Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Last July, a rather discomfiting bit of news was raised in the Charismatic and Pentecostal world galaxies when these picture surfaced in the National Enquirer, pictures that very plainly showed charismatic luminaries Benny Hinn and Paula White in a rather intimate setting outside a hotel in Rome. The account suggested they'd had a romantic encounter there and that Hinn had signed in under an assumed name, thus fueling speculation that this was what had indeed happened.
White and Hinn are well known globally for their preaching and teaching ministries and were known to cross paths now and then as they and their fellow "God's Generals" flitted all over the globe espousing fiery preaching of Christianity framed in the prosperity gospel. White had been divorced for some time from her husband Randy, but Hinn's own divorce from his wife Suzanne Hinn had yet to be finalized thus putting them both in a clearly unflattering light.
Both Hinn and White's denials of anything illicit or immoral were vehement and well publicized although coming several days after the reports first surfaced. It didn't convince too many people except those of their faithful followers and supporters who still hung in there with them even to this day. Hinn's assertion that he'd taken White along to Rome as a patron for the Vatican Museum seeking donations from her was categorically denied by the Vatican itself.
In the checkered world of Pentecostal/Charismatic ministerail morality, this is not at all uncommon - as deplorable as it might be, the spin doctoring of the activities of morally questionable preachers usually gets a late start and accounts of their failings are attributed to Satanic "touching of the anointed." Usually, this kind of moral failure is blithely ignored by the questioned, who hope time will quench the fires of investigation, but this time, the wrath of the accountants for Strang Communications, the publishing house that has made millions of dollars off of White and Hinn's writings, was incurred and led to a strange twist that won't let the matter lie. A lawsuit against Hinn was filed by Strang on February 17 for, of all things, Hinn's failure to abide by a morality clause written into a contract they had with him. Click here to read the suit.
Strang's suit invokes their moral turpitude clause which makes clear they expect their writers to embody a certain level of personal morality at the penalty of a cancellation of their contract with them and a return of moneys advanced to them. Ultimately, their beancounters saw how Hinn's behavior would damage their book sales and imperil their market share further in a fiercely competitive industry. They viewed Hinn's dalliance with Paula White even before the divorce ended as objectionable to this narrowly contextualized view of morality but did cite purely financial motivations for even bringing it up. There are hints that Hinn was confronted with a final choice to ante up but that he refused.
It's a faux pas in business. Strang's position is driven by money, in the end.
They could care less about morality, really. As to the Biblical injunction of Matthew 18 fitting here, which compels direct personal interaction of Christians with serious differences with one another, in a perfect world, where Christians really go to church, pray, evangelize, and pour their lives into one another and sacrifice everything for the Gospel while having for every man an answer, yeah, that would be nice.
But as has been alluded to, there is no actual functional spiritual unity based on the relationships of the Spirit within those professing to know Him between the superstars in our Full Gospel firmament and ordinary old Sister Schmoe and Brother Blow attending First Church, Anywhere. People such as Hinn and White live at an exalted level with a coterie of spiritual sycophants with All Access badges behind a phalanx of security people with wires in their ears and have their green rooms everywhere. It's to such people that any "relationship" is seriously extended. Watching Hinn sweep in and sweep out at will his venues without ever actually talking to real people is an act of efficient event management .. not koinonea.
It sure looks good for the cameras though.
This is why I deeply admire Christian pastors who don't participate in such largesse. Watching Chris Moody in my home church and having watched Mitch Maloney, Kelvin Page, John Lombard and other pastors stay at their church's altars ministering to their flocks reminds me that there are still shepherds who truly smell like sheep.
Paul Crouch once famously said he was "accountable only to the Body of Christ" when taken to task about the heretical false teaching that The Bighair Network airs .. but what does that mean? Not a darn thing. These demigods are on another plane .. and I assure you, it ain't higher than us. If Matthew 18 is going to mean anything, it means they'll have learned humility and true submission to the accountability of the Christian congregation they are nominally part of. None of these people, for all of their pulpiteering, know what that means. But boy, it looks great in the latest DVD series.
Back when the story broke, I bought a copy of the 8/2/2010 National Enquirer, which this article was in and dug it out after filing it. It claims Hinn checked into a Hotel Hassler in Rome, which exists, under the name David Solomon and stayed three nights there. The picture of the hotel room is called a "presidential suite" although the hotel's website calls it the "grand deluxe". He was not wearing his wedding ring and looked happy said observers. Hinn was in Rome to meet with Vatican officials for some matter, which he later would say in a crusade in Oakland, California, per Charisma that the Vatican made him a Patron of the Arts and invited him to visit Rome.
He said patrons are asked to find donors to help maintain the Vatican's art collections, and he wanted White to become a donor. "I let her come with me to Rome so she can donate money," Hinn said. "That was stupid on my part. And for that I do ask forgiveness."
Why the Vatican still needs an art collection at a time when churches are closing all over the West due to lack of priests to preside in them and when hundreds of thousands of people suffer horrifically without any help after being abused by the deviants among the said priesthood is beyond me. What's worse is that Hinn and White actually might do such a thing while their own ministries suffer downturns is beyond belief.
I guess their Seasons include supporting an apostate church's grotesque vanity and rank materialism while its slaves suffer. Think about it .. all those millions of people could be giving millions more to help poor old Benny and pitiful little Paula through their Seasons are going to fund the Vatican's dusty museum hallways.
I've been there, done that, got the T-shirt back in 1982. I've walked the Vatican and seen its unbelievable opulence. THEY DON'T NEED ANY MORE ART WORK.
Now Hinn and White are human beings just like you and me. Who would begrudge them the desire for love and companionship? Yet there's a lot to be said about their propriety here and I don't need to go over it. They are not in the position to be dating or looking like they are if Hinn technically isn't divorced .. and how the Hinns split still is strange. What a sad and strange spectacle this all has become. Stay tuned.