences, paragraphs, and even entire chapters with unusual skill and sensitivity. He also writes with a sense of restraint, so that he might not be accused of that which he writes against.
I had used restraint in Heresy Hunters when I wrote about Hanegraaff. For the most part I simply stated his expressed position on doctrinal areas and then said why I disagreed.
After quoting from Hanegraaffs own writings about the Faith Movement, I asked several questions in Heresy Hunters. For example, I asked:
Is Hanegraaff wrong in calling Copeland the worst of all false teachers, in calling all Faith Teachers cult leaders, and in calling their ardent followers cultists? Is that an accurate assessment, or is it simply hyperbole which does not serve the cause of truth?
And I asked:
"Do Hanegraaff and his colleagues, in their synopsis of Copelands doctrine, give us a fair picture of what all (or even any) of the Faith Teachers really believe?"
After asking these questions, I attempted to respond to them rationally. It is true, I wound up concluding that Hanegraaff did not accurately assess the Faith Teachers, and that he did not give us a fair picture of what they really believe.
The bottom line is, I disagreed with him. However, I did so with kindness and accuracy. What is more important however, is that all of the objective reviewers agree that I was patient and peaceable in my book Heresy Hunters.
PUTTING PRESSURE ON MY PUBLISHER
A bombshell dropped on me on September 14th, 1993. The Editor-in-Chief of Huntington House, my publisher, called to tell me he was convening a special executive meeting to discuss withdrawing my book. Mark Anthony said he had received a phone call from Hanegraaff accusing me of manufacturing what Hanegraaff had referred to as my "AP credentials." He claimed those credentials were "completely fraudulent" and "he had all the proof."
I was stunned.
Anthony asked me to verify that I had worked for Associated Press, as Huntington House had stated in my publicity. I assured him that I had worked for them full-time as a newswriter during the 1971 Arizona legislative session while I was a journalism student at Arizona State University.
Hanegraaff further stated that I had "fabricated things out of whole cloth." He intimated that if Huntington House did not recall the book, he would initiate a lawsuit. According to Hanegraaff the book was "so riddled with error" that he wanted Huntington House to make some kind of recantation.
Anthony, of course, requested that Hanegraaff FAX him the documentation to back up his charges. Hanegraaff said he would first like to get a statement from Huntington House about what they would be willing to do, "If, in fact, I can document and demonstrate the allegations." Anthony responded that they would, of course, do what was right. He assured Hanegraaff "If there are any errors in the book, I certainly would want to address that."
For the next few days, Hanegraaff and Anthony continued to discuss the book by phone and by FAX. The documentation Hanegraaff promised was never forthcoming. As a matter of fact Im sure it never existed. After Mark Anthony spent a week in conversation and correspondence with Hanegraaff, he concluded that there was no substance to any of his charges. At the end of that week, Anthony wrote me a letter stating:
As you know, Hank Hanegraaff has been in contact with me this week For the majority of 3.5 hours, I was listening carefully, while he did most of the talking. We were supposed to be discussing the errors in your book, but a great deal of the time I simply sat in awe as Hank flayed and vilified you It was truly sad You have done well not to respond to Hanks mean-spirited attacks. You have behaved "Christ-like" under fire. I know how difficult that is. I have never heard you attack Hank Hanegraaff personally or say one unkind word about him I believe God will reward you for this.
As for the alleged errors that Hank continues to claim are in the book, he refuses to send any documentation of those errors. He mentioned a few silly things over the phone (an Ibid. out of place), but nothing of substance. In our conversion on Tuesday 14 September 1993, he assured me that your AP credentials were "fraudulent," and he said, "he had the proof." I requested that proof, and he later refused to send it, then, he said he had volumes of documentation to send to me, but later refused to send that. I have pleaded with him to send any documentation that would buttress any of his charges, but he simply refuses. In fact, in an ominously shrill tone, he has communicated to me that I should recall the book simply because he has leveled the charges The fact of the matter is, I believe he is afraid of your book. The reason is because you quote him directly and demonstrate how he craftily takes out of context the statements of the faith teachers
Im sure Hank figured he would issue a few threats and bully us into submission, but, as we say down South, "that dog wont hunt." I believe God has anointed this book. You have gently and lovingly corrected Hank (much more gently that Hank corrects those with whom he disagrees); and, who knows, God might even use your book to shed light on Hank Hanegraaffs path.
Eventually, Anthony told Hanegraaff:
Hank, your hope was that you would call here and bully us into submission and you were absolutely stunned that we asked for documentation.
SETTING UP STRAW MEN AND KNOCKING THEM DOWN
One of the primary tools of propagandists is what is commonly called the "straw man argument." This diversionary tactic is to ascribe something to your opponent which does not represent him and then destroy that thing. You might, for example, falsely accuse your opponent of believing in free love and then demonstrate why the concept of free love is detrimental to society.
This is propaganda in high form. The hope is that observers will become caught up in your arguments, agree with you, and never realize that your opponent didnt believe in free love in the first place. So it was with the "AP credentials."
I had never made a big deal out of my employment with Associated Press, I simply noted it in my biographical sketch along with my other career experience. My journalism background is, indeed, an important part of my overall career description: I majored in journalism in college, I wrote editorial pieces in the college newspapers both at Ricks College and at Arizona State University (where I was also hired by the college to be the Feature Editor of the Arizona State Press). I have edited a weekly newspaper and written regular opinion columns for other weekly newspapers. I have won journalism awards on the state level both for editorial and photojournalism work. I have written feature articles for several large Christian magazines, and have even been published in secular magazinesone of which has a circulation of a-million-and-a-half readers. In addition, I have seven Christian books currently in print. One of them has been in print for ten years. Another was a finalist for the Evangelical Press Associations Gold Medallion Award in evangelism. Finally, my books have been positively reviewed in numerous Christian magazines. All of those accomplishments should qualify me as a Christian journalist.
I was therefore shocked that Hanegraaff would open his discussion with my publisher with the ludicrous charge that I lied about working for Associated Press or that I had overstated my "credentials." Frankly, I was hurt by the attack on my character.
Ironically, this attack on my character is a classic example of propaganda. It is the ad hominem argumentthe argument "against the man," instead of against his message. It was precisely why I had written Heresy Hunters in the first place. I said Hanegraaff and others should debate their opponents on the issues, not attack their motives and character.
The most irritating point of all, however, was that the AP matter was a straw man. It was beside the point. I did not sell Huntington House on publishing my book because I had been employed at one time by Associated Press; it was simply an incidental fact. Some may argue that the fact that Huntington House printed that line from my bio on the back of the book means they were somehow trying to inflate that point. That is not true. If it were true, then Chosen Books was guilty of the same sin because they printed the same thing on my book Beyond Mormonism: An Elders Story, in 1984. But no one has ever thought that was unusual. The fact is, I have a journalism background and book publishers think that is worth noting on book jackets. So do radio and TV interviewers.
I worked full-time for Associated Press while I was a journalism student at Arizona State University. I was hired to fill in as a newswriter during the legislative session because the regular employee who wrote night "radio splits" had to spend a lot of time at the state house. My job was to take newspaper stories from throughout the state of Arizona and convert them to radio stories. The two styles are very different; a story read over the air must be written in very short sentences, and details such as a persons name, title, city of residence, etc., must be repeated; you cant look back up the page to confirm some detail you read in an earlier paragraph. The radio stories I wrote were then put on a teletype to radio stations throughout the state.
I worked for AP eight hours a night, from 4:00 PM until midnight, during the 1971 Arizona state legislative session. Each year Associated Press hired a temporary newswriter from the ASU Journalism school and sent their permanent employee to the state house. It was invaluable experience for me and I am proud to have been chosen for the assignment. I commonly converted dozens of stories from newspaper to radio format during a shift. During that legislative season, I wrote several hundred, if not a thousand of stories.
But I never inflated that or "hyped" that experience, I simply acknowledged it. I mentioned the experience only one time in all my booksin a 21-word sentence in my autobiography, Beyond Mormonism: An Elders Story. In addition, I have routinely included that work experience as one sentence in my biographical sketch, which is a one-page account of my experience as a minister and writer. Further, it was mentioned briefly on the back cover of two of my books, Beyond Mormonism: An Elders Story, and Heresy Hunters: Character Assassination in the Church.
When I wrote Heresy Hunters, I gave very little thought to the jacket copy. An author routinely sends a biographical sketch to the publisher in the very early stages of their contractual relationship. If I read the bio copy at all, I certainly didnt object to it. Here is what the fuss was all about:
Jim Spencer has been a news writer for Associated Press, as well as a newspaper journalist and businessman. His other books include Beyond Mormonism (Chosen Books, 1984), Have You Witnessed to a Mormon Lately? (Chosen Books, 1986) and Hard Case Witnessing (Chosen Books, 1991).
That was the entire back cover bio copy!
And what about references to myself as a newsman or AP newswriter in Heresy Hunters? Nope, nary a mention. Never once did I use a phrase like, "as a newsman I think " or "as a journalist myself " I never referred to myself as a newsman or journalist. So the idea that I billed myself as a big time newsman is totally fraudulent, and yet the Heresy Hunters came back to that over and over again. They erected a straw man and they destroyed it in public dozens of times. Smaller pop-apologetic ministries had carelessly repeated the charges in their newsletters. Eventually, thousands of people were treated to the story of how my "AP credentials" were "completely fraudulent."
One other point. Huntington House wrote the back cover copy and printed the first edition without my having seen it. As a matter of fact, the first edition printed my name wrong: I always author my books as "James R. Spencer." When I saw the book I was a little miffed to see that my middle initial had been dropped.
The bio copy didnt disturb me, but it isnt the way I would have handled it. After the Heresy Hunters attacked me, I wrote Mark Anthony that I probably would have emphasized my nine years pastoral experience which Huntington House did not mention at all. That was the voice I had used in the book. I was writing as an Evangelical minister worried about secular journalism creeping into the Church. Huntington House, however, focused on my writing career. That isnt how I would have done it had I been asked, however, I am adamant that it was not wrong to do it that way.
INTERROGATING MY DAUGHTER
Once Hanegraaff decided I was his enemy, he became nearly irrational in his attacks. He accused me of prostituting myself in defense of the Faith Teachers. After Paul Crouch interviewed me about my book on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), Hanegraaff (speaking on his CRI radio show) said:
"They [TBN] now, for a price, have people [as guests on the network] who will say things which are absolutely preposterous For example, a book came out recently " (That book, of course, was identified as Heresy Hunters.)
Hanegraaff continued to assert that Heresy Hunters was somehow aimed at him. And he insinuated over his radio show that I had not worked for Associated Press:
"He represents himself as being a guy that was a former secular reporter "
On Septermber 21, 1993 my daughter took a strange phone call at our home. A man, identifying himself as Perry Ferraiuolo called and said he wanted to interview me. When my daughter told me about it, she said, "Dad, something seemed odd about him. I cant put my finger on it, but he kept asking me if you had ever worked for Associated Press."
Im not certain whether Hanegraaff contacted Ferraiuolo or if it was the other way around. And Im not sure how they decided to focus on the AP matter. But I know for a fact they were working "that angle" together to discredit me. Hanegraaff apparently was convinced that the way to deal with the arguments made in Heresy Hunters was to discredit its author.
I had no idea who Ferraiuolo was. But my daughters instincts told her he was no friend. I decided to see if I could find out something about him before I called him back. Through one of my researchers, I discovered that he had written an article for Christianity Today, about Mike Warnke. I had mentioned Warnke in Heresy Hunters, saying I thought Cornerstone magazine had treated him unfairly in a mammoth article they did on him. That article "brought Warnke down" and Christianity Today reported his fall. Ferraiuolo had written one of the stories about Warnke.
After the Christianity Today article appeared, Warnke had written the magazine to complain about Ferraiuolos tactics. Christianity Today published the letter. In it Warnke said that Ferraiuolo had called him stating he was a freelance writer who wanted to tell Warnkes side of the story. Warnke said he would talk to him "off the record." Instead of telling Warnkes side of the story, Ferraiuolo, according to Warnke, "grossly misquoted and misrepresented" him. Ferraiuolo, of course, denied that. However, at least two other Christian ministries independently have had similar problems with Ferraiuolo (as I will document below).
THE "INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST"
Ferraiuolo authored an article called "Study Bible Favorites," in the December 5th, 1992 issue of Christian Retailing. In that article he mentioned, very positively, the Dakes Annotated Reference Bible. He wrote glowingly of it:
Dakes Annotated Reference Bible compels the serious Bible student to thought-provoking analysis and survey of Gods Word. It is oversized and weighty, but a valuable study Bible.
At the same time, he wrote Annabeth Germaine:
After extensively reviewing the Dakes for the article in Christian Retailing, Ive found it to be an essential part of bible (sic) study and sincerely thank you for the review copy. As late as last night, the Dakes cleared up a surface contradiction of sorts, when my wife and I were doing a study on "Anointing."
What a blessing!
However, a year later, he wasnt feeling so blessed. He wrote an article for Christianity Today, this time critical of the Dake Bible. In that article he quoted Christians who think the Dake Bible is heretical. Beyond that Ferraiuolo stated that the Dake Bible promotes racism. Further, in January and February of 1994, he was interviewed by Hanegraaff on "The Bible Answer Man" program, roundly condemning the Dake Bible.
Germaine and the Dake organization, however, found fault with the Christianity Today article. They claimed that Ferraiuolo made at least nine misstatements in the article. They demanded Christianity Today publish a retraction. In March, Christianity Today printed a letter from the Dake organization listing the nine items from Ferraiuolos article which they said did not appear in the Dake Bible. Christianity Today acknowledged:
The [nine statements in question] do not appear in the Dakes Annotated Reference Bible or in his book Gods Plan for Man CT regrets any statements that appeared to be textual quotations from Dakes works instead of interpretations by critics. [Emphasis added]
Ferraiuolo then FAXed Germaine, calling the Dake Bible "unorthodox" and "dangerous." He did not like the Christianity Today clarification and the fact that the Dake people defended themselves against his charges. He threatened to sue them because they had caused him "the loss of an otherwise unblemished reputation as an investigative journalist."
One other nationally known ministry had trouble with a Christianity Today story by Ferraiuolo. I have promised this individual I would not identify him in print and will honor that request. However, his complaint with Ferraiuolo is exactly the same as that of Germaine and WarnkeFerraiuolo was not straightforward in his initial approach to them and misrepresented what they told him during their interview.
The minister in question wrote a letter to Christianity Today after the Ferraiuolo article had appeared. In it he said:
I was somewhat reluctant to talk to your reporter, Perry Ferraiuolo, because I have found so many representatives of the print media to totally misstate or, at best, misrepresent what is shared in interviews. I suppose we have come to expect that from a great portion of the secular press, but I did not expect it from a magazine which bears the name Christianity Today I was assured [by Ferraiuolo] I would have the opportunity to approve and amend the article before it went to press. None of that happened! Of course, I suppose we should never believe what some reporters tell us. No wonder many Christian leaders are reluctant to talk to representatives of the media.
The minister in this case had reluctantly granted the interview because Ferraiuolo had ingratiated himself with his secretary. That secretary, in addition to scheduling an interview with her boss, also helped get him an interview with another minister of national renown. She wrote Ferraiuolo that she regretted helping him at all:
Your friendly demeanor immediately builds confidence in those with whom youre communicating, therefore I felt comfortable with your request [to interview her boss] Whether you meant to or not, you did tell me we would be given the opportunity to review and amend your article before it went to Christianity Today I called [another secretary] and encouraged her to reassure [her boss] that I felt you were an honest journalist who had nothing but good intentions toward him. [She] was very leery because of previous articles published by Christianity Today about [him], but because of her trust in my judgment, she agreed. I pled with you to be honest with me about your intent You repeatedly assured me it was to help, and I told you I was placing my trust in your integrity to do just that Finally, Perry, I want to tell you how I personally feel you were unfair. I feel that you endeared yourself to us in order to accomplish your objective, get an interview I am disappointed.
WERE INVESTIGATING YOU
Of course I knew none of these things about Ferraiuolo, except my daughters intuitive negative reaction to him and the fact that Warnke said Ferraiuolo had misrepresented him. And I knew he was asking the "AP questions." I supposed he was in league with Hanegraaff.
I decided the best course of action was to meet him head onso I called him on September 22, 1993. When I told him I was not interested in being interviewed by him because I didnt trust him, he became very agitated and lectured me for several minutes and told me I was "biased" and "theologically uncouth." Eventually he hung up on me.
Later he tried calling me a few times, but I didnt take his calls. My publisher, Mark Anthony, received a letter from Hanegraaff in November, telling him Ferraiuolo was working on a story about me for Cornerstone magazine. Hanegraaff wanted Anthony to know that Ferraiuolo was investigating me and that Ferraiuolo would be contacting Huntington House to "disclose further details to you regarding Spencer."
Ferraiuolo wrote me on December 30, 1993 to tell me he was, indeed, writing an article about me for Cornerstone. He said there was "a myriad of inconsistencies and contradictory material" which he had "deduced" in the course of his research. He said the article would not be viewed by me as favorable. He gave me ten days"a small window of opportunity"to respond to him.
The article finally ran, and it was not favorable. However, by then it was a little anti-climactic. I wasnt really troubled by it. Ironically, Ferraiuolo was! He was hopping mad at Cornerstone. He sent me a copy of a FAX to Cornerstone in which claimed the magazine had rewritten his article so that it "makes Green Eggs and Ham look scholarly."
Ferraiuolo said he was "shocked and disappointed" and informed them that his original piece "contained a gaggle of pertinent information," but that he was "horrified that you published your own story with my name on it, never sending me a proof copy for my own verification." (Which I must regard as poetic justice.) He concluded, "Journalism is my home, and I object to you soiling it."
Ferraiuolo FAXed me to say I should:
"count it all joy that this article appeared in Cornerstone [because] mine was, indeed, an in-depth analysis of your methodology, prejudices, deliberate misleading, background, and pastenough to raise your blood pressure way above where it is as you read this."
Looking at this material now, nearly a year later, it all seems rather silly and inconsequential. But, believe me, while it was happeningwhile these men and their friends were harassing me nearly every dayit was no picnic. It is wrong. There is no place for such "journalism" in the Church. As I said on a Christian television program recently, "The Heresy Hunters are experts in misunderstanding."
During the time Hanegraaff and Ferraiuolo were "investigating" me, I received this telling FAX from Ferraiuolo (I have retained the formatting exactly as he sent it):
TO: james richardson spencer
Navy serial #374-78-99
Sorry I missed your birthday, so belated best wishes to you Boy time flies from 40 on, huh? By the way, dont forget to renew your [drivers] license next year its due.
Sorry you wont talk to me via phone. You said you didnt trust me, and rudely hung up on me. Tsk, tsk, tsk. What have I, your Christian brother, ever done to you?
Anyway, be like Burger King have it your way. Heres a few questions Id like to ask you to answer ON THE ReCord.
How much money do you really feel youre due from TBNs love gift deal, and why are you so upset at supposedly being ripped of by HH? [I had no idea what he was talking about here.]
Why has your books contents been altered, but not recorded as a different printing or revised edition? [Only the most minor textual changes were made in the second editionmostly the correction of spelling errors.]
Why are your full-page ads deceptive, with your endorsements jumping ship, saying they never endorsed Heresy Hunters? [More on this below.]
Want an impromptu reaction? I hope you dont find yourself a few fries short of a Happy Meal
By the way, youre stuck with me. Im your brother, and I "aint" (I love that word) going away.
Sincere Best Wishes for Continuing "Success,"
The worst result of this kind of propaganda is that people trust Christian leaders and Christian writers to tell the truth. Ferraiuolo and Hanegraaff were not the only ones to utilize propaganda against me. Many other ministries picked up their material and repeated half-truth and innuendo about me and my book, based on what they heard on "The Bible Answer Man" and read in Cornerstone magazine. Some newsletters reprinted the misinformation as though it were truth.
EXPERTS IN MISUNDERSTANDING
One of the most discouraging events concerned an ad Huntington house ran in Bookstore Journal in March of 1994. The ad was made up of four primary parts: 1) copy from the cover of my book; 2) two endorsements of the book from Christian leaders; 3) excerpts from the review in Bookstore Journal; 4) general endorsements of my ministry from two other Christian leaders. When Hanegraaff saw the ad he apparently "went ballistic."
One of the people I had asked for an endorsement of the book was a colleague, Jack Hayford, pastor of the mega-church, The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. Hayford had given me a very positive endorsement for a previous book, Hard Case Witnessing: Winning "Impossibles" for Christ (Chosen books, 1991). I sent him a manuscript copy of Heresy Hunters and asked him if he would be interested in endorsing it. I said, "I will certainly understand if you have neither time nor interest I expect the book to be controversial."
I wrote that letter in February, 1993, several months before the book was published. I didnt hear anything from him until October. At that time he sent me the following letter:
Please forgive my delay in responding to your workHeresy Hunters!
Personally, I think this is a very valuable piece of work, and I am enclosing a copy of my recent article in Ministries Today. [Hayfords article on the Heresy Hunters entitled, "To Avoid a Modern Inquisition"] I am amazed at how closely we resonate on these issues.
May God bless you, Jim, as you serve Him so faithfully.
I wrote him, thanked him for the endorsement andto be safeasked if I could use it in advertising. I told him he need not respond if it was OK to use it. (In retrospect, that was a mistake. Honestly, however, I was simply trying to save him the necessity of writing an endorsement of the endorsement.)
Two months went by and I authorized Huntington House to use his endorsement. Then a month later, Hayfords secretary called me to say, "Jack is not withdrawing his endorsement, but he has some other things going and says it would be better if you didnt use it." I immediately notified Huntington House.
On March 2nd, I saw the Ministries Today ad. I immediately sent a copy to Hayford and explained that "I was surprised when I saw it and called my publisher. They said the ad had been prepared and placed before I contacted them."
Nevertheless, on March 9, before Hayford saw my letter of March 2, Hanegraaff called him. I do not know what Hanegraaff said to him, but Hayford told him the use of his quote was not authorized and gave him a letter saying that. Hayford sent me a copy. I actually got a third-party FAX of the Hayford letter before his copy reached me by mail!
I instinctively knew where Hanegraaff was going. Fortunately, (and a little melodramatically) I discovered Hayfords personal office FAX number was on the third-party copy I had received. Late Saturday night, March 11, I FAXed a multi-page document to Hayfords office explaining the whole matter. I told him Hanegraaff would undoubtedly go on the air with it Monday to make me look like I deliberately deceived Hayford. I asked him to get a hold of Hanegraaff before 3:00 PM on Monday and forbid him to "make hay" of the mistake.
Hayford did exactly that. On Monday, March 14th at 1:30 PM, I received a FAX from Hayfords secretary (she also phoned me). It was a copy of one to Hanegraaff saying Hayford was deeply concerned that the use of his comment about my book would be used "in any way that focuses a separation of myself from the supportive attitude towards James Spencer and his ministry."
I breathed a sigh of relief. I could mentally picture Hanegraaff saying that Hayford never endorsed my book and that I was deceiving people.
Hanegraaff waited two weeks and then did exactly thatdespite the warning from Hayford.
In fact he told "Claude in California" over national radio that Hayford had not endorsed my book. Hanegraaff even said, "Jack Hayford told me [that] personally, and told me I could say this publicly I asked him to give me this in writing so I wouldnt put words in his mouth " Of course, Hanegraaff was referring to the very first conversation he had wth Hayford, before Hayford forbade him to use the information to harm me.
Hanegraaff continued to say thatover and over again.
The final humiliation in this paraticular matter was that Hanegraaff also suggested that I tried to make people think Walter Martin had endorsed my book. In the section of the ad where I used general endorsements of my ministry I quoted Walter speaking positively about me: "I know Jim Spencer and his heart His is a dynamic ministry." That quote was excerpted from the back cover of my book, Have You Witnessed to a Mormon Lately? (Chosen Books, 1986).
In designing the Bookstore Journal ad, Huntington House thought someone contemplating buying Heresy Hunters might want to know what prominent Christian leaders thought of the author. Obviously I knew Martin had died in 1989. I didnt even conceive the book until several years after that. Any rational human being would have realized Huntington House had no intention of intimating Martin had endorsed the 1973 book, but rather included his endorsement to say I was someone he had known and respected.
On April 5, 1994, I had an electrifying experience which clarified my understanding about the Heresy Hunters considerably.
The event occurred as I was preaching in Tacoma, Washington. I had been invited to do a seminar on the Heresy Hunters for a group of fifty or so pastors. However, the meetings were open to the public.
I had a book table in the foyer, which I left unattended while I opened the seminar in the sanctuary. While I was in the meeting, some unidentified person or persons stuffed flyers in my books on the book table. The flyer was a CRI "Perspective," a paper entitled, "Exposing Doctrinal Errors: Heresy Hunting or Biblical Mandate?" The flyer was on CRI letterhead and the opening line was addressed to those in attendance at the conference:
Well, Im sure youve all heard by now, that Christians are simply supposed to love one another and be united together in Faith."
Note the first person voice of the flyer. While this was supposed to be a "position paper," in fact it sounded like a personal letter to the attendees at the conference. Whoever clandestinely stuffed the flyers in my books on my book table, got the flyer from CRI for the express purpose of getting them to the pastors at the conference. If that seems to you to be a little petty-minded for a giant Christian organization like CRI, you are right.
However, there is no doubt where the flyer came from and why it was sent. Or that it was sent with a purpose. You see, whoever photocopied it that afternoon (the meeting started at 2:00 PM) received it by FAX at 12:38 PM. How do I know? The "header" on the FAX reads:
APR-5-94, TUE 12:38, CHRISTIAN RESEARCH INST, FAX NO. 7148559927.
The last number was the telelphone number for the FAX at CRI.
The FAX obviously had been sent from Hanegraaffs office right before my meeting. However, whoever photocopied it and stuffed it in my books apparently did not notice that the originating header was plainly visible on the copies.
During one of the meetings in that conference a young man stood up while I was preaching and began to denounce me as a false prophet. At that moment, I saw something clearly. A word flashed through my mindbrownshirts. Now I understood how the victims of the Heresy Hunters felt when they arrived at meetings to be greeted by pickets handing out exposé-type flyers.
This event galvanized my soul. Oh, I wasnt hurtI have done seminars in Utah on Mormonism for years. I know what it is like to be confronted by angry people who disagree with you. What troubled me and what drove a knife into my heart was that this young man was being influenced by a propagandistic leader who was so concerned with his image that he resorted to such childish tactics. This was not coming from some wild-eyed cultist, but from the head of one of the most respected pop-apologetic ministries in the world.
It is not an exaggeration to say I was dumbfounded by the implications of the game Hanegraaff was playing. His insecurity, and the weary banality of it, haunted me for several days. I began to devote a couple of hours a day to prayer. I was worriedworried for the Body of Christ.
By the middle of the next week, I had prayed through; I reached a spiritual breakthrough and found my peace on the subject. The Spirit of the Lord seemed to be saying to me, "Be at peace, this will not stand. I will not allow this to go on indefinitely." From that moment, I knew it was only matter of time before this new out-of-control propaganda machine would be dealt with in the Church.
PART OF A PATTERN?
Hanegraaff treated me in a way he apparently treats others. On March 7, 1994, Brad Sparks, former scientific assistant to Hanegraaff filed a lawsuit in Orange County California Superior Court against Hanegraaff and the CRI board of directors. The suit alleged that Sparks was fired for "whistle blowing"calling attention to what he thought were illegal and unethical practices within CRI.
Three months after Sparks lawsuit was filed, some thirty former CRI employees petitioned the CRI board of directors, asking that Hanegraaff be removed. Matters relayed to the board in the 85-page report included the demand that the CRI board meet with the Group for CRI Accountability to "fully and fairly" investigate their charges. If not, they said they would take these matters to the general Christian public.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The implications of the stories I have related in this chapter are staggering. What I have said is that some pop-apologists have devolved into narrow, bigoted propagandizers. Please understand that this chapter is meant to provide some specific examples of out-of-control Heresy Hunters. I have been constrained by space. This section on propagandists could be a book in itself. This chapter could be ten chapters.
Because of the severe space constraint it occurs to me that the reader could get the impression that I believe the two individuals I have featured in this chapter are two-of-a-kind, that no other examples could be found. That is far from the case. My files are full of similar examples. In the past year or so I have had a dozen personal experiences like the two I mention here. In addition, numerous people have come to me with stories that literally made my blood run cold. Every day I hear of new examples. There is an epidemic of slash-and-burn journalistic fever.
However, I determined to limit this chapter to part of my own experience since Heresy Hunters was published. I chose to use examples with which I have personal experience and can adequately document and defend.
The chilling trend of propaganda in the Church cannot be overemphasized. I am not overstating the case when I say the fate of the entire pop-apologetic ministrya ministry vital to the welfare of the Churchis at this moment in the hands of a small, vocal, malicious band. I restate what I said in Heresy Hunters:
An alarming error is sweeping the Christian Church. A small, self-appointed band is confusing Bible-scholarship with character assassination.
These heresy hunters fail to distinguish between genuine error and Christian diversity and turn on their brothers in an ungodly feeding frenzy.
Using secular slash-and-burn journalism, the heresy hunters resort to personal assault and innuendo in order to remove those from the ministry with whom they disagree.
We must wake up and put an end to this foolishness before it deprives the Church of the entire pop-apologetic ministry.