Sunday, March 29, 2015
My Sunday Feeling
"When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him;and behold, a leper came up to him and knelt before him saying, 'Lord if you will, you can make me clean.' And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, I will; be clean.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, 'See that you say nothing to any one but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.' "
Matthew 8, verses 1-4 (RSV)
You can't make this stuff up. Faith healer Benny Hinn was admitted to a hospital in California where he was treated for shortness of breath cause by atrial fibrillation. According to the official statement issued by Benny Hinn Ministries, this is a condition from which he has "experienced intermittently for over 20 years."
It may be safely said that I have a deep and abiding skepticism when it comes to televangelists. That skepticism goes into the red zone when it comes to faith healers such as Benny Hinn. Especially when they resort to conventional medicine for their own care despite making an extravagant living allegedly casting out all manner of disease entities from the gullible and the desperate.
When I was younger and had more time on my hands, I used to watch Hinn and Oral Roberts in action. And once, stuck in a hotel room outside Tulsa while a torrential thunderstorm railed outside my window, I saw Oral's son Richard implore a caller to the show to touch his hand to the TV screen in order that afflicted victim might be delivered from his sinus infection.
As far as I can tell, although this is not a scientific conclusion, if I may use such a phrase given the subject matter of today's post, faith healers tend to specialize in casting out discrete disease entities such as cancers, heart disease, paralysis and such. I don't think that dropping into a Benny Hinn healing service with a severed artery or a gunshot wound would be the smart play.
Which brings me back to Hinn condescending to earthly medical care for what appears to be a chronic medical condition. What's Pastor Benny doing with a chronic medical problem? Atrial fib is just the kinda invisible medical problem that is right in his wheelhouse. You would think that he could just cure himself on the house. Which leads me to another question? Does Pastor Benny have medical insurance? If so why?
OK. Am I making too much of this? Or at the very least having way too much fun? Maybe so. Maybe no. But then again my rather paltry net worth is not dependent upon convincing the weak minded to part with their money. And make no mistake about it. Showbiz preaching and healing have been really good to Pastor Hinn whose net worth is said to be around 42 million bucks.
I'm no Biblical scholar but I know a thing or two. The passage of Scripture cited above where Jesus heals the leper speaks to me in the context of fee-for-services faith healing charlatans like Benny Hinn for the following reason. According to the law of Moses, lepers were impure and could only be cleansed by the temple pursuant to an elaborate and costly ritual.
Here, Jesus not only heals the poor man, he also tells him to show himself to the Priest, to show the religious authorities that Jesus has bypassed the system and he did so for free. A more blatant attack on the legitimacy of the Temple and the Priesthood cannot be imagined.
Indeed, nowhere in the Bible is Jesus depicted as requiring payment or a "love offering" before he performed any of the miracles attributed to Him.
But that was then. This is now. Jesus's base of operations was largely confined to the sticks of Galilee. Until he went to Jerusalem He was strictly local. He didn't have to fool with satellite, shortwave and cable outlets. He didn't have to manage real estate. Jesus may have been the Messiah but he wasn't a celebrity. The latter can't really be done on the cheap.
So get well soon Pastor Benny.
Time is money. Money is time.
And be sure to take your beta-blockers.