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 ofasking 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.