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This Is What Costi Hinn Wishes Celebrity Pastors Knew

Hinn believes the overlap between his uncle’s theology and these new celebrity pastors lies in this thought: “You’re going to be healthy, wealthy, happy just because you’re a believer.” But this doesn’t line up with most people’s experience, Hinn says, and it’s certainly not what the Bible says. Plus, that thinking sets up a relationship with God that is transactional in nature:

What healthy marriage or healthy friendship is predicated on “You do what I want, you give me what I want in the end and then I love you and this is going to work”? No. We tell each other at the altar “For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.” Why? Unconditional, unending, undying, endless love. That is real, that is healthy. That’s what we would say is acceptable. Any other form of relationship or transactional love is unacceptable. It’s not true.

Another troubling idea in the celebrity pastor world manifests as follows: “how I look is going to matter. How I sound and how I dress and who I’m with and how my facial expressions are and the way that my aura and my influence is is going to directly impact whether or not people get saved, whether God does anything.” According to Hinn, “that is a messed-up view. God is going to work in the hearts of people because he’s God. God is going to do great things because he’s God. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got gel in your hair or you’ve got the latest shoes…”

The Poverty Gospel Vs. Prosperity Gospel

As much as the way Hinn used to live disgusts him now, he hasn’t swung to the other extreme by embracing a lifestyle of poverty. 

“You don’t have to be walking around with holes in your pants—not as a trend but because you’re poor—and doing the poverty gospel, but I’m pretty sure God doesn’t guarantee that everyone’s going to live the prosperity gospel,” Hinn says.

The church he works at now in Arizona strikes a good balance between the prosperity gospel and the poverty gospel, Hinn believes. This is shown in the way they treat the ministers on their staff. Hinn explains the church gives pastors more than two weeks of vacation a year and a salary that puts them in the median income bracket in their community. The reason they do this, Hinn explains, is not because preachers deserve preferential treatment, but because this is necessary for the minister to be able to focus on his job without neglecting his family. Hinn likens it to the military taking care of the service member’s needs and the needs of his or her immediate family so they can focus on the mission at hand.

“I’m not against people being blessed,” Hinn clarifies. In 1 Timothy 6, he explains, rich people are instructed to be generous and says that God has given them all things to enjoy. “If you’re blessed and you’re wealthy, God has blessed you with that wealth…Wealth is not a sin; wealth is a responsibility, so you need to use it well.”

Hinn also implies that while these celebrity pastors are leveraging media and technology to build their platforms, those things in and of themselves aren’t bad. “Not everybody who’s trying to be the best communicator and to appeal to the culture is evil or a false teacher,” he says. As an example, Hinn explained that Paul used his intellect, his past, and his knowledge of Roman culture to carry out his mission. 

“Yes, the church should use media. Yes, we should strive for excellence. Yes we should care for our pastors,” Hinn says. Where he draws the line, though, is at celebrity. “Our ministry and faithfulness is not dependent on crowd-pleasing, it’s dependent on God-pleasing.”

As far as whether or not Hinn thinks the new generation of celebrity preachers are in danger of judgement, he doesn’t want to speculate. “I’m not going to be giving an account for Judah Smith, for my friend Richie Wilkerson…Chad Veach, or any of these guys or John Gray or whomever. I am going to be giving an account for Costi Hinn—me and my house. But while I’m here, I get the chance…to exhort, which is biblical, our brothers and our sisters and the people around ‘unto good works’.”