Spinning is Not an Option: Dr. Michael Brown & Benny Hinn

On Wednesday, I posted an interview with Dr. Michael Brown on his new book, Authentic Fire, a response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire.

As most of you know, in November, I wrote a 70-page critique of Strange Fire called Pouring Water on Strange Fire.

Strange Fire: A Response

One of the reasons why fundamentalist Christianity is dying in our time is because of the irrational and highly self-righteous and judgmental attitudes that many fundamentalist Christians express toward their fellow brethren, some of whom they don’t even know.

On the contrary, Michael Brown’s book is written with grace and respect.

Unfortunately, a few people who haven’t read Brown’s book (or mine for that matter) wrote tweets today that were less than gracious.

Some were based on faulty logic.

To give you some examples, one person said that he read MacArthur’s book and found it “irrefutable” . . . but he never cared to take the time to read Brown’s book or even obtain it. And he didn’t even know I wrote a response which refuted MacArthur’s arguments.

Intellectual honesty dictates that you cannot claim that something is irrefutable if you haven’t read the rebuttals.

Several others were glibly pointing to some tweet that Brown put out recently saying that he was interviewed on Benny Hinn’s show.

One person took this to mean that Brown’s book (which they never read, mind you) has been defeated.


Another said in a tweet that because Hinn endorsed Brown, this means that Brown is not credible.

I kid you not.

That’s what people are saying and arguing.

Such responses makes Brown’s case all the more strong, since the logic here is so weak it’s almost incomprehensible.

A few points:

1. Brown hasn’t yet responded to the Benny Hinn accusations (guilt by interview association), but he tells me that he will respond in an article. So stay tuned for that.

2. This is simple math and logic, but if person B endorses person A, that doesn’t mean that person A endorses person B. I know people who endorse John MacArthur and Billy Graham who live like hellions. Neither MacArthur nor Graham would endorse them. Keep in mind that Charles Manson endorsed and was inspired by the Beatles. So what. It didn’t work the other way around. To say it does stretches the bounds of credulity until they break.

3. I know several people who were on Benny Hinn’s show that have nothing in common with him. And they certainly don’t endorse his ministry. But being on his program is like being on CNN or Fox News. It’s a MASSIVE audience to speak to.

Were you aware that John MacArthur was interviewed by Larry King on CNN? Does this mean that MacArthur endorses King’s lifestyle and religious views? Does this mean that MacArthur endorses homosexuality since many on the CNN staff are homosexuals and/or defend same-sex marriage?

Hmmm . . .

An interesting response to my point above is that “Larry King” isn’t a Bible teacher.

Does that really matter with respect to this conversation? The argument from Brown’s detractors is that because Brown was interviewed by Hinn, ergo, Brown *endorses” Hinn’s views and life style.

Therefore, because MacArthur was interviewed by King, ergo, MacArthur *endorses” King’s views and lifestyle.

If one is going to argue the first, the second is irrefutable.

But more striking, John MacArthur himself was interviewed on TBN . . . the network he sorely criticized in his book. The network that carries Benny Hinn.

If you want proof, click here.

It’s really IRRELEVANT who interviewed MacArthur on TBN, because MacArthur CONDEMNS TBN out of hand. So trying to split hairs on this inconsistency and make excuses for MacArthur will not fly.

Using the identical logic that’s being leveled at Brown, one can argue with equal vigor that MacArthur endorses homosexuality, same-sex marriage, AND approves of everything that TBN has done and promoted.

Note that I’m not criticizing MacArthur for going on TBN. I’m simply pointing out the double-standard here and demonstrating that MacArthur has essentially done the same thing that Brown did by going on a program he may not agree with to reach the audience. Brown did the same thing with Hinn.

I look forward to hearing Brown’s response. And it should be coming very soon. (Once it does, I will post it here.)

If anything, this whole controversy about Brown appearing on TBN with Hinn makes his critics appear as though they are grabbing at straws to try to silence and discredit him.

But more, all of this has nothing to do with the arguments in Brown’s book.

Thus this line of reasoning is not only a non sequitur, but it’s an exercise in hand waving — what magicians use to distract from the real issue.

If you are so confident that MacArthur is correct, then have the intellectual integrity to read Brown’s book and see if you can refute it.

Oh, and when it comes to the Internet, don’t believe everything you hear or read.





  1. Amy says

    Thanks for pointing out the inconsistency here. I don’t understand why some people try to associate people through interviews. It’s crazy. I think you made it pretty water tight. Being interviewed doesn’t mean an endorsement. That’s really the point here. The examples make it plain. I think if people asked a question about Brown’s relationship with Hinn, that would have been fine, but to accuse him and draw lines that aren’t there, that’s not fitting for believers to do.

  2. steve says

    “One of the reasons why fundamentalist Christianity is dying in our time is because of the irrational and highly self-righteous and judgmental attitudes that many fundamentalist Christians express toward their fellow brethren, some of whom they don’t even know.” And this would be a gracious attitude toward John MacArthur?? Smells of hypocricy. Coming from a man who hates the church and wrote a book that has caused at least 2 people I know to leave the church and embrace Universalism.

    The responses toward MacArthur are far more hostile than any comment he made about false teachers. Benny Hinn is a false teacher. Michael Brown support Benny Hinn. I don’t hear Frank Viola rebuking Michael? Did he?

    • says

      What’s your last name Steve?

      First, I wasn’t talking about MacArthur in that sentence. If you read my critique, you would know that I respect MacArthur and agree with him on many things.

      I was talking about *some* of the people who are accusing people like Brown and others who are *defending* those who are being unjustly and personally attacked and lied about because they simply raised questions about MacArthur’s attacks on the charismatics.

      Second, what on earth are you talking about when you make the accusation of “hating the church” and “embracing universalism.” **You’ve just made my point***. This is a perfect example of the sort of things I’m referring to. 1) if you’ve read my work, I’m known as a man who loves the ekklesia, promotes her, and has laid my life down for her (see “From Eternity to Here” and “Reimagining Church” which demonstrate this), and 2) I’m not a universalist. In fact, I’ve publicly critiqued it.

      So an apology is in order here as you have borne false witness.

      Third, the only thing I’ve read in critique of MacArthur’s book is what I myself have written, which has been commended by many who agree with MacArthur’s viewpoints as being friendly, respectful, and amicable toward him, Sam Storm’s response to him which has been in the same spirit, and Michael Brown’s book, which is also friendly toward MacArthur.

      If I see someone personally attacking MacArthur on this blog, or anyone else, I’d correct them.

      If you read this post, Brown doesn’t “support” MacArthur because he was interviewed by him anymore than MacArthur “supports” TBN and Larry King because he was interviewed by both. Seems you have missed my point there.

    • Tom says

      Steve, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You obviously don’t read Frank’s blog.

      Frank is no more a person who hates the church and embraces universalism than MacArthur is emergent and believes that homosexuality is okay.

      You need to repent of your ignorance and unfounded accusations, man. If you’re going to respond, be honest about it.

      • Jeff says

        Tom, he’s probably talking about Pagan Christianity by George Barna, which was written out of love for the Church. That book changed my wife and I’s lives. We are now part of a New Testament biblical church and we love Jesus more than ever. I doubt he read the whole series.

        I know several people who read some of MacArthur’s books and they are now atheists. I can’t blame that on MacArthur, or maybe I should if I use Steve’s silly logic.

        Why are some Christians so full of anger and hate?

  3. Steve C says

    I agree with Steve. The possibilities for a positive outcome here are endless. Since we are not God, we see the situation “dimly” at best, and we are quick to migrate to the perception that emphasizes the negative side of what has happened and what will happen.

    For me, I think there are better questions than whether Brown should have met with Hinn. For example, I wonder what Jesus is doing here? How does He see the Hinn/Brown interaction? What does He want for each of them, and for me as I watch the situation unfold? Is this perhaps about my addiction to the “right vs wrong” or “good vs bad” and my tendency to resurrect the Old Man mindset that is the antithesis of New Covenant freedom?

    When I ask these kinds of questions first, and leave the issues of “rightness” for later (or maybe leave them out entirely) every situation in my life becomes rich in possibilities for growth in my Kingdom experience. It’s all good, and it all works together for good. Why am I surprised? He says that is the way things are supposed to work.

  4. says

    I gave up on MacArthur long ago after some friends of mine started treating him as though he were the Word of God himself. They became judgmental, critical and arbiters of Christian purity. MacArthur has made his career of judging and criticizing his brothers an sisters and dragged a lot of people into that cesspool with him.

      • Ryan says

        I probably shouldn’t have been so sarcastic myself in reply, so Dan, I apologize and do understand your frustration but your comment does illustrate something about the “why does everyone have to be so negative?” point of view that is a problem. It is no less negative than what it decries. It is scolding, it assumes better faith on my part than the other guy’s and it gives me a smugness that lets me dismiss other people rather than weighing whatever facts they have to offer.

    • says

      Dan, while I would agree with Ryan’s critique about the reactionary inconsistency, I do sympathize with your point. There is a time and place to call out error, but the method matters. Calling out falsehood in a condescending manner tends to close the ear of those who need correction. I love MacArthur, and while I definitely don’t agree with everything he promotes, I think he does need prayer to become more self aware of the larger body of Christ.

      • says

        I don’t have any problem with Johnny Mac “calling out error” as I’ve done it myself and so has Dr. Michael Brown. Just ask his enemies.

        That’s not the issue here. The issue is (1) is his calling out accurate in all cases in his book “Strange Fire,” and (2) with respect to this post, do the people who are trying to discredit Michael Brown *because* he was interviewed on Benny Hinn’s program have a valid point in light of the networks and the people whom MacArthur has agreed to be interviewed by?

        I’ve argued that this criticism doesn’t hold any weight.

        “Calling out” error has never been the issue. I’m not sure why some of MacArthur’s advocates are trying to make it so.

  5. says

    This thread is such an example of what Frank is talking about in the post. Just reading Ryan’s comments, you would think Dr. Brown and Benny Hinn were suddenly best buds. Yet another comment states it differently. Gotta go to the source for yourself. Always.

  6. Tom says

    Yikes Frank – I seriously hope you’re not equating the “ministry” of Hinn with those of MacArthur, Billy Graham, and Rick Warren (I confess that I don’t know much about Sweet).

    One doesn’t need to do much investigation to see that one of these things is not like the others…

    • says

      Wow! You’re REALLY missing my point. The comparison I made was to point out that much of the stuff that’s on the Web about ALL ministers who are making an impact is second or third hand gossip, slander, misrepresentations, and it shouldn’t be trusted. Again, PLEASE read: http://frankviola.org/2013/07/03/dontbelieveeverythingyouhear – I can’t make it any clearer than that.

      If someone wants to evaluate Hinn, MacArthur, Graham, Warren, Sweet, etc. they should do so by (1) listening to them IN CONTEXT firsthand over a long period of time (2) Read what they’ve written – all of it, not just soundbytes out of context, and (3) talking directly to them and meeting them if that’s possible.

      The issue I’m addressing goes beyond specific ministers. It has to do with the plague of gossip and slander today and how all believers should follow Matthew 7:12 when it comes to “investigating” ministries. “How would I want someone to investigate me before making judgments about me.”

      Back to the point of my post. The idea that because Brown was *interviewed by Hinn* that this somehow is damaging is bogus and nonsensical.

      If they were both holding a healing service together, well, that would be another story. They could be tied together, for better or for worse.


      • Tom says

        Frank – I understand, and appreciate your point regarding gossip. Thanks for the response.

        I’m just struggling with why any legitimate minister of the gospel would appear with Hinn in particular (except to distance himself from him).

        I benefit from what you write, however. Please keep it up!

        By His Grace

      • Linda says


        Thanks so much for giving the (1), (2), (3) above!! I so appreciate reading that advice and have been incorporating that into my life the best I can and encouraging other too also. So agree with you!

      • Ryan says

        “How would I want someone to investigate me before making judgments about me.”

        Whatever leads to them making a positive judgment of me.

        • says

          Really? You want people to have a positive judgment of you EVEN IF it was completely false? You’d really feel comfortable with that?

          Actually, most of us want to be treated fairly, not lied about or misrepresented. And if someone had a concern about us, we’d want them to go STRAIGHT to us as Jesus Himself taught. Further, if we were in error, we’d want to be corrected in love and grace.

          I think Jesus’ teaching on Matthew 7:12 is right on. I don’t disagree with it nor do I think it can be disputed or rationalized away.

          The problem is, few Christians treat others the same way they want to be treated and that’s the real meaning of sin. A step out of love is a step into sin, so argues John.

  7. Ryan says

    If Dr. Brown’s response had been “I know as all people do that Hinn is the worst of the worst charlatans associated with Christianity, but I want to get through to his audience on some important topics.” I would disagree, but that would be somewhat understandable (if naive). Dr. Brown’s actual response, in which he praised Hinn on his radio show and otherwise claimed not to know enough about *Benny Hinn* to make a determination as to his character, is what damages his credibility.

    • says

      You assume too much. You assume that Brown watches Hinn, knows his belief system, his personal life, and has read/heard his teachings and has first-hand knowledge of his practices and lifestyle. I can tell you this, I haven’t. And I don’t pay attention to what people say on the Web about various Christian personalities because much of it is false or laced with falsehoods.

      Brown has not responded yet. Wisdom dictates that we all wait on Brown’s actual response than to make assumptions and accusations. You don’t know what Brown’s response is because he’s not yet made it.

      Remember Matthew 7:12. This applies to leveling accusations against people’s characters that we’ve never spoken to and do not know.

      • Ryan says

        Dr. Brown did address the subject on his radio broadcast. He spoke highly of Benny Hinn at that time and said he hopes to build a friendly relationship. I hope that since then he has taken some time to get familiar with the 5 year public record this guy has put together (something he should have done anyway while researching his refutation of a conference/book that essentially tries to define Benny Hinn-ism as normative across the charismatic movement) and understand that he made a mistake. I sincerely admire Michael Brown but he has made a catastrophically unwise decision at a time and on a subject where wisdom was so necessary.

        On whose behalf are you wagging Matthew 7:12 at me? If Dr. Brown, I’ll say it’s only because I admire him that this troubles me, and if Benny Hinn…. please do 20 minutes of Googling. You could go for a week but 20 minutes should do it. I understand that you don’t like what you see as heresy hunters but if it helps just consider them a broken clock that’s right twice a day. Hinn’s record is overwhelming and goes well beyond theology into outright abuse of the sick, old and desperate. I’ll employ Matthew 7:12 on their behalf.

        • says

          Ryan: I’d be happy to build a “friendly relationship” with John MacArthur if he invited me on his program for an interview. You do realize there’s a ton of stuff on the Web damning MacArthur, right? And Billy Graham, and Rick Warren, and Leonard Sweet, and EVERY OTHER minister who is doing something significant for the Lord. The same was true with Wesley, Calvin, Luther, etc. before the Web existed.

          It’s foolish to believe stuff on the Web when it’s negative: Please, please read http://frankviola.org/2013/07/03/dontbelieveeverythingyouhear/

          I think some of MacArthur teaches is just as damaging as the stuff that Hinn is reported to espouse.

          For instance, his “Strange Fire” book was full of divisive and sectarian statements and it misrepresented people. Those aren’t things to wince at and ignore. You can read my critique if you want examples: http://frankviola.org/2013/11/03/strangefirecritique/

          So Matthew 7:12 IS in play here.

          I’m not so sure it was unwise for Brown to be interviewed by Hinn. Let’s see what his response is first. I wait that before I make any judgments. But my points in this post remain.

          But seriously, to try to argue that Brown endorses Hinn by being interviewed by him is ludicrous.

          I’ve been interviewed by countless Christian radio hosts who I disagree with and don’t endorse. And so have most ministers. It’s really a silly argument to make.

        • Steve Noel says

          Dr. Brown was much more balanced on his radio program than you are expressing it here. He simply stated what he knows about Benny based on limited personal experience. He also said he is listening to the critics and seeking to evaluate what they are saying, and if true, he will speak with Hinn about these concerns. He made it clear that he will seek first hand knowledge and not judge by hearsay. Here is something to consider: do you want Benny Hinn to change? Perhaps the Lord will use this friendship with Dr. Brown to bring about that change.

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