A rich Jesus? Debate flares over his finances


Sometimes I think I’ve seen everything… then something like this comes along and resets my expectations in terms of just how far we can go to rationalize our wants versus God’s call to us…

Link: MiamiHerald.com | 11/11/2006 | A rich Jesus? Debate flares over his finances.

Christians gather around the world each Christmas to sing about ”poor baby Jesus” asleep in the manger with no crib for his bed.

But when the Rev. Creflo Dollar looks inside that manger, he doesn’t see a poor baby. 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 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 church in College Park, Ga., which broadcasts to six continents.

There’s much more along these lines at the link above. And Creflo isn’t the only person who’s making these sorts of claims about who Jesus was. Thankfully, the unanimous teaching of the Church’s traditions as well as numerous verses from Paul’s epistles make it pretty easy to refute these sorts of claims.

I find it more interesting though that people have managed to make consistent theology of it. It’s a sign of just how wrongly we can reason when we decide in advance what God is saying rather than intentionally placing ourselves in the presence of the living God and leaving our own preconceptions of God at the door.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. You’re right that the prosperity-gospel people seem to miss the point. But even so, it’s pretty clear from the Gospels that Jesus had plenty of rich and powerful friends. It’s not implausible at all to conjecture that he was well-off too.

  2. Caelius Spinator says

    I second D.C.’s motion. There is evidence scattered about in the Gospels that Jesus was not poor by the standards of his particular society. I was surprised to see a few days ago in a Daily Office Gospel that he had a house in Capernaum. But it’s entirely possible he was just using a friend’s house. However, preachers like Dollar twist these little Scriptural tidbits in the exact opposite way to the Evangelists. Jesus needed an accountant in order to make sure his rich and powerful friends’ donations went to those in need as quickly as possible, otherwise that same accountant wouldn’t have complained so loudly when Jesus accepted the expensive ointment.
    Joseph and the BVM apparently weren’t wealthy enough to be able to trade with the Gifts of the Magi. It would be like if you gave me a big box of diamonds, I would keep it very secret, because people would think I had stolen it otherwise.
    And, of course, the gambling Roman soldiers do not suggest one must wear expensive clothes to be Godly but that the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Jesus lived simply. Otherwise, the critiques you would hear in the Gospels would be quite different.

  3. The whole “prosperity gospel” is another example of what happens if people try to interpret the Bible outside of the framework laid out by the whole Church, as Caelius alludes to here by referring to the prooftexting methods of twisting “scriptural tidbits”.
    But I think Caelius, you are scratching at something important when you speak of the soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ clothing when you talk about this being a fulfillment of scripture. It is the vexing problem of trying to treat the story as if it’s a work of history, rather than oral traditions filtered through the lens of the early Christian community and then written down.
    Or you could say, the gospel accounts tell us us a lot about what the writers of Scripture thought about Jesus, and, yes, I agree, we need “big T” Tradition since the Bible is a product of the Church. Certainly this is better than picking up the Bible on Saturday night and coming up with your own idea for a new denomination. (Although that may be more fun than watching another episode of Lawrence Welk and his accordion music. In Creflo Dollar’s case, it’s certainly been more lucrative.)

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