The Case for Discernment
by Eric Francke
“False Christs shall arise…to deceive even the elect if it be possible” (Matthew 24:24)
When we hear these words of Jesus, we may envision the tragedies of David Koresh, Jim, Jones and others who convinced themselves that they were “Christ” and gathered to themselves small groups of followers. However, there is contemporary example that is far more insidious and have a much broader impact both worldwide, and in the church.
Right now, in a pattern that started 12 years ago, “Maitreya”, the New-Age guru/Ascended Master/Christ has been making mystical and miraculous appearances all over the world. In many cases, materializing, healing the sick, and then dematerializing after just a few minutes. He appears usually to small groups of religious persons, sometimes Christian, other times, Hindu, Moslem, or Buddhist. Although his message is thoroughly “New Age”, he has been mistaken by many Christians to be “Jesus”. For example, Maitreya’s first big appearance was in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday June 11th, 1988 following a Richard Bonnke crusade. Bonnke had promised that on Saturday his listeners would “experience the presence of Jesus and great miracles”. In an outdoor gathering on Saturday, a woman preacher named Mary Akatsa shouted that God had spoken to her and told her to "await a miracle because a very important guest would be coming to give her a very vital message." Five minutes later, Maitreya appeared amongst them, with mysterious scintillating lights flashing on him. The crowds, (there was reported to be about 6,000 present) starting shouting “Jesus! Jesus!”. He is said to have healed 20 cripples, cast a few demons out, and a number of people were, as a charismatic would describe were “slain in the spirit”. The whole event was chronicled by a reporter from the Kenya Times, and 6 pictures were taken. After a few minutes, he got into a car driven by a Mr Gurnam Singh, and was driven up the road a while. He requested that Mr. Singh stop the car, whereupon Maitreya got out and “vanished into thin air”. Mary Akatsa, and the thousands present, believe it was Jesus, and that is how it was presented in the papers the following day.
Most of us Christians would instantly discount such an appearance, and recognize that is was not Jesus Christ, would we not? After all, Jesus himself said that:
“if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!' or, `There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. "So if anyone tells you, `There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, `Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matt. 24:23-27)
We therefore know, according to the word of God, that any human billed as the “Christ” walking round today is a false Christ. The next time that Jesus is physically going to be on this planet is at His Second coming. Now, here is the part where it gets really scary….
Benny Hinn is currently one of the most well known and popular Christian icons in the world today. Only the Pope has more “drawing power” for crowds. This year (starting in the end of March, 2000), he started making a number of strange statements about the physical appearance of Christ on TBN with Paul Crouch. Following is part of the April 2nd broadcast of “Praise the Lord” with Crouch.
"Ladies and gentleman, Jesus is shaking the world! Now something else is happening that is to me awesome! Absolutely awesome! The Lord is physically appearing in the Muslim world. I'm telling you, Paul, I am hearing it now more and more and more. Since we preachers cannot go there, Jesus is - just going there Himself. Since we preachers are not permitted to go in, He is just showing up - Himself….. He's doing the same thing today in the Muslim world. He's appearing, hear this, He is appearing to Muslims”
We are not told where these physical appearances were. Hinn does not elaborate. However, if you have been following the miraculous appearances of Maitreya, you will find that he has been making several physical appearances in Muslim countries every year. Benny Hinn went on to make a bizarre prediction, one that I can only hope he now regrets. He said:
“I believe - here this, hear this! I believe, that Jesus, God's Son, is about to appear physically, in meetings and to believers around the world, to wake us up! He appeared after His resurrection and He is about to appear before His second coming! You know a prophetess sent me a word through my wife, right here, and she said 'Tell your husband that Jesus is go'n to physically appear in his meetings.' I am expecting to see, I am telling you that - I feel it's going to happen.”
He then goes out on a limb to predict exactly where the appearance will be:
“ I, I, I'm, I'm careful in how I am saying it now, because I know the people in Kenya are listening. I know deep in my soul, something supernatural is going to happen in Nai - in Nairobi Kenya. I feel that. I may very well come back, and you and Jan are coming, to - Paul and Jan are coming to Nairobi with me, but Paul, we may very well come back with footage of Jesus on the platform!”
Imagine that. In the same city where Maitreya, who could very well be the anti-Christ himself, made his first miraculous appearance, and was mistakenly identified as Jesus, Hinn predicts that Jesus will physically appear. The prophetess that Hinn referred to, we find out in other “This is Your Day” broadcasts, is the late Ruth Heflin, who claimed that gold dust and diamonds rain down on her congregation during services (Heflin passed away Sept 15th, 2000). Hinn repeats these claims several other times in his broadcasts. On May 2nd 2000, he said:
“And I know, that I know, that I know, we are about to see the greatest manifestations of God's presence ever! A prophetess named Ruth Heflin gave me a word recently and told me to get ready, to see, physical manifestations of Christ on the platforms in our crusades, that people will have visions of the Lord in the meetings. Those things have happened in the past, I know. In a Thialagua (actual name indiscernible) meeting one time in Africa, the Lord appeared to a - to the whole crowd! It is about to begin happening, I know it too! Expect it, to happen also, in your own home!"
Benny is referencing his opinion that Christ had appeared physically in Africa to a whole crowd. Could it be the appearance of Maitreya that he is referring to? No matter what event he is referencing, it is beyond question that the whole idea is anti-biblical, and at best, a foolish blunder on Hinn’s part. Jesus didn’t appear physically on the platform with him during the Nairobi Crusade. Consider, however, how tragic this bizarre story could have been. What if Maitreya returned to Nairobi at Hinn’s meeting? There are thousands of Kenyans who would have recognized him as “Jesus” as they did in 1988. Hinn would have found himself yielding the platform to a demonically-empowered false Christ and obliged to give homage to an agent of Satan. In effort to show that Heflin was right and his predictions were true, he would have to proclaim a “anti-christ-in-waiting” to be Jesus! Fortunately, Maitreya wasn’t interested in showing up.
This whole sordid affair highlights the lack of discernment in some quarters in the Church of Jesus Christ. To the best of my knowledge, no one has called Benny Hinn out for making such an unbiblical prediction. Paul and Jan Crouch, the most powerful Christian media moguls on the planet, saw no problems with what Hinn was saying. I don’t think Hinn has made any effort to clarify his statements about Christ currently appearing physically to disassociate himself with the false-Christ Maitreya. How it is that one of the most prominent Christians in the world, with millions who follow his daily broadcasts, can apparently confuse a would-be anti-Christ with Jesus Christ is beyond me. Perhaps the crux of the problem here has to do with our addiction to the fantastic, and our ambivalence to the clear parameters of the Word of God. Until as a whole, the Church starts scrutinizing the incessant flow of “God told me”s and puts them under the sure and steady yoke of the Bible, we will be doomed to be this type of tabloid theology, and the dangerous deception that inherently follows.
For First hand Information on the “Maitreya” (from a pro-Miatreya” site), including detail on the Nairobi appearance,
Links to the audio files of Hinn’s statements available upon request.