My church recently kicked off a new season of small groups, little Bible studies that meet in people's homes, and I decided to visit one this week.
Any time a new group of people get together, there's always some awkward and uncomfortable moments. The group leaders were trying to fill those gaps with conversation and attempting to get to know the people who were there. One of the couples mentioned that they were going to a Benny Hinn crusade.
Now granted, Benny Hinn isn't a traditional Pentecostal. He gets criticized by many on the Pentecostal fringe for being too ecumenical, although even then people tend to be careful of what they say because of the "don't touch the Lord's anointed" clause. There's plenty of scare-lore out there about what happens to bad little boys and girls who laugh at the eccentric evangelist. He also gets criticized by those on the other side of the spectrum for being too "fringe."
I guess it just surprised me that someone in this church would find Benny Hinn pallatable, let alone appealing.
It was also strange because it wasn't like the conversations I had in the past with more "fringe" Pentecostal friends. When they talk about going some distance to see a famous minister, it's full of expectation for getting their breakthrough or receiving a healing or "getting a word" from God. There's a spiritual purpose in making the trip, not to mention a significant emotional investment. For them, it isn't like going to six flags or a football game. It's a pilgrimage. Their faith might be misplaced, but it is nothing if not sincere.
So this raises a couple of questions for me.
First, how can someone sit in the same church as I do, hear the same sermons that I hear, and still want to go to a Benny Hinn meeting? Second, why would someone want to go to a Benny Hinn meeting purely for the entertainment value?
I have no answers...