Benny Hinn, is one of today's best-known televangelists.
His theology is based largely on that of the Word-Faith movement, with a heavy emphasis on the so-called "Prosperity Gospel." His teachings, behavior and practices have made him controversial among Christians and non-Christians alike.
Benny Hinn was born Toufik Benedictus Hinn
in the coastal city of Jaffa in Israel in 1952. He was one of eight children born to an Armenian mother and a Greek father. The family was Greek Orthodox. In 1968, they emigrated to Canada settling in Toronto and Benny, who by this time was a young teenager, began attending Georges Vanier High school, north of Toronto.
While at school, Benny befriended a group of religious students who introduced him to prayer meetings and teaching of the Gospel. Benny eventually became a Born Again Christian, despite concerns and initial opposition of his family. When he was 21, he attended a healing service in Pittsburgh headlined by evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman. She would become a major influence on his life, so much so, that he emulates her style to this day.
Benny Hinn began his healing ministry in Toronto by hosting his own evangelical program on local television. His success in Canada inspired him to travel with his healing missions. In Orlando, Florida he met and married Suzanne, the daughter of a local pastor and it was there that Benny Hinn began to build his evangelical empire.
Today he is known as Pastor Benny. Without doubt he is one of the best known and possibly richest televangelists in the world. Each year he travels the world conducting so-called miracle healing crusades that are very closely patterned to a rock concert tour.
He produces a daily television show called “This is Your Day” from his studios based in California and has written several books about his life and ministry, which he markets and sells, along with video tapes of his crusades, music CDs and bibles.
Benny Hinn is also a proponent of the Prosperity Gospel
or the Word of Faith
movement. As is implied by the name "Prosperity Gospel" the supporters believe that faith works as a mighty power or force. That it is through their faith that they can obtain anything they want – such as health, wealth, or any form of personal success. However, this force is only released through their faith. According to Pastor Benny if a person expresses their faith by sowing a sufficient monetary seed into his ministry - that person will be granted divine physical healing.
Some Christian groups have been critical of Benny Hinn for preaching the Prosperity Gospel and for misinterpreting scriptures on a number of occasions. Read more on the Apologetics Index, an online resource on religions.
He has also been criticized by a number of Christian watchdog groups for not joining the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability
. The Council is the leading accreditation agency that helps Christian ministries earn the public’s trust through adherence to seven standards of accountability. It has over 1,100 members, including Pat Robertson and Billy Graham. Benny Hinn refuses to join.
Benny Hinn is controversial for the following reasons:
- his frequently aberrant - and at times heretical - theology,
- his false prophecies,
- his unorthodox behavior,
- his financial practices,
- his false claims, and
- his foolish statements.
Nevertheless, large numbers of people who indentify themselves as Christians follow - and at times even appear to worship - this preacher. This reflects a trend in Christianity, referred to as 'experience over doctrine.' It means that more value is given to (sensual) experiences than to sound doctrine.
Since sound doctrine provides us with the tools to determine whether or not a teaching or practice is Biblical, the 'experience over doctrine' approach leaves Christians wide open for error.
Some Christians believe that it is wrong for Christians to criticize the teachings and practices of evangelists like Benny Hinn. They point out:
- that Jesus taught his followers not to judge (Matthew 7:1), and
- that the Bible says not to 'touch God's annointed.' (Psalm 105:15)
The notion that these verses forbid Christians from examining the teachings and practices of other Christians is the result of faulty interpretation. For details on this issue, see the following Apologetics Index entry:
Should Christians Judge? Does the Bible not warn against 'touching God's annointed'?
The Bible teaches that all Christians should learn how to discern between orthodoxy and heresy. It tells us to test everything, and to then hold on to that which is good. (See: 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). This necessarily involves 'judging' - not of the person, but of his or her teachings and practices (to see whether or not they are Biblical).
Benny Hinn, however, claims that the same Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture tells him something different:
The Holy Ghost is upon me...The day is coming when those that attack us will drop dead. You say, 'What did he say?' I speak this under the anointing of the Spirit. Can I tell you something? Don't touch God's servants; it's deadly...Woe to you that touch God's servants. You're going to pay. 'And the day will come.' The Lord said that to me. He said, 'The day will come when I will punish instantly. Woe to those who touch my chosen.' They will fear us. Hear this: today they mock us; tomorrow they will fear us.
Source: Benny Hinn, "Miracle Invasion Ralley," Anaheim Convention Center November 22, 1991, quoted in Christianity in Crisis
, Hank Hanegraaff.
Instead of obeying God's Word, many of Benny Hinn's followers share his unbiblical rejection of accountability regarding his teachings and practices.
Note that the Bible foretold that there would come a time when certain people will simply not put up with sound doctrine, but instead seek out teachers and teachings which suit their own desires:
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
This is a fitting description of the 'experience over doctrine' approach noted earlier.
For more on these issues, see:
What is discernment? How should it be applied?
A Biblical Guide to Orthodoxy and Heresy
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