What should we do with “Repentant” Benny Hinn?
Benny Hinn has been the world’s most recognizable “faith healer” for decades. He travels the world promising huge audiences relief from the pain, disability, and illnesses of life if they just have faith. This may sound good until Hinn reveals his definition of what having faith looks like – giving him money. Hinn has made likely hundreds of millions of dollars preaching a false gospel and using Jesus to get money from the vulnerable. Private jets, huge mansions, and a lavish lifestyle have all been funded by these misdeeds.
Now, Benny Hinn claims to have changed his ways. He told a recent audience he realizes the error of his ways. He understands now that he has been grieving the Holy Spirit for many years. He has corrected his own theology. He will be preaching differently from now on, he claimed.
He says he is repentant.
This is seemingly good news. If there was ever a television preacher that needed repentance it is Benny Hinn. There is no doubt he has been grieving the Holy Spirit. But just because Benny Hin needs repentance and he says he sorry, should we believe him?
We are called to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
How are we to take this news? Do we believe him? Do we accept him? Do we listen to him?
Beware of False Teachers
Benny Hinn is more than just a man whose theology strayed. He is a liar and a false teacher. His long career has been done under the guise of Christianity and as a “Reverend”. Yet, his act really has very little to do with Jesus and Him crucified. Jesus is the cover Hinn hides behind in order to take from the poor and the desperate. He is just as much of a con man as the guy pretending to be a Nigerian prince on the internet.
“If you just give me a little seed money” Hinn and the Nigerians scammers both entice, “I promise you will get something greater.” They tantalize with future riches in order to get people to give them cash now.
Hinn just uses Jesus to seal his manipulation. If you give him money Jesus will give you riches. The sad thing is it works.
Hinn has taken people for many millions of dollars over the years. He has promised miracles he can never deliver if they just give him one dollar more.
Benny Hinn has called himself a man of God for many years while doing Satan’s business. He has lied, manipulated and preached falsely. He has done this all for his own personal enrichment.
He is a living example of the false teacher warned about in the Bible:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 Peter 2:1-3
His destruction is not idle.
A Man with a Changed of Heart
Hinn now claims he has learned from his mistakes. He has corrected his own theology according to his statements. He has renounced the buying and selling of miracles and the Prosperity Gospel as a whole.
I really hope he has done so.
God has turned terrible hearts to Him throughout history. It is far from impossible. Benny Hinn could truly be sorry for the evil he has done in God’s name.
It is reasonable to question whether he has truly done so. We as Christians should not feel bad for doubting Hinn. His entire empire is built on using the name and power of the Lord to get what he wants. He has been a practiced liar for many years.
How can we ever know if he is telling the truth? How can we know whether his heart has been transformed by Jesus?
Fruit Worthy of Repentance
John the Baptist was no stranger to men who used religion to rob from the poor and weak. He railed against the Sadducees, the Scribes and the Pharisees for their evil manipulation of the Law to line their own pockets. They were supposed to be leading the people to a closer relationship with God. Instead, they were devouring widow’s houses and oppressing the downtrodden. They are the Benny Hinn’s of that day. They are men who used the name of God for their own ends.
A great moment occurs during John’s ministry that sheds light on our response to men like Hinn. John is in the wilderness and many of these religious leaders come to hear him preach. This seems to be a momentous occurrence. This an honor John should savor. The “best men of Isreal” came to hear a man dressed in camel hair talk about the coming Messiah. They appear to come to listen to John’s call to repentance. Yet, all is not as it seems. John’s response to them is striking:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,” Matthew 3
John is so happy to see them he calls them snakes.
To be more accurate, he refers to them as children of snakes. This seems to be a reference to them belonging to the serpent of old, Satan. He welcomes them as they truly are. John is clear about the evil deeds of these liars and thieves and calls them out for it. He does not soften the truth because it would hurt their feelings.
They stole from God’s people. They lied in God’s name. They have been snakes up to this point. It would only serve to devalue God’s mercy by pretending these evil-doers were anything less than that.
John does not send them away, though. He identifies them for what they are but also gives them a way out.
Bear fruit worthy of repentance. The New Living Translation of the Bible puts it this way:
Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
John is not confused about the way to salvation. It is by faith alone the Pharisees and Sadducees would be saved. He is simply setting forth an obvious fact. Their words alone are worthless. They have been lying and cheating in God’s name up until now. They must back up their statements with actions if they want to be believed.
Repentance is not just saying sorry and feeling sorry. The word involved also includes turning away from our sins.
Men who Bore Fruit Worthy of Repentance
We can understand this better through examples.
Matthew was a tax collector before following Jesus. This was a profession filled with men who also oppressed and stole from the people. They were universally hated among the Jews. If a person did not pay their taxes, their property was seized and they were thrown out in the cold.
Matthew is sitting at his tax collecting booth when Jesus calls him. Look at what happens:
As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.
Matthew gets up and leaves the tax booth behind. His whole life before is over. It is replaced by one of service to Jesus. He then throws a party that evening inviting all of his colleagues and friends from this old life to meet Jesus.
Matthew shows repentance by leaving his old life behind. He also offers others the same way out.
Zaccheus is a Chief Tax Collector. This means he was the biggest of the thieves and oppressors. His story of being called is equally dramatic:
Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
The salvation that occurs in Zaccheus also has an outward manifestation. He turns away from his money-focused life and moves toward a life defined by his Savior. This is the fruit worthy of repentance. It shows the words were not just worldly sorrow, an emotional response or just plain old lies. Zaccheus is truly repentant so his actions match his words.
If someone is truly experiencing Godly sorrow, there should be actions in their life that follows.
It does not have to be perfect. It does have to be present.
This is the test set out in the Word. A life changed by the Holy Spirit will show it. Faith without works is dead.
Does Benny Hinn have Fruit Worthy of Repentance?
This is the simple way to tell whether Benny Hinn is telling the truth. Are we wondering whether he is moved by God or setting up his next scores? Check to see if he has fruit worthy of repentance? We cannot see his heart. We can see his actions. If his heart is broken by the evil he has done, his works will reflect it. If it is just a show, it will be revealed in his life.
His statements alone make the issue inconclusive. Benny Hinn says he is sorry. Anyone can say they are sorry. There must be fruit showing it.
Hinn has not stepped down from his self-appointed ministry. He has been exploiting people while claiming to be a pastor for decades. Repentance would seem to dictate awareness he is unfit to continue. His programs continue to ask for money.
The harm he did to the Kingdom of God should bring about grief, pain, and mourning. This is not a slight change in ministry methods.
He claims to have corrected his own theology. This may be good but Hinn’s judgment on correct theology has been the problem for many years. Why should anyone trust him now?
Most importantly, he has not taken any steps to return the many millions he has taken from people. He also seems to be continuing in the ministry that was the mechanism for that exploitation.
This is like a drunk driver behind the wheel of a running car with a bottle in his hand claiming to have learned his lesson about impaired driving. It sounds good but makes little sense. He needs to put down the bottle, get out of the car and start going to AA before he is taken seriously.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish,
Benny Hinn does not appear to be bearing fruit worthy of repentance.
Benny Hinn now says the words the Gospel is not for sale and miracles are not for sale. His actions for decades as a televangelist indicated just the opposite. His works since his new statements are consistent with his decades of bad decisions rather than his newly found revelations.
How should we respond? Wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
I look forward to welcoming Benny Hinn into the family of God openly and without reservation about his past. I look forward to what God does with him. God is the ultimate redeemer of bad characters. HOWEVER, Benny Hinn must turn away from his life as a worker of iniquity in order to come into the church community. Repentance – turning away from the old – is a core part of the Gospel.
A new life in Christ will bear new fruit. Old life will continue to bear death and corruption.
When we see new fruit, then we will know Benny Hinn has joined us as a brother in Christ.
He remains who his actions show him to be until then.