Benny Hinn, blessedness, and Benedict

Doug Chaplin seems to rejoice that, as reported by Ruth Gledhill, the preacher Benny Hinn was not able to enter Britain yesterday, because of the technicality that he did not have the required letter of invitation. In the process Doug writes that

you can hardly call the selling of asking of donations in return for miracles a religious activity.

Well, in that case I trust that Doug is immediately going to stop asking for donations, by passing round a collection plate or whatever, at any services of the Eucharist. After all, at least according to his “Catholic” doctrine, the central point of the Eucharist is the “miracle” of the bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Christ. Either that or he should stop claiming to be a minister of religion leading a “religious activity”.

Here is the comment I made on Doug’s post:

Does your church pass round a collection bag or in other ways solicit donations at religious gatherings? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye before complaining about others who do just the same.

Maybe this comment is not quite “Gentle Wisdom”, but I hope Doug knows me well enough to take the word “Hypocrite” as friendly banter.

However, my point is a serious one. What is the real difference between Doug, a stipendiary (I assume) priest of the Church of England, living on money from worshippers and Benny Hinn doing the same? Is the difference just the large amount of such money received by Benny (short for Benedictus, “blessed”)? Are the complaints fuelled by a hint of jealousy about his private jet? Or is the real issue that Anglo-Catholics like Doug and Ruth do not believe that the blessed Benny’s message and miracle ministry are genuinely Christian? In that case they should say so straight out and not pretend that this is a matter of asking for money.

Personally I don’t like Benny Hinn’s style. I also have serious issues with how both he and very often the Church of England seem more interested in taking people’s money than anything else. And although I do believe his ministry is genuinely Christian, although like any preacher’s not perfect, I would defend his right to preach it wherever he wants to. But of course that does not make him immune to border formalities.

I would say just the same about another Benedictus clothed in white expected to visit the UK next year. I hope someone remembers to give the Pope the right letter of invitation.

12 thoughts on “Benny Hinn, blessedness, and Benedict

  1. Thanks for posting on this Peter. I also have some reservations about Benny Hinn, although his book ‘Good morning Holy Spirit’ did help me in my own walk with God. The video posted by Ruth Gledhill today isn’t helpful and certainly will not alleviate suspicions about Benny Hinn but I do not find it surprising that the Holy Spirit can work in evident power, however strange it might seem and I believe the video portrays it as indeed looking somewhat strange, unhelpfully when being slain in the Spirit is biblical and you raise some interesting points here about how sometimes we can be quick to disparage that which is so public and obvious, whilst forgetting that our own structures rely on finance too.

    Well said, Peter.

    There are a few people in church life who I am sure would be hugely enriched from having an experience of God literally sweep them off their feet and take them up into a momentary seventh heaven. It’s really a very wonderful place to be!

  2. Thanks, Rachel. I didn’t actually look at Ruth’s video. But I know what to expect – things which look very strange out of context but make perfect sense in context. I really don’t want to get involved in a discussion here of Benny Hinn’s ministry as I found the reaction to my Todd Bentley posts so upsetting.

    I hereby give notice that I will not allow any comments here which are critical of either Benedictus in ways which do not relate directly to the content of this post.

  3. There are two differences that immediately spring to mind; Firstly, I presume Doug is in some way, accountable to his own congregation, and thus accountable to the people who are eventually funding his work. Secondly, the scale of compensation does make a difference, especially when the one raising the funds lives a lifestyle that is an order of magnitude more lavish than the majority of his donors.

  4. Chris, I take your point. Hinn’s lifestyle is hardly a secret, so donors are not being misled. And they choose voluntarily to give to an organisation that offers limited accountability. Meanwhile the ways in which a Church of England diocese (the body which takes a large proportion of church collections and pays clergy out of it) is accountable to donors are somewhat indirect and tenuous.

    Many Anglican priests, especially those working in poor areas, are perceived as living lifestyles an order of magnitude more lavish than many of their congregation. That’s probably not as true as it used to be, but they still often live in the largest house in the parish (although it does have to double as an office). So the difference is still not huge.

  5. Actually Peter, I’ve generally found that most people who support Hinn aren’t aware of the documented bits of his lifestyle, and simply see their giving as ‘helping his ministry’. His own explanation is to compare himself to the CEO of a large company.

    And the day that the average Anglican Minister starts to stay in the most expensive hotel suite in Europe will be the day that an equivalency can be usefully drawn.

    Still, if you want to strain at gnats and swallow camels that is rather up to you 🙂

  6. The difference between the two Benedicts is that Pope Benedict has taken a vow of poverty or at least to live modestly, whereas, Benny has not. A vow of poverty tends to promote a certain measure of honor and respect.

  7. A facetious thought. While the Vatican is a “state” in its own right, does the Pope as a citizen of that state count as an EU citizen. IF that is the case and in the absence of other circunstances, is not the start point is that he has a free right of entry to the UK so does not need an invitation.? Courtesy will mean that in practice he will receive one.

    I do not feel informed enough to comment on Benny Hinn at this point.

  8. Chris, Benny Hinn is the CEO of a large (non-profit-making) company, and he is certainly not an average minister. When the Archbishop of Canterbury, CEO of the Church of England, gives up his palace on prime real estate on the Thames that will be the time when Anglicans can reasonably criticise Hinn.

    Kevin, I’m not quite sure what vows Pope Benedict has taken. He’s a priest, not a monk. But he hardly appears to live modestly. Surely he and his entourage travel by private jet (owned by the Vatican, I suppose), just like Benny Hinn does (in a plane probably owned by the ministry organisation he heads). And the Pope’s palaces are certainly bigger than Benny Hinn’s. This isn’t criticism of the Pope, just a suggestion that people are using double standards in criticising the other Benny.

    Colin, I think the Pope counts as a Head of State and so has special diplomatic status. I don’t know if that means he needs an invitation. But that special status should be objectionable to us Christians at least if we believe that the church is not to be identified with a worldly state.

  9. You may be right Peter. Perhaps we both have unanswered not quite rhetorical questions on Papal status. I am also unsighted on the nature and history of the Vatican’s position as a state. I am not clear how much it really compares to nations as normally understood. Whether it is a wordly or other wordly state may be an arguable point!

    His predecassor’s 1982 visit was a pastoral visit to his flock. I cannot remeber who issued the invitation.

  10. Peter –

    I doubt if the Archbish will take his palace with him when he leaves office – as it belongs to his office and not his person. , his ministry is incorporated under laws that make it more akin to a charity than a company – and even CEOs have spending limits – which is why it doesn’t pay taxes.

    And it’s interesting that he apparently tried to fly into Britain twice – once after being refused entry.

  11. Chris, I doubt if Benny will take his private jet with him when he retires, or God forbid has to resign as Todd Bentley did last year. I’m sure the jet belongs to his ministry organisation, which is almost certainly “incorporated under laws that make it more akin to a charity than a company”.

    I guess Benny or his staff had tried to resolve the issue before he tried again. Perhaps they provided a letter of invitation but for some reason it wasn’t acceptable.

  12. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom» Blog Archive » Benny Hinn is being divorced

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