Three days after announcing that he scrubbed thousands of videos from his Facebook page to 'minimize collateral damage' and focus on his deliverance ministry, internet-famous preacher Greg Locke met with televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn for the first time after years of branding him a "false prophet." Now, they are "friends," according to Hinn.
"I mean … he wrote a book against me. And today we're friends. So only God can do that. I met him just yesterday," Hinn revealed in a Facebook Live interview Thursday morning with Locke, who leads the Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.
Locke was once so passionate in his conviction that Hinn, well-known for his "Miracle Crusades" where he regularly cast out demons on television, is a false prophet that he published a book about the televangelist in 2005 called Blinded by Benny.
"It is amazing to see the masses of people that follow this man's teachings. He has contradicted himself on countless occasions, and his false prophecies have failed miserably many times. Yet the crowds keep coming, and the offering buckets keep filling up," Locke wrote.
Locke criticized Hinn, who was once a very strong proponent of the prosperity gospel, as being unscriptural. But in 2019, Hinn denounced the practice saying that the "Holy Ghost is just fed up with it."
The prosperity gospel teaches, among other things, that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth, and they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the "sowing of seeds" through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings.
Speaking to his followers during a Facebook Live broadcast, Hinn declared that the Gospel "is not for sale."
"I'm sorry to say that prosperity has gone a little crazy, and I'm correcting my own theology, and you need to all know it. Because when I read the Bible now, I don't see the Bible in the same eyes I saw 20 years ago," Hinn said as his followers rejoiced.
A few months before Hinn renounced the prosperity gospel, his nephew Costi Hinn detailed in God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies, how the Hinn family exploited millions of people worldwide with the prosperity gospel while living in the lap of luxury.
Despite what Locke wrote and said about him in the past, Hinn noted the first time he met Locke, he "liked him on the spot."
"I really liked him on the spot, on the spot," said Hinn about Locke, who had appeared on his platform to promote his film "Come Out in Jesus Name," which examines deliverance ministries. "He is very dynamic … look at the way he's dressed, very spiffy."
Locke told Hinn he wrote Blinded By Benny "for all the wrong reasons."
"Literally 21 years ago, I wrote a book against you for all the wrong reasons because I had read and heard and watched all the out-of-context clips in those days, and I literally had no affinity whatsoever for anybody in healing ministry, deliverance ministry," Locke told the televangelist.
"I thought all gifts, miracles, tongues, signs, wonders, ceased. I was Baptist amongst Baptists; I was an absolute cessationist. I was told that the apostles had power when they died, and the power died with them. So when I would see you on TV, I would have immediately have this bitterness that would well up in me towards anybody that was on TBN or CBN, or '700 Club.'"
Locke's criticism of Hinn may have been part of the "collateral damage" he is attempting to fix. On Sunday, Locke alluded in the message to his congregation that he called people "false prophets" from his pulpit who he had never met.
"I've told you listen, when a guy's false, I'll name him. And I'll continue to do that. But I've named people from this pulpit as false prophets that I've never met one day in my life," Locke said.
"I listen to what somebody on the internet told me. I listened to what some doctor Bottle Stopper sister Winkle John told me, what some famous influencer told me. And so I started to be due diligence to warn the people of God against the false prophet of God who I'd never met and had no idea whether he was or whether he wasn't, but I knew that it would put me in a position to make it seem like I had all my ducks in a row," Locke confessed.
"I'd say it and believe it to the core of the convictional value of my heart and then come to find out maybe it was true, maybe it wasn't, but you sure made a big grandstand over something that you probably should have never done," he added before explaining how much damage control he's had to do trying to make his ministry appeal to a larger audience.
"I've had to undo more knots that I tied in relationships that I can imagine. And by God's grace, they have been untied. I'm telling you, God is opening doors for this church, this ministry, our ministry. He is connecting me with people that I used to not even sit in the same room with," he said. "I mean write books about him, hate him, call them out by name."
Locke told Hinn that in the last three years, he has baptized 9,500 people and regularly sees between 2,000 and 3,000 people attend services at his tent in Tennessee weekly.
Hinn spoke of how vital deliverance ministry is, including for pastors who, at times, also need deliverance. He alluded to a California pastor committing suicide "because nobody could help him" with deliverance. Locke revealed that since he became more vocal about his deliverance ministry, many pastors have reached out to him for private deliverance.
"It's amazing how many ministers are now reaching out to me that want to sit down and have private deliverance sessions — pastors everywhere. And you know, there's a lot of people that obviously it's a very controversial ministry. I've gone through a lot of political controversy," Locke said. "I've never stepped in anything more controversial than casting out evil spirits. But it's the number one thing Jesus did."