Benny Hinn: Most faith healers are frauds

Faith healer Benny Hinn, a native of Jaffa, Israel, recently wrote a book about his native land. Blood In the Sand: Understanding the Middle East Conflict — the Stakes, the Dangers, and What the Bible Says About the Future is part memoir, part prophecy. The televangelist recently visited with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Religion Editor Frank Lockwood about Jesus, Jerusalem, healing the sick and raising the dead. This interview was edited for space and clarity.

LOCKWOOD: Your latest book has a foreword by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. How many world leaders do you know?
HINN: (Big laugh.) I know quite a number of them. I knew Olmert when he was Jerusalem’s mayor and then when he became prime minister. And of course, you know, I’m very close to the Israelis, but I do know a whole lot of world leaders besides them because of my travels.

LOCKWOOD: Have you had any success convincing the prime ministers of Israel to embrace Jesus Christ as savior?
HINN: Well, we have talked about the Bible. I spoke with [Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin, one month before he was assassinated, about the Bible. But you know we have to use wisdom when we are with someone like a Rabin or a Bibi [current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu], but I was very open with them about the fact that Jesus is the Messiah and they are very kind to listen to me, of course. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to believe it.

LOCKWOOD: But it gives you an opportunity to share with them?
HINN: Oh, of course. And plus, they know what I believe anyway.

LOCKWOOD: One time you were on Trinity Broadcasting Network, and you said one of the most amazing things. You said one day the power of God would be so strong that dead people would be hearing the words broadcast over TBN and would actually be raised to life. Have you had any reports of people being raised from the dead yet?
HINN: No, but I do believe it will happen. Why should it be difficult for God to raise the dead? … I was simply speaking of the day when people, through Christian television, God’s power would flow to not only heal the sick but raise the dead. They’re already being healed by watching Christian television. Why not? God can raise the dead still through Christian television.

LOCKWOOD: In your ministry, how many people have been healed and what kind of [illnesses] are we talking about?
HINN: Well, goodness, we’ve had, I mean, I can’t tell you how many. In the thousands. But these miracles are very real. My goodness. The greatest miracle I ever saw was a lady in Montreal that was bent over like an arch and God healed her. She became straight in front of our eyes. … I’ve seen many great healings and great miracles and to Jesus be the praise.

LOCKWOOD: How many faith healers do you think are the real deal and how many are frauds? How many are going to hear ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant’ [Matthew 25:21] and how many are going to hear ‘Depart from me, ye worker of iniquity’? [Matthew 7:23]
HINN: The majority will probably not hear ‘thou good and faithful servant.’ I mean there’s really a few that have kept their life clean. Kathryn [Kuhlman] was one of them, Oral Roberts was another. I’m praying I’ll be one. I’m not done yet. You know it’s very easy to start right and it’s very difficult to finish right. And my aim is to finish right and I pray that I’ll do that. But there are people, sadly, that have fallen away because of sin and because of corruption.

LOCKWOOD: You have been criticized a lot in the media over the years. Why do you think you’re such a magnet, sometimes, for people’s criticism?
HINN: Well, because of the crowds we have. If you draw crowds, you’re going to have critics and controversy. And people have said that I’m in this for the money. Well, time will prove them wrong.

LOCKWOOD: Sometimes, though, you do have people that come to your services and they believe they’re healed … and they end up dying anyway.
HINN: That happens. That’s going to continue to happen, because you are dealing with humanity and you’re also dealing with many sick people who come to those meetings. God doesn’t heal everyone. I’m not the healer and I’m not God. People are healed in their seats before I ever see them, and they come up on the platform telling me they’re healed. And only God knows if they’re healed or not. And only time will prove if they’re healed or not. … But I do continue to preach the healing message because it’s real. God really does heal the sick. And even if one gets healed, I’m a success.

LOCKWOOD: When is Jesus coming back?
HINN: Nobody knows that. You know that. But we see what’s going on on this planet and it won’t be long. I mean, look what’s going on with Iran. Look what’s happening with the radical Muslims. Look what’s going on in the Middle East. You know, one of these days some crazy somebody’s going to do something and a war will erupt and this time it will be a nuclear war. … We pray the Lord will come before this world blows itself up to dust.

LOCKWOOD: So you think there’ll be a nuclear war?
HINN: Absolutely, there’ll be a nuclear war. You can see the writing on the wall.

LOCKWOOD: Will there ever be peace in Israel?
HINN: No. Not until Jesus comes back, because it’s a religious war. It deals with God’s promises and God’s word. It’s really a spiritual matter, not a political one.

Updated: October 19, 2009 — 10:13 am

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  1. What a pity Benny was not asked about his prophecies that Fidel Castro would die
    “in the nineties”. Also,that all the homosexuals in the USA would be destroyed by the fire of God at the same time. Did it happen? Benny claimed the Holy Spirit inspired him to prophesy these things. Was true or false prophecy? SEE: Deuteronomy 18:20-22.

  2. “I was simply speaking of the day when people, through Christian television, God’s power would flow to not only heal the sick but raise the dead. They’re already being healed by watching Christian television. Why not? God can raise the dead still through Christian television.”

    …..comment: this takes a certain “twist” of scriptures to state, believe, and act on miraculous things done in Acts by thinking they are meant to be carried forward to 2009 and forward as a doctrinal truth, rather than a supernatural act that was special to a PARTICULAR point in history through a small band of apostles, and pertaining specifically to the birth of the Church in the New Covenant. It takes a real ego to believe and then act on that belief and tell a gullible public that God’s “power flows through” electrical and radio waves into a person’s body, or only when one has the “faith to believe” or only in “large crowds.”

    ” When is Jesus coming back?
    HINN: Nobody knows that. You know that. But we see what’s going on on this planet and it won’t be long. I mean, look what’s going on with Iran. Look what’s happening with the radical Muslims. Look what’s going on in the Middle East. You know, one of these days some crazy somebody’s going to do something and a war will erupt and this time it will be a nuclear war. … We pray the Lord will come before this world blows itself up to dust.”

    ……..comment: pure speculation that CURRENT events have anything to do with things stated in Old Testament prophecy or Jesus statements. There are those Christian scholars that believe anything carried past the first century is false and that all eschatological prophecy was aimed at the first 40 years after Christ coming. Reading Matthew 23-24 in light of the non belief of the very Jews Christ came for, it would behoove us all to see that Christ was aiming most of those chapters at the THEN PRESENT issues and events and people of THAT DAY, NOT TODAY. However, Hinn and others have very closed minds and dependent doctrinal platforms to a FUTURE coming interpretations. In fact, if he were to change his thinking on Christ coming to being relevant to the FIRST century, then his whole practice and doctrinal stances would have to change. Might ruin his “ministry”, don’t you think?

  3. Faith healing is a reality, as many doctors will attest. Why and how it works is another question. However, industrialized/commercialized “faith healing” ministries are quite another matter.

  4. Very true, Niall. I fully believe that faith healing is probably as effective as modern medicine in most instances; of course, this is because modern medicine is generally so bad, not because faith healing always works. I suspect that what we refer to as faith healing is as much a result of the placebo effect as divine intervention. The Book of Common Prayer contains a healing service that many Episcopal Churches, including my parish, have once a week. The difference, of course, is that we don’t commercialize the process, or promise unreasonable results.

    I have participated in faith healing services many times, including small groups of people gathering to pray over a person who was sick. On one of these occasions, there was a healing that many would consider miraculous (and it may have been). So, I don’t doubt that faith healing is real, but as Niall suggests, the commercial version might not get it done.

  5. The issue about faith healers being frauds misses the point by a wide margin. The truth is, no man has ever healed anyone, whether medically or miraculously.

    The doctor cannot. All he can do is provide a situation for his patient that is conducive for the natural healing processes built into man by God. As one put it. A doctor can nurture the life that is in a person, but only God can put life into a person.

    The “faith healer” cannot. Only God can heal, and it is apparent that not everyone who is prayed for is healed and we don’t know why this is so. But what we do know is that, according to James 5, we are commanded to pray for the sick and to believe God for their healing. What the “faith healer” should do is 1) pray for the sick, 2)believe God for his healing, and 3)help the sick person believe God for his own healing.

    My thought about the fraud issue is that there are two types of fraud. And both of them are all about the money, that is, the fraud is perpetrated to get money. One is the person, whether doctor or “faith healer,” is one who claims that he himself can heal. The second is the one, again whether doctor or “faith healer,” that claims that a healing has occurred when he knows that none has occurred.

    Are all “faith healers” frauds? Certainly not. Are there some who are frauds? Yes. But frankly, how much does that matter? What is more important: being healed or stopping dishonest people?

    I know that many are troubled by this, and it certainly seems illogical to us that God would work through people that are not honest, but the truth is that many people have been healed and are alive and well today and all the treatment and ministry that they have received from human beings has been from frauds. How can this be so? Remember that God only can heal and He can use whatever means and whatever person that He wants. After all, He is God. But why would He do this? The answer is found in I Chronicles 16:34 “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.”

  6. Caleb -

    Using the placebo effect to explain faith healing is to appeal to one inexplicable phenomenon to explain another. Kind of like dividing by zero…

  7. Faith healing as effective as modern medicine? Gimme a break. Prayer didn’t rid us of polio, modern medicine did. Prayer didn’t rid us of smallpox, modern medicine did. Faith healing can do nothing for amputees, whereas modern medicine can fashion them functional prosthesis. Modern medicine is not “bad,” just very difficult to practice, because people react differently to the same treatments.

  8. You’re right, Cheese, modern medicine can do wonders at treating certain things. But when it comes to the hard stuff like cancer and many internal medicine issues, faith healing is just as effective, and a lot cheaper. The dirty little secret about cancer treatment is that as many cancers resolve themselves through spontaneous remissions as respond to most forms of treatment. And, of course, faith healing doesn’t make your hair fall out.

  9. Cheese -

    Well, no one’s saying that faith healing is “superior” to modern medicine. But any doctor will tell you that the attitude of the patient has a huge influence on the outcome of treatment. Patients who have lost the will to live will often have very different outcomes than patients who are fighters, for example. This is true even with diseases whose outcomes are almost invariably fatal, like AIDS (well, AIDS before protease inhibitors).

  10. If you don’t believe in it, for you it won’t come true. Truth is what it is. You can accept it or you can reject it but you can NOT change it. Faith healing is true whether you believe in it or not; just ask someone who has had the experience. After all, a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with a belief.

  11. Considering that the average adult uses less than 20 percent of the capacity of the brain, it is intriguing what the mind is capable of.

  12. And I suspect that’s a big part of the reason faith healing works, perplexed and Niall: I suspect that it improves the patient’s mental attitude, which tends to promote healing, and even cures that can seem miraculous.

  13. Linda, obviously these verses can be interpreted in two ways, either suggesting that there is a supernatural component to faith healing, or suggesting that by being “healed,” we are healed from our sinful nature.

    Either way, it doesn’t really matter. When we pray over the sick and annoint them with oil, we certainly don’t limit what we’re asking God to do: If he wants to send a little miraculous healing, we won’t turn it down, though I suspect that miraculous touch isn’t the main factor in most faith healing. I imagine that the placebo effect has more to do with it than divine intervention.

    And, I wonder why you limit your reference to the King James Version of the Bible, which is a translation from Biblical texts we now know not to be as accurate as those available to us today. The Revised Standard Version and the later New Revised Standard Version are far more accurate.

  14. God is not limited by our capacity to understand. He is limited by our doubts and unbelief. He can perform miracles of any size, small or large. He deals in the supernatural. He is God, the great I AM, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Why do we question his ability to use any circumstance to show up and exhibit his power. He was in the beginning and he is eternal. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He will never stop working in our lives. We limit him. My congratulations to all those who believe and put their trust in God and in Jesus, his son.

    I think modern medicine is wonderful; but I would rather know God is going to heal me than to place my entire faith in medicine and find out it has limitations. It may not always be his Will to heal on this side of heaven but I prefer to believe when in the hospital and my relative is on life support and she needs healing. I have experienced it with my mother and a very good friend. My mother was healed in 1974 in the hospital while enduring a subdural hematoma. She was allowed to live 32 more years. The doctors didn’t expect her to live through the night. My friend had two brain aneurisyms last October. She was on life support, in two hospitals, in intensive care, and in one rehab and two subsequent nursing homes. She has been released recently to find an apartment with her daughter. She wasn’t give much of a prognosis. I prayed in both circumstances and God showed up. I knew in my heart that they would be healed. God is good!

    John 11:25-26 reads, I [Jesus} am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in--adheres to, trusts in and relies on--Me, although he may die, yet he shall live. And whoever continues to live and believe--has faith in, cleaves to and relies--on Me shall never [actually]die at all. Whether we get healed here or in heaven is up to God!

  15. You know, you have to really wonder, if a large enough group of people prayed with the intention of righting wrongs, would it be effective? The variable would have to consist of how sincere these people are and how reverent they held the power of prayer. I strongly suspect it could change things and I feel sure events in the past have been influenced by prayer but the documentation is limited.

  16. Prayer is the key to moving God into action on any issue or initiative, I feel; however, for the most part we fail to pray. Our commitments in this society keep us from being committed people who pray. We make excuses, but we fail to see God’s hand move because we are too busy to connect with the source of all life who changes life’s course every day. Sincerity and reverence are essential but boldness to come before him with humility is a key to getting prayers answered as well.

    I feel certain that wrongs could be righted if we as God’s people were united in prayer. Documentation is lacking because we fail to acknowledge or show gratitude for what God does in our lives. It would require taking time out from our busy schedules to write it down or journal it. With the present emphasis on blogging and journaling, perhaps the task of documenting God’s answers to prayers will develop.

  17. Saying that faith healing works is a fallacy, because the only people testifying for it are those who are healed. You don’t hear anything from those who die. They call this “the survivor fallacy.”

    By the way, if prayer worked, abortion would be illegal.

  18. Cheese, no one has ever claimed that faith healing works in every case. The overwhelming evidence, though, is that it does work in some cases.

    And, I’ll do you one better: If prayer were employed more, I suspect that we wouldn’t need to make abortion legal or illegal, because we’d be presented with fewer unwanted pregnancies.

    And, just to gum it up even more, remember that back in the days before the passage of abortion laws in the late 1800s, presumably at a time when a greater percentage of people prayed than pray today, abortion, in roughly the same form it is available in now, was perfectly legal, and had been recognized as such back to Roman times. And, as far as I can tell, there was no great groundswell of opinion to make it illegal. In fact, when the Roe v. Wade decision came out in 1973, it was universally praised by protestants, even evangelicals. It was only when the culture wars began in the late ’70s, and the right wing saw abortion as a way to play on the emotions of the public, that right wing protestants jumped on the bandwagon.

  19. cheese, I have a theory about abortion, since its such a personal matter, it is between God and the people involved. Its an issue of trust that involves not just women, but the people that are close to a women that has to make that decision. Its a good point about prayer but I think that whomever is involved is already accounted for in the eyes of God.

  20. Overwhelming evidence, Caleb? If it’s so overwhelming, why am I not overwhelmed by it? Everyone get diseases. Sometimes they die, sometimes they don’t. People of all faiths fall into both categories. Where is this overwhelming evidence that having faith leads to healing?

    Perplexed, what are you talking about? Your theory says “abortion is a personal matter” and God accounts for it accordingly. I’m gonna assume you’re not a moral relativist, so please elaborate.

  21. Cheese, if you don’t believe that there is “overwhelming evidence,” as I said, that faith healing works “in some cases,” there’s not much I can do for you. You seem more interested in semantics than discussion. I certainly didn’t suggest that faith healing works every time, or even a majority of times. But every physician in practice will recount “miraculous” recoveries. Faith? Placebo? Natural healing? Who knows? In any event, it’s something beyond the ken of modern medicine.

  22. cheese, if you have been on here much, you’ll know that I am against abortion. The phrase “moral relativist” is an interesting one and it does present some good arguments. If you judge society as a whole and span it over the course of time, the ratio of change versus the no change is very lopsided. Humans struggle with change morally and otherwise. In a world as small as ours, persecution problems still exist and do because of the balance of power. Frank has statistics in another post, read them, its sickening what happens in the world today. The accountability to God on abortion is a personal matter.

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