The Internet chatter and speculations over Benny Hinn’s wishy-washy repentance from the Prosperity Gospel has pretty much died down at this point, with only a few rumblings here and there. The last rumble I encountered was on the September 30th episode of Too Wretched for Radio with Todd Friel and Phil Johnson.
People generally conclude that Hinn has yet to demonstrate any real repentance. Please, though, read that conclusion with sorrow, joining me in sincere prayer that his surface level proclamation of repentance will ultimately lead to genuine and deep repentance from all his errors and sins. None of us should wish ill on any false teacher; we should pray for each of them to come to salvation.
Frankly, I haven’t watched all the videos on either side of this controversy, nor have I read all the articles. I don’t particularly want to do so. Although Benny Hinn has seriously tarnished the name of Christ with his bogus healing ministry and his lavish lifestyle built on the backs of the poor, I usually focus on false teachers who appeal to more mainstream evangelicals. Those teachers, in my opinion, pose a much greater threat to the body of Christ than obvious charlatans like Benny Hinn do.
Yet I mention Hinn here as a reminder that repentance is a whole lot more than mumbling the acceptable words and consequently lighting up Twitter with joy that a lost lamb appears to have returned to the fold. While love believes and hopes all things (1 Corinthians 13:7), we must still be aware that false teachers masquerade as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
True repentance, in Benny Hinn’s case, would result in him closing his ministry and doing his best to restore money to all the people who have supported his organization (not to mention his lavish lifestyle) over the years.It would mean admitting that he deliberately kept people with obvious disabilities away from his stage while he pretended to heal unseen conditions that couldn’t be immediately documented. It would force him to confess that he’s always been a fraud.
True repentance leaves no room for self-justification. It doesn’t allow us to keep a portion of our sin. We can’t make a public show about turning from one small aspect of a sinful behavior while continuing in the bulk of that behavior.
Consider Christ’s rebuke to the Pharisees:
42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” ~~Luke 11:42-44 (ESV)
When a Christian repents, it’s so much more than an attention getting gimmick that lacks substance. True repentance seeks to change direction and move toward obedience to God. Above all, it points to Him, not to self.
Is it trite to blog about whether or not Benny Hinn has repented? If it’s merely to discredit Benny Hinn, it may be (although not everybody has thought through the situation). But if we use his gesture as a springboard to examine our own repentance, the discussion can bring honor to the Lord and further our sanctification. Those outcomes make it worth it.