×

As a pastor, I swallow hard every time I hear someone talk about the sermon they watched on television that week. Like many pastors, I can be deflated to see a lack of discernment expressed by anyone under my teaching. I wonder how anyone could hear the Gospel so regularly, value the Bible so highly, and still be so easily deceived.

In my circle of influence, names like Osteen, Dollar, and Hinn, are piñatas or low hanging fruit. Even as children my brother and I referred to TBN as “the scary channel.” It is so easy to see through their lies that surely they are not even worthy of mention. Surely, they discredit themselves without the need of a shepherd to cry, “Wolf!” Yet their ministries continue to grow, and their influence continues to spread. How? Why? What, if anything, can we do about it?

In God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel, Costi Hinn tells his story of growing up in the heart of a ministerial empire. He tells of the deception and corruption of the prosperity gospel. Most importantly, he tells the story of a loving, patient, and merciful God who has delivered him by the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel
Costi Hinn
God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel
Costi Hinn
Zondervan. 224.

The testimony of Costi Hinn is a beautiful story. It humanizes people that I had written off as caricatures. It brings insight to how and why these teachings continue to reach millions. It reminds me of the wonder of God’s grace and renews my confidence to pray for God’s continued work of salvation even amongst those who are presently misrepresenting him for personal gain.

Zondervan. 224.

The Tone

The title of this book is unfortunate. It might be an excellent summary of the prosperity gospel and it certainly does not conflict with the author’s message, but it carries a tone that is not consistent with the heart of the book. In the book’s introduction, Costi delivers a disclaimer to set the tone for his readers. He expresses a love for his family that continues to this day while also feeling the conviction to be “brutally honest” about the ministry that they practice.

While there is no questioning the honesty with which he exposes the Hinn family ministry, Costi’s delivery is anything but brutal. Granted, my assessment may be different if I were personally a part of the family or ministry being exposed, but I believe that readers will find that Costi is gracious and fair.

Costi avoids slander by keeping the book largely autobiographical. The ministries and practices of his father and uncle are a large part of this work, but only as they are necessary for telling the story of Costi’s dealings within these ministry circles and his deliverance from them. At the same time, Costi is not one to ignore the wrong that he witnessed in the ministries and personal lives of the Hinn family. The skill and wisdom with which Costi is able to extend grace, where he can, and truth, where he must, is commendable.

The Audience

Costi is clear about his audience. He is not presenting a comparative theology between prosperity and orthodoxy, he is not presenting a history of the movement, and he is not out for attention. While the book is none of these things it is, at the same time, all of these things. Costi’s goal is to tell a story that is useful and accessible.

The Method

The majority of this book is autobiographical. Costi tells his story as it sits within the story of his family’s ministry and the greater movement of the prosperity gospel. He introduces the reader to the excesses, the corruption, and the misguided ways of prosperity ministry, but it never feels like a celebration of sin or defamation of sinners intended to awe or anger the reader. He writes from a clear position of explaining what these ministries are teaching, why they believe these things to be true, the damage their ministries cause, and the means by which God delivered him from the lies.

In addition to the telling of his story, Costi calls the church to action. He calls for awareness, repentance, and rebuke. He argues that the church has mishandled the prosperity gospel by assuming that it was something on the fringe or a passing fad.

Costi argues that this sort of attitude toward a false teaching has allowed messages that are subtler yet equally poisonous to infiltrate otherwise sound churches. To this end, Costi also takes a moment to equip his readers to express truth in love so that they might practice reconciliation and not vain judgment. He calls on the church to pursue those who are deceived by these false teachers with a heart that longs to win persons more than it longs to win arguments.

Recommendation

Some might argue that Costi is out for attention and using his story to garner personal fame. Such a motive never comes across in this book. Like the Apostle Paul, Costi could have continued in a false worship of God for the purpose of personal gain.

Rather than a grasp for fame, this book is a denial of fame promised to him by the world of the prosperity gospel. Costi has distanced himself from this accusation even so far as to have those royalties that might otherwise have come to him will be charitably donated to the training of pastors and teachers.

It is not like me to consume a book in a single sitting, but that is exactly what happened this time around. I was intrigued by the heart of a man who faced his own sin and the sins of those he loved most with a desire to see the person of Jesus Christ worshipped rightly. More than being shocked and disgusted by the corruptions of false teachers I was moved, at times to tears, by the grace and mercy of God to call his son into truth.

This book is a wonderful resource for the church today. I understand that there is no lack of information and story exposing the ills of the prosperity gospel. However, Costi brings something different and valuable to the table. It is different because he was and is so intimately connected to the movement. It is valuable because his method of exposure and heart for restoration are so profoundly biblical.

If you are one who consumes a regular diet of the prosperity gospel, I would encourage you to give this book a read. If you have friends or family in the movement, this could be a great conversation starter and guide for pursuing healthy, God-honoring conversations.

The testimony of Costi Hinn is a beautiful story. It humanizes people that I had written off as caricatures. It brings insight to how and why these teachings continue to reach millions. It reminds me of the wonder of God’s grace and renews my confidence to pray for God’s continued work of salvation even amongst those who are presently misrepresenting him for personal gain.

Most Read

LOAD MORE
Loading