Now, Religion in the News, a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from The Deccan Herald, January 19, 2005, with a headline: “Faith Healer Apologizes (Bangalore, India)—The miracle healer from God Channel, Benny Hinn, is not going to have an easy ‘crusade’ in Bangalore, when he arrives on a three- day trip on January 21. His ‘Prayer for India’ has already attracted widespread protests across the board from fundamentalists, traditionalists, and rationalists. The protesters range from Hindu seers from various mutts and groups like the Bajrang Sal to Christian groups to intellectuals and others. Many suspect that the pastor’s agenda is religious conversion, especially as pamphlets criticizing idol worship have surfaced, forcing the organizers to go on the backfoot and issue an apology. A petition in the Karnataka High Court has also been filed against him. Demands have been made that the state Chief Minister, Mr. N Dharam Singh, refrain from gracing the pastor’s platform…. However, several other celebrities are likely to grace the prayer meeting, which is expected to be attended by tens of thousands of people from India and neighboring countries.”
Tom: Dave, in fact, Benny did smooth over some things, so it wasn’t quite the problems from this article, which is from a newspaper in Bangalore, India. But anyway, let me give you what Benny had to say at a press conference just prior to the crusade. The article begins: “After one and a half decades, Benny Hinn publicly apologized again, this time in India, for having offended the sentiments of Indians through the publicity material, which spoke ill about idol worship. Addressing the press conference here on Friday night, Benny Hinn was full of remorse for what had happened, protests from a pro-Hindu group.
“He says: ‘I really love India. I do not say it lightly,’ he said, before settling down to answer the media’s queries, excerpts of which are as follows: ‘The pamphlets and other publicity material about your prayer meeting speaks bad about idol worship.’ Comment— Benny: ‘I really do not know the person who put these pamphlets out, nor do I back him. In fact, I am deeply hurt; it angers me. That man, the person who has issued these pamphlets, has insulted me and the people whom I love. I was unaware of it until yesterday. It is a large event and there were 24 committees, and I do not know who did it. I personally apologize on behalf of the committees. Please understand that I am not God, and I did not know that would happen.’
“But, how do you dispel allegations, he is asked, that you are out here to convert people?
“Benny: ‘I have not come to India to convert people. I have come to tell the people that God loves them.’”
What do you think?
Dave: Tom, it sounds like the pope—John Paul II—about 20 years ago. He went to India, and he said: “I have not come here to teach anyone. We have come here to learn from your rich spiritual heritage, and the whole world would do well to give heed to it,” you know. He didn’t come to correct the Hindus.
Mother Teresa said the same: “We’re not trying to convert the Hindus. We just want to draw you closer to God as you understand Him to be—whatever God is in your mind, you must accept—we’ll help you be a better Buddhist, a better Hindu, a better Muslim, and so forth.” Now—“We just want to say that God loves you.” Well, you’re in India now, Benny—they have 330 million gods. Go to any temple—I mean, they’ve got several hundred gods there—outside in the courtyard of every temple you’ve got a little shrine with multiple idols in it. You perambulate around that before you go in, and so forth. So, what god are you talking about, Benny?
Furthermore, you don’t want to convert people? I thought we were supposed to go into all the world and preach the gospel. What is the purpose of the gospel? To bring people to the recognition that they are sinners, rebels, heading for hell, that Christ died for them, and paid the penalty for their sins, and they must receive Him as Savior. The Lord Jesus Christ is their Savior who said: I am the Way, the Truth, the Life, no man comes to the Father but by me. Now, if Benny is not hoping to convert people, then what is he hoping to do? Furthermore, this pamphlet, whatever it was, and I certainly don’t know what it was, insulted idol worshipers, apparently it said there was something wrong with idols. Well, Paul said the same, he said: You’ve been led away after these dumb idols. Isaiah mocked the idol worshippers. He says: You cut down a tree, with some of it you roast your meat, you warm yourself, you take a little splinter and pick your teeth, and then you make an idol out of the rest of it. It’s got eyes that can’t see, it had ears that can’t hear, has a mouth that can’t speak, in fact, it has to be carried wherever you want it to go. And Isaiah said: “Those who make these idols are like unto them, they have no understanding.”
So, Benny, I guess, will cut that out of the Bible. Paul preached to idol worshippers, he said to the Thessalonians: “You turn from idols to serve the living and the true God,” 1 Thessalonians:1:9. I guess Benny doesn’t want them to turn from their idols, he thinks they’re okay, whatever god it is. I know Benny doesn’t believe that - then why does he compromise and back away from the gospel, and what is he going to preach? If he has a healing service and people are healed, which one of the many gods in India will they give the credit to?
Tom: Dave, follow up articles, which are critical, said that one man died of a heart attack during the crusade, and those that claimed to be healed, according to the reports, were Benny’s volunteers, so where do you go from there?
Dave: Tom, it’s a sad day in the church, because Jesus said: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name we did miracles, and so forth—I will say I never knew you.” And Benny has been exposed many times. We offer a book - The Confusing World of Benny Hinn, but there are still those who are determined to just accept anything that Benny says. I would think they would have a tough time accepting this.