Interview with Cost Hinn, nephew of televangelist Benny Hinn.
As his faith in Christ deepened, Costi Hinn, nephew of televangelist Benny Hinn, found himself questioning his family’s practices. This insider view from the once heir-apparent of one of the world’s leading prosperity dynasties offers a thoughtful perspective on the perils of greed, the power of the true gospel, and hope for the future of the church.
Q: Why do you feel you need to warn people about the prosperity gospel?
A: Because I am a pastor. Every pastor has a job to do and that includes preaching the truth and refuting error. The prosperity gospel is a lie that is hurting people. Pastors are shepherds who are called to protect the church. Personally, because I was saved out of this lie it is near and dear to my heart to reach people who’ve been exploited by it.
Q: In your book, you emphasize the importance of understanding God’s sovereignty. What does it mean for God to be “sovereign”? How is this at odds with prosperity gospel teaching?
A: Sovereignty means to “reign over or have supreme authority.” The Bible teaches that our God is a Supreme Ruler (Psalm 115:3). He is in control of all things, uses all things, including suffering and difficult trials, to work together for good (Rom. 8:28; James 1:2). His sovereignty means that he is above us, so his thoughts and ways are above ours. The prosperity gospel, on the other hand, teaches that we can control God. He is the puppet and we are the puppet master. He is easily conquered with our thinking, our speaking, and our monetary giving. The “Jesus” of the prosperity gospel died for my pleasures to be unlocked and the God of the universe is little more than a magic genie who gives me all the things I want. This is insulting to biblical teaching about God Almighty.
Q: You and your family lived an incredibly lavish lifestyle. Can you tell us more about it? When did you first realize that your lifestyle was supported by people who didn’t live anything like you did?
A: Our house was near 10,000 square feet, our second house a multi-million-dollar southern California home with an ocean view, and our cars were nothing short of luxury. Our airline travel was on private jets. Hotel rooms were the most exclusive suites; the royal suite at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai was $25,000USD per night! I knew the people who supported us lived nothing like us. But my belief was that we were the blessed ones, simply showing them how to live. As I got older, I saw the pain of those people and how nothing was changing for them. Service after service where sick weren’t healed, poor weren’t blessed, and prophecies weren’t coming true. Exploitation was abounding, and I began to feel conviction.
Q: Meeting your wife, Christyne, seems to have changed the direction your life took. You also write that you grew up thinking that ministry was a higher priority than marriage. Can you tell us more about that from a pastor’s perspective?
A: In the prosperity gospel world, ministry is everything because it makes the money and the money drives everything. Under the false tenant that we are “sacrificing” our lives for Jesus, we were really just sacrificing time with our families in order to make money. When Christ transformed my heart, my thinking changed and mentors taught me about ministry priorities and pastoral qualifications regarding the home and personal lifestyle (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Does God call anyone to fail at their marriage in the process of serving him? No. You see divorce, adultery, mistresses, and neglect of children in the prosperity gospel.
Q: How can pastors protect their congregations from prosperity theology?
A: Preach the whole counsel of God. Preach the good news, the bad news, the trials, the sufferings, the commands to obey, the commitment to Christ, and the loving of others. Preach on God’s sovereignty, preach on the true Gospel and call out false versions that seek to undermine our Lord. When the temptation to mitigate God’s word or people-please comes to your door (this happens to every preacher), slam the door shut. Remember that one day you will answer to One for how you served His people. Yes, people may sometimes get upset with you for preaching the truth, but be patient with them knowing that they are not wrestling with you, but God’s Word. Lastly, for all the boldness that comes from the pulpit, don’t forget to patient with those in the pews. People need counsel, prayer, time, and wisdom for how to face these very serious issues.
My goal in writing this book is not to gossip or to write a tell-all about the lifestyle of the prosperity gospel proponents. We are on this earth to glorify God and live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). We have a call to reach souls. I wrote this book to stir pastors to reach those caught in this deception, and to inspire us to live for truth and spread the truth.