The recent episode surrounding Sam Hinn’s confession of a four-year affair and his sudden restoration shows the pastoral necessities of some rite like penance. The brother of well-known televangelist Benny Hinn, Sam Hinn was the pastor of The Gathering Place in Sanford, FL (greater Orlando) when he issued a letter to his church of an indiscretion and resigned his position in January of this year. Since the church had no ties to any larger body, Hinn submitted to a process of restoration led by another Orlando pastor, Ron Johnson.
Evidently, Hinn did not want to complete the two-year process Ron Johnson laid out for him and he was recently “re-ordained” by a group of bishops, including another televangelist Bishop Mark Chironna. Johnson has now publicly denounced Sam Hinn in Charisma and the Orlando Sentinel for stopping the process after only three months.
While there are many issues that these events raise, such as accountability for non-denominational church leaders or the use of the media as a mechanism of church discipline, what interests me most is Johnson’s description of the process of restoration. It is simply the sacrament of penance or reconciliation by another name and it illustrates the need for some rite within evangelicalism. Read the rest of this entry »