Lakewood Church leader Joel Osteen, one of the most popular megachurch pastors in the world, has spoken in an interview about the prosperity gospel some say he teaches and offered his thoughts on whether Jesus was poor.
"I never really thought about that," Osteen said when asked by NorthJersey.com about Jesus' finances in preparation for a signing for his new book, I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life, to be held on Wednesday at Northvale, N.J.
"I've heard that when he was arrested and crucified, they sold his robe, and it was 'seamless.' And I've heard people say that was a fine robe that they sold," Osteen says. "But I never really thought about whether he was poor or not. I think his needs were supplied."
Osteen's comments were largely in response to the ongoing criticism he receives that he preaches a "prosperity gospel," which claims that material blessings should be expected when one donates money to a church or ministry.
The Lakewood Church pastor once again clarified his position, however, noting that being blessed does not mean one will necessarily receive earthly gifts – but that God has already blessed His people.
"There is a part of Christianity that says you're supposed to suffer and be poor and downtrodden," Osteen said. "I don't believe that's how God wants us to live. I think He wants us to excel and be happy and be a blessing to others."
"Maybe you don't necessarily feel blessed today. A lot of things may be coming against you in your family, finances or health. But that doesn't change the Word of God," Osteen explains on his website.
"Circumstances don't change what God says about you. However, what God says about you can change your circumstances. You are the deciding factor. Instead of talking about your circumstances, be bold and say, 'God, if You say I'm blessed, then I believe I'm blessed! My checkbook may not say I'm blessed. The economy may not say I'm blessed. The medical report may not say I'm blessed. But God, I know You are the ultimate authority, and if You say I'm blessed, then I declare that I am blessed!'"
Osteen's I Declare book is available Sept. 18, and, according to the publisher, seeks to define the most powerful blessings in Scripture and encourage readers to declare one each day for a month.