Book Review of God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel

Costi Hinn. God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel.  Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Zondervan, 2019, 223 pp. Introduction “The prosperity gospel is a disease” (178) Costi Hinn ends a chapter entitled “A Dangerously Abusive Theology” in his 2019 autobiographical salvo against the Prosperity Gospel with that statement. Throughout this book, Hinn weaves together stories, theology, biblical exposition, and exhortation. In doing so, Hinn answers the question, “So why did you walk away from that life?” (18)  Zondervan published Hinn’s book, and they released it in 2019. It comes with endorsements from a number of evangelical pastors, leaders, and scholars — from Steven Lawson to Conrad Mbewe. The book contains eleven chapters along with a preface and two appendices. Below is a brief summary of each chapter. Summary The preface answers the question “why.” Why did Hinn feel compelled to write the book. Hinn also addresses this question in an FAQ in Appendix 1. In sum, Hinn wants to address the “gospel injustice” that Prosperity Gospel (PG) teaching brings (18). Chapter One Chapter one is a brief biography of the Hinn family. Hinn traces their roots to a mix of Middle Eastern culture and Greek Orthodox religion. He comments that the language of his grandfather’s home was Arabic. He also mentions that while being “staunchly” Greek Orthodox, the religion played more of cultural role than a spiritual one. His family emigrated to North America (Toronto, Canada) in 1968. Hinn’s father’s and uncle’s classmates often bullied them because of their lack of English language skills. The Hnn family adopted the teachings of Kathryn Kuhlman whose mantra, “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.” (27). Hinn’s uncle, Benny Hinn, began a teaching and healing ministry. He modeled his ministry on the ministries of Kuhlman, Oral Roberts, and other prosperity teachers (29). Chapter Two Chapter two addresses the topic of bullying in Hinn’s pre-teen and teenage years. At times, other students bullied Hinn. At other times, Hinn bullied others. Hinn concludes the chapter with a story of a time when the family of the boy whom he assaulted with a skateboard Hinn loved and embraced him. Hinn recalls how, as a teenager, this love and grace is the face of rage and anger shocked and surprised him (44). Chapter Three In chapter three, Hinn recounts his attempts to try to make sense out of life (and death) according to the so-called “laws of prosperity.” When one of his uncles dies of cancer, Hinn’s only conclusion is that the uncle (or one of family members) must have been guilty of committing one of the “Big Four” (49). The “Big Four” is a list of actions that one must have committed if you are not healed. They include “making a negative confession,” “hanging around negative people,” “not having enough faith,” and “touching the Lord’s anointed.” These “sinful” actions will show up in other parts of Hinn’s story as he wrestles with the “gospel” that he was presented as a child with the biblical gospel that he came to discover.  Chapter Four In chapter four, Hinn recalls his life of luxury during his time as a staff member with his uncle’s ministry. […]

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