The pastor nephew of televangelist Benny Hinn has slammed his uncle's promotion of the "prosperity gospel" and urged "real pastors and real churches" to "stand up and say 'No, that is not Christianity."
In an HLN exclusive interview with Carol Costello, Costi Hinn, executive pastor at The Mission Bible Church in Orange County, California, called his uncle's theology "twisted."
"If you take the Bible and you take what Jesus taught and you take some of the promises of heaven and the riches of heaven and the wonderful glories of heaven and you make them a now thing, then you really have a model for your best life now."
"That's really not the heartbeat of Christianity," he continued, "the heartbeat of Christianity is, if you have wealth, you want to be generous and rich in good works. If God has blessed you with a lot, you have a great responsibility."
Prosperity gospel, as defined by the Lausanne Theology Working Group, is the teaching that "believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the 'sowing of seeds' through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings."
The prosperity gospel, Hinn said, is particularly dangerous to those living in impoverished nations who give the last of their money to prosperity preachers in hopes that they will receive material blessings.
"You put a guy on a platform in a real nice suit in a very beautiful auditorium and he'll tell a whole bunch of Americans, 'if you do this, and do this, and do this, you'll get this.' And God is like your magic genie," Hinn said.
"If you rub Him right and do all the right things, your bank's going to grow, you're going to get that promotion, you're going to get that woman that you want to marry, that perfect man, your life is going to be perfect, because that's what God wants for you."
Hinn urged "feal pastors and real churches" to "stand up and say 'No, that is not Christianity. That's not what the Bible teaches.'"
Hinn emphasized that the Gospel includes the good news of hope and the bad news of the reality of sin for people in all walks of life.
"Our job as preachers and pastors is to give the whole story," Hinn said, admitting that growing up, he was "greedy" and "very ambitious for all the wrong things." He shared how his family was "living the dream," with flights on a G4 or G5 private gulfstream airliners, layovers in Monte Carlo, and stays in hotel suites that cost $25,000 per night.
"We were teaching things that were wrong. We were taking advantage of [people], exploiting the poor, using our greed, squeezing every last dollar out of people so we could live the way they could never," while using Jesus to do that, he explained.
Thankfully, Jesus has forgiven him of his sins.
"Jesus died to forgive my sins. He loves me just the way I am in all my mess and all my greed. And if I commit to a change He'll meet me right where I am. And He did. He changed my heart and I just had no taste for it anymore. I did not want that life."
Benny Hinn, 64, is the author of a number of inspirational Christian books, and his thirty-minute TV program This Is Your Day is among the world's most-watched Christian programs.