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Benny Hinn's miracles?

By Courtenay Bartholomew

"A neck injury has been healed. The Lord is touching many of you in this very audience right here. Someone with a shoulder problem has just been healed. Someone's right leg also has been healed. That's right. The swelling is going down. Someone has just been burnt also and God is removing the great scars on his body. Another lung disease is being healed. Someone on this side over here has a brain tumour. It is now gone. Two people with stomach ulcers have just been healed. The Holy Spirit is moving mightily here tonight."

Is this so-called professor of medicine expected to be forever silent about these medical cures? Now, Benny Hinn was born in Jaffa, Israel in 1952. He was raised within the Eastern Orthodox tradition but was converted from Greek Orthodox to Pentecostalism when a teenager in Toronto. He is the numero uno when it comes to "miraculous" healings. He frequently places his fingers on people's necks or foreheads whereupon they immediately faint. "Somebody pick him up, will you?" he says somewhat disdainfully and with great flamboyancy and extrovertish showmanship. In fact, it has been quipped that he performs more "miracles" in one month than Jesus of Nazareth did in three years of his public ministry!

He claims to have given blind eyes sight, opened the ears of the deaf, and also to have healed at least four people with AIDS. However, according to several articles in the world media, not a single case has been substantiated. In Ghana, where he also claimed that a man was raised from the dead, upon closer inquiry it was proven that it never happened at all.

It is also recorded that in a November 2006 CBC television show, with the aid of hidden cameras, the crew observed the way in which his staff chooses crusade audience members to come on stage for televised healing. According to them, the seriously disabled who attend his healing crusades are interviewed and then weeded out from ever getting the chance to come on stage. Instead, only those who have minor injuries are brought up.

I do also remember some years ago when Mr. Hinn was on Larry King Live and when Larry suggested to him that many of his "cures" may be in those with psychosomatic complaints, he replied with a sheepish smile: "Well, even if so, the healings are still justified" (or something very similar to that).

Now, the Austrian Franz Mesmer (1734 –1815), who most people call "the Father of Hypnosis" and from whose surname the word "mesmerism" is derived, also claimed miraculous cures (but never used God's name in his stage shows). In fact, he was the cause of the appointment of a commission of inquiry by King Louis XVI of France, which concluded that Mesmer was a fraud and he was eventually forced to leave Paris for Switzerland where he died in 1815.

Many investigators are also convinced that Hinn is simply a very good hypnotist and is practicing a modern "faith" version of mesmerism. Among the critics are some practicing hypnotists. As someone said: "I guess it takes one to know one." In fact, it is actually in print that Hinn once said: "I use hypnosis techniques for people to feel better at my crusades."

But I have had first-hand personal experience of stage hypnotists. When I was in Dublin, I attended one of the hypnotist shows of Paul Goldin in the Olympia Theatre in 1962. He is described as the original stage hypnotist and became world-renowned for his amusing stage shows. It was there that I saw for the first time someone on stage who would just wave his hands and the whole front row would immediately fall asleep. He would then ask for volunteers to come on stage and would regress them into early infancy, seeking hungrily for their mothers' nipples to be breast-fed, all to the great amusement of the large audience.

How does one become a great hypnotist? As my four-year old grandchild recently wrote in kindergarten school in an essay about frogs jumping from chimney to chimney (which he had seen in a TV cartoon) and which he titled The Crase Frog, re the jumping mechanism, he wrote: "I don't no how. Don't arsc me, go arsc your farther because I don't know."

How well do I also remember many years ago when there was a so-called "miracle crusade" here in the Queen's Park Savannah at which thousands attended. At the end of the show, the American pastor (I truly cannot remember his name, thank God) performed the great miracle of the night. There on stage was a young boy, who it was said had been a deaf-mute from birth. The pastor then laid his hands upon him and all of a sudden he was able to speak. The evidence! He uttered two or three "grunts." And the crowd burst into spontaneous applause! As Konrad Adenauer once said: "God put a limit to our intelligence, but none whatsoever to our foolishness."

But televangelists from the United States are not the only miracle workers. There are also several in Trinidad and Tobago. "Do you want a miracle? Receive your miracle." And so, as long as there are uneducated and gullible people in the world, the "miracle crusades" will also last until the (male) cows come home.

I end by wishing to be informed of any miraculous healings which have taken place here in T&T by Mr Hinn or any other local guru, that is, if there are any such cases which can face the challenge of scientific scrutiny. But, please, only through the personal physicians of the "healed".

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