Many years ago, I stumbled across a website devoted to exposing false prophets. Among those being “exposed” were Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, Jack Hayford, and even Billy Graham. As a young Christian, I was appalled. I had no idea that so many of the people I’d been listening to were false prophets! I was on the website for hours, reading about the sins of these men, the incorrect prophecies they had given, the healings that had not taken place, the false doctrine they’d been spreading. I immediately sent the website link to a good friend of mine, a mature woman of faith, who wrote back with the following reply: “Why did you send this to me? What are you getting out of all this?” I was offended. What did she mean, “What am I getting out of this?” Didn’t she, too, want to keep from being deceived?! I have since come to understand her gentle rebuke for, although I didn’t know it at the time, I was participating in one of the oldest schemes of the devil (1).
The truth is that if we look hard enough, we can uncover the sins of any pastor, preacher, or brother in Christ. Given enough time, we can expose false doctrines and teachings. And if a minister claims to have a healing or prophetic ministry, we will eventually discover prophecies that were not fulfilled and people who were not healed (2). And yet, does this mean that these men are not Christians? And if they are Christians, do they deserve this type of persecution?
While correction is certainly biblical, accusation is a weapon of the enemy. When Jesus corrected the churches in Asia (Rev 2-3) He first praised them for their good works. This is the essence of Godly correction. This is the “spirit of gentleness” that Paul speaks of that is needed to “restore such a one” (Gal 6:1). In Mat 18:15, we are given the precedent for Godly correction that works to build and not destroy. The first step is to bring up the error “between you and him alone.” Should this fail to bring correction, the second step is to take with us “two or more witnesses” and again speak concerning the issue. Only after these two attempts have been tried and failed, are we to “tell it to the church.” Many, however, publish videos, tapes, sermons, newsletters, and even entire websites devoted to the public criticism and reproach of people they have never met or spoken to. They never present the virtues of the people they are attacking but set out only to expose their sin. Under the pretense of protecting sheep from “gnat sized” errors in doctrines or practices, they force the flock to swallow the “camel-sized” error of loveless correction (3).
Satan is called the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Correction should never be about exposing sin, but restoring those around us to Jesus Christ. We must realize that “if the word of rebuke or correction does not offer grace for restoration, it is not the voice of [our] Shepherd. If [we] are Christ’s sheep, [we] will flee from it” (4). Let us remember that Christ has called us to unity in the body, and to love.
- “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13).
If we have participated in accusations against others, let us now seek forgiveness and begin to pray for those in leadership positions who are in such need of it. In many cases, those things which we deem wrong or lacking in the ministries of others are the very areas in which the Lord seeks to position us for intercession. “We must learn to pray for one another instead of praying on one another” (5). If we have been influenced by ungodly accusations against those in the Body, let us confess this now and renew our efforts to “believe all things, hope all things, and think no evil.”
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).
1.) I understand that most of the people who reject Benny Hinn and those like him do so out of a desire to protect themselves and others from deception, for it is true that many deceived groups have come from those who have claimed to hear God’s voice or work miracles. However, it is important to recognize that it is ultimately the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to “guide us in all truth” (John 16:13) and “keep us from stumbling” (Jude 24-25). We must be careful that in our zeal to protect ourselves we do not hinder our own growth. Will we live our lives attempting to remain free from error, only to make the bigger mistake of remaining powerless and out of communication with the Holy Spirit? Will we hide our talents and tell the Master when He comes that we were afraid of being wrong? We are each responsible for guarding our hearts against that which would attempt to destroy our faith. Bill Johnson once wrote: “I pay no attention to the warnings of possible excess from those who are satisfied with lack.” Likewise, I cannot entertain criticisms for those who walk in power by those content to walk in powerlessness. My faith is too valuable to me.
2.) Many who discredit these ministers point to prophecies that have not come to pass. They quote Deut. 18:20-22 which tells us that a prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in God’s name should be sentenced to death. It goes on to define speaking presumptuously, saying: “if the thing does not happen or come to pass… the prophet has spoken it presumptuously.” Yet it is important to note that Jonah was never considered a “false prophet” although Nineveh was not destroyed (Jonah 3). Ezekiel is not considered a “false prophet” although the destruction of Tyre was not completed during the Babylonian siege (Eze 26-29). Neither is Jeremiah considered a “false prophet” although he said that Zedekiah would die in peace (having my children killed in front of me, my eyes cut out, and dying in a prison is definitely not my definition of “peace.” [see Jer. 34:4-5; 52:10-11]). The point is that strict adherence to Deut. 18 can cause us to reject even Biblical prophets. Prophecy is a complicated matter, subject to interpretation, circumstance and perception. If we really want to find reasons to reject a prophet, we will eventually succeed.
Others focus on the sins of these men as credible reasons to disregard their teachings. Yet King David was both an adulterer and a murderer. Solomon infiltrated Israel with the worship of other Gods. Moses’ sin kept him from entering the Promised Land. Limiting ourselves to accepting only the teachings of those who have never fallen into sin would be to disregard large portions of the bible itself.
Still others may focus on the healings that have not taken place under those who have healing ministries. Yet Jesus’ ministry at the Pool of Bethesda only produced one healing, although there was “a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water” (John 5:3). Will we negate the miracle that took place there, because the others waiting were not healed as well? The ministries of Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, Oral Roberts, and others should be commended for the healings that have taken place, not condemned for those that have not.
3.) What those seeking to expose the deceitfulness of others may not realize is that in many ways they are actually causing more problems within the body of Christ than the “false prophets” themselves. These types of criticisms cause many believers to stumble and even doubt their faith. As Christians, we are all “members of one another” (Eph 4:25). Leviticus 18:6-10 tells us that we are not to uncover the nakedness of a relative “for their nakedness is yours.” When we expose the sins of other believers to the world, we are exposing all of Christianity to ridicule. Love, however, focuses on the good in others and always finds a redemptive way to “cover a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Exposing the Accuser of the Brethren, Truths Compiled From the Writings of Francis Frangipane, Francis Frangipane, Arrow Publications, Cedar Rapids, LA, 1991, pg 12, 16 and 17
4.) Ibid, pg. 13
5.) Ibid pg 9 and 14