At least there’s outrage among Catholics over the fabulous lives of many of their church leaders, including Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who lives in a 6,196-square-foot, $2.2 million Buckhead mansion. Most Protestants could care less.
In fact, it’s become commonplace for megachurch pastors to live among the affluent. Andy Stanley, who pastors to 30,000 metro Atlantans each week, lives in a “soaring, traditional, $1.1 million home surrounded by five acres of greenery in the horsey, new community of Milton,” according to a recent AJC profile.
God wants it that way, rationalize some preachers.
The wise men from the East made Jesus wealthy at his birth: The Rev. Creflo Dollar, senior pastor of World Changers Church International in College Park, says the Gospel of Matthew proves that Jesus was the recipient of wealth at his birth.
“In the book of Matthew in Chapter 2, the kings came to him, and they bought him gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
Jesus had so much money that he needed a treasurer: The New Testament describes Judas as the “treasurer” for Jesus’ disciples. “Why would a band of 12 men need a treasurer if they didn’t have some treasures, ” says Bishop Johnathan Alvarado of Total Grace Christian Center in Decatur. “You need a treasurer when you have surplus.”
Jesus wore expensive clothes: In the 19th chapter of John‘s Gospel, the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus are depicted gambling for his “seamless” undergarment. Alvarado says Jesus wore garments that were a “nobleman’s garments.” “If his clothes were a poor man’s clothes, why would centurions gamble for it?” Alvarado asks.
Jesus was an entrepreneur because he was a carpenter: Jesus had a well-paying job and could afford to build his own home.
The disciples didn’t think of themselves as poor, either: The disciples had lucrative careers and didn’t regard themselves as impoverished. “The disciples were absolutely not poor, ” Dollar says. “Peter had an overflowing boatload of fish that came in when Jesus called him. You’re looking at a doctor, a tax collector — you’re looking at guys who had jobs.”
According to Dollar, “People wouldn’t follow a poor man: Jesus couldn’t have attracted the crowds to follow him unless he had wealth. They would not have respected a poor man.”