Costi Hinn, Zondervan, 2019, 224 pages, 3 of 5 stars
Summary: an autobiography of Benny Hinn’s nephew and how he finally left the prosperity gospel and found Christ.
You want a history of the prosperity gospel (PG) in America? Read Bowler. A theological treatise against the PG movement? Read Strange Fire. But suppose you have a buddy at work with anointing oil in his cubicle and bumper stickers flashing Isaiah 53:5 (“with his wounds we are healed”). He loves TBN. He reads everything Crefloe Dollar and Joyce Meyer put out. He’ll never pick up a hardcover by Justin Peters or Johnny Mac.
This might be the book to give him. Sometimes stories that put you in the moment (“I carried cash–a lot of cash”, p. 57) can be more convincing than assertions. Benny Hinn is perhaps the world’s most well-known prosperity evangelist. Benny grooming his nephew to be his successor, only for Costi to abandon this teaching and move to orthodox Christianity would be like the brother of the infamous atheist Christopher Hitchens coming to faith in Christ. This happened by the way. God has a sense of humor.
Strengths: (1) He doesn’t glamorize the prosperity lifestyle. He doesn’t leave you thinking: “This teaching might be false, but it sure would be cool to drive a Hummer at 21.” He calls the PG “evil” and “satanic”. (2) He shows his conversion to Christ out of the prosperity world. It’s not like he just learned a better interpretation of suffering. No. He was stone-cold dead in sin while being a catcher during healing services. He needed a new heart. (3) He points us to solid theologians. His conversion story is not from coal to copper. He quotes a gold mine of men like Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe, A.W. Pink, and R.C. Sproul. (4) The final chapter is outstanding, especially the Ten Steps in reaching those caught in the prosperity world.
Weakness: The defect may also be a strength. This book is not filled with Scripture (though he makes a number of solid biblical arguments). Hinn’s purpose is not so much to persuade as it is to display. This is how ugly and deceptive the PG world looks from within.
Conclusion: This “insider” perspective will confirm what many people already know: the prosperity gospel is full of lies, greed, and dead men’s bones.
- “There are wealthy people who have lots of money but don’t live lavishly; then there are wealthy people who have lots of money and know how to turn lavish novelty into normalcy. We were the latter.” (p. 57)
- “[My uncle’s hands are] slim, almost feminine. The fingers are delicate, nails manicured and polished.” (p. 67)
- “We used a strategy called shotgun prophecy, firing off numerous predictions in the hope that one of the prophecies might hit the target.” (p. 79)
- “The PG certainly denies the sovereignty of God to the extent that it demeans God to the position of a puppet and elevates man to the position of a puppet master who makes confessional demands by faith.” (p. 96).