The Confusing World of Benny Hinn
A review of the book by G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelman
This book review was written by Stephen Sizer for "Evangelicals Now", May 1996 issue. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Hinn TV Bonanza coming this year - Future expansion of controversial ministries guaranteed" read the banner headline in the New Christian Herald, February 10, 1996. If you have never heard of Benny Hinn, you soon will.
Benny Hinn is an American neo-pentecostal televangelist credited, along with Rodney Howard-Browne, with introducing the "Toronto Blessing" to the then Toronto Airport Vineyard Church.
In a book by Gary McHale and Michael Haykin, The Toronto Blessing, a Renewal from God? (Canadian Christian Publishers, 1995), John Arnott, pastor of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, is quoted as admitting to having been a friend of Benny Hinn's for 20 years and in his being a leading figure in shaping Arnott's view of divine healing and anointing (p.245). Likewise in January 1994, John Wimber confessed to the impact of Benny Hinn upon him,"...he was the most sweet, broken person I've ever talked to. I cry out now, thinking about it. He's so full of the Holy Ghost. I just loved him." (p.249). Guy Chevreau, an apologist for the Vineyard Church admitted that Arnott "longed for a similar kind of empowerment" as Hinn demonstrated. see Chevreau, Catch the Fire, (Marshall Pickering, 1994), p.22-23.
Benny Hinn has appeared in London in missions with Morris Cerullo and on his own. Like other "faith teachers" he is similarly committed to spreading his unorthodox "Prosperity Gospel" and "anointing" message to Britain and Europe through Christian Channel Europe (CCE) using the Sky Sports 2 satellite channel. He clearly sees Europe as a lucrative mission field, having promised to raise a million dollars to kick start the venture.
Benny Hinn is the founder of Orlando Christian Centre in Florida, a neo-pentecostal church attended by 7000 people. His televised services allegedly reach around 15 million people a week. He is big over there and will soon, as they say, therefore probably be big over here.
The publication of this book by Fisher and Goedelman is therefore timely. It is a call for discernment. and there is probably nothing more needful among Christians in Britain at the moment, and Evangelicals in particular.
The charges made against Benny Hinn are very serious, often repeated and easily substantiated, from his own published writings, and the copious cross-references they provide. Fisher and Goedelman are not the first to make these allegations but they have probably gone the furthest in monitoring, researching and publicising them. See also Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, (Nelson Word, 1995), and D.R. McConnell, A Different Gospel, (Hendrikson, 1995).
In the forward to the book, William Alnor of Eastern Christian Outreach, claims this to be "one of the best examples of investigative reporting within the Church I have ever seen...This book is the standard work for information on Benny Hinn."
Given the tendency for American's to resort to law to settle libel and defamation suits, Fisher and Goedelman are clearly convinced of the veracity of their evidence to warrant publishing it. I quote from the back cover of the book,
Time and again preachers burst onto the scene, attracting attention and followers with what they claim are new insights into Scripture and new powers from God, only to be exposed as being not only unoriginal but false.
Benny Hinn...is the latest and best example of this phenomenon. Hinn... epitomises the kind of histrionics, emotionalism and hysteria that can bring reproach onto the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Even more damaging to his claim of "revelation" from God is the confusion which abounds in the statements and stories of preacher Benny Hinn. His propensity for exaggeration, embroidery and myth making is well documented within his many public statements and writings.
The Confusing World of Benny Hinn is a well researched and carefully documented investigation exposing the bizarre, heretical, fraudulent and contradictory religious claims and experiences of Benny Hinn.
These include his repeated mishandling of Scripture to support false doctrines (nine in the Trinity), his lies and exaggerations about his family and background (his father was never Mayor of Jaffa), his speculative claims to special revelation which reinforce his heretical views (visits from Jesus and angels, out of body experiences as well as one-to-one dialogues with the Holy Spirit), his unsubstantiated miracles (like healing AIDs victims), and perhaps most worryingly of all, for reviewers like me at least, his unholy curses pronounced on his critics ("you have attacked me, your children will pay for it"). Here is a sample of his speculations and doctrines, supposedly received through special "revelation" knowledge. (taken from Benny Hinn, Good Morning Holy Spirit, Word, 1991)
And then like a child, with my hands raised, I asked, "Can I meet you? Can I really meet you?"....After I spoke to the Holy Spirit, nothing seemed to happen......Then, like a jolt of electricity my body began to vibrate all over....I felt as if I had been translated to heaven....(p.12-13)
Once, my mother was cleaning the hallway while I was in my room talking with the Holy Spirit. When I came out, she was thrown right back. Something had knocked her against the wall. I said, "What's wrong with you Mama?" She answered, "I don't know?" Well, the presence of the Lord almost knocked her down. (p.42)
What was the appearance of God the Father? Like that of a man...God has the likeness of fingers and hands and a face (p.82)...as with the Holy Spirit - He looks like Jesus looked on earth. (p.87)
Had He (Jesus) not offered Himself through the Holy Ghost, He would not be accepted in the eyes of God the Father. Nor would He have endured the sufferings of the cross. Had He not presented Himself through the Holy Ghost, His blood would not have remained pure and spotless. And let me add this: Had the Holy Spirit not been with Jesus, He would have sinned. (p.135)
Can you imagine Christ headed for the grave knowing He would remain there forever if the Holy Ghost would change His mind about raising Him from the dead? (p.136)
Do you know that every unbeliever is filled with a demon spirit (p.146)
That Benny Hinn has a prosperous, influential and powerful ministry is undisputed, apparently he only has to blow on people to make them fall over. What is in question is the source of this "power."
Fisher and Goedelman have shown that, on the edge of the Christian Church, and sadly at the heart of too many so-called Christian missions, book shops and periodicals, there are wolves like Benny Hinn who will propagate their novel interpretations, give the illusion of divine blessing and make outrageous claims which only establish their own authority and confuse "even the elect."
Alnor summarises the book's findings on Benny Hinn thus,
He is a man who is literally being "tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). At one point he declared there to be "nine of them" in the Godhead, and that believers are "little Messiah's on earth." He has taught the false "name it and claim it" prosperity gospel. Added to his theological aberrations are his cheap Elmer Gantry-like theatrics such as allegedly throwing the Holy Spirit into crowds like a softball, blowing into microphones to become a Holy Ghost dispenser, and even belting people with his coat to impart the Holy Spirit. In fact, actor Steve Martin used Hinn as a model for his bogus faith healer character in the movie, "Leap of Faith." (coincidentally shown on British TV in March 1996.)
Frankly, I cannot for the life of me understand why a reputable Christian publisher like Nelson Word would want to market Benny Hinn's books in Britain, nor some Charismatic and Pentecostal leaders would wish to embrace his ministry. They, and those who market Benny Hinn, give him a semblance of respectability he does not deserve and an air of orthodoxy his teachings do not warrant.
For example, in the booklet accompanying the Nelson Word video Rumours of Revival, an apologia for the Toronto Blessing, Benny Hinn's books are promoted alongside those of Tony Campolo, Charles Swindoll, Gordon MacDonald and J. John. I hope they have or will disassociate themselves forthwith.
And yes, please buy this book, and burst a few more bubbles of religious hot air.
Stephen R. Sizer
8 April 1996
Book Review for Evangelicals Now, May 1996.
The Confusing World of Benny Hinn
G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelman
Personal Freedom Outreach
PO Box 26062. Saint Louis, Missouri 63136. USA
May 1995, price L5.50