The news of Benny Hinn’s public rejection and renunciation of the ‘prosperity Gospel’ has been hailed as a watershed moment within Evangelical Christianity.
However, it remains to be seen whether his ‘correction of theology’ will be equally embraced by the multiple prosperity preachers permeating Africa, many of whom regard him as a mentor.
This week, Pastor Benny Hinn admitted the controversial teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth through the “sowing of seeds” is actually unbiblical and “an offense to the Holy Spirit”.
Hinn, once known as one of the most aggressive promoters of the Prosperity Gospel, told viewers during a live broadcast: “I don’t want to get to Heaven and be rebuked. I think it’s time we say it like it is: The gospel is not for sale. Healing is not for sale. Prosperity is not for sale.”
His public reversal on the issue comes in the wake of his nephew, Costi Hinn – who once worked and travelled with him – releasing a damning book titled ‘God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel’.
Costi described working in the ‘Hinn dynasty’ as a fusion of “royal family” flamboyancy and “mafia” secrecy, detailing how money faithfully given to the ministry was squandered on mansions, private jets and fast cars and loyalty cherished above honesty.
However, irrespective of the wide-ranging opinions about Hinn and his legitimacy, his influence in the new generation of African preachers is undeniable.
In recent years, Hinn held several high-profile events with Nigerian Pastor Chris Oyakhilome – also a known proponent of the Prosperity Gospel and faith-healing – the duo even launching a new television network in USA.
He has also held public meetings with Nigerian prosperity preachers Ayo Oritsejafor and Biodun Fatoyinbo (currently in the eye of the storm for multiple accusations of rape and sexual impropriety), Ghanaian Bishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams and Zimbabwean ‘Prophet’ Uebert Angel.
His style of message and ministration can be seen mirrored by charismatic preachers throughout the continent, with the fixation on ‘seed faith’ championed by the likes of Matthew Ashimolowo, Funke Adejumo and David Oyedepo.
A large portion of Pentecostal church services in Africa is usually dedicated to the ‘collection of offerings’ and reports of pastors taking money in exchange for ‘prayers and prophecy’ are rampant.
News and views about the flamboyant lifestyle of African ‘men of God’ dominate gossip sites and social media, with pastors often competing to join ‘the richest list’ as if material assets somehow equalled spiritual validity.