Thursday, September 5, 2019

Benny Hinn Rejecting the Prosperity Gospel?

Yesterday the news spread that Benny Hinn has publicly rejected the teachings of the prosperity gospel. One of the last people I'd ever expect to hear criticizing the prosperity gospel — the idea that God wants you to be rich — is Benny Hinn. After all, while he was preaching this, he was waving his arms and touching people on the forehead causing them to fall down in forceful and often silly ways, saying it was the power or force of God, yet I haven't heard him reject this. It was this power, which he claimed to be from the "Holy Ghost", that confirmed his teachings and his ministry as a prophet of God. And there is no word yet on what he is going to do with all the wealth he accumulated, though we do hear now that he no longer flies on private jets (whether he flies coach or first class we also don't know). For this and for many other reasons, I am still a bit skeptical how far his rejection goes, though undoubtedly he is heading in the right direction.

Anyone who follows this stuff knows that this announcement is not new. I believe it was in 2017 that Benny Hinn's nephew exposed him for the fraud he was. Not long after this, on Facebook, we began to hear Benny Hinn renouncing the teachings of the prosperity gospel (listen from the 9:30 mark here). What we heard yesterday however pretty much solidifies his renunciation. And he did it with some strong words. Here is what he said:

When I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1998 to 2001, I encountered more than a few die-hard Benny Hinn followers and had conversations with them. They whole-heartedly believed in him and his "Holy Ghost" power as an "anointed Prophet of God", and it was very difficult to convince them otherwise. After all, they saw the evidence of it every day on television. For this reason I watched his television program every day at the time for a few years, and I read a few of his books, including his autobiography. What surprised and disappointed me when I read his autobiography was that he was born to an Armenian mother and Greek father in Jaffa of Palestine, and was baptized as a Greek Orthodox Christian. Not only was he baptized Greek Orthodox, but he was baptized by the future Patriarch of Jerusalem, Benediktos. Most Orthodox probably know Patriarch Benediktos as the one responsible for helping to bring back the relics of Saint Savvas the Sanctified back to his monastery in the Holy Land from Italy after many centuries, with permission from the Pope. In fact, he even served as his altar boy, and his father was the head of a Greek Orthodox Club in Jaffa. Then he moved to Toronto with his family, where he continued attending a Greek Orthodox parish, until one day in Pittsburgh he attended a miracle healing service led by Kathryn Kuhlman, which not only changed him but also influenced his future ministry in many ways. One of the ways he showed his renunciation of the Orthodox Church in Toronto was at his father's funeral, when during the funeral service he began to preach like an evangelist and started singing gospel songs, considering all those in the congregation to be lost souls. His family didn't take all this too well.

From this we see that Benny Hinn clearly has a history of rejecting things, even if it is difficult. And ever since he was publicly exposed in 2009 for being a fraud, and even before this, life has not been easy for him, losing his wife to divorce and getting involved in allegedly scandalous affairs. Perhaps publicly rejecting the prosperity gospel was the only way to save himself and his ministry.

One of the saddest things I ever witnessed was attending an eight-hour Benny Hinn crusade in South Carolina in a packed stadium of thousands of people, and sick and crippled people rushing to get an "anointing" or a "touch" from him, believing that he could heal them. Then after a sermon where he taught his prosperity gospel teachings, he asked everyone to donate to his ministry all that they possibly could, so God could reward them back with greater blessings. In most churches, when ushers go around with a basket to collect donations, you will see mainly $1 bills and $5 bills and rarely anything more. But when Benny Hinn told everyone to make a donation, you saw everyone pull out their checkbooks, and I saw people around me giving hundreds if not thousands of dollars each, and these were clearly not rich people. It all actually brought a tear to my eye. So when Benny Hinn says he now rejects this and regrets doing this, I think he owes a lot of people a deep and sincere heartfelt apology as well.