Book Review: “God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is always a call to come and die. Never has the gospel been any other call to those whom God elects. However, over the course of several decades, the American scene of Christianity fostered the rise of what is now known as the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. This gospel, a false gospel, claims that as long as you will be faithful to God and “give” him your best (in whatever ways that entails), he will reward you with health, wealth, and prosperity.

Costi Hinn, the nephew of prosperity preacher, Benny Hinn, was an heir in a prosperity ministry just a few short years ago. In his book, God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel, he relives the situations in which he found himself as he not only was a prosperity preacher, but was awakened by God’s grace to the truth of the (true) gospel. Here are a few takeaways from his book:

The Truth About the Prosperity Gospel

Hinn (Costi) defines the prosperity gospel in this way:

“The prosperity gospel makes human satisfaction to be material, and Jesus to be the cherry on top.”[1]

The ministry of Benny Hinn began by him being influenced by a woman preacher named Kathryn Kuhlman. Kuhlman was one of the earlier proponents of the prosperity gospel movement in the twentieth century. Costi recounts his uncle Benny following in the footsteps of Kuhlman (and a few others) which would then form his uncle’s own ministry to millions over the next several decades.

Growing up in the Hinn family was no small task, Hinn (Costi) explains. He notes that death was never talked about and every family member simply understood that they were the spiritual elite. The simple reality for those involved in the prosperity gospel movement is that if you were diseased or sick in some way, this was a clear sign that your faith was not amounting up to what was needed for God to bless you. As the spiritual elite, the only way death and disease were talked about was at a crusade when someone would approach the faith healer for healing (like Costi’s uncle Benny).

Over the course of the book, Hinn recollects the many different ways in which the prosperity gospel ultimately distorts the true gospel found in the Bible. And essentially, this is the claim he makes about the PG: it is a false gospel. “The prosperity gospel sells salvation and false hope.”[2] In other words, the prosperity gospel sells a message which says that as long as you will have enough faith or give enough money to the faith healer (like Benny Hinn), God will continually give you health, wealth, and prosperity.

Questioning Everything

For young Costi, however, the questions began while he was on a ministry trip with his uncle Benny in India. He describes the group arriving in India and his uncle refusing to get out because he did not “want to deal with the smell until [he] absolutely had to.”[3] In other words, Benny Hinn was so attached to his ivory tower that even the simple smell of India was too much for him. Costi remembers thinking, “What’s wrong with this picture?” Of course, we know now (from the book itself) that this was the sovereignty of God revealing to him the deceitfulness of the prosperity gospel incrementally.

Yet, it would be a few more years before these thoughts would produce change in Costi. You see, one of the things about the Hinn family is that you never disgrace the family name by challenging its patriarchs, like uncle Benny. However, when Costi continued to find truths revealed in the Scripture (often from a college baseball coach at Dallas Baptist University), he felt as if he had no choice. This mentor of Costi’s led him to challenge much, if not most, of his family’s antics, and eventually led to his conversion.

Reaching the Deceived

Without giving away the main premise of the book, one of the most important sections within it is chapters ten and eleven. Hinn not only gives his major critique of the prosperity gospel off and on throughout, but he also offers a biblical approach to health and wealth (chapter 10), and ways to reach those who are deceived by the prosperity gospel (chapter 11). These two chapters are honestly the climax of the book, for they show the depths of genuine love and affection that Costi Hinn has for those who are deceived by the prosperity gospel. He not only has seen it, but has lived it and he wants others to be brought to the truth.

Conclusion

If you want an easy-to-read book that is very detailed regarding the prosperity gospel, this book is for you. If you are interested in Costi’s story, this book is for you. If you are struggling with the promises of the prosperity gospel yourself, pick this book up. You will not put it down.


About the Author

Costi Hinn is a pastor and author whose passion is to preach the gospel and serve the church. He provides ministry resources on a variety of topics at www.forthgospel.org, and his work has been featured on media outlets like CNN, Christianity Today, and ChurchLeaders.com. Costi and his wife has four young children.


[1] Costi W. Hinn. God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019), 174.

[2] Ibid., 155.

[3] Ibid., 72.

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