I deeply appreciate the time that Justin Peters has spent studying Benny Hinn’s ministry, and I don’t for a moment question his sincerity or the depth of his concern. I also commend him for his “unequivocal” apology to me for some inaccuracies in his previous article, “Ignorance Is Not an Option,” and of course I fully accept his apology. (There were several more inaccuracies concerning his presentation of my social media comments in the aftermath of recording the Benny Hinn TV shows, but I will allow his apology to cover those as well. I also apologized to him on radio and personally for misquoting him during an interview on another program.)
In this article, I simply want to point out how important it is to represent things accurately, especially when claiming that a professing Christian leader is really a charlatan, a false teacher, and a hell-bound heretic. (Mr. Peters made clear on my radio show that he is sure that Benny Hinn is not a believer, so these are serious charges.)
To be clear, I am not Benny Hinn’s defender or apologist, nor is the question here whether it was wise for me to appear on his TV show. (I have seen more than enough tweets and comments now branding me a false teacher and heretic simply for being on the show!) My goal here is to underscore how careful we need to be in our presentation of facts.
Let me give just two examples. In his previous article, Mr. Peters stated that Benny Hinn “Teaches all of the standard Word-Faith doctrines such as Positive Confession, the Little gods doctrine, the Spiritual Death of Jesus (SDJ) doctrine, and guaranteed health and wealth for the believer.” And note carefully that first word “teaches,” meaning, he presently teaches these things.
As I said repeatedly, I had not been monitoring Benny Hinn’s ministry in recent years, but I had read that he had publicly repudiated some of these doctrines more than 20 years ago, stating this in a Charisma magazine interview in 1993:
“God is shaking me,” said Hinn. “He is making dramatic changes inside of me. …The Lord is showing me some things I have been wrong about. At one point I taught certain things, such as the ‘little gods’ teaching, and Jesus dying spiritually. Now I have quit teaching such things, and I have made it clear that I no longer believe them.”
Hinn said that after a decade of pursuing Word-Faith doctrines, he has found some extremes in that teaching, and is changing his views on some issues. “For example, I used to teach that Jesus died spiritually and suffered in Hell,” he said. “Through my own study, I discovered that this didn’t line up with the Word. When the Lord said ‘It is finished’ on the cross, He didn’t add ‘to be continued.’”
Hinn told Charisma that he had modified his views on other issues, including what is sometimes called “name it and claim it” theology. He said, “I don’t believe confessing the Word works the way I taught it in the past. Of course, we should believe and confess God’s Word. But I don’t believe we can just confess any Scripture and make it happen.” Hinn also emphasized that he believes “the Bible is the only authoritative source of divine revelation,” and reaffirmed his belief in “one God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God, three persons, absolutely one in essence.”
Though he once taught that Christians are “little gods,” Hinn now refutes that doctrine. “I did teach the little gods doctrine,” he said. “Today I don’t believe it one iota. In fact, it’s been erased off all my tapes. …When I taught the little gods doctrine, I was using Scriptures that didn’t fit.”
Since Hinn’s critics, including Mr. Peters, constantly accuse him of teaching these things (again, in the present tense), I questioned Mr. Peters (and others) privately, asking him to provide evidence that Mr. Hin still taught the “Jesus died in hell” and “little gods” doctrines, since people I spoke with who were close to him said he did not. In his current article, “Has Benny Hinn Repented?”, Mr. Peters acknowledges that Hinn did, in fact, stop teaching some of these doctrines, meaning that the statement that Benny Hinn teaches “the Little gods doctrine” and “the Spiritual Death of Jesus (SDJ) doctrine” is false.
Again, I’m not justifying other teachings or practices of Mr. Hinn (see more on that below), nor am I saying all of the accusations against him in Mr. Peters’ articles are false (nor I am replying here to a number of accusations brought against me by Mr. Peters in his two articles). I’m simply saying that he falsely accused Benny Hinn of some very major errors and those accusations have subsequently been repeated ad infinitum through the internet. Shouldn’t that concern us before we launch our attacks? Would you want others to do that to you?
For the second example, note that Mr. Peters wrote in his first article that Benny Hinn “Claims he healed every patient at a hospital in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada,” explaining in a footnote, “Hinn made this claim in his book Welcome Holy Spirit on page 233. His claim was roundly refuted by hospital staff.”
Because I did not have this book and because I take a charge like this very seriously, I bought the book and, to my surprise, Benny Hinn did not make that claim. In other words, what Justin Peters wrote was false. First, Benny Hinn never claimed to have healed anyone (I would imagine he has never made that claim in his entire life); second, the emphasis in the story was that others were used to minister healing aside from him; third, he nowhere claimed that “every patient” was healed.
I raised this issue to Mr. Peters via email, suggesting that he would do better to present the story accurately and then, if the hospital staff denied it, at least his story would be credible. Now, in his second article, and without acknowledging the misrepresentation in his previous article (why not?), he writes that Mr. Hinn “Claims he and a Catholic priest channeled the power of God to heal practically every patient at a hospital in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada.” How interesting! In reality, this is not an entirely accurate statement either, but note how it has changed from the first account, “Claims he healed every patient at a hospital in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada,” to the current one.
What this means is that every single statement made by Mr. Peters needs to be studied carefully for accuracy, then it needs to be checked for current relevance, and then evaluation can be made.
And can you imagine if those critical of Benny Hinn used their same methodology now on Justin Peters research? He would be savaged for bearing false witness, would he not? (That would be a terrible shame, and it is hardly what I am advocating.) And should the Grace to You website have done more fact checking before posting the first article?
To repeat once more, I am not here to defend Benny Hinn, nor is there a “partnership” with him (another inaccuracy in Mr. Peters’ recent article, which he repeats twice), nor will I dignify the ridiculous charges that I appeared on his TV show for the purposes of personal financial gain (although some of the charges were so ludicrous as to be almost hysterically funny, giving a good laugh to my wife Nancy and me).
As for the fact that fundraiser Steve Munsey appeared on Benny Hinn’s program the day after my first four interviews aired, my ministry had already reached out to Steve Munsey and Mike Murdoch months back, offering them the opportunity to defend their fund-raising methods on my radio show, since I planned to address them by name on the air. Neither of them accepted our invitation, and although I have not yet done a full show on this subject, I have already mentioned them by name on the air and in writing – and this was both before and after I was interviewed by Benny Hinn.
I refer interested readers in particular to my December 27, 2013 article, “Are We Charismatics Doing Enough to Correct Abuses in Our Midst?”, where I wrote, “In my own ministry (not to pat myself on the back but simply to respond to the endless stream of questions that has come my way), in 1989, my book The End of the American Gospel Enterprise focused largely on the compromised state of many of our American charismatic churches (since these were the circles I primarily travelled in) while my 1990 book How Saved Are We? contained an entire chapter renouncing the carnal prosperity message along with another chapter focused on carnal fund raising techniques. For the record, these abusive techniques, honed to a science today on Christian TV by men like Mike Murdoch and Steve Munsey, have only become more pervasive since 1990.”
And the moment I heard that Steve Munsey would be appearing on Benny Hinn’s show the day after me (I’m not sure when this was scheduled; I simply know it happened), I was grieved and I addressed it publicly. So, denouncing error by name is not an issue to me.
There are simply larger factors involved with my decision to appear on TV with Benny Hinn, especially in light of potential, subsequent developments, so I’ll not say more about that at present.
Those who feel it is important to come to conclusions regarding my failure to date to renounce Benny Hinn as a charlatan and hell-bound false teacher should do so soberly and in the presence of God, but I would simply encourage you to be very careful (for your own spiritual health’s sake) before sending out tweets with messages like, “Michael Brown is a false teacher . . . Hinn is a heretic.”
My point here, again, is simply to point that all too many people, including even careful, caring Christians like Justin Peters, repeat falsehoods about those they oppose, and error is never glorifying to God, nor can it possibly advance the cause of truth. On that point I do hope we can unite, and I do wish Mr. Peters God’s very best in every way as he seeks to glorify Jesus and minister the gospel with compassion and truth.