“The Faces of Miracles is an eBook written by Bill Dembski and Alex Thomas. Here is a second instalment, featuring outrageous evangelist Benny Hinn:
Tim Morgan, senior editor for Christianity Today, admits that Hinn’s style, accountability, and theology have their critics but adds, “At the same time, he’s very much a hero in the charismatic Pentecostal movement. It’s easy to say that he’s a polarizing figure. People react positively or negatively, but they can’t ignore the fact that Benny Hinn is coming to town… You have to give Benny Hinn credit for persistence. He has found a Christian community that just thinks he has the hand of God on him and his ministry. All the criticism just bounces off, almost like Teflon. It has no impact.” …
Heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield believes Hinn cured him of the irregular heartbeat that for a time ended his professional career. In his autobiography, Holyfield describes a warm feeling going through his chest when Hinn touched him and that afterward his heart was healed. Even if the documentation in the Holyfield case is less than airtight, it at least suggests that something miraculous may have been happening here through Hinn’s ministry. It may not be a slam-dunk, but at least it’s promising.
Far more common, unfortunately, is the experience of William Vandenkolk, who as a nine-year-old boy was “healed” of blindness at a Benny Hinn crusade. Two years later he watched a video of the moment through thick glasses. A visitor described the scene: “On the screen Hinn bends down to William, his hands on the child’s face. ‘Look at these tears,’ says Hinn, peering into the child’s eyes. ‘William, baby, can you see me?’ Before more than 15,000 people in a Las Vegas arena, William nods. In a small voice, the boy says, ‘As soon as God healed me, I could see better.’ Hinn, an arm wrapped around William, tells the audience that God has told him to pay the child’s medical expenses and education. People weep. Today William is still legally blind and says his sight never improved, and that his onstage comments were wishful thinking.” …
Brian Darby, who works with the severely handicapped, “has witnessed firsthand the disappointment left in the wake of a Hinn Miracle Crusade.” Many of his clients have attended them, “where they were swept up in a wave of excitement, thinking they were about to walk for the first time or have their limbs straightened. ‘You can’t minimize the impact of not being healed on the person, the family, the extended family. They have a sense of euphoria at the crusade and then crash down.’” …
Hanegraaff believes Hinn has “dragged Christ’s name through the mud” with his outrageous claim that Adam could fly and that he flew into outer space. Hanegraaff quotes Hinn telling viewers of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, “You’re going to have people raised from the dead watching… I see rows of caskets lined up in front of this TV set … and I see actual loved ones picking up the hands of the dead and letting them touch the screen and people are getting raised.”Bill Dembski, “Chapter 2: Benny Hinn and the face of high-octane faith healers” at Freedom, Technology, Education
One wonders whether scam vs. no-scam is even the right question in many cases. Perhaps what we should be asking is, how much of what is happening can be accounted for by the well-documented—and quite real— placebo effect?
That is, people actually start to get better because they believe they will. It is a striking example of the reality and power of the mind. That is probably why it is underestimated, of course. But it confounds research into new medications because people experience measurable relief of symptoms when they believe they are in the study group even if they are in the double blind control group. Just being enrolled in a research study helps some people.
At least some aspects of any healing crusade doubtless work the same way. And then the question is how to separate supernatural effects from remarkable but largely ignored natural ones.
Meanwhile, there is Benny Hinn.
See also: Bill Dembski: Technology and religion in the face of miracles
Yes, the placebo effect is real, not a trick But the fact that the mind acts on the body troubles materialists. Such facts, they say, require revision.
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