Recently, a video of Benny Hinn has been in circulation. In that video, Benny Hinn acknowledged that he has been wrong on his interpretation of the prosperity gospel and that he stretched the truth too far from what the Bible taught on prosperity. He blamed other preachers before him for the error. My goal is not to weigh whether his confession was genuine or not, though an apology to the Christian community and his victims would have been appropriate; the genuineness of his confession in some ways is between him and the Lord and in another way a factor that the ecclesiastical authority over him, if any, should explore further in helping him to come clean before God and man.
The dimension that I would like to consider here is the reality that by selling his false prosperity gospel as the true gospel, Benny Hinn and such other preachers like him have ruined the spiritual lives of many and amassed tremendous wealth through it, a phenomenon even unbelievers or liberals will describe as “conning”, “defrauding” or “stealing by trick”. Because of the false teachings of Benny Hinn and similar preachers, the African Church has embraced a theology that is neither biblically Christian nor humanly reasonable, a sort of Christianity that glorifies wealth over godliness and embraces elements of occultism, traditional religions and superstition. The spiritual ruination is huge!
With the death of Billy Graham, Benny Hinn seems to have come to embrace the light. While we rejoice over his confession, there is a question as to what should happen to the wealth he amassed. As a confessing Christian, should Benny Hinn keep all his ill-gotten wealth or return it to the owners or charity? This is not a matter that we would ask “what will Jesus Do?” because Jesus is the “truth, the way and the life” and will have nothing to do with deceit and wealth acquisition under false pretenses.
The Bible however gives us examples to guide us on. Exodus 22:1, 22:3-6, and 22:14 as well as Leviticus 6: 2-5 has a lot to say about restitution, the interpretation of which might be voluminous for this context but the general principle being established in those provisions is that on matters of stealing, fraud or intentional destruction of another man’s property, making peace with man is as important as making peace with God.
A simple example that applies directly and contextually to Benny Hinn is found in Luke 19: 1 -10:
Jesus and Zacchaeus
“ He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
It will be unfair to ask Benny Hinn to return all that he had received since he needs to meet his basic needs. And realistically, this kind of restitution cannot be objectively calculated. It is however important that his confession be backed with repentance and a desire to right the wrongs that has been done to the Christian faith, to the poor whose wealth had been taken on false promises of divine multiplication and even the “wicked rich” who were made to believe that by paying part of their loots to prosperity preachers, they can obtain salvation. Should Benny Him follow the example of Zacchaeus? What do you think?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rev Joshua Amaezechi, an ordained Minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA), is the President of the LEMA Institute. He works as the Lead Chaplain at the Kalamazoo County Jail, Michigan through the Forgotten Man Ministries.
The opinions and comments expressed in this blog are exclusively that of the author.The LEMA Institute or its Board and faculty is not responsible for any aspects of the information supplied by the blogger.