Although there have been television features and news stories about him, few people actually get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into televangelist Benny Hinn’s life. His nephew, Costi Hinn, is one of the few. Costi Hinn’s new memoir, God, Greed and the (Prosperity) Gospel, leaves many in shock at Benny Hinn’s lifestyle, undergirded by “health and wealth” prosperity gospel theology.
Photo from Benny Hinn
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In an interview with the Biblical Recorder, Costi Hinn provided a first-person view into the ministry of Benny Hinn, and a warning about why Christians should understand the dangers of the prosperity gospel. What follows is a lightly edited transcript.
Q: Why did you write the book?
A: After God opened my eyes and saved me from the life I had lived, I had a desire to reach out to others with the true gospel. But more than that, being a pastor means that I am biblically mandated to proclaim the truth (2 Timothy 4:1-5) and refute those who teach things that are harming God’s people (Romans 16:17-18; Titus 1:9). Like many pastors and believers, I am on a rescue mission and want to reach as many people with the true gospel as possible.
Q: What is your current relationship with your uncle Benny Hinn?
A: Strained. We obviously are on two very different sides of a chasm, but I am hopeful that one day he will repent of his false teachings and turn to Christ publicly. In the same way the Zacchaeus was transformed by Christ in Luke 19, I believe my uncle can also be. I love him dearly, but I love Christ and His true message of the gospel more.
Q: As you were in the middle of working and traveling with your uncle, when did you decide to leave?
A: I had always had private questions about the confusing and even misleading ways that certain things were done. Whether it was people not getting healed, prophecies and promises being made that didn’t come true, or preaching certain Bible passages in ways that didn’t seem to be right, I definitely had some questions. That being said, I didn’t leave his ministry for any reason except to enter college and play baseball at that time. It wasn’t until after leaving his ministry that I began to realize that what the Bible teaches and how our teaching did not line up.
Q: Why do you think Christians follow men like your uncle?
A: First of all, I don’t think everyone following men like my uncle are Christ followers. I believe many are like those in Matthew 7:22-23 who will tell Jesus about all of the powerful things they did and saw, but He won’t know them. That’s why this is so serious to me. We need to reach people with the truth because souls are at stake.
Beyond that, there are two reasons why people follow my uncle. I’m with Paul the Apostle when he says that people will raise up teachers like my uncle “in accordance with their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:3). There are people who like the prosperity gospel. They want to hear that God will make them rich! However, there are also people who are desperate and need hope and healing.
Those people are still being deceived, but it’s not because they are merely evil or enabling, it is because they are looking for answers. The problem is, they are looking for answers in the wrong places. We need to reach both of these groups with the truth but it’s important to understand who and what we are dealing with.