Christians gather around the world each Christmas to sing about “poor baby Jesus” asleep in the manger with no crib for his bed.
But the Rev. Creflo Dollar looks inside that manger, and he doesn’t see a poor baby at all.
He sees a baby born into wealth because the kings visiting him gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. He sees a messiah with so much money that he needed an accountant to track it. He sees a savior who wore clothes so expensive that the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled for them.
Dollar sees a rich Jesus.
“He was rich, he was whole, and I use those words interchangeably,” says Dollar, senior pastor of World Changers Church International, a 23,000-member College Park church, which broadcasts its services on six continents.
Dollar is part of a growing number of preachers who say that the traditional image of Jesus as a poor, itinerant preacher who “had no place to lay his head” is wrong.
“Did Jesus have money? Well, the Bible was clear. Kings brought him gold,” Dollar says. “Did Jesus have money? It’s clear. He had a treasurer to keep up with it.”
And I bet that treasurer was Jewish.
Besides the inherent sacrilege, the aptly named Dollar and his ilk have selfish reasons for preaching the so-called prosperity gospel. The more you give to God (through the church), the more God gives you, they claim. How else do you think Dollar got his Rolls-Royce?
I refer the good reverend to Matthew 21, verses 12 and 13:
“Jesus entered the Temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer but you are making it a den of robbers.’ “
Or maybe Jesus was simply a self-loathing millionaire.
“You’re giving people divine sanctification to be greedy,” says Sondra Ely Wheeler, an ethicist at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. “You tell them what they want to hear: The reason you have a Mercedes is because God loves you.”