EQUIP: The Mission of the Christian Research Institute ~ by Hank Hanegraaff
The mission of the Christian Research Institute from
1960 to the present is encompassed in a single word: E Q U I P. In the
words of St. Paul, our organization is committed to equip "Gods people for works of service,
so that the body of Christ might be built up" and
strengthened (Eph. 4:12). Today, CRIs Internet
site (www.equip.org) further reflects our commitment
to this mission. The word EQUIP serves as an acronym
to define our goals and objectives.
The "E" in EQUIP represents the word essentials. CRI is committed to the
maxim: "In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty,
and in all things charity." Our goal is to make
people so familiar with the essentials of the Christian
faith that when a counterfeit looms on the horizon,
they will recognize it instantaneously. There must be
unity around the essentials, since essential Christian
doctrine forms the line of demarcation between the kingdom
of Christ and the kingdom of the cults. Today, as perhaps
never before, this line is not just being blurred by
false teachings, but it is being obliterated. The tide
in evangelicalism is turning from unity around
the essentials to unity despite the essentials.
Movements within the culture cults as well as
the church are compromising, confusing, and contradicting
essential Christian doctrine.
It is precisely because these essentials have been
redefined that millions have a completely distorted
view of what it means to be a Christian. As a case in
point, the "Faith" movement may use Christian
terminology when it comes to the essentials, but
the meaning it pours into the words is decidedly unbiblical.
Faith is redefined as a force, God is reduced to a being
who has faith, and the gospel of grace has been relegated
to a gospel of greed.
Although Faith teachers have trivialized the importance
of essential Christian doctrine, it remains the key
to effective Christian living. First, "essential
Christian doctrine" provides the framework through
which we properly relate to God in prayer, accurately
understand the Bible, and actively involve ourselves
in vital church membership. Furthermore, it is
the means by which we ably defend our faith. Finally,
it is the basis for how we live our lives. As Paul instructed
Timothy, "Watch your life and doctrine closely.
Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save
both yourself and your hearers" (1 Tim. 4:16).
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The "Q" in the acronym EQUIP
represents the word questions. In addition to
focusing on essentials, CRI answers peoples questions
regarding cults, culture, and Christianity. As we move
further into what has been described as a post-Christian
culture, it is increasingly important to equip Christians
to answer questions regarding what they believe, why they believe, and whom they believe.
The apostle Peter urges us, "Always be prepared
to give an answer [apologia] to everyone who
asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have"
(1 Pet. 3:15, emphasis added).
To begin with, answering questions involves pre-evangelism.
The vast majority of people in todays culture
think that Christianity is a blind leap into the dark,
rather than faith founded on fact. Thus, questions become
opportunities to use well-reasoned answers as springboards
for presenting the good news of the gospel. Answering
questions should never be viewed as merely a means to
demonstrate mental acumen, but as an opportunity to
humbly present the truth claims of Christ.
Answering questions also involves post-evangelism.
During an age of apostasy, knowing that Christianity
is historic and evidential strengthens our faith. In
a time when Christian leaders are falling around us,
it is encouraging to know that our faith is not based
on the reliability of men and women but on the unfailing
revelation of God.
Moreover, answering questions involves evangelism
itself. Christians on the cutting edge of evangelism
will be driven into education. While you are witnessing,
inevitably you will be asked questions you dont
know how to answer. Your response should involve admitting
that you dont know the answer to the question
but that you would be delighted to research and return
with an answer.
Through our daily Bible Answer Man broadcast,
correspondence, and customer service divisions, CRI
provides both pastors and parishioners with answers.
Imagine for a moment that youve encountered a
skeptic who claims the Bible is full of contradictions.
As evidence this person asserts that Matthew contradicts
Luke regarding the genealogy of Jesus. Bible Answer
Man listeners not only know the answer to this
apparent contradiction but also have been equipped
to use it as an opportunity to communicate the good
news of the gospel.
Furthermore, suppose some Jehovahs Witnesses
appeared on your doorstep and twisted you into a doctrinal
pretzel. Our correspondence division will assist you
in untangling the doctrinal distortions and also provide
you with the resources necessary to become a witness
to the Witnesses.
Finally, picture a university professor proudly asserting
that Neo-Darwinian evolution has rendered the notion
of a Creator obsolete. A quick call to CRIs customer
service hotline will equip you with a host of resources
that will prepare you to communicate that the theory
that all of life has evolved from a single source (macroevolution)
is full of holes, and that the preponderance of scientific
evidence indicates we have been designed by a Creator
for a purpose.
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The "U" in the word EQUIP
represents the word user-friendly. As much as
possible, the Christian Research Institute is committed
to taking complex issues and making them understandable
and accessible to the lay Christian. In the past, scholars
have often been content to play "intellectual keep
away" over the heads of people. But the defense
of the faith must never be relegated merely to bastions
of higher learning. Instead, apologetics must be both
user-friendly and painstakingly accurate.
The task of defending the faith can be conducted in
three distinctly different manners: top, slop,
and pop apologetics. As the middle letter in
CRI suggests, our ministry is committed to top
apologetics in the sense that the information we disseminate
is based on first-rate, primary research. It
can be depended on as trustworthy and true.
In contrast to many Christian publications, the Christian
Research Journal bases its information on primary
research and investigative journalism. In sharp distinction,
the evang-elastic stories many others circulate
are based on selling and sensationalism. A classic case
in point involves a story circulated by Charisma
magazine (June 1996, pp. 21-23) entitled "Holy
Water Triggers Healing Revival." Readers
were informed that plain old bottled water, when "blessed"
by a charismatic bishop, was suddenly transformed into
"miracle water." Those who drank not only
were "slain in the Spirit" but were also allegedly
healed of such aliments as "cancer, tumors and
heart disease." No evidence exists to support such
outlandish claims. Sadly, this is far from an isolated
incident. Stories such as Darwins supposed deathbed
renunciation of evolution and his conversion to Christianity
are frequently circulated this despite the fact
that there is not a shred of evidence to support the
story and ample evidence to refute it.
Stories like Charismas "miracle water"
and Darwins deathbed conversion might best be
characterized as slop apologetics. Rather than
advancing the cause of Christ, this kind of sloppy sensationalism
ends up dragging Christs name through the mud.
Without careful research it is easy to circulate fabrications
in place of facts.
On the one hand, we are committed to making apologetics
user-friendly (i.e., pop apologetics), while
on the other hand, we popularize information based only
on accurate primary research. For example, while my
Christianity in Crisis was written on a popular
level and presented in a memorable format, it was also
recognized for its complete and accurate documentation.
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This brings us to the "I" in EQUIP, which stands for integrity. Recall
Pauls admonition: "Watch your life
and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because
if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers"
(1 Tim. 4;16, emphases added). As a Christian organization,
we are committed to integrity in both practice and doctrine.
With regard to practice, we are committed to integrity
in business and finance. CRI adheres to the regulations
set by secular institutions such as the IRS and the
Better Business Bureau and adheres to further standards
set by the Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability
(ECFA). CRIs board of directors has established
additional standards that ensure fiscal accountability.
For example, CRI authors may not receive royalties on
books, tapes, or materials sold through the ministry.
With regard to principle, CRI is committed to doctrinal
integrity no matter what the cost. I have often said
that had I known in advance what I would face as a result
of writing Christianity in Crisis, I probably
would not have had the courage to continue. While some
may think that statement expresses cowardice, what my
battered heart was saying was that often God leads us
into circumstances step by step, because if we were
able to see what lay ahead in terms of suffering and
slander, even our steely determination and fiercest
resolve would prove inadequate. Thats why God
gives us the grace we need exactly when its needed,
and often not a moment before. While the financial cost
of our stand has been staggering, the spiritual rewards
in terms of transformed hearts and minds have been well
worth that cost.
Standing against the tide of unity at all costs is
not politically correct at the moment, but it will have
an impact for time and eternity. Abraham Lincoln stood
against the tide of slavery before it was politically
correct. As a result, liberals as well as conservatives
slandered him. Years ago I heard statements attributed
to Lincoln that have left an indelible impression on
my mind. They aptly sum up my convictions regarding
leadership: "I desire to so conduct the affairs
of this administration that if, at the end, when I come
to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other
friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left,
and that friend shall be down inside of me." "I
am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am
not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the
light that I have." Our goal should not be popularity,
prosperity, or a plaform, but rather to live according
to the truth, that at the end Christ may say, "Well
done, good and faithful servant!" (Matt. 25:21,
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Finally, the "P" in the acronym EQUIP represents the word para-church. CRI is
deeply committed to the local church as the God-ordained
vehicle for equipping, evangelism, and education. Through
our research, resources, and outreach CRI is helping
in that mission.
As a practical illustration, imagine a parishioner
asking her pastor whether or not she should attend a
Lifespring seminar. While the pastor may not have the
resources or time to do the required primary research
on human potential groups like Lifespring, this pastor
may well be aware that CRI is able to provide the needed
information. In our increasingly complicated society,
characterized by information overload, there simply
is no way local pastors can be expected to stay abreast
of the ever-changing world of the cults and religious
belief systems. CRI provides pastors and parishioners
with the facts and knowledge needed to defend the historic,
biblical Christian faith against the attacks of pseudo-Christian
cults, the occult, new religious movements, world religions,
atheism, and the plethora of other threats both from
within and without the church that attempt to undermine
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul summarized a vast list of biblical
exhortations when he wrote, "Test everything. Hold
on to the good" (1 Thess. 5:21). Christians must
be ready to give a reason for the hope they have within
them, and to do so with "gentleness and respect"
(1 Pet. 3:16). All believers are called on to defend
"the faith that was once for all entrusted to the
saints" (Jude 3). CRI is here to EQUIP you
to help you define and defend what you believe.
This article first appeared in
the Winter 1998 issue of the Christian Research Journal.