Breaking the Silence: Plagiarism?





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Published on Apr 26, 2011


In BREAKING THE SILENCE, Elliot Miller provides clear and compelling answers to the false allegations against Hank Hanegraaff and CRI.

Elliot Miller is the Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal.

Breaking the Silence: Plagiarism?

In an August 2004 editorial in the Christian Sentinel, Bill Alnor wrote: "The evidence is overwhelming: Christian Research Institute (CRI) President Hank Hanegraaff has engaged in serious instances of repeat plagiarism.... My investigation that was part of my study of plagiarism in the religious media also underscores what action Christians should take concerning Hanegraaff and CRI: A complete boycott." In the chapter in his doctoral dissertation on plagiarism devoted to Hank, Alnor writes, "Most of the plagiarism allegations lodged against Hanegraaff stem from three of his books that he wrote prior to his takeover of CRI. They were Memory Dynamics, Memory: Your Key to a Rewarding Education and Personal Witness Training...."

Alnor provides a table with parallel columns demonstrating similarities between Hank's Memory: Your Key to a Rewarding Education and Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas's The Memory Book that he believes prove Hank plagiarized Lorayne and Lucas (L&L). They include the fact that both L&L and Hank use the shape of Italy like a boot, the acronym HOMES for the Great Lakes, and the acrostic "Every Good Boy Does Fine" to remember the treble clef as examples of how association can help with memorization. He documents that both L&L and Hank use the sounds of the same letters to represent different numbers, such as the number two being represented by the letter n. Finally, Alnor points out similarities between "peg words" Hank and L&L use to help their readers remember numbers, such as the number one being represented by a tie.

Alnor demonstrates no understanding whatsoever of the field of mnemonics (memory assistance) in which both Hank and L&L were writing. For instance, none of the examples he cites to prove Hank plagiarized L&L in the first seven of the nine rows in his table were created by L&L but are part of the public domain and are commonly used by teachers of mnemonics.

As to the examples in the remaining two rows, these do not constitute plagiarism either. Every allegation of plagiarism against Hank is based on faulty assumptions...

Just as the charge that Hank committed plagiarism of L&L was based on faulty assumptions, so too the charge that he plagiarized Kennedy. One such unwarranted assumption is that Hank is taking Kennedy's material and "passing it off as his own." Not only does Hank acknowledge his indebtedness to Kennedy in PWT but the manner in which he acknowledges him implicitly but clearly acknowledges E.E. Contrary to what some believe, Hank's incorporation of E.E. material into PWT wasn't news to Kennedy. Kennedy was the one who first asked Hank to create an inherently memorable version of E.E. (which, at its heart, is what PWT is) before deciding against it because E.E. was too well established in different translations internationally to be changed. Hank also sent Kennedy prototypes of PWT as he was developing it. In the mid 1980s Kennedy even had Hank teach an early version of PWT to his congregants at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

The faulty conclusion of plagiarism could have been avoided if the right questions were asked:

1. What kind of publication is PWT?

2. Why was PWT written?

3. Who was PWT written for?

The plagiarism allegations need to be put in context. At the time they were originally made some people held the opinion that Hank was unqualified to take the place of Walter Martin. When Hank began to write material such as Christianity in Crisis that would seem to contradict that view, some alleged that Hank's materials were ghostwritten. The plagiarism charge was another attempt to discredit Hank's claim to the leadership of CRI: "Even when he writes he's incapable of producing anything original."

The people who cling to this ghostwriter/plagiarist characterization of Hank are chasing after the distant echo of a rumor that was long ago discredited. There is absolutely no evidence that Hank uses a ghostwriter and the allegation is laughable to anyone who works closely with Hank. Furthermore, none of the professionally published books that Hank has produced since he came into his own at CRI remotely approach even the broadest definitions of plagiarism. After fifteen years of Hank's daily hosting the Bible Answer Man and his creation of a truly impressive body of work it is astounding that we still need to have this discussion about his qualifications to lead CRI.


The preceding was a Chapter Summary. To access the complete chapter, please go to:





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