Skip to content ↓

Book Review – Counterfeit Revival

Book Reviews Collection cover image

Have you ever noticed that when someone says, “Don’t look at that!” you immediately look at it? I remember as a kid I used to delight in finding something gross and rotten and disgusting and showing it off to my friends, seeing who would flinch first as we dug around with sticks inside some rotten carcass. Perhaps I was a disturbed child but I don’t think my experiences were unusual. After all, there are any number of web sites that specialize in showing off the disturbing images of war, violence and stupidity. People have a fascination with spectacle. How else do we account for so-called reality television?

My father loves the spectacle that is TBN (the Trinity Broadcasting Network). He derives some crazy pleasure from watching half-crazed preachers ranting, raving and begging for other people’s money. The programming on TBN and other similar channels has come to highlight spectacle. Many who consider themselves Christian are simply no longer satisfied with the simple Gospel, but feel the need to add to it. The preaching of the Word, a simple message delivered in a foolish way by a foolish person, gives way to outrageous claims of miracles, tongues and supernatural experiences. Hank Hanegraaff calls this Counterfeit Revival and those who practice such things Counterfeit Revivialists.

This book claims to go behind the scenes to uncover the contradictions, false experiences, spiritual deception, and seductive allure of esoteric experience masquerading under the banner of truth. Through almost 300 pages, Hanegraaff exposes this movement for what it is – a fraud and one that is becoming increasingly bold and increasingly dangerous. The book is written around five major headings which form the acronym FLESH: Fabrications, Fantasies and Frauds, Lying Signs and Wonders, Endtime Restorationism, Slain in the Spirit and Hypnotism.

Following a detailed examination of each topic, the author concludes that there is no biblical support for most of what masquerades as the Spirit’s work within these circles. Manipulation, rather than the Spirit and the Word of God, is the primary tool of the Counterfeit Revivalist.

While this book is helpful, I couldn’t help at times but to feel like the boy staring at the rotting insides of a stinking corpse. After a while I felt Hanegraaff had proven his point with sufficient examples that he could have probably left out several of the chapters. On the bright side, the reader is treated to some valuable lessons from history and even receives an overview of true revivals from days past. As an added bonus, the author provides detailed teachings from the writings of Jonathan Edwards.

Long on symptoms, short on diagnosis and shorter still on cure, I still found this a helpful and interesting book. I trust that it will help many from being led astray into the rottenness that is found at the fringes of the charismatic movement.


  • Leadership

    We Need Qualified Leadership

    A few days ago I happened upon the page of an especially mega-sized megachurch. The church is about to undergo a leadership transition from an older man to a younger one and a page on the site lays out the process through which this new pastor was chosen. I read with a morbid kind of…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 21)

    A La Carte: Making tea and holding hands for the sake of the gospel / When Christian groups subvert religious liberty of Christians / How busy should I be? / 5 ways people worship themselves / A backwards birth into heaven / A new systematic theology / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 20)

    A La Carte: How to support the caregivers in your church / What we gain in following Jesus / The way we feel is not necessarily the way it is / The power and danger of habit / The man who introduced American Evangelicals to C.S. Lewis / and more.

  • Do Not Envy the Wicked

    Do You Envy the Wicked?

    It takes a long time for sinful instincts to become pure, for tendencies toward what is evil to be transformed into tendencies toward what is good, lovely, and pleasing to God. The man who quits drugs will still react when he catches a whiff and the woman who gave up alcoholism will still struggle when…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 19)

    A La Carte: The golden rule for hard conversations / Seven reasons you shouldn’t ignore beauty / The early church on entertainment / The uselessness of prayer / A thousand wheels of providence / Impossible, hard, and easy / and more.

  • Our Salvation Through Christ

    This week the blog is sponsored by Moody Publishers and this post is adapted from The Kindness of God by Nate Pickowicz (© 2024). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission. Just like the Old Testament, the New Testament teaches that this wonderful salvation is extended to us as a kindness. Paul opens his letter…