You all know Benny Hinn. He’s the white-haired televangelist who touches people on the forehead, knocks them backwards, and claims to cure whatever ails them. He’s the very definition of the preachers John Oliver famously railed against, the kind who ask for “seed money” from everybody even though the only people who ever get enriched are the preachers themselves.
His nephew Costi Hinn just published an essay in Christianity Today talking about why he walked away from the ministry even though he was living a very luxurious life while working for it.
It was, in part, spurred by his own doubts:
Within the family, we didn’t tolerate criticism. One day I asked my father if we could go heal my friend from school who had lost her hair due to cancer. He replied that we should pray for her at home rather than going to heal her. I thought to myself, Shouldn’t we be doing what the apostles did if we have the same gift? At that point, I didn’t question our ability to heal, but doubts began to stir about our motives. We only did healings in the crusades, where music created the atmosphere, money changed hands, and people approached us with the “right” amount of faith.
Somehow, taking money from poor people while he lived in the fanciest hotels never struck him as odd. He never caught on that he was taking part in a performance even though he had a role onstage (as a “catcher” of fallen bodies). He assumed his preacher uncle’s popularity was proof that he was right.
What about all the criticism of Hinn? Costi said it was just proof “we were being persecuted” and that “our critics were just jealous.”
He was under the spell of God. He was so convinced that he was performing a service for the needy, he had no clue he was making their lives worse by giving them false hope.
But if there’s any silver lining here, it’s that he left the family business because he eventually recognized he was participating in “greedy ministry manipulation.” He’s still a pastor. So in some ways, he traded the spread of one kind of false hope for another, but it’s far less sleazy.
At least he figured it out. That means there’s hope for others in his position.
(Screenshot via YouTube)