Archbishop comments on lure of unscrupulous evangelists
In the wake of publicity associated with a "crusade" to be led by American tele-evangelist Benny Hinn in Brisbane later this month, the city's Archbishop John Bathersby has said he is "disappointed" by people attracted by signs and wonders holding unreal expectations.
"The Church would come down on us like a tonne of bricks if we made outlandish statements proven false because Rome carefully investigates acts of wonder or awe," Archbishop Bathersby told the Courier-Mail.
Faith healer Hinn's Orlando Christian Centre ministry, founded two decades ago, earns up to $100 million a year and is said to have a weekly world TV audience of more than 50 million.
His visit, along with that of fellow millionaire faith healer Kenneth Copeland next month, have been pre-empted by Australian church authorities who believe claims of miracle healings should be investigated by government.
Australian Catholic University theology professor Tony Kelly said despite the church almost accepting a long history of craziness on the fringes, "all types of snake oil" should be treated with extreme caution.
"Bad publicity for the whole range of spiritual values should not be tolerated and churches need to be, while recognising God can work in mysterious ways, explicit in not letting simple devout people be exploited and they must give firm guidance on this," he said.
"Any person who is humbly trying to do the work of God needs some money but once self-promotion and amassing huge sums of money takes over, it is not a good sign. The work needs to be God-directed, non-profitable, and carry the spirit of poverty and humility."
St Paul's Theological College academic dean Rev Dr David Pascoe said a secular authority is needed to test claims of "miracle healings" to protect people's rights.
"Some (evangelists) appear to be their own authority and if one of the Government's charges is to protect people's rights, then a secular authority could do that - we do it for consumer goods," Dr Pascoe said.
Although Hinn calls himself a pastor, he has no theological training and therefore cannot have his claims censured by higher authorities.
Churches want faith-healer's claims tested (The Courier Mail 9/6/04)
Benny Hinn Ministries
Benny Hinn - Apologetics Research Resources
Benny Hinn has millions of believers and millions in donations (Religion News Blog/NBC 27/12/02)
9 Jun 2004