I'm going to comment on the Michael Brown/Benny Hinn imbroglio. I'll start with a personal anecdote. Years ago I was talking to a Messianic Jewess. She said the reason so many Messianic Jews were ordained in the Four Square denomination is that, back then, Messianic Judaism was still so exotic that most Protestant denominations didn't know what to do with a Jewish convert to Christianity. Four Square was one of the few denominations that would ordain them.
I don't know how representative that is, but it may explain how someone of Brown's vintage got into charismatic circles to begin with.
Thanks, friends, for sharing your thoughts and concerns re: my appearing on the Benny Hinn show. While I’m quite aware that some of you feel he is the ultimate false teacher and charlatan while others believe him to be a wonderful man of God, I have actually not monitored his ministry over the years. When I received the invitation to appear on the show, I felt I was to take it and exalt Jesus the Messiah and expose hyper-grace (and exalt true grace) to millions of viewers. And since Pastor Hinn seems very desirous of further interaction with me, I would encourage those of you who have grave concerns about his ministry to pray that God would use me to be a blessing in his life.”)
We've traveled in different circles over the years. Simple. And I don't watch Christian TV.
Several issues here:
i) There's a cart-before-the-horse quality to this rationale. He admits that he was already aware of Hinn's notoriety. If he doesn't have an informed opinion about Hinn, would it not be more prudent for him to investigate Hinn before accepting the invitation?
ii) He accused the Strange Fire conference of overgeneralizing about the charismatic movement. He countered with an appeal to his extensive personal knowledge of the charismatic movement. If, however, he can't render an informed judgment about Benny Hinn, because they move in different circles, then he's not as qualified to speak for the charismatic movement. He doesn't know how representative Hinn may be.
iii) It seems odd that he wouldn't have an informed opinion about Hinn. Even if he hasn't taken time to read or listen to Hinn, given that Brown is a well-connected player in the charismatic movement, you'd expect him to have a certain amount of inside information based on back-channel conversations he'd had over the years with so many contacts and informants. Presumably, a man in his position doesn't need to read exposes by critics outside the movement, for he has his own sources.
iv) Assuming that he belatedly confronted Hinn, is Hinn receptive to constructive criticism? Or is Hinn the kind of guy who will issue throwaway retractions under pressure, then revert to business as usual once the pressure is off? Temporarily recant, then resume his old tricks after the posse leaves town?
Let’s just say that Benny Hinn was as bad as some of you say. Why shouldn’t I reach his audience with gospel truth for five days, even if it means some people will be upset with me?
That's a legitimate consideration. There are tradeoffs.
i) On the upside, this would afford him an opportunity to give Hinn's audience a theological education. Something better than the usual fare they are addicted to. That's a plus.
ii) On the downside, heresy typically consists of half-truths rather than pure falsehoods. Hinn's audience could accept all the good teaching that Brown serves up, but simply add that to Hinn's buffet. If the menu has nutritious food as well as toxic food, it's just as hazardous.
Unless Brown explicitly contrasts his teaching to Hinn's, Hinn's audience will take the bad with the good. They need to be alerted to the poisonous dishes at the buffet.
Finally, I've read the Pavlovian reaction on the part of critics who were gunning for Brown before this particular controversy erupted. They claim this just goes to show what the Strange Fire conference was saying all along.
Ironically, that's like opportunistic gun-control fanatics who, every time a sniper shoots somebody, exclaim: "We told you so! That just proves the need ban guns." Of course, those who support the right to bear arms don't think these incidents prove the need to ban guns. That's a reactionary, unstable response rather than a reasoned position.
Brown's lapse of judgment regarding Benny Hinn no more disproves charismatic theology than Richard Land's lapse of judgment regarding Ergun Caner disproves Baptist theology. Unfortunately, some folks convert from undiscerning charismatics to undiscerning cessationists. They are no wiser after the fact than before the fact. Just a weathercock, blowing in the wind.