Wed | Sep 18, 2019

Devon Dick | Prosperity gospel dealt a massive blow

Published:Thursday | September 12, 2019 | 12:09 AM

Prosperity gospel was dealt a massive blow by one of its former disciples, USA evangelist Benny Hinn. According to the video clip circulated on Monday, Hinn has backslided from the tenets of prosperity gospel, or health and wealth gospel.

Prosperity gospel is the claim that financial blessing and good health are willed by God for all Christians, and that through faith in God, positive speech and donation to religious ministries, one’s material wealth and health will increase. Sickness and poverty are viewed as curses which have been broken by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Hinn is best known for touching people which results in them dropping to the floor: in other words ‘slain in the Spirit’. In addition, his claims of healing have been subjected to investigative journalism. His most famous client was former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who he claimed he had healed. Hinn and his wife, Suzanne, were divorced in 2010 after 30 years together, but reconciled two years later and remarried in 2013. His father-in-law is Roy Harthern, founder of Charisma magazine, which is aimed at Pentecostals and Charismatics. Many within that group would support prosperity gospel.

This Damascus Road experience will send shock waves through the community of preachers of the gospel of success. Hinn’s conversion means he is correcting his own theology. He claims he reads the Bible differently and he does not want to go to heaven and be rebuked.

Putting price on gospel

Hinn claims that prosperity gospel is putting a price on the gospel. It is a ‘feel good message’, ‘do good’ message. It is all about how to ‘make money’, ‘how to build the flesh’. This gospel of material well-being resonates especially with people who are materially poor and it appears to give a glimmer of hope. It is like a person who gambles with the hope of, one day, winning the $100 million lottery jackpot. Hinn claims that ‘prosperity has gone a little crazy’.

Hinn questions those who say ‘break the back of debt with the giving of US$1,000’. I have heard on Jamaican Christian radio ‘an apostle’ encouraging all politicians to give US$1,000 to the ministry and then they will get a promotion in the political realm. Obviously, Peter Bunting, the losing challenger for PNP leadership, did not give the US$1,000. Not sure how many politicians took up the offer. Hinn bemoans that giving is now a gimmick. It is grieving the Holy Spirit. He rightly claims that giving should be because one loves Jesus and not because one hopes to get material benefits. Hinn states that the gospel, the blessing of God, and miracles of God are not for sale. Prosperity gospel is encouraging an abundance of wealth, more than is necessary and needed for living. Prosperity gospel also feeds into the human desire for greed. Seed faith giving is doomed to failure because it would mean that persons who could give more money would get more prosperity. In fact, prosperity gospel would give rich people an advantage. In the end many people are left disillusioned. It is not sustainable. There must be a new paradigm.

Merrick Needham, a protocol specialist, who recently received the honorary title of Colonel from the Jamaica Defence Force, pointed out errors in an article in which I had written: “In the 1990s, the Government of Jamaica awarded Gibbs the Order of Distinction in the Commander class (CD)”. However, it should have been Luther Gibbs was made a ‘member of the Order of Distinction’ in the Commander rank’.

Gibbs was not a disciple of prosperity gospel, but believed in sacrificial giving to the ministry of the church; that is, giving out of love and not expecting wealth, health or other ‘blessing’ in return. Perhaps with Hinn’s new revelation, Gibbs’ template of sacrificial giving might be the model that becomes fashionable again.

Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of ‘The Cross and the Machete’, and ‘Rebellion to Riot’. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.