The Martin Family’s Controversy with CRI: An Inside Perspective
“He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:6
My husband, Rick, and I do not believe public attacks on professing Christians are biblical. We believe the Lord ordained the local churches to settle conflicts within the body of Christ, as Matthew 18 teaches. The Christian Research Institute has been dragged into a perilous “courtroom” not governed by the protections the Lord has set in place for those who love Him. For the sake of truth, and most importantly our love for Christ, we are compelled to give our “testimony” in this unjust “trial.” As my father, Dr. Walter Martin, often said, “Controversy for the sake of controversy is sin. Controversy for the sake of the truth is a divine command.” We stand with CRI as one by one we take the “witness stand” to “defend” the truth, trusting God is with us. It is our prayer the Lord will use the “evidence” He has provided to cause the light of truth to shine brightly.
An Unjust Charge: Stealing a Ministry
Hank Hanegraaff is not guilty of stealing CRI from a grieving widow, as some claim. This false conspiracy theory reminds me of the childhood story game “Telephone.” For those unfamiliar with this game, a group of children are told to sit in a circle. One of them begins the story by whispering something in the ear of the person next to them who in turn repeats what they heard to the person next to them and so on until the last person to hear what was said repeats the garbled tale. In a real sense, tales against our brother in Christ are being whispered in the courtroom of the world. In this treacherous place, lies and distortions have replaced truth. Unlike the game referred to above, the end result is anything but funny; it is an effort to destroy a godly man’s reputation and ministry. Some assume that if Hank could deceive Walter Martin’s widow, in her time of need, he could be guilty of anything and everything he is accused of.
It has been alleged that my stepmother, Darlene Martin, was blindsided at my father’s public memorial service by an on-the-spot demand to support Hank as the new President of CRI. We respectfully disagree with her recollection of what took place. In the days prior to the memorial service, Darlene mentioned to us that CRI had asked her to say a few words to support publicly my father’s choice of Hank. She explained that they had made this request because of how ministries often suffer following their founder’s death. Darlene stated she did not know who my father wanted to lead CRI, and was unsure of what to do. It was not surprising for her to be uncertain of what my father’s leadership plans were, having never been involved in the ministry aspect of his life (nor were any of my father’s children at the time of his death). Darlene willingly agreed to support Hank; this was discussed at home and at the church. We witnessed Darlene’s strong desire to stand by the men my father had positioned at CRI. The idea she was taken advantage of is so far from the truth it is shocking. Everyone around us, during that sad time, was gracious to our family. Darlene was understandably nervous to speak about the leadership issue publicly, as is evidenced by the strain in her voice as she delivers that part of her speech during the service. She sought, however, to honor Walter Martin’s wishes.
Dr. John Ankerberg, a trusted friend of my father’s, announced that Walter Martin had chosen Hank Hanegraaff to lead CRI into the future. As the memorial video proves, Dr. Ankerberg openly recalled having prayed with Hank, in October of 1988, about Hank’s decision to accept the position of executive vice-president of CRI. It is compelling to listen to the audio of Walter Martin in October of ’88, at his Newport-Mesa Christian Center Bible Class—in his own words—ask his class to pray about the same position Dr. Ankerberg prayed with Hank about during that same month and year. It is critical to note that Dr. Ankerberg was “in the loop” in terms of what my father had planned for CRI. He would hardly participate in, or overlook, a conspiracy to steal a ministry.
As the video of Dr. Martin’s memorial service proves, everyone my father positioned in leadership at CRI was present during his service and supported his leadership decisions. Longtime CRI board member Everett Jacobson, my father’s former brother-in-law (and my uncle), who remained his best friend throughout his life, was the only person involved with CRI that my father considered family. My father loved him like a brother. When my uncle spoke at Walter Martin’s service, he was so grieved he almost broke down during his tribute. To this day, anyone can tune in and hear about the love he had for his “brother” and his devotion to Jesus Christ. Everett Jacobson also loved Darlene; they were good friends. It is shameful he has been publicly accused of helping Hank steal CRI. To suggest Everett Jacobson would betray the Lord, Walter Martin, and his widow is nothing short of slander.
At Darlene’s request, Hank planned a beautiful memorial service for her husband. Immediately following my father’s death, Darlene—for the first time——became involved in CRI. She was welcomed to the board of directors with open arms, serving side by side with Hank and Everett Jacobson for about six years. During Darlene’s time on the board she spoke of how the Lord was using CRI and how pleased she was with the ministry’s direction.
A Private Reproof
During the final year Darlene served on the board, she had a falling out with Hank. It was later misreported that they had a public rift. The incident between them occurred at a board meeting. I was at the house the day Darlene returned from that meeting, the very meeting that would set the stage for division between them. Darlene explained to me that Hank had confronted her, in front of the board, about privately speaking with disgruntled former employees who were currently attacking CRI. Although I was sad to see her so distraught, I came to realize that Darlene’s decision to do this was ill-advised. This was Darlene’s first experience on a board overseeing a vast ministry. In retrospect, I don’t think she was prepared for the level of spiritual warfare Walter Martin dealt with on a daily basis. Having attended that same board meeting, my uncle assured me that Hank had handled things wisely. As I would later learn, some of the former employees Darlene was privately speaking with had previously implicated her as well as the other board members. Hank sought to protect CRI from people who were so determined to effect a leadership change that they were prepared to use whatever damaging allegations would serve their purpose—no matter how false, unverified, or unfair—and had no qualms about the damage they would do to CRI in the process.
A Rush to Judgment
Walter Martin died in 1989. It is critical to note the accusation Hank stole CRI did not emerge until 1999, a decade after my father’s death. At Darlene’s request, my sister Jill conducted an investigation of the accusations against Hank Hanegraaff. This investigation also led Jill to question the integrity of Everett Jacobson and Elliot Miller. Jill did not know any of these men personally with the exception of having known our uncle when she was a child and a teen. She lived two thousand miles away, in Minnesota, without having ever been involved with CRI. For two years she proceeded to collect alleged evidence against Hank, compliments of disgruntled former CRI employees. In a cyber “ruling” heard around the world, she declared Hank “guilty” of conspiring to steal CRI, guilty of sins against past employees, and guilty of virtually every online accusation Hank faced. Most of the people Jill joined forces with had no first-hand knowledge of these issues.
For reasons perhaps known only to the Lord, Jill’s “findings” are painfully inaccurate. After a three hour conversation with Elliot Miller, Jill dismissed his recollection of events and the first-hand “testimony” he freely offered. She essentially threw this “evidence” and his testimony out of “court.” She ruled that Elliot Miller, who had worked closely with Walter Martin for close to thirteen years, was guilty of overlooking evil and was not to be trusted. Elliot, and his wife Corinne, are two of our dearest friends. They are committed to serving Jesus Christ. Rick and I understand why my father had high regard and confidence in Elliot both personally and professionally. I observed their relationship firsthand when I worked at CRI, back in 1981. Jill is publicly on record stating Everett Jacobson, another one of CRI’s witnesses, never tried to speak with her about the accusations against Hank. With great sadness my uncle confided in us that Jill had never asked his side of the story as to what had taken place at CRI, following my father’s death. After Uncle Everett’s son died unexpectedly, he mentioned he’d received a sympathy card from Jill that included words taking him to task for helping Hank steal CRI. My uncle, a great man of God, went to his grave falsely accused of betraying the Martin family. We believe it earned him another jewel in his crown. We are certain Everett Jacobson heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant….enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt: 25:23 KJV).
This tragic story begs the question: how could Darlene Martin, more than a decade after her husband’s death, conclude Hank stole CRI? After Darlene’s falling out with Hank at the board meeting, we witnessed her struggle with the public accusations against him. The fact she didn’t personally know who my father chose to lead CRI compounded the problem. In our opinion, instead of believing the firsthand testimony of the men Walter Martin trusted, Darlene was deceived by false accusations. In light of the evidence Jill presented, she became convinced her husband could not have chosen Hank. She, along with Jill, assumed that the request to support Hank publicly must have been part of a plan to steal the ministry. In our opinion, they made a rush to judgment.
A Personal Agenda?
During the time Jill was conducting her investigation, she and her husband, Kevin, began a ministry they named “Walter Martin’s Religious Infonet.” They requested of CRI, and received, a large amount of Walter Martin materials. CRI gave the Martin family permission to use them for God’s glory. The idea of publicly sharing more of my father’s messages has always appealed us, as do all good ministry endeavors, but not what appeared to be an effort to build a platform to destroy CRI. In our opinion, Jill is seeking to transfer the legacy of Walter Martin to her ministry based on false information. We believe CRI is Walter Martin’s legacy and represents everything he labored to accomplish for God’s Kingdom the thirty-plus years God used him there. For these reasons, we asked Jill not to claim publicly that the entire Martin family stood against CRI. Sadly, Jill was determined to show a united front. The public perception became that the entire Martin family was calling for Hank’s resignation. Disturbed by this, Rick and I privately let Hank know we were not involved. We did not have a public platform back in 2000 but wanted CRI, and those close to us, to know we loved this ministry.
Jill did not learn that someone in the Martin family had spoken with Hank until months later. Outraged by this perceived high-level security breach, she confronted me. Weary of this issue and fearful of family division, I flatly refused to discuss the matter. Convinced we had spoken with Hank, Jill insisted we were traitors, stated she no longer wanted a relationship with our family, and later convinced others in our extended family to break fellowship with us as well.
Rick and I eventually decided to contact Darlene’s pastor in an effort to seek biblical reconciliation with her. We arranged a meeting and flew to California. At Darlene’s request, she brought along some extended family members—-Jill being one of them. We were thankful to the Lord for this opportunity to discuss our contact with CRI and to, before witnesses, explain our actions. We openly admitted to speaking with Hank and sought forgiveness for not answering this question long before. We stressed to everyone why it is wrong to demand Hank be accountable to Dr. Martin’s relatives. After hours of discussion, Darlene’s pastor asked her if she understood we were not traitors, having obeyed our conscience before the Lord. Despite his counsel, Darlene insisted we had betrayed the family. It appeared our crimes were (1) we did not believe Jill’s investigation was accurate and (2) we had privately let Hank know we were not involved in the Martin family’s public activities against him. I left the meeting with a grief I have carried with me until this day. I have loved Darlene since I was twelve years old and was grieved she believed this is a matter of family loyalty instead of obedience to the Lord. Our relationship with these family members remained broken.
Several months later I became ill and was hospitalized. Although the pain medicine prescribed at the time made it a challenge to hold onto conversations, I do recall my hospital phone ringing off the hook as most of our estranged family reassured me of their love. After this medical trial, they agreed to disagree on the issue of CRI—for nearly seven years—although things were never the same between us. Jill and Kevin continued to promote accusations against Hank on their Website and although it was not discussed, they knew we opposed their actions. This was the dead calm before the darkest storm we have faced so far.
In February of 2009, a phone call between Jill and I erased most of the progress everyone had made. Jill expressed concern there were numerous clips of our father, on YouTube, posted by people who were ignoring their requests to post a link to their Walter Martin Website. I tried to help her understand that many Christians do not believe publicly going after a brother in Christ is biblical, and may not want to post their link for that reason. I mentioned this is why, when Kevin asked us, we would not post it next to the Walter Martin clips we were sharing on our YouTube channels. It was as if we entered a time warp and were transported back seven years faster than the speed of light; it was all downhill from there. Jill was indignant that I maintained her crusade against Hank was not a righteous one. Before the call ended, she once again broke fellowship with us. Although no one else in our extended family noticeably left us at the time, the winds of division were blowing stronger than ever before.
End-Time Views: His or Hers?
As the months passed, an important issue came to our attention. People were publicly expressing concern that Walter Martin’s eschatological views were being redefined by Jill in her recent book. It is Jill’s assertion that Dr. Martin condemned certain end-times interpretations held by many evangelical Christians as “aberrant theology” and evidence of satanic influence in the church. Her words alarmed us because this was not what my father believed and she was causing division in the body of Christ. These views, while not currently as popular as dispensational theology, are nonetheless held by many in the Reformed branch of Christianity and are deeply rooted in orthodox theology. Dr. Martin referred to the various end-times views as “peripheral theology.” He implored believers to love one another and to not divide over these types of disputes. The following is from Walter Martin’s tape, The Tribulation and the Church:
There have developed tremendous conflicts in the Body of Christ about the subject of the Second Coming of our Lord. And I think that what we ought to do is to have freedom to express ourselves without being penalized for our positions. And unfortunately, that’s what’s going on today….
Now I don’t know what frightens people so much about different points of view. The Apostle Paul says that, ‘There must need be differences of opinions in your midst, so that the truth may be made known.’ There is nothing wrong with having different opinions. And ministers, not only myself, but others, should not be penalized for taking, what is in the minds of some, an unpopular position…Love, according to 1 Corinthians 13, is supposed to govern the activities and the function of the members of the body of Christ. And when I see Christians fighting among themselves, about whether Jesus is coming before the tribulation, the middle of the tribulation, or after the tribulation; when I see books being published where statements are made, ”We are the generation that will see the Second Coming of Jesus Christ”; when I see this type of thing going on, and bitterness developing, a root of bitterness developing among Christians, then I think it’s time for us to air our differences of opinions. I think it’s time for us to give the other guy a break. If you don’t agree with him, love him, or her, for Christ’s sake. But don’t make that a point of division in the Body of Christ.
We must not be divided about whether we sprinkle, pour or immerse, or whether we have wine, grape juice, or Coca Cola at the Communion service—which is what they do in Latin America anyhow. We shouldn’t be arguing about pretribulation, midtribulation, and posttribulation, and premillennial, amillennial, and postmillennial. The principle task of the Church is to evangelize the lost world, and they couldn’t care less.
Even more problematic with Jill’s book is the fact that Walter Martin’s name graces almost half of its front cover. Although her book may contain helpful information, we do not believe my father would want a work done in his name that he was unable to sign off on. He never permitted this during his lifetime. We immediately recognized our efforts to resolve this situation would undoubtedly be hindered because of our support of Hank and CRI. Experiencing division with Jill for the second time in nine years, Rick decided to participate anonymously in a public discussion on this subject that was already in progress on her ministry’s Website. Everyone in the discussion remained anonymous, with the exception of Jill. Although it troubled us to have to deal with things this way, it gave Rick the opportunity to discuss our concerns in a controlled environment. Over a period of several weeks, he respectfully urged Jill to cite evidence to support her public assertions that Walter Martin believed what she was claiming. Jill was unable to do this and the discussion eventually ended with her claiming Dr. Martin’s children knew best what he believed.
A Meeting with Jill and Kevin
Completely discouraged by my sister’s responses yet relieved to have this discussion as evidence, we approached Darlene and sought her help. She asked us to send her the exchange between them, and we complied. Darlene appeared to share our concerns and even convinced Kevin and Jill to meet with us. We briefly discussed our feelings with them about CRI and the longstanding division between us. Jill’s response to us was simply that Hank is a “tare.” (The use of this biblical metaphor is significant beyond Jill’s understanding, for she has been devoting her energy for over a decade to removing this “tare,” yet Jesus instructed us not to remove tares, since we do not know for certain who is a tare and we might actually remove some “wheat.” We are therefore instructed to leave it to God to remove the tares on Judgment Day [Matt. 13:24–30; 36–41].) Rick addressed our concern that Jill has publicly misrepresented Walter Martin’s theology. As they talked, she began to realize the two of them may have already discussed this, at length, on her ministry board. Rick openly admitted he had spoken anonymously with her. Although we sought to help Jill understand why he felt compelled to do this, she was offended. Rick sought her forgiveness, stressing we believed this was the only way a civil discussion on this matter could take place. When the meeting ended, we immediately phoned Darlene to let her know how it had gone. She shared our disappointment and sadness that nothing had been resolved.
In October of 2009, Hank invited Rick and me on the Bible Answer Man program and featured our newest pro-life song, “Who Will Save the Little Ones?” He discussed the pro-life issue with us from a biblical perspective. Hank did an outstanding job and the program was powerful. We were thrilled to have this opportunity to speak out for those who have no voice. It was especially memorable for us once again to have the privilege of being interviewed on the program the Lord raised up through my father. (We shared a pro-life song on the program once before in the early ‘90s, at Darlene’s request.) It was bittersweet, however, because we knew this would anger some relatives. Darlene soon e-mailed to let us know that Kevin had phoned to inform her of the disgrace we had been to the Martin family.
Our Meeting with Darlene: Sharing the Miracle
At this point in time, the Lord moved our hearts to share with Darlene something extraordinary the Lord had done for CRI. We prayed it would help bring peace between everyone. We asked Darlene if we could come and share it with her face to face. Distressed by Kevin’s phone call, she was hesitant to let us visit. I convinced her to allow us to come; a month later we were at her door. We visited for three days and shared the miracle the Lord had done through a disgruntled former CRI employee. We explained how he now openly denies Christ. We pointed out how amazing it was he’d discovered me online, and sent me a massive amount of stolen materials. I had only been visible for a brief time whereas Jill had been promoting accusations against Hank for more than a decade. It appeared God used for the good the intentionally cultivated public perception that the entire Martin family stood against CRI to blind this man’s eyes. He had no idea we supported Hank and was furious when he later realized the material he sent us had been a help to a man he hated.
Darlene seemed moved to hear how the Lord had delivered Dr. Martin’s “testimony” to our doorstep. After more than twenty years, Walter Martin was able to take the “witness stand” and defend the ministry the Lord had raised up through him. He was once again able to discuss publicly whom he chose to lead CRI and why. We played for Darlene the audios of my father at his Newport-Mesa Christian Center Bible Class where he defined his leadership plans for CRI. We pointed out how the audios support all first-hand witness accounts and clearly expose several false accusations. These audios prove:
- Dr. Martin considered Hank Hanegraaff a “friend” and a “joy.” He stated he is a “godly” man and has known Hank for more than five years. This refutes the public accusation they were never friends and barely knew each other. It also highlights Dr. Martin’s personal knowledge of Hank’s integrity.
- Dr. Martin researched Hank’s work. It is alleged that Hank had plagiarized Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas’s work and Dr. Martin was unaware of this, but Dr. Martin not only was acquainted with Lorayne and Lucas’s work, he could recite it! To assert Hank fooled him is ridiculous, especially in light of Dr. Martin’s legendary photographic memory. These facts complement the overwhelming evidence Elliot Miller presents that Hank is not guilty of plagiarism.
- Six months prior to Dr. Martin’s death, at his Newport-Mesa Christian Center class, he publicly presented Hank as CRI’s new executive vice president, a position he clearly described as the CEO position that he was yielding to Hank, while remaining president of the board and continuing to function as the public face of the ministry. This discredits the claim that Hank was hired merely for “fundraising” and was never positioned, by Dr. Martin, for the leadership of CRI. Walter Martin defined the role he chose for Hank to have when he stated, “He can run the entire operation and is very, very good in the world of the cults and an excellent and very successful man in his own right…”
- Walter Martin applauds Hank’s credentials to assume leadership of CRI, stating that he is “the best on the horizon.” He is impressed with what Hank can bring to CRI even though Hank comes without a formal degree. This puts to shame those would-be defenders of Walter Martin’s legacy who insist that he, like them, would never recognize the calling of God on a man who lacks the standard academic degrees.
It is clear Walter Martin made responsible preparations for the ministry the Lord entrusted him with. Only a month prior to his death, he told me one of his greatest sources of grief was that he would not know his grandchildren in this life; they were all quite young at that time. Contrary to what some have publicly claimed, Dr. Martin had a strong sense the Lord may soon call him home.
We gently pointed out to Darlene that my father’s words should be respected. She was visibly shaken but excited to hear my father explaining what Hank’s role would be. She was stunned to hear him describe Hank as the “number two” man in the structure of CRI; the new “executive vice-president” of the Christian Research Institute. She appeared to embrace wholeheartedly my father’s plans and with conviction stated, “We need to support him! He chose Hank! It’s a relief to know what he wanted; we don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
Darlene was so moved to hear my father’s words that she contacted my youngest sister and told her, “Dad chose Hank! Don’t talk to Jill yet!” She nervously revealed that Jill had been repeatedly calling that weekend but stated she was avoiding her. Darlene confessed that Jill had expressed concern Rick and I would “brainwash” her. She insisted that Jill would never accept that “Dad” chose Hank. Darlene instructed Rick and I to go back to Minnesota and tell Jill we must support what Dad wanted and to “deal with it!” She even offered to fly out to Minnesota with us to help us share this miracle.
We had a wonderful time of fellowship with Darlene that weekend. We laughed and we cried. On Saturday evening, we attended church with her. Ironically, her pastor began his sermon saying something like, “Has anyone ever been the victim of a rumor?” At this point, Darlene laughed quietly and leaned into Rick whispering, “We don’t know what that’s like do we?” Soon after, her pastor instructed everyone to turn their Bibles to Jude 3. Darlene smiled broadly at us, the three of us aware this was Walter Martin’s life verse.
We left Darlene’s house the following Sunday evening with hope in our hearts and in earnest prayer the Lord would use this miracle to put to rest the dispute over what Walter Martin wanted in terms of CRI’s leadership. We were cautiously optimistic. We immediately shared the details of our visit with close friends and our pastor, and requested prayer for everyone involved.
It is our prayer the Lord will use this behind-the-scenes account to shed more light on what is true for the sake of those harmed by false accusations, “because truth matters.” We believe this is a spiritual battle. CRI is the largest countercult apologetics ministry in the world. It is our firmly held conviction that the enemy is seeking to extinguish a threatening opponent in the battle for the lost. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12 NIV).
My father once told me the Christian Research Institute was his life’s “dream.” It was a joy to witness his passion and commitment to the ministry the Lord had called him to. Hank Hanegraaff is equally devoted to CRI and is the man the Lord raised up when He called my father home. CRI has flourished under his leadership.
I will now step down from the “witness stand”. It is my husband Rick’s turn to take my place, as he finishes presenting the truth as we have lived it.
Walter Martin’s Leadership Plans
“Did your dad pick Hank Hanegraaff to lead CRI as his successor?” is a question Cindee and I have heard often since Dr. Martin went home to be with the Lord in 1989. This was a question that we were unable to answer from any firsthand knowledge. Dad had never spoken with us about this issue. He often spoke about his vision for CRI and developments that were exciting to him, but the issue of his eventual “home going” and who would take over for him were left unspoken.
Walter Martin lived and breathed CRI. We know that Dad made provisions for his loved ones: family and CRI. As a loving husband and father, he made certain to address the needs of his family. As the founder and president of CRI, he made certain to address the needs of this ministry he loved with a passion. He was confident that CRI would “outlive” him, and he wanted to make sure that it was well equipped to thrive in its future. He was very aware how easy it was for a ministry to “die” with its founder’s passing. He made mention of this to his Newport-Mesa Christian Center Bible class in December of 1988, just a little over 6 months before his death. To his class, he boldly exclaimed, “I have not made that mistake!” And indeed he did not.
Here we are, twenty-one years into the future, and CRI is still the largest and most prestigious countercult apologetics ministry in the world. That is good news! We are proud of the contributions Hank and the staff of CRI have made, and continue to make, to the Christian community at large. You would think that this news would be exciting to everyone who hears it, yet, that is not the case. There are those who have sought for years to undo Walter Martin’s choices, not realizing, or not caring, that their actions were a threat to CRI itself.
Walter Martin on Hank Hanegraaff: His Own Words
Cindee has already told you of the events that led up to our visit with Darlene. I will now relate what has transpired subsequent to that time of fellowship. Before I proceed, I need to make an important point. Cindee and I had been prepared to make Walter Martin’s comments about Hank Hanegraaff public for quite some time, but believed that out of respect for Darlene, we should make her aware of them first. Thinking it improper to do this over the phone, we believed God would make a way for us to meet with her face-to-face, and indeed He did this in November 2009. We have been convinced all along that God was directing us to make these comments public, so our reason for planning time with Darlene was never about permission. We were convinced that God was offering her an opportunity to consider her part in all of this, and to decide how to respond to this miracle. We openly shared with Darlene that we were bound by our conscience before the Lord to make Dad’s words available to the public. Once she heard his comments, she was convinced that Dad had indeed chosen Hank. I asked Darlene what she would have done, had these tapes come to her instead of to us. She replied, “I would have made them public.” Darlene’s only request of us was that we delay making them public until Jill and her husband Kevin had an opportunity to hear them. Out of respect for her, we agreed to wait until we met with them to release Dad’s comments publicly.
After leaving Darlene’s home on Sunday, November 15, we drove to Arizona to continue our trip. I had lost my father less than two months before, and we were looking forward to returning there to spend more time with my family. We arrived back in Minnesota on Monday, November 23. Once our plane had landed and the passengers were allowed to turn on their electronic devices, I turned on my Blackberry to touch base with our kids to let them know where to meet us. My heart sank when I saw an urgent “must read” e-mail from Darlene. When we left Darlene’s home, we were encouraged that she, with God’s help, could stand strong against the opposition she was certain to face from Jill. Sadly, that was not to be the case. The person who had told us that “Dad chose Hank,” we need to support him and go back to Minnesota and tell Jill to “deal with it!” had now turned a complete 180. Darlene now insisted she is the “Matriarch” of the Martin family and is “the copyright holder of all Walter Martin materials”(emphasis added) and was “not granting [us] permission” to use the material we had shared with her: Walter Martin’s own words concerning Hank Hanegraaff.
Although we were grieved by this “about-face” on Darlene’s part, we were not surprised. Her words to us, long before this situation arose, were to the effect that she could be easily convinced by whoever was speaking at the moment. By her own admission, she is a person easily swayed. We were now witnesses to that harsh reality. It’s important to remember that CRI is not, and has never been, a family-owned business or ministry. Walter Martin always insisted that the Christian Research Institute belonged to the Lord and was maintained by the donations and support of His people.
Accusations of Copyright Infringement
Having anticipated a challenge of this very nature, we had long before sought the permission of CRI, the stated copyright owner on the materials that were sent to us. In the same way that CRI had previously granted other members of the Martin family permission to use CRI’s Walter Martin material, they now extended that same permission to us and to this material as well. Having their permission to use this material added to the rights that we already possessed as American citizens: the right of “Fair Use” of copyrighted works. This right to “Fair Use” is contained in Title 17, Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Codes. These U.S. Copyright Codes can be found at http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.pdf. We have used this material completely lawfully on several levels. In addition to this fact, Cindee is Walter Martin’s daughter. Imagine being told you are forbidden to use your own father’s words publicly. I would imagine that those words would be as warmly received by you as Darlene’s words were by us.
Due to this turn of events, I immediately ‘flipped the switch’ and made Walter Martin’s comments about Hank Hanegraaff available to the public at www.WalterMartinJude3.com and on our YouTube channel, www.YouTube.com/WalterMartinJude3. Once Darlene’s letter came expressing her change of mind, we were no longer bound by our agreement to wait until Jill and Kevin had heard the comments. She changed the agreement when she changed her mind. In Darlene’s letter, she wrote, “If this situation is not resolved to my satisfaction, there will be consequences which I pray I will never have to implement.” In answer to this, all we can say is that we agree with Peter and John when they said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God” (Acts 4:19 NIV). In short order, Darlene began to make good on those words and through her “agents” Kevin and Jill Rische, began filing Copyright Infringement claims against us at YouTube and at our web hosting service for WalterMartinJude3. Every clip that we have posted that has anyone saying anything good about Hank Hanegraaff, has been attacked. If that isn’t egregious enough, they even had the temerity to file a copyright infringement claim against a video clip of me eulogizing my father-in-law, Walter Martin, at his memorial service! Beginning on November 27, 2009, we filed counter-claims to these infringement claims and each time the videos and audio clips were restored. This changed in part on April 1, 2010. More on that below.
It should be obvious to all that this is not, and has never been, about copyright infringement. This has been, and continues to be, an attempt to silence any support of Hank Hanegraaff that comes from the lips of Walter Martin. Just to be specific, we are talking about eight audio clips that total twelve minutes and two seconds. The longest audio clip is two minutes and fifty-seven seconds. The video clips from Walter Martin’s Memorial Service which lasted about two hours, total twelve minutes and sixteen seconds, and another ten minutes if you include John Ankerberg’s closing comments and prayer, and finally, another seven minutes and twenty-one second if you include my own comments. So, we are talking about thirty or so minutes of material that contains kind and supportive words about Hank Hanegraaff. This is out of the thousands and thousands of hours of Walter Martin material in existence: material by Cindee’s own father. Instead of having the opportunity to grieve my own father’s recent death, we were grieved to be fighting for Walter Martin’s right to be heard.
A Flawed Investigation
We are so thankful that these audios and videos have become available to the public, and believe those who love truth will be thankful as well. The only ones who oppose us are those who stand to be corrected by their release. For example, on Jill’s “ministry” Website, the following statement by Jill can currently be found:
What we did not find out until years later was that Hank Hanegraaff had a “closed door” meeting with a CRI Board Member within days of my father’s death—and without the presence or knowledge of the entire board. The result of that meeting (according to a CRI Board member at the time) was the naming of Hank Hanegraaff as CEO of Christian Research Institute.
That is an interesting statement to make, especially “after an intensive two year investigation into the situation at CRI.” Why is this so interesting? A simple review of the “Walter Martin Memorial Service” video tape from June 29, 1989 will show John Ankerberg and Everett Jacobson speaking openly about the board meeting held that very morning, in which Hank was elected president of CRI by a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors. During those portions of the video, Stanley Tonnesen, a CRI Board Member, can be seen sitting on the elevated platform smiling. All the board members were present that morning at the board meeting, and all the board members were present that evening at the memorial service when thanks was being given to God for the wonderful events of that day. These videos clips have been the repeated subject of “copyright infringement” claims by the “Martin Estate”.
CRI Board Member, Everett Jacobson’s remarks included the following words:
I want to close by saying that when we had the board meeting, that everything went just wonderful today, because the Lord was there and Walter was there. More than that, God has orchestrated all of the events of this week. Walter was home, with his wife Darlene, when he went to be with the Lord. Hank was here in California. Hank’s been traveling back and forth between here and Atlanta, for off and on, for a couple of weeks. Hank was here. Everything worked out. Bill Seaver was here. I mean, everything just worked out. We were able to get plane reservations, from Florida [for himself], from New Jersey [looking over his shoulder at board member Stan Tonnesen], from everywhere, because God’s hand is in it.
John Ankerberg included these comments in his remarks:
People all across this country of ours, and around the world, after they hear about Walter’s ”home-going,” are saying, ”What’s going to happen to CRI? Who’s going to take over? Who could ever step into the shoes of Walter Martin?” And tonight I’d like to introduce to you, the man that Walter believed that God had picked out, and that Walter wanted to succeed him.
I can remember coming and speaking at the banquet last October, and I met Hank, who was a Board member before that. And Walter had talked with Hank, and Hank asked me to pray with him about that decision. And I said, ”Just be frank with Walter and tell him what you are thinking,“ and they did. They had great discussions. And tonight, we never thought that it would come this soon, but I know this is the way that Walter wanted it. And the board has unanimously voted that Mr. Hank Hanegraaff would be the new president of CRI, and also the chairman of the board.
Interestingly, these words by Jacobson and Ankerberg are missing on Jill’s Website.
Another statement that is currently available on Jill’s Website:
The following is Darlene’s full statement [partially quoted here] taken from the Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2000:
After reading your article “Casting Stones” (April 15), I am writing to clarify several issues.
First, my husband, Walter Martin, never “handpicked” anyone to succeed him at Christian Research Institute and “The Bible Answer Man” radio program.
This claim was handed to me by someone I thought I could trust as I approached the lectern at my husband’s memorial service…” [Darlene’s statement continues]
Again, a brief review of the memorial service tape will reveal that Darlene Martin was not handed anything by anyone as she “approached the lectern” that evening. This comment was revised by Jill on her Website after it was pointed out that these comments were not supported by the Memorial Service video. Once again, we are thankful for the video clips that provide irrefutable evidence.
From Jill’s Website:
(ed. note – Darlene Martin’s speech was “edited” while she was in the library of the church—before she left to take part in the Memorial Service. It was done out of range of the video camera taping the service.)
The following statements were added to the end of Darlene’s address:
“Walt and I talked often about who would take over for him at CRI if the Lord were to ever take him home. Since last October, Walter asked Hank Hanegraaff to work with him and to be that man. Little did we know that it would come this soon. But Hank is the man that Walter wanted to lead CRI, and I am eternally grateful for this man, for the uplifting that he has done for me in these past few days. He is a godsend, and I am grateful for him and his family.
I know that the Lord is going to bless CRI and that the ministry is going to flourish under Hank’s direction. I thank the Lord for him and for CRI and for all the staff who are going to carry on, even in the midst of Walt’s absence. And I just praise the Lord for it. Thank you again.”
Unfortunately, I do not have a video clip to point you to for this claim. As Jill’s revised comments above indicate, there was no video camera present when this event occurred. But, as it turns out, Darlene’s speech itself has been made available. A photocopy of Darlene’s speech from that night shows the following words hand printed at the bottom of the page:
Walter and I talked about who would take over for him at CRI if the Lord ever took him home. Since last October, Walter asked Hank Hanegraaff to work with him and be that man. Little did we know it would come this soon—but Hank is the man Walter wanted to lead CRI.
The “Martin Estate” had this evidence in hand since the night of the memorial service, but they still did not get it right. To emphasize the point, I will include Jill’s Website version below with the photocopy words in bold italics. Only the words in bold italics are handwritten at the bottom of Darlene’s speech:
Walt and I talked often about who would take over for him at CRI if the Lord were to ever take [took] him home. Since last October, Walter asked Hank Hanegraaff to work with him and to be that man. Little did we know that it would come this soon. [—] But Hank is the man that Walter wanted to lead CRI, and I am eternally grateful for this man, for the uplifting that he has done for me in these past few days. He is a godsend, and I am grateful for him and his family.
I know that the Lord is going to bless CRI and that the ministry is going to flourish under Hank’s direction. I thank the Lord for him and for CRI and for all the staff who are going to carry on, even in the midst of Walt’s absence. And I just praise the Lord for it. Thank you again.
Assuming that the photocopy of Darlene’s speech is genuine, what can we conclude about the words that were actually hand printed at the bottom? For one, they concur with statements made by both John Ankerberg and Walter Martin; Ankerberg on the memorial service video quoted above, and Martin to his Newport-Mesa Christian Center Bible Class:
Martin, October 2, 1988: “I’ve asked the Lord for a new member of our staff. I need a Vice-President to be ‘Mr. Inside’ while I’m ‘Mr. Outside’ ‘cause I can’t be both places at the same time! And, there’s a man right now who is considering this and we’re praying about that. We don’t have the money to pay him a salary, but I’m praying about that.”
Martin, October 23, 1988: “I’ve been praying for one man for two years, that God would put it on his heart, and God did put it on his heart, and he said, ‘I think I’ll be able to come.’ And if he is able to come, I can’t afford him. I want you to know that going in. We can’t afford him, even at a greatly reduced salary, but, he can run the entire operation and is very, very good in the world of the cults and is an excellent and very successful man in his own right. So, I’d ask you to pray, for this person who’d be the number two person in our structure at CRI”
Ankerberg, June 28, 1989: “I can remember coming and speaking at the banquet last October [emphasis added], and I met Hank who was a board member before that. And Walter had talked with Hank, and Hank asked me to pray with him about that decision. And I said, ‘Just be frank with Walter, and tell him what you are thinking,’ and they did. They had great discussions.”
Martin, Dec 4, 1988: “So I want to praise and thank God for that, and for the man who is helping us at CRI get something that’s very important done. I’ve needed for many years, someone who could fill the role of a special assistant, or of an executive vice-president, to help at CRI, someone with the credentials and the abilities, somebody that could teach, somebody that could preach, somebody that had the capacities to manage and has been very successful in his own operations for some time. He’s going to tell you about what the Lord has done for him. He’s going to be working very closely with me, particularly when he moves to California in the middle of next year, the Lord willing, and, so, this is someone in whom I have implicit confidence. He’s young—I’ve surrounded myself with young people because I do not believe the myth of invulnerability or of immortality. I’ve seen too many Christian leaders think that they were never going to die and wait ‘til the last minute before they got anybody to help them, and then they had chaos. I have not made that mistake.”
Given the fact that the handwritten words comport so well with Martin’s and Ankerberg’s words, there is really nothing to be contested. Cindee has already mentioned that prior to the memorial service, Darlene was concerned because she did not know what to say, but wanted to support CRI. It is completely reasonable therefore to consider the possibility that she simply asked someone to help her with “what to say” in support of CRI. What has been spun, by some, as a sinister “arm twisting” of a grieving widow was most likely a helpful suggestion of words that were true. We have no idea who added these words. What we do know is that Darlene of her own accord spoke them in front of the people gathered to honor Dad, and that they closely echo what Walter Martin himself has been shown to have said.
Silencing the Defense
This book is about answering the “charges” leveled against Hank through the years by those seeking to remove him from CRI: the “Martin Estate” and others. Tragically, even after an intensive two-year investigation, Jill made significant errors in the case she presented against Hank. Having a flawed prosecution, the “Martin Estate” now has chosen to attempt to silence the defense.
The attacks and attempts to silence us have not been limited to YouTube and our WalterMartinJude3 Website. In addition to these venues, I added a few brief comments to an existing section of a Wikipedia article on Walter Martin, in the “Controversies” section. I added the following bolded italicized words to a sentence: “This controversy is between certain members of Martin’s family on one side, and Dutch-born fund-raiser turned apologist Hank Hanegraaff, along with other members of Martin’s family on the other.” Please note that I did not delete a single word of the existing text. By merely adding ten words, I corrected the longstanding public error that the entire Martin family stood against Hank Hanegraaff. I also added the following new text to make the public aware of Walter Martin’s comments, available on our Website:
In November 2009, new evidence became available that sheds light on this controversy. Audio tapes from Walter Martin’s bible class at Newport-Mesa Christian Center reveal that Martin had spent considerable time investigating Hanegraaff’s background and was very familiar with his work. On a tape dated December 7, 1986, Martin tells his class that he has been promoting Hanegraaff’s Memory Dynamics for more than 5 years. On October 23, 1988, Martin tells his class that he has been praying for one man, for two years, to come to CRI as an executive vice-president. On December 4, 1988, Martin introduces Hanegraaff to his bible class, as CRI’s executive vice-president. These audio clips can be heard along with additional material at Walter Martin Jude 3 (waltermartinjude3.com), the website established by Cindee Martin Morgan, Walter Martin’s daughter, and her husband Rick Morgan.
Rick Morgan and Cindee Martin Morgan created Walter Martin Jude 3 to help shed light on the ongoing controversy surrounding Hank Hanegraaff and his position at CRI. Hearing Dr. Martin in his own words allows interested persons to consider critical additional information, while developing an informed opinion in these matters.
I posted these comments on November 27, 2009. On November 29, the “Martin Estate” began a Wiki-War by repeatedly changing or deleting my comments. Between November 29 and December 4, my text was either completely deleted or revised by the “Martin Estate” fourteen times. Fourteen times in six days! This continued until I reported their activity as vandalism to the Wikipedia staff. During this time, the “Martin Estate” composed, posted, and continuously revised text that is critical of Cindee and me, and our WalterMartinJude3 Website. At no time did we attempt to remove or revise their critical statements.
For twelve years, Hank Hanegraaff has been condemned by members of Walter Martin’s family. For twelve years, they have been calling for his resignation. For twelve years, they have been falsely accusing Hank of conspiring with Everett Jacobson to take advantage of a grieving widow and “steal” CRI in the days following Walter Martin’s death. When evidence arises that controverts their historical record of accusations against Hank, they immediately and persistently try to silence it. When the evidence that arises out of Walter Martin’s own lips corroborates the testimony of Dr. John Ankerberg, Everett Jacobson, and Lowell Jones at Walter Martin’s memorial service, they try to remove it from public view. On Wikipedia, Jill claims that “the audios the Morgans (graftedin73) claim are ’new‘ have long been a part of the Walter Martin Resource Library.” If this is in fact true, and if they knew of the contents of these tapes, it would seem that they are guilty of suppressing this evidence, not just in the past few months, but for the past decade or two.
Bringing Hidden Things to Light–Job 28:11
Cindee and I recently went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Science Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota. What a blessing it was to see the amazing miracle done by the Lord! There are scoffers who say there is no God, and that these hidden scrolls just “happened” to be discovered, completely by chance. We who know the Lord can only feel sorrow for those who think this way. We can see God’s hand where others see chance. We see His finger prints where others see random changes. We hear His voice and see His words where others only see fables. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,” the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 14:1 and 53:1. Those who deny God are fools. Those who deny God’s miracles are foolish.
Just as the Dead Sea Scrolls lay buried in a desert cave for over twenty centuries, these audio tapes with Walter Martin’s words were buried, by accident or design, for over twenty years. Those who miss the miracle of this are to be pitied.
Regardless of what a person may think of Walter Martin’s comments, they deserve to be heard publicly and considered. This is all we have tried to do. This is not about Cindee and me. This is not about copyright issues. This is about bringing into the light information that speaks to the issue of Hank’s credibility. To throw these comments by Walter Martin back into the darkness of oblivion would be like trying to rebury the Dead Sea Scrolls. Truth is truth; words are words; regardless of the relative importance of the issue.
I guarantee you, Hank’s credibility and reputation are far more important to Hank’s kids, than the Dead Sea Scrolls. They have a right to see evidence that supports their father accessible on the Internet, just as the accusations have been so accessible.
A Lawsuit Filed
While we were at the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, Hank and CRI were given a copy of the lawsuit that has been filed against them, and against us, by Darlene Martin and the “Martin Family Trust.” While we were at the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, our videos at YouTube were once again attacked. I waited until we got home to tell my wife. It was our daughter’s birthday and we were there celebrating at her request. I did not want this attack to mar that wonderful time we were having. The next day, we were sent our “courtesy copy” of the lawsuit by Darlene’s attorney. Ten years ago, extended family members accused us of being traitors to the Martin family for daring to speak privately to Hank Hanegraaff. Their mindset has now come full circle. We see this lawsuit as an attempt to punish us for supreme disloyalty to the family by going public with our support of Hank Hanegraaff. The saddest part of this is that our support has primarily been in our airing Walter Martin’s own words about Hank. Walter Martin would be the last person to condone or promote family loyalty over truth and conscience before the Lord.
Due to the pending lawsuit, several clips of Walter Martin speaking about his plans for Hank are currently unavailable on our YouTube channel. These clips remain available on our www.WalterMartinJude3.com Website.
Ironically, within days of the lawsuit being served on us, the words that have been suppressed on our YouTube channel suddenly appeared on the Risches’ YouTube channel, buried within larger clips of Walter Martin addressing his Bible class.
Please be in prayer for Hank, for CRI, and for us. This is not a carnal battle about copyrights: this is a spiritual battle against a man and an institution that have been used mightily by God for His purposes. Please pray that our extended family will be reconciled with us, and with Hank. “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27 NIV).