Thursday, October 06, 2005

Gimmicks or the Gospel

Fairly recently Tim Ellsworth commented on a news report on a recent Benny Hinn crusade. Watching or hearing about Benny Hinn both angers and saddens me- because of the impact on souls. While much could be said about Hinn, one of the most alarming things in the news story is the comment of a local pastor who was supportive of the Hinn crusade. The final paragraph of the story reads:

“As pastor of a cozy 100-member church in Denver, McHendry harbors no envy for his astonishingly successful counterpart on stage. Sure, he chuckled, "When he lines up the wheelchairs and they're all shiny, and now the people can walk - c'mon, Benny. But I think that showmanship is necessary to reach some people for God.”

First, whatever was meant by the writer, “cozy” is not a complimentary description of a church in my mind. More significantly, however, I was stunned by the statement that “showmanship is necessary to reach some people for God.” While many evangelical pastors would not support Benny Hinn, many do subscribe to the idea that showmanship is necessary to reach some people for God. We may prefer more acceptable gimmicks than ‘healings’, but it is evident that we think gimmicks are the way. We expose by our actions that we fail to believe that the gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). Our infatuation with gimmicks makes us sound like Paul’s opponents in Corinth to whom Paul says, “I know people are asking for signs and wisdom, but we refuse. We simply preach Christ crucified, the wisdom and power of God.” (cf. 1 Cor 1:18-25). Paul says he has nothing to do with crafty techniques or watering down the gospel, but rather “by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor 4:2).

If we seriously desire the salvation of souls, let us be clear: showmanship is not necessary for reaching people for God. What is necessary is clear manifestation of truth, i.e. the gospel.


Jeff Lash said...

Dr. V...I'm loving this blog site. Welcome to the world of internet journals. You know how I feel about your insights and thoughts on the church already so I will spare the long discourse. However, I will say that as always I appreciate your leadership in the arena of pastoral ministry and guidance in my own life the past couple of years.

I wholeheartedly agree with your statements concerning Benny Hinn and the affirmation of gimmicks for the Gospel by this small town pastor. My short experience within pastoral ministry since graduating has been a confirmation of many fears and frustrations I have with the American church. I will presume to overgeneralize but I must say that I have been extremely disappointed with the programatic approach Christianity has taken up. "If we can just put together this sharp program, then people will want to come visit our church and we'll really reach people for the Gospel." It is not the creation of slick programs and stylish facilities that will change lives but the investment on each believers part in the lives of those surrounding them. What if we all truly reached out, loved, and served our immediate sphere of influence? How would God use that? I would love to be a part of such a movement of believers.

I will close by saying that I have greatly burdened by the glitz and glamor of the church as well as the many preachers who are using manipulation to prey on individuals. I weep for those who are being misled by a false gospel. May our hearts be moved to action to reach those who do not know the Gospel and are being led astray.

Brett said...

As I sat in the Minneapolis convention center this past Saturday watching Joni Eareckson Tada teach about the joy of her suffering, this though entered my mind: "I'd love to get a coy of this on video, make multiple copies, and then follow Benny Hinn around the country, handing every disabled person atteding his crusades a free copy, so that after all the hype is over they can tap into a real message of hope for those who are suffering."

Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks Jeff, and Amen Brett!

murray said...

My mother invited me to church when we got a new pastor. I went one to please her. I went back. I started going in the evenings. My life was enjoyable. I had no problems.But as I listened to the preaching I realised my lifestyle was displeasing to God.When I realised the depth of my sin I saw the greatness of my salvation. George Whitefield preached in the open air at Cumbuslang and many were saved. Ten years later the people were still going on. Where will those who have listened to Benny Hine be. All we need is the pure Gospel.