Costi W. Hinn is the pastor of Redeemer Bible Church in Gilbert, Ariz., and is a former prosperity gospel propagator. He is the nephew of world-famous prosperity preacher Benny Hinn and is the author of “God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel.”
If you haven’t seen the video of Fort Worth, Texas, televangelist Kenneth Copeland attempting to answer questions about his private plane and the prosperity gospel in a rare and unexpected interview with Lisa Guerrero of “Inside Edition,” do so. It’s stunning, and important.
It’s difficult to get time with prosperity preachers. I would know, as I used to be one and work with one — my uncle, Benny Hinn.
But this persistent reporter managed to somehow get through his security and give people a glimpse of what prosperity preachers act and talk like when not prepared to answer tough questions.
After Guerrero confronted Copeland about his flying habits, she offered the 82-year-old a chance to catch his breath and collect his thoughts. Copeland brushed off the gracious offer. Leaning over the door of a Cadillac Escalade, he quickly jumped into character and explained why he needs multiple private jets to preach the gospel effectively and how a billionaire’s lifestyle is just part of God’s prosperous plan for those who believe in him.
Copeland’s outlandish statements and patronizing remarks did nothing more than misrepresent the true Christian gospel. Further, the interview served as a sobering reminder of how badly prosperity preachers represent Christian ministry and reliable ministers who serve faithfully. How do the preachers who perpetrate it make themselves believe they are doing the Lord’s work?
I grew up in the prosperity gospel. I lived it, believed it and bankrolled it. My family was at the center of it, with Uncle Benny leading the charge, until eventually my eyes opened to the exploitation and abuse of it. I can’t speak for everyone but I can offer some insight into why it might be so believable.
1. It made us rich.
Life in the prosperity gospel is the good life. No, let me go further. It’s the great life. At least on the surface. Our houses were multimillion-dollar homes in the best ZIP codes in the country. Our annual salaries were more than some people make in a lifetime. I drove a BMW, Hummer (H2), Ferrari F430, Mercedes-Benz SL500. On a run-of-the-mill weekend, we could easily make upwards of $100,000 (take home) from offerings in our services for barely three days of work.
Once we returned home and put the video footage online or on TV, we could solicit donations from people to “support our gospel work” and make hundreds of thousands more in no time at all. It’s easy to believe something that puts money in the bank, even if you’re confirming your reservation in hell for deceiving the poor and the sick.
2. It made us powerful.
Our family had bodyguards, layers of security and the ability to tell anyone to do anything and it would be done. Picture a mob boss snapping his fingers and his hit man nodding without saying a word. That is life in the prosperity gospel power seat. The travel, the accommodations, the staff hierarchy, the attention, the notoriety, the bravado and the ability to control tens of thousands of people during a service are all reasons why the prosperity gospel lures preachers into selling their soul.
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Source: Religion News Service