Megachurch pastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen and his wife and co-pastor Victoria gave an interview to Huffpost Live Monday and denied being a prosperity pastor.
Osteen was talking about the Night of Hope 2014 and the conversation turned to his personal wealth.
Christian Today defines the prosperity gospel as "an aberrant theology that teaches God rewards faith - and hefty tithing - with financial blessings."
Osteen said "I think there's a group that says, 'Well, to be a Christian, to be a real believer you've got to be poor, you've got to be humble.' I don't see that. I think we should be leaders in our community, we should be able to bless others."
He leads Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, which is the largest Protestant church in the United States with an average weekly congregation of 43,000.
He has faced criticism for his personal wealth in the past and forced to defend his teachings. Osteen has an estimated net worth of $40 million, which includes a $10.5 million mansion in the River Oaks area of Houston.
In an interview with CNN in 2011, he told host Piers Morgan "I don't ever feel guilty because it comes from - it's God's blessings on my life. And for me to apologize for God's - how God has blessed you, it's almost an insult to our God." He added "I mean that's not the focus."
In the Huffpost Live interview, host Marc Lamont Hill asked him "Does God want us to be rich though?" Osteen replied "I think he wants you to be rich in spirit."
"I mean with money," Hill asked. "Well I don't think there's anything wrong with that," Osteen said.
"You look at the Old Testament; Christianity was started with Abraham and it says he was the wealthiest man there. So I don't think there's anything wrong with that - I think God wants you to succeed and excel, but I don't think you can say 'Money is my goal, if I'm a Christian well God's going to make me rich.' I think that's the wrong thing."
"You're wealthy when you have your health; you're wealthy when you have people to love. That's real wealth," Osteen said.
Lakewood Church was in a scandal in March after $600,000 in collection money was stolen from a safe after a service. Osteen confirmed that was a "normal amount" of money over a typical weekend service, and Lakewood brings in about $80 million annually through various ministry channels.
The money has not been recovered, Osteen said "God's going to fight our battles, he's going to restore what should be ours and he'll get us to where we're supposed to be."
[Image via huffingtonpost.com]