Friday, February 26, 2010

Trouble in paradise: Bennie Hinn is human after all.

We don't know the facts and one could argue that we're not suppose to know what the issues are. Yet, the divorce filed against prosperity apostle Bennie Hinn does challenge the church to look again.We simply have to own up to the fact that we also struggle and yes, that we are also human beings who fail each other and who sometimes divorce. His response does not suggest any such acknowledgement or confession. a Public statement from Hinn, suggest that he is putting the blame on the wife. He states, 'Even though Suzanne has been under great stress, the children and I never expect this to happen' and ' My wife has no biblical grounds for what she has done.'  Its simple: blame it on some-one else. The question is: how is it possible that one could grow so far apart that you dont know what is coming. These grave decisions don't pop out overnight.

Divorce is never easy. Its agonising and the inevitability grows over a period of time.Then let's say it:  divorce also happens in the Christian church. Unless we are able to own up to the fact that its a reality within the church, then we will continue to struggle to develop appropriate ministry and support for sisters and brothers going through this agony. We, as believers, cannot continue to pretend and act as if it does not exist. This is my problem with Hinn's response. This is a season, for him to own up to the vulnerabilities and the complexities of human relationships-even as a pastor. We don't build our marriages in heaven. We can confess that we need help and support-even as pastors, for goodness sake.

But he can not. Why ? Because this is exactly where the prosperity cults struggle. In terms of their 'theology' this is not suppose to happen and we are not suppose to own up to any weaknesses. This flawed theology which denies reality and magically chant biblical spells and rituals need to be questioned. It creates a god, which frown upon poor, infected and struggeling people. This god drives in Harley -Davidsons and Limos, eat caviar and look down upon those that face a brutal, injust worldand sometimes strumble and often struggle.
But there's another God, who are with us in the muck, as we bear our crosses in this world, reminding us where our strengths come from. Let me put some divorcees at ease: The all-powerful God did not hang his head in shame because of your 'failure' in marriage or terminal sickness, God is walking alongside you in love and grace to support in facing the real challenges of life.This God does not magically wipe away reality, but rather, enables us to find deeper perspective and meaning to draw on our inner strength, wisdom, to make critical decisions for our future. This good news is for pastors as well. We also live only because of this grace of God. Faith therefore means to acknowledge that, on this journey, I am a cross-bearer, weak, oftem praying a type of 'Please Lord, I believe, but help with my unbelieve' (Mark 9:24) prayer. It's the God, who triumph and help us to come out strong, yet singing 'I didn't know my own strength'.

The kind of theology that underlie the industries of Hinn, is impotant in addressing this kind of faith and therefore it need to be reviewed. This therefor calls for a fundamental review of the role of pastors and those superstars in these 'ministries'. It calls for a questioning of the ostentatious lifestyle, which are simply  provided as 'proof' that the theology is healthy. In South African black and coloured communities, we see a powerful attraction to these groups, simply because people want hope for a better life and identify with wealth and success and so it seems, this gospel will give me that lifeline. We should however see that this whole movement is facing a serious credibility crisis and cannot stand up to the serious transformations that impact on families and children. The world is reeling under a neoliberal capitalist onslaught, which, driven by crude greed, proclaim that financial prosperity is the way to heaven. For these communities, unless we review and reject these false messiases, we are heading for disaster in the areas which matters most. We need something deeper and an affirmation of the way of the cross. Only in discovering the Crucified amongst cross-bearers, do we find real hope. Here we own up to our weaknesses, challenges, vulnerabilities-our sin and its here that we find grace. Let's pray that Hinn might also find it at the foot of the cross.
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