God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies
By Costi Hinn
Zondervan, 2019, 224 pp.
Prior to accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and being born again, I had a semi-awareness of Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement via flamboyant televangelists such as Oral Roberts, Ernest Angley, Jim Bakker, and Jimmy Swaggart. After my wife and I were saved, we began attending an independent fundamental Baptist church, which taught that the apostolic gifts of the spirit had ceased after the apostolic age, which made sense to me. From my perspective as an ex-Catholic, the fact that members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, including tens of thousands of priests, could manifest the requisite charismatic gifts of the spirit (glossolalia, prophecy, healing) while still adhering to Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit was an irreconcilable red flag.
After I returned to the Lord following my long prodigal season, I was amazed to see how the charismatic movement had proliferated. Most of the new non-denominational churches that had popped up around our town were charismatic. While the new generation of televangelists were still pushing the apostolic gifts of the spirit, there was also a great emphasis on health and wealth. The loud and constant drumbeat was, send in your “seed faith” money (credit cards accepted), and ask God in faith, and you too can have wonderful health and financial prosperity. I had no direct knowledge of the prosperity gospel movement, but I knew it was making tremendous inroads into evangelicalism worldwide.
Costi Hinn grew up as an insider in the prosperity gospel “empire.” His uncle, Benny Hinn, had been the #1 “faith healer” in the country for several decades and his father, Henry Hinn, was also a faith healer with his base in Vancouver, British Columbia. Costi enjoyed the Hinn family’s lavish lifestyle sitting atop the pinnacle of the health and wealth pyramid scheme and was being groomed to carry on the the family enterprise. But Costi providentially attended a Christian college where the genuine Gospel was taught and began to have increasing doubts about his family’s prosperity gospel. After MUCH familial sturm und drang, Costi attended a Biblically-solid seminary and is currently on staff at a Biblically-solid church in Arizona.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit with its insider details of the shenanigans of Benny Hinn and the other prosperity gospel shysters. It was difficult for Costi to turn his back on his family and walk away from all of the financial perks, but he could not reconcile God’s Word and the genuine Gospel with his family’s false prosperity gospel. What’s missing in this book is a description of Costi’s conversion moment, when he actually accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone.
Postscript: I wish Zondervan was as agreeable to publishing books about the errors of Roman Catholicism as they were in publishing this good book about the errors of the prosperity gospel.