December 1, 2022 (Updated 12/14/22)
Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson have been contributing writers of the bimonthly Christian Research Journal (under the auspices of Christian Research Institute) since the late 1990s. Over the past two-plus decades, they have written more than two dozen articles featured in the magazine that was led by its now-deceased editor-in-chief Elliot Miller.
Walter Martin–the founder of the non-profit ministry–is best known for his groundbreaking book Kingdom of the Cults, originally published in the 1960s. In an updated edition of that book printed after Martin’s death in 1989, Bill helped update the chapter on Mormonism. Hank Hanegraaff became the ministry’s president the following year. In 2020, Hank interviewed Bill and Eric in the CRI studio for two different one-hour “Bible Answerman” shows discussing their book Mormonism 101 (originally was published in 2000 by Baker Books).
In mid-2017, Hanegraaff converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. It was a curious choice given that the Eastern Orthodox give credence to “Holy Tradition” while denying “Sola Scriptura” (the Bible alone). Could this man continue, then, to be the “Bible Answerman”? Apparently so, as he held firmly to his presidency. Two Christian radio networks (Bott and Truth) later cancelled the daily Bible Answerman program on their stations because of Hanegraaff’s puzzling decision.
At that time, we had to decide if we would remain as contributing writers of the magazine or resign. After speaking to the magazine’s editors, we were told that they wanted us to continue writing on issues related to Mormonism. We agreed as long as the magazine did not turn into an Eastern Orthodox resource. While most of the articles published in the magazine during the past five years have continued to be in line with Evangelical Christianity, more Eastern Orthodox philosophy has made its way into the magazine. One reason is that Eastern Orthodox authors are now allowed to contribute and are sometimes even featured. As a note, we have not written for the Journal since early 2020.
In the Christian Research Journal (Vol. 45, No. 02/03 in late 2022), an article on the last page by Hanegraaff convinced us that we need to sever ties with the organization. In the “Ask Hank” article on page 62 of that edition, Hank asked, “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?” His reply: “For most of my public ministry I have answered this question in the negative. And for that I am genuinely sorry because Christ, the church, and the creeds unanimously answer in the affirmative.”
He provided several commonly used verses to support the baptismal regeneration case: John 3:5; Col. 2:11-12, Rom. 6:4 and Mark 16:16. We feel that his biblical exegesis in this case is lacking. Quite ironically, he argued as a Latter-day Saint would, which is the audience we wrote about for more than two decades during our time at this magazine. We were told in a response to our resignation letter on 12/3/22 that baptismal regeneration is a “non-essential theological view.” We disagree.
What is even more interesting is how an extensive two-part series in the Journal from the 1990s (PDFs given below) explaining how each of the verses he used to support his flimsy case was used improperly is on the ministry’s website. They can be found at part one and part two, and we have also included the PDF articles as attachments at the bottom of this article. The letter sent to the Journal on 12/1/22 requesting that our names be taken out of the “contributing writers” box in future issues is also attached. In addition, we have asked that our archived articles should no longer be used in social media promotions as we do not want to be associated with the Christian Research Journal any longer.
We hold no animosity nor do we have any ill will toward anyone at the Christian Research Journal. We are, however, very disappointed in the decision that the editors have made to print false doctrine in this magazine. In addition, we firmly believe that Walter Martin would never have approved of his magazine being used to support Eastern Orthodoxy teaching, including requiring believers to be water baptized in order to be justified before God.
Video: Walter Martin, the founder of CRI, did not hold to baptismal regeneration.