Megachurch Pastor John Gray on Prosperity Criticism: God Gifted Solomon Riches Too
Pastor John Gray, who is set to take over at Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina, in 2018, responded to criticism of rich church leaders by pointing out that God blessed many people in the Bible with material possessions.
"If you work hard and pay your taxes, then you should be able to live where you are able to afford. I think that pastors do have a responsibility to be wise with the things that they have," Gray told The Greenville News, part of USA Today network.
"We also understand that the reward in heaven is a mansion, streets paved with gold, gates that are made out of precious stones," he continued.
"We also understand God was the one who gifted Solomon with this wisdom, riches and a long life. He did the same thing with David, and there are times when those who serve God will be blessed to have resources. The key is, are they wise with those resources?"
Gray, who has been serving as associate pastor at Lakewood Church in Texas under Joel Osteen, pointed out that he has plenty to be grateful for, as he has a TV show, a book, and owns a Range Rover, but also gives to the poor.
"We just gave $20,000 away today. So the key is not the stuff," he stated.
"It's people who say preachers make too much money and they shouldn't have this or that. I understand why and how people get there, but I think they should be very cautious to understand that if the individuals that are serving are honorable and they are committed to serving, if they have saved their money and want to do something nice for their spouse or they want to live in a home, you've got one life," the pastor positioned.
"I do, however, see something wrong with people who will pimp the church and pimp people and manipulate emotions to enrich themselves. That I do have a problem with."
As for controversial topics, such as homosexuality, he explains that he believes in the "Bible's construct" that sexual intimacy is meant for a husband and wife in marriage, but declared that he will not be defined by this hot topic.
"I will be defined by the way I love every single person that walks in the door whether they are gay, straight, bisexual, transgender or self-defining. It doesn't matter to me. Whoever you are, you are able to walk through the doors," he said.
The preacher, who is also a singer and comedian, said that one of his biggest successes at Lakewood has been seeing the multicultural aspect of the ministry grow.
"It's a success when you see a 65-year-old white man who comes from a conservative Southern background and a 22-year-old millennial African-American woman who's got her first degree and is working on her masters, both of them putting their hands up to the same Jesus," Gray said.
"For both of these groups to be in the same space raising their hands from two different perspectives and to identify Jesus out of what you've been saying means I'm doing what I'm supposed to do."
Osteen praised Gray in a statement to The Christian Post earlier in December when the latter was named the new senior pastor of Redemption Church.
"John Gray is becoming one of the most respected and influential voices of this generation. His scriptural insights are brilliant and his charismatic speaking style is like no one else," Osteen said.
A spokesperson for the megachurch further told CP that there are no plans to replace Gray, as he will "continue preaching on various Wednesday nights at Lakewood."