Benny Hinn admits his teachings on prosperity 'damaged a lot of people,' 'got out of hand'

In his first TV interview since publicly renouncing prosperity theology in September, Benny Hinn told Encounter TV host David Diga Hernandez he now understands his teachings "damaged a lot of people." | YouTube/Screengrab

Televangelist Benny Hinn has admitted his teachings on prosperity “got out of hand” and “damaged a lot of people” and said he wants the remaining years of his ministry to focus on evangelism and the Gospel — not the “health and wealth” theology that made him millions. 

Since the 1980s, Hinn has been one of the most notorious purveyors of the prosperity gospel, which teaches that God rewards active faith and faithful payments of tithes and offerings with health and wealth. 

In his first TV interview since publicly renouncing prosperity theology earlier in September, Hinn told Encounter TV host David Diga Hernandez that when he entered the ministry at 21, his goal was to share the Gospel. However, as he gained popularity in the '90s, Hinn admitted he became “distracted.”

Now 67, Hinn claimed that he wants the remaining years of his ministry to focus on “the message of salvation, pointing people to the Lord I love,” and revealing the power of the Holy Spirit.

“How long do I have on this earth? What am I going to do in the next twenty years? That is for me to decide,” he stated. “I want to make sure that the next 15-20 years of my life, that my message is the cross. The real call on my life.”

“I want to be known for that,” Hinn continued. “I don’t want to be known as the prosperity teacher. Prosperity is one thing in the Bible, there’s a whole lot more in the Word of God than prosperity but it’s become a major issue now because of the gimmickry involved in it. That needs to stop.” 

Hinn clarified that while that the ideas of prosperity and giving are biblical, he recently became “troubled” by the practice of requesting “seed money” — asking for a specific dollar amount in exchange for blessings. 

“What was troubling, is the mentioning of amounts connected to some blessing that should come back just because you gave,” he continued. “It just got out of hand; give a thousand to get whatever, a hundredfold. I, myself, said [those things] and my heart was saying different.”

Hinn said he began to think about the “wonderful Christians” in his audience who gave money, only to discover prosperity theology didn’t always deliver what it promised. 

“What if that hundredfold never came back? What does that do to their faith? What does it do to his future and her future?” the televangelist asked. “And then, if it doesn't come, that life is damaged.”

Over the years, Hinn admitted a number of people asked him to stop touting the prosperity gospel: “I’ve had people come to me and say, ‘please, don’t say it again, it’s not working in my life,'” he said, adding: "Sometimes you dismiss it, other times you just don’t know what to say or do. But, it has damaged a lot of people.”

Last week, Hinn told his studio audience and those watching online: “I am correcting my own theology and you need to all know it. The blessings of God are not for sale. And miracles are not for sale. And prosperity is not for sale.”

While the announcement sent shockwaves throughout the Christian community, Hinn claimed that his newfound understanding of Scripture is “nothing new in my heart.”

“This has been going on for two years, maybe more,” he told Hernandez, “where the Lord has been dealing with me personally and it’s not just about prosperity, in fact, prosperity was a small matter on my list of things that I wanted to see changed in my own heart.”

‘Today, when I look at the Bible, I don't see the Bible in the same way I saw the Bible when I began,” Hinn said, adding he’s into the Bible “way more” than most people "even realize.”

The televangelist said his beliefs began to change after truly reading Scripture for himself and talking to young pastors and evangelists who asked him to clarify his views on prosperity.

“But that didn’t happen last week,” he said. “I just didn’t know at the time, how do I present it? How do I talk about it? How do I talk to the people of God about what is happening in my life?”

The speaker and author claimed that in his heart, he’s “not that Benny Hinn” known for propagating prosperity theology, adding he kept his beliefs to himself because he didn’t want to “cause a stir” or “hurt” his friends.

“What was said a few days ago, I have said before, but nobody seemed to hear it,” he said. “I thought, ‘maybe they don't care, maybe they don’t want to know, maybe I don’t have the platform I think I have,’ so I dismissed it.”

During the interview, Hinn hit back at reports of his tremendous wealth, including a net worth of 60 million and multiple private jets, stating, “If I had that kind of money, I would give it to God. It’s madness ... that’s ludicrous. I don’t know how, even, that started.”

As evidence of his transformation, Hinn claimed things will be “different moving forward, but acknowledged his previous teachings will likely still circulate on various networks: “I will tell you this, though: I believe the Bible, I believe what the Bible says from Genesis 1 to the last page of the Bible,” he stated. “Prosperity and the blessings of God are in the Bible. But how do we present it? That’s what I have to deal with. How is it presented?”

When asked if people can give money in exchange for healing, Hinn declared, “No.”

Biblical prosperity, he said, is “God blessing his people, taking care of his people. Jesus made it very clear, if God cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, will he not care for us? Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all the things you need will not only come, but they’ll also be added to you.

“That’s prosperity,” he added. 

Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn, who has openly criticized his uncle and of the prosperity gospel, told Christian News that he hopes for genuine repentance — not simply remorse — on his uncle’s part. However, he pointed out that Hinn has previously expressed regret for his past teachings only to resume his behavior.

“Genuine repentance in the Bible is always accompanied by actions that prove that it’s really repentance,” he stated, explaining that repentance would look similar to that of the account of Zacchaeus, a corrupt tax collector who returned money to those he had swindled out of his love for Jesus. 

“Jesus saves him and goes to his house that day, and is willing to eat a meal with him and show him love and grace in the midst of his past and his sin,” he recalled. “And Zacchaeus is jumping for joy, excited to pay people back, excited to do whatever it takes to follow Jesus and show his genuine repentance through his actions.”

“My desire is that Uncle Benny’s statement is not merely public remorse to save face or protect his ministry from decline,” he stated, “but rather that it is genuine repentance and that he would be willing to forsake everything if it means gaining Christ and the full gospel."

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