Is Benny Hinn’s “Fire” Anointing Really Just The Emperor’s New Clothers?

by M. Kurt Goedelman

Faith healer Benny Hinn is a man with an “anointing” for all seasons. Like Baskin-Robbins has flavors of ice cream, Hinn has anointings. There’s one for almost everyone’s taste. Following the success of his book, Good Morning, Holy Spirit, his second volume for Thomas Nelson Publishers, titled simply The Anointing, introduced readers to an unembellished anointing — perhaps the “vanilla” of his other anointings.

Hinn has also pitched a “Double Portion Anointing,” which included the macabre tale of visiting graves of the late faith healers Kathryn Kuhlman and Aimee Semple McPherson, where he is said to have felt “terrific” and “incredible” anointings (see further, The Confusing World of Benny Hinn, pp. 196-198). People, he claims, have been physically healed by visits to Kuhlman’s grave because of the anointing that lingers there. “Totally healed by God’s power,” he alleges. He said he planned to take some of his ministerial staff to these graves so that they can feel these “incredible” and “amazing” anointings for themselves.

Then at his 1992 miracle crusade in Little Rock, Ark., Hinn demonstrated a “fresh” anointing, which left bodies strewn across the stage and on the floor — more casualties than a Rambo movie. In Little Rock, the anointing was so strong and powerful it supposedly radiated from his suit coat. Scores of victims hit the floor, slain in the Spirit, as he took off his suit coat and swung it like a baseball bat at the onslaught of people, including ministers, charging onto the stage. The feats of baseball legend Mark McGwire pale in comparison.

Now comes what appears to be the pièce de résistance of anointings — the “fire” anointing. Those attending his Anaheim Miracle Crusade last year got to experience the phenomenon firsthand. Other Hinn enthusiasts were treated to the spectacle on a November 1998 airing of his This Is Your Day television broadcast.

Hinn told viewers, “That incredible anointing that hit at one point in that service is something that I’ll never forget as long as I live.” And then divulged, “Listen saints, what we’re about to show you we rarely ever show on any program. The fire of God hit and the Lord kept saying to me, ‘Say, Fire! Speak the word, Fire!’ And as I did you’re about to see the results. You may never be the same again after this.” Thus, under God’s direction, Hinn becomes one of the very few who is permitted to yell “Fire!” in a crowded building.

Hinn told the crusade audience that, “We’re about to receive a revelation of Him for I believe the Body of Christ is ready now for a fresh manifestation of Christ.” These comments assault the Word of God and its sufficiency as revelation of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, these statements also gain a greater allegiance to Hinn by his followers as he sets himself up as the conduit of this “fresh manifestation.” But Hinn’s campaign was not finished:

“There’s coming a time in our lives as believers when we’re going to have a fresh revelation of who He is. And we’re going to come into a new walk with Him. Remember, He declared we would be baptized with fire. Fire. ... Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to know, the day will come when the fire of God’s presence will visibly appear in public meetings. You may have never heard that before — it’s biblical. ... We’ve known the baptism of the Holy Ghost, but we have not yet known the fire. And I’m here to tell you in Southern California, God is about to visit you and the whole Church with fresh fire.”

The Church, according to Hinn, is lacking and deficient because of the absence of this “fire” anointing. He explains: “The reason the Church has not known fullness of liberty, the reason the Church has had partial liberty, is because we have not known the fullness of fire. The anointing as fire is coming to your life.” Hinn tells us that this new “fire” anointing will burn away bondage and sin.

This declaration immediately begs two very elementary questions. First, what has happened to the blood of Jesus Christ that we now need “fire” to burn away sin? (1 Peter 1:18-19). And secondly, more specifically for Hinn and his enthusiasts, is his 1993 volume, The Blood, now null and void? In this work Hinn claims “The Holy Spirit showed me how powerful God’s blood covenant is.” Hinn said in the book that the blood “would lead you to a greater freedom,” give “God’s protection for your household,” and offers “freedom from feelings of guilt over past sin.” Evidently, the Holy Spirit is now showing him something different.

The bottom line is that for Hinn and his followers, it’s never enough. There always has to be something fresh, something never heard before, something more powerful, something the next guy does not have. And as such, tragically, there’s a distorting and discounting of the true power of the Holy Spirit through a steady and progressive means of biblical sanctification in a believer’s life. It all becomes very sad to realize how the likes of Hinn steadily infect and erode the Church and distort the blessed anointing which is promised and which we already possess (1 John 2:20).

Hinn and his devotees are simply not, as New Testament professor Thomas R. Edgar astutely cautions, “satisfied by the promise of the Spirit.” (Edgar’s work by that title is a sane and biblical treatise of the subject and a breath of fresh air into a Church gone mad by the antics of Hinn and others.)

What transpired at Hinn’s meeting at Anaheim’s Arrowhead Pond Arena is beyond belief and description. It demonstrates a man out of control and further displays just how deceived his followers are as they drink in his “fire” anointing and go along with the “show.” Hinn exhibits mannerisms and voice inflections that would cause mortal fear and spiritual trepidation to most individuals. “Get my children up here! ... Get my wife up here!” he thunders in a deep and almost demonic voice. Like in Little Rock, bodies are strewn across the stage and in the choir section under the influence of his new anointing.

As Hinn runs back and forth across the stage, people are slain under the fire anointing as he yells, screams, physically seizes, and near head-butts his victims. Once on the platform, his wife, Suzanne, and daughters and son are also subjected to the same intense and forceful handling of a man gone wild. “Fire, I said! Fire, I said! Fire, I said!,” he roars to his wife as she succumbs to the floor for a second time. One by one, and most by name, Hinn calls people to the stage for targets of his powerful anointing. His family, his staff, his ministerial colleagues and their families, and his prominent friends all help to create a scene beyond belief and hard to describe.

The entire pathetic spectacle is classified by Hinn as the “power of God” and he further flaunts to his viewing audience and his crusade associates David Palmquist and singer Steve Brock:

“I don’t understand why sometimes the anointing comes that mighty and strong. All I know is it’s been absolutely incredible. It’s been incredible. I have never known the anointing, gentlemen, like I saw it that meeting, especially during that period in that service on Friday night when literally every part of my body was electrocuted with God’s [power].”

His associates agree. “The pure power of God,” Brock exults. It “just breaks the chains that bounds. It sets us free,” the singer further asserts. “I’ve never seen you like that before,” his associate pastor Palmquist maintains.

The whole episode (and really all of Hinn’s claimed anointings) is nothing more than a contemporary retelling of the 1837 parable “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen. The tragedy in all this is that it is no longer just a fairy tale.

If you recall, Andersen tells the story of an emperor who was well known for his desire for new clothes. So much so that, “he spent all his money in order to obtain them; his only ambition was to be always well dressed. ... He had a coat for every hour of the day.” His appetite for new garments gave great opportunity for the unscrupulous. One day, two swindlers came to the emperor’s city and bragged of their ability to weave for him the “finest cloth to be imagined.” The emperor gave them a large sum of money and set them to the task. The suit that was to be made would not only be exceptionally beautiful, but would be unseen by those unfit for their offices or the unpardonably stupid.

All the emperor’s money and the fine materials made their way, not into the new clothes, but into the knapsacks of the two perpetrators. “How well they look! How well they fit! ... What a beautiful pattern! What fine colours! That is a magnificent suit of clothes!” the swindlers boasted to the emperor. There were, in fact, no new magnificent garments at all and the emperor paraded naked under the pretense of being adorned with his new clothes. In town, everyone was frightened to admit that they saw nothing for fear of being thought unfit or stupid. They were unable to see anything, yet who were they to say? As the emperor marched unclothed, attendants behind him with outstretched hands pretended to carry the train of his new clothes. Everyone just went along with the show.

Finally, a little child revealed the “naked truth.” “But he has nothing on at all,” the child cried. The young boy’s declaration finally permeated the crowd until all agreed, “He has nothing on at all!” Yet the emperor thought to himself, “Now I must bear up to the end,” as he and his servants marched on with even greater dignity.

Unlike the Andersen parable, the misfortune with Hinn’s anointing is that his faithful flock refuses to admit the naked truth: There simply is no anointing. They continue persistent and passionate in their desire not to be thought stupid or unfit — or even worse, unspiritual!

The Charismatic decree, heard over and over again, no doubt reverberates in their thinking. They have been victimized into thinking that questioning his anointing is tantamount to touching God’s anointed, doing God’s prophets harm, or blaspheming the Holy Spirit. The employment of such verses of Scripture (1 Chronicles 12:22, Psalm 105:15, Matthew 12:31), used out of context, is equal to nothing less than spiritual terrorism.

Hinn is able to engage the power of the mind in his approach to the miraculous and his anointings. His onstage persona creates a highly charged level of suggestibility and with this he is able to initiate desired responses and activity from his faithful. Hinn sets himself up with a “Heads I win, tails you lose” environment. If one goes along with his anointing, telling of its wonders and falling to the ground (being “slain in the Spirit”) you confirm his claim that the power of God is being imparted through him (“Heads I win”). But if you do not succumb to his anointing and fail to go under, you are the one who is thought to be spiritually deficient with perhaps sin or Satan as the cause of your dormancy to his anointing (“Tails you lose”).

There are many small details recorded on the video which demonstrate the human element and theatrics in all of this. They are, for the most part, missed by the unobservant eye. One classic moment is when one of Hinn’s female victims, half-sitting, half-laying on the stage after being “slain” under the alleged power imparted by Hinn, misreads a cue. Hinn comes near her and dispenses the “fire” anointing and she immediately flops back down. However, Hinn was not imparting the “powerful” anointing at her, but towards his associate minister David Palmquist. “Fire on David, Fire!,” Hinn screams at Palmquist as he complies and also goes under the power.

Hinn’s wife, as well, leaves for the careful observer tell-tale signs. There are two instances where she takes time to adjust her clothing after she has been slain and knocked to the stage floor. This is hardly activity one would expect from someone truly impacted under the numbing power of Hinn’s Holy Ghost fire anointing. Another instance is by a woman, who before “falling” under the power, makes a quick glance behind herself to insure that a “catcher” is in position and ready to catch her and lay her gently to the floor as she swoons. This quick glance action should have well been taken by another of Hinn’s female players as the “catcher” missed his cue and allowed her to crash to the stage floor unrestrained. She is a clear example of how one has a better chance of being hurt, rather than healed, at a Hinn Miracle Crusade.

Yves Brault, author of Behind the Scenes - The True Face of the Faith Fake Healers, and himself a victim for several years of Hinn’s seductive and deceptive power, also recognized the faith healer’s orchestration. He told PFO:

“To understand the recent performance of Benny Hinn at the Arrowhead Pond Arena, we must signal the promise he had made on Sept. 9, on his daily program: ‘You mark my word. The next three crusades: Birmingham, Anaheim, and Orlando, we are gonna see unusual creative miracles. Notable miracles. God in those crusades will do what hasn’t happened in all the 24 years of ministry I’ve been in.’”

Brault urges that,

“Since there were no notable creative miracles, Benny had to ‘create’ an entertaining show of his own. What better way than the ‘slaying in the Spirit’ method. First he called the preachers on stage who naturally cooperated, then several staff members who know the drill well. His music director, Jim Cernero, standing at his pulpit leading the choir has his name loudly called as Benny throws the ‘fire anointing’ at him, indicating it’s his turn to go down. A subtle trick to warn one who is not facing the show. Cernero’s knees bend but he doesn’t fall, as there is no ‘catcher’ in the vicinity.”

Brault also made similar observations concerning the performance of Hinn’s family members:

“Then came the turn of Benny’s own children. ‘Get my children up here,’ he said. They seem so perturbed, as wishing they were somewhere else. His wife, Suzanne, is also called on stage like a slave. Benny, raging like he’s about to hit her, knocks her down screaming, ‘Fire, I said! Fire, I said! Fire, I said!’ Suzanne acquiesces and falls, but not without stretching her jacket down as she hits the ground. Conscious of her outfit, and fully aware of the scheme, she and other staff members participated in a performance that once again misled multitudes.”

Hinn’s “fire” anointing, and the claim of its supernatural superiority, will soon fade into the background. Yet tragically, through his many and varied exploits, his followers have lost as much spiritually as the United States has lost morally by way of the exploits of the leadership of this country.

What’s next for Hinn? Only time will tell. But, no doubt, tomorrow will bring a new and improved, more powerful, more important anointing to his following who fill auditoriums across the country and the world for his miracle crusades. Yet, it is more than time for the devotees of Hinn to stop and listen to the voice of reason: “He has no anointing; the emperor has no clothes.”


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For more information on the doctrine and practice of this controversial faith healer, see:
The Confusing World of Benny Hinn