For years, Costi Hinn helped spread what he believed was the “good news” to both prosperous and poverty-stricken listeners around the world. After each event, he and his uncle, Benny Hinn, would board a Gulfstream jet and fly to lavish locations, from Monte Carlo to luxury hotels in Dubai. He was chauffeured in Bentleys and slept in $25,000 a night resorts. Costi Hinn thought he was living the dream life. Today he looks back and sees a nightmare.
“[When I finally saw what I had become] I was disgusted,” Costi told the HLN network in a recent interview. “The Gospel then became real, the real Gospel, not just the good news, the bad news too. It’s bad news because I was greedy, I was ambitious for all the wrong things, exploiting the poor, squeezing every last dollar out of people so we could live the way they couldn’t. Using Jesus to do that.”
Costi’s journey away from the prosperity gospel led him away from his family, which he compares to “a royal family combined with the mafia.” As he became more vocally opposed to his uncle’s legacy he received phone calls from family members telling him not to speak against the family. But the more Costi grappled with a new Gospel message, the more compelled he felt to speak out.
— Carol Costello (@CarolHLN) October 23, 2017
“Our job as preachers and pastors is to give the whole story,” Hinn said. “[In my life] I realized the Gospel is first bad news, but then is good news. I was disgusted with my former self, but Jesus died to forgive my sins. He loves me just the way I am, in all my mess and greed and if I commit to a change he’ll meet me right where I am and he did. And he changed my heart. And I did not have a taste for it anymore. I did not want that life.”
Costi Hinn is currently on the pastoral staff of an Orange County, California church that belongs to Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA). The Protestant denomination formed in the 1930s in reaction to the growing modernism and ecumenism other mainline denominations, in particular, were starting to embrace. Today, there are approximately 1,000 churches associated with the IFCA just in the U.S. On IFCA’s website, they identify as theologically conservative and believe the gifts of tongues and “sign miracles” have ceased. For Costi, this is a significant departure from his uncle’s ministry, which showcases things like people being slain in the Spirit and miraculous healings.
Additionally, Costi’s departure not only reflects a moving away from prosperity theology made famous by people like his uncle but also includes some absolute statements some in the evangelical community could find alienating. In Hinn’s interview, he is critical of pastors who say they only preach “the good news” and not “the bad news” because they want to “stay in their lane.” Considering IFCA’s theology, and Costi’s proximity to megachurches like Saddleback Church, one gets the sense that Costi finds himself not only at odds with his uncle, but with much of what he sees in the evangelical world.
“If you take the Bible and what Jesus taught and the promises of heaven and the riches of heaven and the wonderful glories of heaven and make them a now thing, then you have a model for your best life now and that’s not the heartbeat of Christianity,” Costi said. “We as pastors have a responsibility to stand up against that and say ‘no.’”