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Posted: 08/05/08

Televangelists Snicker All The Way To the Bank

By Marsha West


I detest the prosperity gospel.  Ever noticed how the "name-it-and-claim-it" preachers are lining their own pockets but those who support their ministries can barely make ends meet?  These smooth talking televangelists are adept at using psychological manipulation and peer pressure to persuade people to pull out their credit cards.  (More on this later.) 


Televangelists hold to Word-Faith beliefs that are both blasphemous and heretical.  Faith preachers say, "Demand what you want by faith and you will receive it!"  Moreover, they hold that Christ provided for physical healing at the cross.  So not only are Christians saved from sin, they are promised a healthy life!  You ask, "Is what they teach biblical?"  Nope.  Still, Faith teachers contend that their "enlightened" view of the Bible is the gospel truth.  Read some of the blogs and you will discover that many in the Body of Christ find the radical beliefs and practices of the false prophets in the Charismatic movement deeply disturbing.  Unfortunately much of their unscriptural teaching and ungodly behavior is posted on,, and shown on God TV. 


Jesus did not mince words with this warning:


"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves" (Mat. 7:15).


What I'm about to reveal illustrates the great lengths two false prophets have gone to to add to their own personal wealth. 


In a recent article "God Bless Your Credit Card" [1] Rapport news describes what occurred in Johannesburg during televangelist Benny Hinn's Miracle Crusade.   Around 18,000 people went to the Coca-Cola Dome in Randburg to hear Hinn's message of healing and miracles. What they heard was that God wants to make people rich. Pastor Todd Koontz, who accompanied Hinn, spoke about financial burdens.  He told the receptive crowd that 500 audience members would receive "an exceptional blessing."  He said the service would "yield millionaires and billionaires within 24 hours."  The "exceptional blessing" rested on everyone donating up to $1,000.  Here's the catch.  To motivate people to part with their money the blessing would be poured out for only two minutes.  That's right. Folks had only two minutes to receive God's "exceptional blessing."  Credit-card machines were at the ready to accommodate those who were convinced that the "anointing" was flowing through to them.


Pay God for a blessing?  Leave it to a sham artist to come up with something that preposterous. 


But what about all the disabled who had come to Hinn for healing?  Did Koontz really expect them to get to the stage in 2 minutes? 


Pastor Tommie Ferreira was not happy with the underhanded way in which Koontz, on Hinn's behalf, squeezed money from the gullible sheep. He saw a large number of people push their way to the front. "Poor people, rich people, people from all sections of our society." So naturally he got to wondering if any of the people who donated $1,000 or more had become millionaires, as Koontz promised.


Later that week Rapport News spoke to a money counter in Hinn's South African office in Durban who admitted that after a week they were still raking in money.  Which is not surprising at all considering that many people give to get -- and Koontz promised they'd get rich! 


Something else the money counter told Rapport:


"'Americans always talk in dollars. If some of the churchgoers believed that they would not be blessed, then they should not have given their money.'"


And besides…


"'The church-goers did not have to give $1,000. If they couldn't afford it, then they could've given less. And, some of them did."


Does this not make your blood boil? 


Ferreira assured Rapport that he wasn't attacking Hinn and Koontz.  "It just20really gets my goat when people make unfounded claims and then they're off with these people's money."


At last, some good news!  Someone at the event actually had the backbone to check up on Benny Hinn and put the facts out there!


If this kind of mind-manipulation weren't such a serious issue in the Church, it would be laughable.  But it makes you want to cry.  Even though people have been warned about televangelists they continue to contribute to their ministries!


Another televangelist who uses tactics similar to Benny Hinn's is John Avanzini. At his events a message is flashed across a large screen: INCREASE… INCREASE… INCREASE for the waiting audience to see.  Some televangelists induce the "sheeple" to increase a ministries bank account by using psychological manipulation to get what they want.


But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Crosstalk Radio Talk Show host Ingrid Schlueter drove to Harvest Church in Tinley Park, Illinois to investigate the Inspiring Faith Conference. Ingrid tells us what happened after Avanzini finally arrived on stage: (All quotes by Ingrid are from "John Avanzini and His Talking Stones" 2)


"After a rambling, free-ranging talk about the worsening economy and the price of gas, he told us that he would give us all two things to help us get through perilous times. The first was a list of 7 Bible promises, as he called them, that he had printed up on a card. The mixture of truth and error was very evident here.


"The list…gave the following "seven anchors for these perilous times". Note that the word prosperity as he uses it is referring to material wealth. Spiritual wealth was never mentioned that night.


1. God has already made plans for your prosperity. Jeremiah 29:11

2. Everything you will need and want has already been provided for you by your great God. 2 Peter 1:3

3. God has already given you his best so there is no need to worry about him denying you anything else. Romans 8:32

4. God wants you to live with limitless supply. Judges 18:10

5. Your wealthy place is always on the other side of the perilous times you are facing.

6. It gives God great pleasure to prosper you in good times…in bad all times. Psalms 35:27

7. In good times or in bad times, God is willing to make you rich. Proverbs 10:22


Ingrid describes how truth is mixed with error in the 7 Bible Promises:


"All of those Scripture verses given do talk about the prospering of God's people. The idea that this is always referring to physical wealth is patently absurd. Avanzini and all of his huckster compatriots only use Scripture as proof texts for their own ridiculous claims that God wants everyone wearing Brioni suits and Rolex watches."


Avanzini informs the crowd that to help them through "perilous times" he would give them a stone.  Ingrid describes what the stone represents:


"He went through several Bible references where stones 'talked' in the Old Testament. Here Avanzini introduces the stone idea. He strolled down the aisles, his ring winking in the lights, and held out a shiny stone for a woman to hold. Avanzini told the assembled crowd of about 650 people that these stones should be rubbed whenever people faced rising prices or higher prices at the pump. The ushers went down the aisles with buckets of shiny, smooth stones and handed them out."


As I mentioned above, Avanzini uses psychological tactics on Christians who come to hear him speak.  As soon as he had the Harvest Church audience in the palm of his hand, he conveyed his real message.  Incredibly, he takes Bible stories out of context and misapplies the intended meaning to get people to buy what he's selling.  For example, he used the story of Gideon found in the Old Testament book of Judges.  Ingrid tells how he skillfully twisted the story to suit his purpose: (My comments in brackets.)


"His [Gideon's] offering of a goat [to God] was such a sacrifice for someone who lived in a cave. He [Avanzini] described how the angel of the Lord IGNITED the offering on the rock. We, who were in possession of the lucky rubbing stones, would need to ignite ours. I'll give you a guess how that should be done…[I]t turns out, Avanzini had a whole new doctrinal revelation to tell us about: the doctrine of reverse entrapment. If you've never heard of that before, that's because God just showed it to him right there. Reverse entrapment is when you put a gift to Avanzoni [sic] on a credit card and outsmart the lenders who are trying to get rich off your debt. When you put a gift on a credit card, I quote, 'something happens in the spirit world.'  Here he tells everyone how to have a credit card breakthrough. Turns out Avanzini has a way for you to get rid of your mortgage debt. All you have to do is to give him a20gift the size of your house payment and God will see that your mortgage gets paid off right away. If you don't have a house, $500 will do nicely for future debt. Avanzini assured us that it worked for him.


"Perhaps the man sensed a few hostile vibes from the audience (from our row in particular) because he warned us not to let the devil keep us back from getting free from debt by putting a gift for his ministry on our credit card. The credit card 'invitation' began as the keyboardist began to noodle around with some mood music. Then Avanzini warned everyone again not to let the devil keep us away. The people streamed down to the stage area and wrote out their credit card numbers and house payment gifts and left them at the expensively shod feet of the speaker. While the people came down to the front to divest themselves of their money, Avanzini appropriately chose to tell an Al Capone joke. I doubt if one other person in the house recognized the irony.


"Avanzini then prayed an igniting prayer over the stones everyone was clutching. Presumably, we still have to ignite our own with a credit card gift, but maybe his igniting prayer was considered the first step. The entire thing was an unspeakable tragedy. These men target the poor in particular because they are the ones desperate enough to need a 'breakthrough.' That is the evil in all of this. The rich aren't stupid enough to give away their cash to the likes of Avanzini. It's the poor and the needy, the hurting and the ill who desperately need help who are vulnerable to these sharks."


Speaking of sharks.  Did you know that God wants popular televangelist Joel Osteen to be rich? repoted in "God Wants Me to Be Rich" [3] that in these troubled times "Reverend Feelgood" wants us to be rich, too. 


"Joel feels our pain and has made himself wealthy (reportedly earning $13 million for his last book advance alone) and his church prosperous ($75 million and counting in annual revenue) by urging us to let go of it, to turn it over to God, to accept God's favor so that we may be as prosperous as Joel."


So, if we accept God's favor He will prospers us financially?  Who knew?  There is no biblical precedent whatsoever for what Osteen preaches.  But that hasn't stopped the name-it-and-claim-it preachers from going all over the world preaching that God wants us to have a big house, drive expensive cars, even own yaughts and jet airplanes – and many of them do!




"Osteen is one of a new breed of televangelists -- Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and Creflo Dollar are also rising stars -- who are preaching a less sanctimonious, more inclusive message. His church is in that part of the economy that thrives in troubled times, that can count on full pews when wallets are empty and an ever more receptive audience if we do go into a full-on recession."


As noted above it would appear that Benny Hinn and John Avanzini are already making plans to see that they, or anyone close to them, won't suffer during a full-on recession.


Lately televangelists are receiving a huge amount of attention, even from the U.S. Senate.  Six prosperity ministries are under Senate Finance Committee investigation because of "possible misuse of donations."  The list includes Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long and Randy & Paula White.  All of them have become filthy rich because of supporter's generous donations.  For example, televangelist Kenneth Copeland's ministry (Eagle Mountain International Church of Newark Texas) owns a multi-million dollar Citation 10 and has a private airstrip capable of landing jets that cool their engines in a hangar.  Brother Copeland personally owns three other aircraft. According to t he TimesOnline, Copeland told his congregation, "The Lord spoke to me and said 'you're gonna believe for a Citation 10, right now.'" He promised them that the jet "will never ever be used as for anything other than what is becoming of you Lord Jesus."


TimesOnline revealed that Copeland's ministry "leases land for Mr. Copeland's cattle and horses and also leases land to the family so that it can operate oil and gas wells."  The ministry also owns a $6 million lakefront mansion.  And that's not the half of it.


Copeland did not cotton to the Senate's investigation into his finances:


"In a television interview last month, Mr. Copeland's son John hit back at allegations of financial impropriety:


'The jet is a tool. It is just a tool to use in ministry. Where in the Bible does it say you should have watchdogs and judgment groups that watch over ministries?'"


Where in the Bible does it say Christians should be rich?  My husband, a pilot, would relish owning Copeland's ministry "tool," as would most pilots. Christian pilots can "believe9 D for a Citation 10, but the chances of owning one is slim and none. 


Certainly the Apostle Paul's life would have gone a whole lot smoother had he been the CEO of a tent company, instead of a humble tentmaker.  As an itinerant preacher having money would have afforded him first class accommodations on luxury sailing vessels.  But God did not open up the vault in the Bank of Heaven for his beloved apostles.  To Paul he said, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Cor.12:9). This is authentic Christianity!


Please join me in "believing" that false prophets like Benny Hinn, John Avanzini, Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland will be exposed as frauds and go flat broke. 


"Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work." – 2 John 1: 9-11



[1] God Bless Your Credit Card, By Marthinus van Vuuren, Rapport,,2-7-1442_2360893,00.html


[2] John Avanzini and His Talking Stones – Ingrid Schlueter, Slice of Laodicea blog


[3] God Wants Me to Be Rich, By Karl Taro Greenfeld,


Additional Reading:

The Word-Faith Movement, By Gary Gilley


Copyright by Marsha West, 2008.  All rights reserved.



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By Marsha West

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Are You Serious?
Posted On: 08/21/08 03:07:03 PM Age 30, WA
Okay, where do I begin? It is good to see in writing the practical reason why the children of Israel marched around their blessing for 40 years, before their faith allowed them to enter into their land of increase. The better question is: Do any of you who seek to discredit the words of my beloved Savior, know God's will for His Children? God didn't just give us a story book when He inspired his Holy Word, that we know as the Bible. He established it for our prosperity: "I pray that you would prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers." Praise Him! It is God's will for us to prosper. The bible says, "I know the plans that I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Listen. We as believers have to be bold in our defense of the Word of God! Do not allow yourselves to be led astray by trying to break open intimacies given by our Father to His servants the prophets without the guidance of His Holy Spirit. We are called to be 'fruit inspectors'. If what we are being taught does not line up with the Word of God, then it is to be discarded. If it lines up with His Word, and follows the tone and pattern of His Holy Spirit, then we need to embrace it. It is for us from Him. Do NOT allow the DEVIL to block your blessings, because you don't like its packaging. You already know that your flesh wars against your spirit, and will do such until Jesus returns based on the Word! Therefore,don't allow him to be a divisive force within the body of Christ, as God delivers the keys of His wealth to you! It is a requirement by God for believers to be givers. It is His nature to give. The bible teaches us also, "Be not deceived, for whatever a man soweth, that he shall also reap." "Whoever sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." Instead of discrediting God's appointed messengers, ask God to bring a spotlight to your own heart, and ask Him to reveal what it is that is preventing you from moving into His abundance, and causing you to embrace the Devil's lack. It starts with you. We've got to learn to let go of 'Poverty Mentalities' and 'Oppressed Imaginations', and run to embrace God's principles. More importantly, we have got to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, that they would develop the mind of Christ. That they would enter into right relationship with Christ himself. Let's get it together People! Whose side are you on? One Love!

They are loved a worshiped!!!
Posted On: 08/10/08 12:01:38 PM Age 45, PA
When you see the love a devotion that people have for these false prophets, I can only think of the pictures of Hitler with his adoring followers. I don't think that demon possion means frothing at the mouth or swatting at imaginary flies, but the ability to draw people to yourself. If you are drawing people to yourself (anyone) you are drawing people away from Christ....missin accomplished!!!!

Posted On: 08/10/08 08:14:22 AM Age 48, MO
You miss the point. Jesus owned everything, Paul had a pedigree, but the thought it all as trash in comparrison to the riches of knowing Christ. Who today has that eternal perspective? John

Posted On: 08/10/08 08:11:33 AM Age 48, MO
Brother, I found your eternal perspective of the state of ones heart quite non judgemental and interesting, but was dismayed at dismissing their fruit. Jesus, John, and the 12 were all of one purpose, they spread the news of the Christ and to tell people to repent. They denied their natural lives and focused on the eternal. From this perspective, Copeland, Dollar, Osteen, etc, can't justify ANY of their preaching as being from the Lord. Jesus didn't come to save the world for a better life, He came to save us from the world into His life. John

Posted On: 08/09/08 11:28:59 PM Age 64, OH
You say these people are brothers and sisters. But you do not know that anymore than someone can know they are not. There are other possibilities; some could be deceived by Satan and completely lost, others could be insincere and be aware that they are fooling others just to get their money. But this I know; I have been led by the Holy Spirit not to listen to their preaching or follow them in any way. It is also my form opinion that they are NOT following the Holy Spirit at all. Lou

Posted On: 08/09/08 11:19:15 PM Age 64, OH
That Man I mention said this, "foxes have dens and birds have nest but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head". Jesus 1st of all did not own the donkey and 2nd the donkey was NOT like a Limo. Only the super rich or those trying to act super rich ride around in limos. The donkey was the transportation of the poor and the humble. Kings rode horses not donkeys. The super rich rode around in chariots with runners in front of them telling people to make way. Friend you are just not correct. Lou

Believe with you for WHAT?
Posted On: 08/07/08 01:54:51 PM Age 44, IL
I, too, am troubled by the tactics you describe above. I am less troubled by the wealth and possessions of other ministers. We have to be careful about immediately dismissing all of it as ill-gotten, because the line between wealth and poverty is an arbitrary one. Easy to point and say, "A 10 million dollar home and a luxury jet is too much." What about a million dollar home and a piper cub? Still too much? Okay, how about a $250,000 home and a Caddy? You see? A $100,000 home and a Chevy is absolutely extravagant to most of the world today. What kind of home do you live in, Marsha, and what do you get around in? A separate issue (and it must be seen as separate) is the doctrine preached by many of these men and women (some more correctly and less extremely than others). For the sake of argument, let's assume you are correct in you evaluation of it. Should I really join you in praying for exposure and personal bankruptcy? Or would it be closer to the heart of God to pray for repentance and restoration? No doubt there are real wolves among us, who know they are preaching falsehood yet continue to do it for the money it brings. Many more truly believe something that is wrong. There is a difference. To say that Copeland has gotten rich by duping the ignorant masses is imprecise, to say the least. For one thing, the vast majority of his contributors are very much aware of his wealth, the airplane, etc. For another thing, Copeland probably does believe everything he preaches, so while it might be wrong (I don't think it all is), it is not duplicitous, in which case correction is what we should pray for, not pesonal failure and public embarassment. I say all this convinced that most of the people you have targeted here, while deserving of scrutiny and in some cases censure, are nonetheless brothers and sisters, however misguided on this issue.

Posted On: 08/07/08 11:59:06 AM Age 48, MO
Exactly right. John

Donkey's were the cadillac's of that day
Posted On: 08/07/08 08:52:52 AM Age 34, IA
That man was not poor in wallet or in Spirit. Riding into town on a Donkey was like riding into town in a Limo today. Not that what these folks have done is right. Just that you are comparing apples to oranges.

Posted On: 08/06/08 11:10:45 AM Age 64, OH
There was a Man who did not even own a house or even a horse. He had to borrow a donkey colt to ride into Jerusalem. The only thing that Jesus owned was the robe on his back and the soldiers who crucified Him on the cross threw lots for it. Where was the mansion and airplane for Jesus, did Jesus have faith. This Jesus said this; 20Looking at his disciples, he said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23"Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. 24"But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. -- Are the words of Jesus true, I think so. Lou

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