CHARISMATIC Pentecostal church leaders have gone astray by concentrating on “prosperity gospel” instead of saving lost souls, some church leaders have said.

Christian Alive Zimbabwe leader Pastor Richard Mangwende said it is wrong to teach Christians that to be wealthy is a sign of God’s blessings. He said prosperity gospel was in contradiction of the scriptures.

“The main message of Jesus was salvation and repentance from sin not for people to have millions of dollars and plenty of earthly possessions.

“Jesus and all those in the New Testament never lived luxurious lives and as Christians we should follow that.

“I am not saying people should not strive for more but people should not major in minors,” he said.

Pastor Paul Reynolds also said receiving money or wealth is not proof of God’s blessing.

“Never mind that Jesus was poor, the disciples were poor, the apostles were poor, most of the early church was crushingly poor. Never mind that there are precisely zero prayers in the New Testament from any poor people asking God to give them wealth.

“Yet somehow people still see wealth as a sign of God’s blessing. In fact, in the entire Bible there’s just one prayer from someone asking for wealth – the infamous prayer of Jabez. God gave credit to Solomon precisely because he didn’t ask for wealth.

“Of course, God then gave him wealth too, but as it turns out that did him no good at all even though it was intended by God as a blessing,” he said.

Pastor Reynolds added that Bible teachers or preachers should not thrive to give people anything new from God.

“The Bible tells us that He has already given us all the information we need in the Bible (2 Timothy 3v14-16). We need to understand the Bible and we need wisdom – that’s what Bible teachers and preachers are supposed to do,” he said.

However, Heartfelt Ministries spokesperson, Pastor Stanley Muguti, said the image of Jesus as a destitute is wrong.

“I believe he (Jesus) was the richest man on the face of the earth because he had God as his source. The proof is scattered throughout the New Testament. One example: John 12 says that Jesus had a treasurer, or a “keeper of the money bag”.

All his followers were rich – Peter was a professional fisherman, Mathew was a tax collector and Luke was a physician and he (Jesus) was buried in an expensive grave,” argued Pastor Muguti.

He also stated that Jesus was wounded and died so that those who believe in him can be rich.

However, Remnant Ministries founder Pastor Innocent Sibanda, said it was distortion of history to claim that Jesus was rich.

“If Jesus reveals God, there is something powerful about God appearing and working among the poor. Jesus’ lifestyle was not of one in a gated community or a corporate office. You didn’t have to go through a security gate to get to Jesus.

“People touched him. He reached out and touched children. His accessibility is one of the most powerful messages of Christianity. In Jesus, God is with us and therein, the majority of us are poor,” he said.

“Jesus was not rich but he used to use his influence to help people, there were rich people in the days of Jesus’ ministry but he was not part of them those.

Tehilla Christian Network founder, Reverend Sam Malunga said, “People should not mistake wealthy as just money because God views it as three in one. Wealth can be defined in three dimensions – the metaphysical, mental and spiritual. I believe that it is a sign of a blessing from God,” he said.

Since the turn of the millennium, scores of wealthy clergymen have emerged, sparking a debate over the preaching of prosperity gospel more than salvation.

Several millionaire preachers such as Bishop T.D Jakes, the Copelands, Dr Creflo Dollar, Prophets T.B Joshua, Emmanuel Makandiwa and Walter Magaya do not shy away from openly preaching prosperity gospel.