In the wake of the death of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, controversial faith-healing televangelist Benny Hinn, who has often been criticized for his endorsement of the prosperity gospel, said in a stunning confession Wednesday that sometimes he has taken the erroneous gospel too far.
"We get attacked for preaching prosperity, well it's in the Bible, but I think some have gone to the extreme with it sadly, and it's not God's word what is taught and I think I'm as guilty as others. Sometimes you go a little farther than you really need to go and then God brings you back to normality and reality," Hinn, 65, said as he reflected on Graham's death with a ministry colleague in a Facebook Live broadcast.
He admitted that as he has grown older and come to understand the Bible more, he now realizes that some of the things he learned from preachers when he was growing up aren't biblical and the popular interpretation of the prosperity gospel — the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the "sowing of seeds" through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings — is one of those things.
"The more you know the Bible the more you become biblically based and more balanced in your opinions and your thoughts because we are influenced. When I was younger I was influenced by the preachers who taught whatever they taught. But as I've lived longer I'm thinking wait a minute, you know this doesn't fit totally with the Bible and it doesn't fit with the reality. So what is prosperity? No lack. I've said this before," Hinn said.
He then elaborated on how he believes "no lack" should be interpreted.
"Did Elijah the prophet have a car? No. Did not even have a bicycle. He had no lack ... Did Jesus drive a car or live in a mansion? No. He had no lack. How about the apostles? None lacked among them," Hinn said. "Today, the idea is abundance and palatial homes and cars and bank accounts. The focus is wrong ... It's so wrong."
He said even though he has been accused of living lavishly and flying private jets in the past ,that is not how he currently lives.
"I mean forgive me. People have accused me of things that aren't even real. One guy wrote a comment 'Oh he's worth 40 million.' Oh how I wish. I would give it all to the Kingdom before God Almighty," he said.
"'Well he flies private jets,'" he continued mimicking criticism. "No, I don't. I have not flown private in dear God years. I fly commercial just like anyone else....
"We all sadly make the mistake of thinking that this is what God wants and God says 'No, that's not what I want.' It's time to live biblically. You know it all comes down to one thing. Do we love Jesus, yes or no? If we love Jesus then it's all about Jesus. If we don't love Jesus then it's about other things," he said.
Hinn was one of six televangelists who were part of a 2007 Senate inquiry that raised questions about the personal use of church-owned airplanes, luxury homes and credit cards by pastors and their families, and expressed concern about the lack of oversight of finances by boards often packed with the televangelists' relatives and friends. No definitive findings of wrongdoing were made. Hinn's World Healing Center Church and Joyce Meyer Ministries were the only two ministries that fully cooperated with the investigation and even implemented financial reforms.
Hinn, who was born into a Christian family in Israel, has repeatedly been accused of being a fraud and criticized for living extravagantly while leading a ministry that rakes in more than $100 million annually.
In a 2009 interview on ABC's "Nightline," Hinn denied being a fraud.
"I think if I was fooling the people, over 35 years of it now, I would have been caught already fooling them," he told the network.
Last April, after criminal investigators from the IRS and inspectors from the U.S. Postal Service executed a closely guarded raid on the offices of Hinn's ministry in Grapevine, Texas, he revealed that they were looking into "certain operations of the church."
While he did not go into much detail about which aspects of his ministry federal officials had reviewed, he said in a statement on Facebook that he was confident the investigation will end favorably.
"As has been widely reported, Benny Hinn Ministries is cooperating fully with the governmental entities that are reviewing certain operations of the Church. The ministry has undergone intense scrutiny over the years, and we remain confident that there will again be a positive and speedy outcome in the days ahead," his ministry said.
During the broadcast Wednesday, one of his colleagues, who has known him for 30 years, said Hinn would give every material thing that he has for the presence of the Lord.
As a pastor, Hinn also said he wants his life to end right with God.
"We all want to finish right," he said of pastors. "We all start right. Sometimes we, you know, stumble here and stumble there, but when you come right down to it, we all want to finish right. I'm 65 years old, I surely don't want to blow it at this point in my life and I thank you for praying for me. I really mean that."
Hinn, who began the conversation by reminding his audience of a prophesy he made in 1989 that the deaths of his mentor, Oral Roberts, and Billy Graham would bring about a great revival, said since both men are now dead, the revival has now been set in motion. Roberts died in 2009.
"What we are gonna see is a revival. Three things are going to happen, there's no doubt in my heart and mind because it's in the Bible. If you look at the Old and New Testament you'll see three things happening always at the same time. Number one, evangelism. What was the first thing that happened in the book of Acts? People saved," he responded. "The second thing, miracles, people healed. But the third thing was what? Prosperity. ... Here we are in this season. We're gonna see amazing things happen in those areas of our lives and get ready for your children to be saved in a big way, your families to be saved in a big way, loved ones respond to the Lord in a big way."
He also pointed out that Christians across the world are being persecuted and that American Christians have been spared "up to now" but he wasn't sure if "we will be spared for a whole lot longer."
"I am really praying. I want persecution to come for my sake 'cause I want to get purer before the Lord ... I think persecution ... like fire purifies," he said.
"The early church was persecuted. There is no respecter of persons and persecution is a part of our life. All who live godly will suffer persecution and we've been spared in America but things already are turning against us. No, you know what? For us, that's really a better way to say it. They're against us in the natural but who cares the natural? Think what God will do with it for our lives. What glory it will bring, the power it will bring," Hinn said.
In 2015, Hinn was hospitalized with atrial fibrillation, an issue he said he has been dealing with for more than 20 years.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia, which refers to a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. This can result in the heart beating too fast, too slow or just irregularly altogether. If the problem goes unnoticed, it unfortunately can lead to increased risk of stroke, chest pain or heart failure.