Creflo Dollar's Prosperity Gospel finds followers and critics
June 10th, 2012
07:22 AM ET

Creflo Dollar's Prosperity Gospel finds followers and critics

By Melissa Gray, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - The arrest of Georgia megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar brought renewed attention to his message of the Prosperity Gospel, controversial to some and faith-fulfilling to its followers.

Dollar, who was arrested last week after allegedly assaulting his teenage daughter, is the founder and pastor of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta.

It claims about 30,000 members and has a multimillion-dollar sanctuary that resembles a golden-domed spaceship atop a hill.

Dollar said in a statement he would never harm his children and that the facts in the case would be handled privately.

Prosperity ministers preach that God rewards the faithful with wealth and spiritual gifts. Pastors such as T.D. Jakes, Dollar, and Joel Osteen have become the Prosperity Gospel's most well known preachers, building megachurches and business empires with a message equating piety with prosperity.

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While popular in the black church, it is not a solely black phenomenon, as seen in the ministry of Osteen, a best-selling author and megapastor at Lakewood Church in Houston. The church website says it is considered to be the largest church in America, with more than 38,000 attendees.

The Prosperity Gospel is a form of evangelical Christianity that largely grew out of the booming economy of postwar America, says Jonathan Walton, a professor of Christian Morals at Harvard and author of "Watch This! Televangelism and African American Religious Culture."

The theology's emphasis is on God's promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves. If God loves us, it teaches, then God will reward us with a new home, a good job, or good health, Walton says. God wants us to be prosperous.

Megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar on his daughter: 'She was not punched'

One of the problems that conservatives tend to have with prosperity theology is its focus on material prosperity, says Ben Phillips, a theology professor at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Houston.

"The Prosperity Gospel tends to mask the greatest need that any individual has, and that's to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ," Phillips says.

"The point is that God is the ultimate good," he continues. "Knowing Him, being in a relationship with Him ... in which He is God and we are His creatures, that is where joy is found."

Believers may argue, however, that material wealth is evidence of being in covenant with God, says Michael Long, a teacher of religious studies at Elizabethtown College and editor of the book, "I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters."

Those believers might say material goods are a side effect of believing in God and Christ, he says. "The focus is on getting right with God, but you know that when you get right with God, you're going to get something for it."

While the theology may attract more followers in a time of economic boom, the fact that it focuses so much on the individual and controlling one's own heart is a comfort in tough economic times as well, Long says.

Tom Brown, senior pastor of the Word of Life Church in El Paso, Texas, says wealth and prosperity are what God desires for us.

"Just as any parent enjoys watching their kids have fun, God delights in watching His children enjoy what money can buy," Brown writes on the website for his ministry. "I believe God is love and He desires the best life we can have."

Believers must then use their wealth to help others, Brown says - and that to have money for its own sake is pointless.

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Phillips says it's true that the Bible teaches Christians to care for the poor, sick and needy, "but the Bible also teaches that God uses and permits suffering in the lives of people for His own ends and purposes."

He points to the Book of James, which says we must value the trials in our life because they shape our character.

"Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation - since they will pass away like a wild flower," it says in James 1:9-10.

Critics may say prosperity followers are wrong, but believers say they are sincere, Walton says. The pastors may be pop culture celebrities, but it doesn't mean their congregations don't find fulfillment in the message.

The pastors' wealth, derided by some as evidence of hypocrisy, could also simply be seen as evidence of their faith, Walton says.

"The wealth is part of their authority," he says.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (598 Responses)
  1. Holey Roller

    NOW, can he please get off my t.v.? He's such a crook and they follow him like sheep to a slaughter.....brain drain.

    June 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  2. Barry G.

    Jesus said: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    There is no getting around that.

    Jesus also said: “Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort.”

    There’s no getting around that either.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • John 3:16

      absolutely agree with you Barry, stop twisting the words of Christ, world!

      June 16, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Senator

      Barry G. while you are quoting scriputers what are you going to do with;
      Deuteronomy 8:18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

      You can't just lift single scriptures out of context just to make your point.

      June 17, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  3. Jack

    All are welcome to visit thestarofkaduri.com

    June 15, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  4. Rev S.J. Barrington

    The prosperity gospel works for many. The problem is they are all prosperity preachers, rather than the faithful. Never has there been a better way to fleece the flock, than to entice poor people with the thought God will give them Cadilacs, big houses where the rich people live, and all the trappings of wealth, if the people just give all that they are able. Besides that, the preachers explain, your salvation depends on you giving to God. Lost is the thought that wealth has one purpose within the Christian gospel, that is to help others. The question of "Would Jesus wear a Rolex" hasn't a direct answer that I can find, but upon knowing that Eddie Long and Dollar both drive Rolls Royce cars and fly their own private jets, I wonder how many starving children could be saved with food aid in place of donating the money to get these preachers their Rolls.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Holey Roller


      June 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • John 3:16

      Amen Rev!

      June 16, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Dane Beasley

      Amen Rev.!

      June 16, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Senator

      Rev. please read Mathew 21. Jesus sent the diciples out to retrieve an ass never riden before for his entrance into Jerusalm on Palm Sunday. In those days only the very wealthy rodean unriden ass because they were the best money could buy in that day and time.

      June 17, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  5. jerry

    I have followed Creflo Dollar's ministry over the last several years and his affiliation with Ken Copeland, and I personally think he would not intentionally bring any harm to his children or the children of others.

    June 15, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      I think the law of the land gives these children this privilages to call emergencies regardless of parent' intention....

      June 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  6. joseph

    Judge a man by the totality of his body of work and good he has done for his community and the world, and don't magnify a mistake made in the process of trying to discipline what appears to be raging hormonal daughter. How often has the good his ministry has accomplished been advertised in the way this has been – which brings into question the motivation of this article to begin with.

    June 15, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  7. Best Fiverr Clone Script

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    June 14, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  8. Mohammed_Islam

    In response to - "Prosperity ministers preach that God rewards the faithful with wealth and spiritual gifts."

    Why do we have people who does not believe in God or believes that there are thousands of Gods/Goddess who are having huge wealth????????

    In this life you will have wealth or whatever you want whether with honesty or dishonesty and regardless of your faith or believe in God or not you will have it but hereafter will be different....

    I ask The Almighty to judge us with HIS mercy and not HIS justice, amin


    June 14, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  9. Papa kamara NY

    God have Not called us to work for Him... But to work with Him

    June 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  10. thesuperskeptic


    June 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  11. Kevin

    "God delights in watching His children enjoy what money can buy,"

    are you serious? are you serious? I'm stunned at the absurdity of this statement... not only could this never be found biblically, this is the most ludacris americanized statement at religion I've ever heard. The implications of this belief system are atrocious and not only is this not rational, it's conceited. Only in the West could anyone ever believe this nonsense.

    June 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • JackBeHumble

      Gamble at Caesar's that which is Caesar's.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Eric

      Couldn't agree more! Nowhere within the Bible can one discover supporting Scripture for prosperity through faith. Jesus did say that He came to give us life, abundant life. But that had nothing to do with becoming financially wealthy. These pastors need to reconnect with Jesus Christ and start donating their time, money, and efforts, to helping the poor and needy all around them. None of the apostles became part of the nouveau rich while spreading God's Word all over.

      June 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Senator

      Kevin' read the scriptures and know what you are talking about.
      Ecclesiastes 3:13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  12. Minister E.j.yancy

    The media is all about escalating issues when it comes to the church. I have a 15 year old daughter and you have no idea what parents go through with this age group. Dr. Dollar is a good father, a good husband and a Man of God. The gospel will still be preach by him and lives will continue to be transform. You can say whatever you want to say, he is av good father. He's black, he's rich and he's a preacher. The devil don't like that, so go on haters of the gospel but the word of God will continue to go forth. I pray and hope that this experience will change this little girl life and other teengers will see and be transform. Preach the WORD Rev. Dollar, this too shall pass away.

    June 14, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • sam stone

      He is a shyster appealing to the gullible.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • JWT

      That was almost funny, although pathetic at the same time.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • gtt1999

      We are not "hating on Rev. $$$" we are hating what he is preaching, which is NOT the Gospel of Christ.

      June 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • James

      If you would follow Christ and not man you would know your statements are shallow...go to a 3rd world country where clean water is more valuble than gold, and preach to them, give me your water and God will give you back 2 glasses of water...Christ came into the world poor, the angels came to the sheperds who were not wealhy, he was born in a barn, If God would have wanted him to be rich he would have had him born in a castle....And rich people would have adorned him...Satan has you where he wants you...He wants you to preach prosperity...That makes you worldly...We are told to be content with food and clothing....And if Jesus was here what do you think he would say about selling the Bible at Book Stores...Paul never sold his letters, nor did Luke or any of the diciples or apostles....Many will say in the last days, Lord I have cast out devils in your name and have done great miracles in your name...And Jesus says, "Get away from me you doers of iniquity, I never knew you"....The prosperity message is straight from Satan....The love message and being content with what we have is God's message....

      June 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Satan

      Maybe you'll be next, should change your name to "Minister E.cash.Yancy"

      June 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      Actually god's message is "love me or be tortured for eternity".

      June 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  13. Jack

    Hello everyone. Say if you have some time please visit my web site... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  14. Joe L

    Try to serve two masters, Messrs. Dollar, Osteen, and Jakes, and see where it gets you. Better a loving heart and a clean conscience than a pile of money and worldly acclaim.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • itsme

      dont forget, eternity in hell

      June 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  15. M.LaCombe

    Regarding C.Dollar's daughter: In this society men are taught NOT to put their hands on a woman, whether it is your mother, (people are given jail time for this offense). wife/girlfriend or daughter. When I read that C.Dollar had been arrested,I was very surprised. I thought to myself, "this is not the first time'. Police in his area know who he "is". Why hurt the fellow and I am sure they left feeling ok and this was an incident that was best left to the parents to resolve. This time he was arrested. This time it's different. Her sister, 19 years old, witnessed the physical fight. She told police that when her father had her sister on the floor, she ran and got her mother. Yes, the police arrested him. He put his hands on his own daughter and it was not for prayer. But, think about the situation, he is a very popular "Christian" preacher. Thousands depend on his position of spiritual authority; and the love of God and knowledge of His word. Every word in the bible is to celebrate Him and His Word to guide us.

    C.Dollar said that this "situation" would be handled privately. Is this before or after he posted on "Facebook" ??

    Someone replied that "C.Dollar deserves respect and deserves a medal of honor..."
    Not. I urge you All and I mean ALL OF YOU who believe the Bible to request a copy of a 43 page (available free from C.Dollar's ministry) booklet "Capturing the Reality of Heaven and Hell" (authored by C.Dollar) I was so looking forward to it, my sister has become a "Jehovah's Witness". I knew I could find ammunition for spiritual warfare !! And I did. I also ordered the 6 cd set on Heaven. Enjoyed it so much !
    The "free" booklet was published in 1993 and again in 2004. I was so blessed by it. And, then it happened....please read page 11... "Religion isn't much help either. Religious people go to a funeral, shrug their shouldlers and say, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Although that sounds very pious and spiritual, it is not biblical. It is foolish talk, designed to bring a sense of peace; however, it is only temporary (John 14:27).
    Well, is he calling God foolish ?? is he calling the Word of God a lie?? YES, he is. He is saying. "in your face, Lord ! This is my booklet and I know exactly how to intnerpret Your Word." See for yourselves. Then go to Job 1:21 – "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

    I have thrown away the cd set on heaven. I didn't feel I was God's editor.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • youmaynot have time

      The bible says spare the rod spoil the chil. Teenages will say and do almost anything to hurt a parent. Rev. Dollar seems to be a fair person. He is flesh and blood like all of us. The people inthee region does know him. If you knew him then you would know abut the law in his life, but you don't. He may have grabbed that 15 year old, but he didn't punch her. I had a 15 year old before and it is not easy. preacher or teacher, teenagers are something to contend with. his daughter should had obeyed her parents, now she will suffer just like the rev. Also, since the 19 year old think she had been able to go to the party, let them move in together and give her custody, then she will under.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The Bible does not say "spare the rod and spoil the child."

      June 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Ecclesiastes 7:17

      The concept of that phrase may have came from Proverbs 13:24 however.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The issue isn't just about 'where it comes from.' The issue is about what is meant by the rod. Those who use this quote often interpret 'the rod' as meaning physical punishment, and use it as an excuse to hit.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  16. mary

    VERY last comment! This sight is so remniscent of the old "My Space"; people insulting people and showing their ignorance. In a way reminds me of the presidential debates/arguments. When lost for anything grounded in intelligence they accuse and call people names to provoke more insults. Have fun showing just how the country has gotten into the shape it is.

    June 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  17. mary

    It's clear that the opinions of the prosperity message is not well received, but do they undersatnd it? Has any of these people studied the biblical principle? Easy answer...no. You had to study Darwin in school to find out what a bunch of crap that was, but in order to form an opinion you must educate yourself.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Christian

      Educate YOURSELF

      He beat his kid and is a hypocrite

      June 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • thesuperskeptic

      *Have not *Has

      June 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  18. Truth Today

    Raising teens is no joke. Pastor Dollar deserves respect and a break. His only mistake may have been to not warn her of the outcomes for ever calling 911 while being disciplined. Many parents will inform such bold teens that when the police arrive, they must go with them to heir new home wherever that my be. If we birth them, feed them, educate them, protect them, then we should discipline them. Pastor Dollar deserves a medal of honor. We need more parents to discipline their children.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • JWT


      June 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • sam stone

      Creflo deserves neither respect nor a break

      June 14, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  19. madonfan

    This is just another indicator that we should never consider seeking God by the example given by other people. God's blessing is not on every church, or denomination. It is silly to preach a message of prosperity as the highlight. That is a true indicator that a church is after your money if that is all they talk about. God does say that He will open the windows of Heaven for those who take care of His church, but never did he say He was going to start pouring money specifically into people's lives. Blessings come in many forms. But, Mr. Dollar is a man. He isn't infallible. He has made a mistake and now has to live with it. You reap what you sow in this world. Everyone does, even Christians. I love being a Christian. I love the fact that when I read the bible, every result that it says will happen if you follow it, HAPPENS. Whether you love your neighbor, or submit to your husband which is AWESOME and isn't being a doormat and actually is freeing, how you treat people, how you handle your money, the list goes on and on. I know that since my family has put God at the head of it, God keeps blowing us away with his direction and love. It blows me away when I apply the simple principles of the bible to my life, AND IT WORKS. Let's get off whether God is real. I challenge anyone to actually DO THE THINGS THE BIBLE SAYS THAT APPLIES TO YOUR EVERY DAY life, and see if that alone doesn't prove its validity. I am married to a United States Marine that used to cuss like a sailor, and was very selfish. He has always been loving, but more concerned with his own needs. This guy now considers his family first, serves the church faithfully, is in a motorcycle ministry that has Christ followers, and led one of his Marines to Christ yesterday. I used to party like a rock star until I gave my heart to the Lord and I feel like I have truly been living for the first time in my life! What causes this transformation? Reading the bible over and over? Hardly. There has to be a "Spirit" behind those words to cause someone to radically transform their lives. Pastors that were former drug addicts don't just "wake up" Jesus style one day and start preaching. Something has happened to them. To know God, you have to get rid of religion. No denominations, no rules, just Jesus and a bible preaching church. Jesus hung out with sinners and was of no reputation. Too many denominations are trying to uphold a reputation they started, and God never put His hand on. When you select a church, look to see if what they are practicing is even biblical or something the "church" made up. Many claim to be Christian churches but aren't at all. Be careful friends...:) I invite anyone that wants to hear our sermons to check out http://www.reliancechurch.org. I am just a member and not on staff there. I just know how good God is, and with this economy especially, people need hope. Blessings everyone! Jesus is Lord!

    June 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • JWT

      Just one small thing – jesus is YOUR lord and not mine.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • mrgarysrii

      Very thoughtful and well reasoned offering. But please, how about a couple of PARAGRAPHS?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Big boss

      This is all foolish .. This has nothing to do with his teaching.....HE tryed to not let his daugther to to a party.. It seem it all about news... It you don't like his teaching don't follow....

      June 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  20. Bee

    Pastors such as Creflo Dollar, T.D. Jakes, Dollar, and Joel Osteen will never hurt for a dollar, probably ever rarely do any real work for themselves, but what I like about them in a sacastic sort of way: they know how to make a dollar off so many people. As Prince said in Purple rain..you say you want a leader but you can't make up your mind... For those of us that do read the bible didn't the bible teach about this? People keep looking for something they can follow but once the HUMAN make a mistake OMG, they all want to fall apart OR move on to someone else they can follow. Personnally, once I hear what someone preach I go to the word of God and weigh what I read against what I hear.
    This incident, well, well, well "he's just like anybody else who can get a little teed off!

    June 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • noXcuses


      June 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • 1927 henritta

      Yes! He love the money

      June 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.