I don’t know Dr. Michael Brown. I’ve never met him, and other than a few mentions by James White on the Dividing Line over the years, he was never really on my radar. Then the controversy over the Strange Fire conference erupted and Michael Brown emerged as one of the chief critics and ultimately in some way has become one of the representative voices of the Charismatic movement. Still though-other than reading a few articles from Dr Brown where it seemed apparent that he was not understanding the nuance of what John MacArthur and the speakers at the conference meant by “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” I didn’t know much about him. I did write a post about him and how he quenches the spirit. Then he appeared alongside Benny Hinn and I sat up and listened to some of the programs and podcast and commentaries. Then I heard his recent discussion with Steve Camp, and I pretty much had enough and thought it incumbent upon me to throw a few verbal hand grenades into the mix. Some thoughts then, in no particular order;
1. Dr Brown has faced down several high-profile detractors on his program and in various interviews and podcasts and the whole time he keeps on repeating “I’m not defending him. I’m not the Benny Hinn apologist” etc. I understand the desire not to be labeled and not place himself in that position or role, but he invariably find himself there. Even he rejects that role, he finds himself filling it. Whenever someone brings forth a viable complaint or issue, he’ll acknowledge ambiguity on the veracity of the claims, and then proceed to rebuke, rebuff and defend the charges, spinning implausible explanations of why he did what he did and why he said what he said. For someone who’s not the appointed Bennny Hinn defender, he’s actually kinda good at it.
2. Where has Benny Hinn repented? Several times Dr brown has mumbled “He’s repented of that” and then quickly changed the topic and moved away from that line of questioning, particularity when we talk about the revolving door of absurdities and false prophecies and teachings that he has become infamously and globally known for. But is this public knowledge? He has indisputably preached some vile, heretical things in the 80′s and 90′s, much of what serves for fodder for the critiques. I spent some time and I dug around and apparently he repented of these in 1993 in an article in Charisma magazine. Assuming he repented for all the weird things, prior to these, how about the last two decades since then? Where has he repented, and how has he demonstrated his repentance? Where do we see him rebuking the prosperity preachers and word of faith preaches for their false gospel?
It seems to me that when you teach publicly for decades to millions, and you make false teachings, you need to be as public with your repentance as with your false teaching. We all know of King Davids sin, we all know who confronted him and who was the catalyst for his response. We also all know that he repented as surely as we know what his sin was. But where is the record of all the things Benny Hinn has repented of? I’m not seeing anything and I’m certainly not seeing anything specific.
3. So far, the only thing Michael Brown has close to saying negatively about Benny Hinn is that “he has some fund-raising issues”, after which he refocused the attention on himself and tells the stories of how he hates manipulative fundraising and how he appeared on a telethon and glowered and the people who were trying to make him do it and so on and so forth- as if the two are even in the same league together! I’m glad that Dr Brown is demonstrating integrity in this respect, but that’s not the same thing. Even though I’m not convinced Benny Hinn isn’t a word faith, prosperity-gospel preaching heretic, for the sake of argument lets say that he’s not- his so-called “fundraising issues” don’t exist in a vacuum! What does it say about a man who for decades can so twist scripture that he’s essentially committing the hermeneutical equivalent of a sexual assault on the text of scriptures? He preys on the poorest of the poor and routinely promises up and down that if they give they’ll unlock unprecedented wealth in their life, and that they’ll guarantee to double their seed offering and bless them 30,60, 90 times. This is indicative of a larger problem. This has far reaching implications.
What does it say about a man and his ability to properly understood and teach the scriptures when he is so crass in his love of money and his abuse of the text that he can so manipulate the word of God to promise the most wild, worldly, selfish and pagan promises in regards to wealth creation? Am I to suppose that this man is a good,godly teacher who only has this one small idiosyncrasy when it comes to how he understands finances and how God blesses us and this malevolent, god-damned twisting of the word doesn’t affect anything else? That he’s pure as the driven snow and rock solid spiritually except when he’s promising millions if you sow your seed? I think this is what bothered me the most. That even when you ignore the false prophecies, false teachings, false words of knowledge, false way of reading and handling the scriptures, that his love of money is so pervasive and the means which he seeks to acquire that money is so corrupt that it cripples my brain when I hear Michael frame this multiple times as an issue of we don’t like the way he “fund raises” and how this is just him speaking on tithing principles and reaping and sowing principles. I think he knows that its not, but if he does its not coming across at all.
Has he apologized and repented of his “fundraising techniques?” When Zaccheus was confronted with his sin and his misuse of money, he said “Behold, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”[Luke 19:7-8] Immediately we look at that and see that the transformation showed itself up right in the realm where his sin was most dominantly manifest. So will Benny Hinn repents of his thievery and manipulation and wealth accumulation, and will he likewise make restitution? Will he apologize for inviting to share his stage a man who promised the poorest of the poor that they would be millionaires if they gave 1000$ to him, but that they only had a two minute window to do so, so they’d better act fast. And oh- they had ATM machines and credit card machines already set up in case there was no money in the bank? How about insisting that widows and the destitute give their seed to you, not their local churches, so you can continue to collect a million dollar yearly salary and stay in hotel rooms that cost several thousand dollars a night? [Side rant, but we are never to emulate the widow with her mite who gave all she had. We ought never to give like her. There is no indication that Jesus was pleased with her. Rather, we ought to pity her, because she served as an example of what not to do] Will you repent of that?
4. One of the reasons that Dr Brown said he was unsure of whether Hinn’s scandalous and far-reaching reputation was well deserved or not was because good, solid brothers and sisters who know Benny Hinn and traveled with him for years and decades said that that he’s legitimate and a wonderful man of God . I’m sorry, but that just proves that your friends have little to no discernment in this area and are complicit in his false teaching and in his slaughter of the sheep. What else can you say about people who stand by and watch this happen? These friends and ministry partners listened to him the whole time manipulate the scriptures for years, making outrageous claims and promising poor people that they can be rich if they just sow their seed, much less everything he said, and he gets unqualified praise? These people traveled with Benny Hinn as he appeared onstage alongside and promoted people that even Michael Brown would consider prosperity preachers. Benny Hinn has a long laundry list of people that he thinks are the wonderful, the TBN regulars and alumni that teach insane things, and he promotes and sells their books and comes on their shows and brings them effusive praise and calls them great men and women of God.
Dr Brown, I’m sorry, but if your friends are unable to recognize the unsoundness of this man’s teaching, the unsoundness of the way he handles scripture, the unsoundness of the way he “fund-raises” and the unsoundness of the worst scoundrels and rascals that he invited on his show to promote, then I have no reason to believe that your friends have any discernment and you ought to confront them and ask them to repent for their lack of wisdom and their tolerance for evil deeds.
In the same vein, Chris Rosebrough pointed out this quote on a program a few days ago. He quotes Hinn verbatim from a presentation Hinn gave only a few weeks ago! Here is one small recent example that shows the false teaching that Benny Hinn is spewing that is nowhere found in the Bible, no matter how badly some people seem intent on making this a “he’s just talking about reaping and sowing.”Again, this is not sound or faithful at all. Its theological strychnine and its toxic to the soul. Seed being a weapon against the devil? Giving will drive him away? What the what?
“Jesus gave us the secret. Jesus gave us the secret to prosperity. So what must you do? You must release your seed. You must sow your seed. Any farmer will tell you without sowing seed there is no harvest…you do that, and God will open the windows of heaven and pour on you blessings. There will not be enough room to receive them. Remember he said to Israel “I’m after my house. You give that my house might be blessed”. The house is the Church, this deals with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We read Malachi and we have got to be reminded that God is talking about his people and his work the gospel. So when Israel gave, he said “Ill pour out blessings on you they’re will not be room enough to receive it. I will bless the seed, I will bless the harvest, I’ll bless the fruit. He said I’ll rebuke the devourer for your sake. Satan is crippled when people give. Giving! Listen, your seed is a weapon against the devil himself. It will drive him away. How would you like for the devil to melt out of your life? How would you like for Satan to leave your finances? And where god can bless you big time. Start giving.
5. Let’s talk about Steve Munsey. Micheal Brown says “I’ve written against the carnal prosperity gospel in the strongest possible terms. The question is…is this a matter of saying “we believe if you sow financially you’ll reap financially, give it and shall be given to you, and a host of other scriptures about finances…that as we give generously God gives to us generously, or is this a confusion on the very essence of the gospel, that serving god as a mean of financial gain? …..Is that message damnable?.” As if that’s the extent of what Benny Hinn is teaching. In an article that Michael Brown references, he writes “In my own ministry (not to pat myself on the back but simply to respond to the endless stream of questions that has come my way), in 1989, my book The End of the American Gospel Enterprise focused largely on the compromised state of many of our American charismatic churches (since these were the circles I primarily traveled in) while my 1990 book How Saved Are We? contained an entire chapter renouncing the carnal prosperity message along with another chapter focused on carnal fundraising techniques. (For the record, these abusive techniques—honed to a science today on Christian TV by men like Mike Murdoch and Steve Munsey—have only become more pervasive since 1990.)
Would a good, godly man who is sound in the faith regularly have and actively promote men like Steve Munsey, who even Michael Brown will call out as a call false teacher? Benny Hinn sells Munsey’s books on his website and in fact, after the show that Michael Brown taped with him, Benny had Steve Munsey on and said about him “he’s a dynamic, pastor, bible teacher, preacher, man of God.” When confronted about it by Steve Camp, Dr Brown said “I did not miss the fact, and I immediately wrote to some folks about it. It did happen, and it should be very indicative of things” Yeah, indicative that Benny Hinn doesn’t seem to have a problem with him or his message. I’m glad that it bothered him, but going back to my previous point, I wonder what these good, godly friends of yours who were ministry partners and traveled with him for years had to say about that? Because it’s not the first time he’s been on the show and it won’t be the last. But hey, I guess endorsing and giving a platform to an actual honest-to-goodness word of faith prosperity heretic is just something that preachers who are sound in the faith do, right? And note that unlike many people, I don’t believe Dr Brown was “endorsing“ Benny Hinn by appearing on his program. But Benny Hinn does endorse the crazies, and that is problematic to say the least.
6. To close this off, Dr Michael Brown said something interesting. When trying to discern whether someone is a true or false believer, he talked about how you can tell someone is not a true believers in they live in abiding, unrepentant sin. Well what else do you call decades of false teaching, false prophecies, false miracles, false “fundraising techniques” and giving platforms and promoting other false teachers, if not for that very thing? Right. That’s a perfect example of what unrepentant sin is. Benny Hinn has demonstrated his unrepentant sin because he refuses to stop doing these shenanigans for 20 years. Does that not adequately and sufficiently meet all the conditions?
Clearly I’m frustrated and irritated. The more I read about the work of Michael Brown, the more I like and admire him, and alternately find myself in abject frustration because of him. His work on homosexuality and the culture wars is stellar, and his Line Of Fire program has made it into the regular rotation on my podcast. Yet in this regard, and in this respect, I don’t find him discerning at all, nor do I find the advice he received from his friends to be helpful at all. I don’t get the defense of Benny Hinn, and I think he protests too much when charged with that claim. What a weird, bizarre, turn of events this has proven to be. I can only hope that Michael Brown will do the research and exercise discernment and that something good will come out of this, because at this point, with the way everything has come together, he has only served to muddy the water and make everything worse.