Eira A. Carminati
On May 19th, Benny Hinn came to Philadelphia’s Spectrum – seating capacity of 19,000 – to put on a crusade. Jackie Alnor alerted me, and we decided to go if she was successful in procuring press clearance. She was.
The meetings opened with singing. We were disturbed that we knew and loved almost every song sung, yet it was plain that the One we sing to in our own services was not present corporately, though He went with us – for of course He never leaves the hearts of His people. And if He was so conspicuously absent from among the congregation, to whom were they singing?
Perhaps the worst was the answer to that: Hinn’s ‘grand entrance’ was made dramatically at the crescendo of “How Great Thou Art”, Benny spotlighted with raised arms, accepting the idolatry of his followers. This is apparently customary; I have heard of him doing it before.
One of our purposes in attending was to determine whether Hinn was using mesmerism on his followers or if there was demonic activity in his meetings. We found both, in a deadly mix.
One requirement for hypnosis is that the subject be willing. There were roughly 19,000 subjects who were not merely willing, but eager. Any commands Hinn gave were instantly obeyed: “Raise your hands”, he says, and a sea of hands fly up. “Stand up”, he says, and his followers erupt from their seats. In tragic contrast, I consider the response – even of my own heart, too often – when the Lord says “Take up your cross daily and follow Me” (Lk 9:23), or “If you love Me, obey My commands” (Jn 14:15). Hinn’s ‘theme song’ (which I am told he ‘inherited’ from Kathryn Kuhlman) is a song I once thought beautiful, yet which has now been darkened for me in seeing thousands of people use it to work themselves into a trance-like state of undoubtedly high suggestibility. All the ‘healings’ reflect this; there is nothing verifiable, no documented long-term freedom from disease or disability. People who are well able to make their way forward gush about their aches and pains disappearing under Hinn’s ‘ministrations’, while those with real needs sit ignored in the back.
Also upsetting was the palpable arrival of evil spirits. We consulted throughout the day, but not until the “anointing” came upon Hinn did we feel a strong sense of the demonic. There were spurts, particularly from unclean religious spirits; but when a noticeable change came upon Benny himself (he has said he is not the same person under the ‘anointing’; that is quite true) we began to sense enormous demonic power. We had prayed for protection, together and separately, and were glad of it. Hinn threw his ‘power’ at the audience, and everyone fell down twitching. We remained standing, feeling conspicuous as almost the only ones upright in a field of fallen dominoes. Hinn returned to our section three times, apparently trying to fell us. An elderly woman next to me, observing my failure to absorb the ‘glory’, grasped my hand despite my attempts to explain that I was not participating; she refused to either look at me or speak to me, simply clutching my hand in what seemed a grim belief that she, as a conduit, could make me feel Hinn’s power.
I mourn this deception; all the more because it is a farcical tragedy interpreted by the world as a comedy, upheld as one more reason to reject the Christianity falsely portrayed by these people who – often unknowingly – worship an idol and call it the true God. Please pray that the mercy of God comes on Hinn and his followers; overwhelming conviction of sin that leads to real repentance and lives lived according to the true Gospel.