How to view Benny Hinn has been hotly debated among Christians for many years, more so since 1993 when Hinn announced to the masses that he had repented of false teaching, particularly Word-Faith teachings. Hinn’s announcement of repentance was met with skepticism from those engaged in apologetics-type ministries. This was mostly because Hinn had done the same before, repenting only to turn back to former teachings. This time around, however, Hinn has added credibility to his repentance — in 1994 the Assemblies of God denomination ordained Hinn.
I have had, and still have, problems with Benny Hinn. The following should show why this is so.
In the fall of 1990 Hinn wrote a book that was to become a national best-seller. Good Morning, Holy Spirit (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN) raised the eyebrows of many Christians, several of which were theologians. The book was riddled with theological error. For example, according to Hinn the Father and the Holy Spirit, though not possessing bodies like Jesus, look like Jesus looked like on earth (p. 87). “God the Father has a form,” Hinn says, “but no man knows what it looks like (Phil. 2: 6)” (p. 72; see also p. 82). On page 82, Hinn uses Isaiah 30: 27-28; 66: 4; and Exodus 31: 18; 33: 20, 22, 23 and states, “To my amazement I found that God has the likeness of fingers and hands and a face.” Hinn then concludes, “If God is nothing more than a spirit, how was it possible that Adam and Eve heard His footsteps?” But Hinn has more: “God also has a heart… (Gen. 6: 6)” (p. 83).
Regarding the above, however, it is important to mention Hinn’s epistemology / hermeneutic (how he arrives at truth / how he arrives at biblical interpretation). In chapter one Hinn relates to his readers his account of the Holy Spirit’s appearance to him three days before Christmas 1973. “For the next eight hours,” Hinn states, “He [the Holy Spirit] gave me the answers to my questions.” (p. 1; see also pgs.
48, 50) We might gather then, that it is the Spirit of God who gave Hinn the teachings of this book. Moreover, it was this same Holy Spirit Hinn describes on page 87! Finally, Thomas Nelson Publishers states on the back jacket of the book: “In Good Morning, Holy Spirit, Hinn presents the insights and truths God has taught him through the years.”
As mentioned above, Christian leaders protested the contents of Hinn’s book. The result was that Hinn and his publisher issued a “revised” edition. I place revised in quotes because both Hinn and the publisher make no mention at all that most of the book’s theological errors were corrected! Nowhere is it mentioned that the book had been revised or that it was in its second edition. Two questions arise — (1) why was there no formal notice of revision and, (2) more importantly, if the teachings contained in the first “edition” came from God, why did they have to be changed?
Following all this was Hinn’s latest claim to repentance. First, in September 1993 Hinn appeared on the 700 Club to be interviewed by Pat Robertson. There Hinn repented of his errors, particularly his Word-Faith teachings. Hinn stated that for the last couple of years God showed him that Word-Faith was incorrect (Hinn did not mention the many concerned Christians who admonished him to repent!). However, only a few months later I bought Hinn’s latest (at that time) book, Lord, I Need A Miracle (Thomas Nelson, 1993). In this book typical Word-Faith theology shines through. Hinn exhorts his readers to remove “if” (perhaps alluding to the phrase, “Father, if it be Your will….”) from their prayers and turn their faith loose (p.61); Hinn’s claim to speaking “words of power” and that it is “His [God’s] will” that
believers “live in health until He calls you home” (p. 63). Christians should not be sick (p. 67), proof-texting from Isaiah 45:11 that we are to command God for our healing (pp. 74-75, in Isaiah 45:11 the Hebrew phrase should be considered virtually interrogative in light of the context; in other words, “concerning the work of my hands, you command Me?). Hinn also dedicates a whole section to Words of Power (pp. 90-91).
Second, in the Fall of 1994 I and seven of my students from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary attended Hinn’s Healing Crusade at the Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts. At the beginning of the service there was much singing, followed by an appeal from Hinn for money. Quoting 3 John 2, Hinn stated that it was not God’s will for us to be in debt. “Debt is not of You [God],” Hinn prayed, then Hinn proceeded to ask for money from the people. Hinn used himself as an example to the people, saying in common Word-Faith fashion that when he wanted to be out of debt he prayed for that and began to thank God for it already, even though it hadn’t happened right away. At this point Hinn informed the 15,000 attendees that the buckets were going to be passed around by ushers, and if we did not have cash we could write out a check or use our credit cards! (God does not want us in debt?). Just before this Hinn told us, “I’m going to ask for everyone to give at least one hundred dollars.” Hinn also prayed for healing, quoting 1 Peter 2:24b (“By His stripes you were healed”). “People are going to receive what is theirs,” Hinn exclaimed (using 1 Pet. 2:24, Word-Faith teaching is that we were healed, i.e., we already have it). Hinn also stated: “The Bible says, when you praise God the demons attack one another.” Following this Hinn told of a past experience. While praying during one of his crusades, Hinn was at a loss for what to do concerning the service. “Benny, you’re in charge,” said the Holy Spirit! Some time after the healing was about to begin, Hinn told the several hundred crippled people in wheel-chairs, “if you say ‘Yes,’ He’ll [God will] get you up out of that bed.” An hour or so later all of the people in wheel-chairs exited the auditorium… still in wheel-chairs. At one point before the healings were to begin, Hinn announced, to thunderous applause, that he just saw the devil bow down to him!
Why the great emotional response at Benny Hinn’s crusades? Concerning Hinn’s overall “performance,” my opinion is that he is a master hypnotist. He leads people on a 1-2 hour emotional roller coaster using fast and slow songs in such a way as to be shouting one minute, and whispering the next, all the while planting suggestions in the minds of people. These suggestions include, “Many of you are
going to feel electricity throughout your bodies tonight,” and, “Many of you are going to feel heat on your bodies at the place God is healing you tonight.” Naturally, the overwhelming amount of testimonies of healing that night at the auditorium consisted of just the above — people feeling heat or electricity and claiming they were healed. And these “healings” were of internal maladies that could neither be viewed nor confirmed by witnesses.
Hinn claims that the source of his “revelations” is the Holy Spirit. If this is so, it is the Holy Spirit who is giving Hinn these theological errors, contradicting what He has already revealed to us! Would the Holy Spirit do such a thing? I think not. I must stand on God’s already revealed Word.