Sunday, September 15, 2019

Redefining the Prosperity Gospel

Recently a video went viral of evangelist Benny Hinn talking about how he’s changing his receiving offerings. He stated, “When they invite me to telethons I think they will not like me anymore...if I hear one more time, break the back of debt with $1,000, I’m gonna rebuke them. I think that’s buying the gospel. That’s buying the blessing. That’s grieving the Holy Spirit.” 

It’s encouraging to see Benny Hinn making these adjustments. I’ve attended a few of his meetings and strongly perceived God’s presence there. However, I asked to have my name removed from Benny’s mailing list because of receiving too many fundraising letters. I resist giving to ministers who apply pressure or use questionable gimmicks to receive money from me. We are not to handle the word of God deceitfully (2 Corinthians 4:2) and for personal gain (2 Peter 3:16).

Some have suggested Benny is reacting to a book written by his nephew. Costi Hinn’s “God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel” talks about how his family supposedly exploited millions around the world by trading miracles for money. While glancing at a sample of his book on Amazon, I noticed Costi listed other books he recommends reading. Many of them are by John MacArthur, an outspoken cessationist who believes the gifts of the Holy Spirit stopped after the original apostles died. I won’t read materials scoffing at God doing supernatural things today.

Critics have also insisted Benny Hinn should return money to his donors. They compare that to what Zacchaeus did in Luke 19:8. There’s a big difference between a tax collector intimidating taxpayers and a minister receiving free will offerings. Benny’s revenue has taken the gospel to the nations and financed mission projects. His website states, “This ministry continues to reach out to thousands of children each day through hospital care, housing, food, clothing, medical supplies, and educational materials.”

If someone asks if I believe in the prosperity gospel, that depends on how it’s defined. Certainly, I don’t believe one must pay money to be saved. Nor do I believe in a poverty gospel. Psalm 35:27 says, “Let the Lord be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” Some describe the prosperity gospel as the promise of one obtaining wealth through positive confessions plus giving tithes and offerings. Many Scriptures support these concepts. However, other factors can affect one’s financial status. (For additional study on this subject, please read my article “Wealth in the Word.”)

The gospel is free but it takes money to get the message out whether it’s through passing out Bibles and tracts on the streets or preaching to millions through the media and evangelistic crusades. Many so-called prosperity preachers are generous givers. Those that oversee megachurches often renounce their salaries since they receive income from other sources. I know one pastor whose church offers this challenge: “If you tithe for six months and you don’t see God’s response to His promise, we will refund 100% of your tithe.”

God desires His people to prosper so they can fulfill His plans and purposes on the earth. He doesn’t mind us having things as long as the things don’t have us. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Therefore, I choose to believe in a prosperity gospel.

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” - 3 John 2

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