“So it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?”
Asked Joy Behar, one of the hosts on The View talk show as they interviewed celebrity pastor of Hillsong Church in New York, Carl entz. Now you if think that’s a softball question with a simply “yes” or “no” answer then you don’t know Carl Lentz and his carefully crafted style of avoidance when it comes to taking a stand on some core Biblical issues.
Here’s how Pastor Lentz responds:
“Umm, that’s a kind of conversation we would have, finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe… I mean God’s the judge, people have to live with their own convictions. That’s such a broad question…”
His answer rings of a politician, of the kind of person who can dance circles around any issue without actually giving you a straightforward answer.
“So it’s not an open and shut case with you?”
That’s a fair question since he really didn’t answer her first question. Pastor Lentz retorts with a more dancing around the issue:
“Some people would say it is. I think to me, I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first, find out their story before I start picking and choosing what I think is sin in your life, I’d like to know your name.”
“I think our job is still to help people not necessarily change how they think but to try to point them to what God has said.
Ok, did he really say that his job is not to change how people think? Yes, unfortunately he did. I think somewhere he forgot that a core aspect of the Biblical idea of “repentance” is a change of mind!
Now let’s think about this for a minute, how did we get to the point where an “evangelical” pastor can say that it’s not his job to change people’s minds and to be so unclear on an issue like the murder of an unborn child?
Do we really need to listen to people’s stories before we can tell them that it’s a sin to dismember their helpless unborn children and throw them in the garbage can like a piece of rotten meat? I’m sorry Carl but there are many millions of murdered children who will one day testify against the clearly evil practice of abortion. And these humans, these people didn’t even have the chance to get a name and the only story they have is one of gruesome murder!
What is really sickening is that this kind of moral avoidance and double mouthed trickery is done in the name of Jesus! He says, “I’m trying to teach them who Jesus is first.” It really makes you wonder who he thinks Jesus is!
Does he not know that Jesus himself is the author of the 6th commandment? “Do not murder.”
Did he not read Jesus’ blistering condemnation of evil in his day? Maybe he should review Matthew 23 where Jesus pulls no punches and calls the respected religious leaders of his day;
- Children of hell
- Blind guides
- Blind fools
- Whitewashed tombs full of dead mens bones
- Murders of the prophets
- Brood of vipers
When it came to moral issues, Jesus didn’t dance around the popular opinion poll hoping to win a few more Twitter followers or sell a few more books! No, he often said what wasn’t popular but he always said what was true. His truth statements never got him on the New York times bestseller list but it did put him on the cross where he suffered and died. Unfortunately, you’ll hear little from Mr. Carl on the Cross of Jesus and much on popular feel-good catch phrases.
After all Mr. Carl is doing his best to sell a book, book with a very humble photo of himself on the cover. It’s called “Own the Moment” and I suggest you do the opposite and give that moment to God who is the true owner and while you’re at it don’t worry about owning Mr. Lenz’s book either!
Now lest we think Carl has no theological backbone and is not willing to take a stand on any issue, just watch the interview and towards the end you’ll hear something very surprising:
“I thought it was my job to at least speak what was obvious… we have an issue and some of that stuff needs to be said up front out loud…”
Wait, what did he just say, is he actually going to go against popular culture and preach the truth of God’s Word here?
No, of course he’s not! Carl is responding to a question from Sunny Hostin who was asking about this position on racism in the US. Mr Lenz goes on to explain:
“We’ve got some racial problems and the issue is that there are some people trying to act like this is not real!
“I believe it’s my duty as a Christian pastor to at least truth regardless of if people like it or hate it, come or go, we’ve got to do what’s right.”
This seems a little ironic, just 2 minutes ago Carl was as solid as a bowl of jello on a hot day when it came to murdering children and suddenly he’s the rock of Gibraltar when it comes to racism. What changed?
It’s quite simple really, what changed was the issue and popular opinion. Abortion is a polarizing issue in the the US and Carl knows that. He doesn’t want to offend the pro-abortion crownd, he wants them in his church and he wants them to buy his book. Thus, he’d better be very careful about what he says about abortion because if the pro-abortion crowd senses opposition they’ll walk away from him.
On the other hand racism is currently a very unifying issue in US culture. In fact, Carl admits that most logical people in the US side with him on the racism issue and view it as a big problem:
“I think there’s a lot more logical people in our country than people realize right now. When you look at Charlottesville, when you look at some of the issues of race in our country people are like going, ‘Are we serious, of course this is an issue!'”
Carl is right, most people probably do agree that racism is a problem in the US. It’s a safe issue for him to take a stand on because he knows he’s going to get an overwhelming majority of support for that stand, he’s not really risking anything.
Let’s put Carl’s responses to these issues side by side to help us gain a little clarity:
- Racism – We have an issue and some of that stuff needs to be said up front out loud!
- Murdering an unborn child -Um well, I want to know your story and well that’s such broad question, blah, blah, blah….
After I watched this video and once I recovered from my nausea I began to ask myself a question.
“How does a pastor and a church get to the point where they are ambiguous about murdering children?”
I’d like to propose three steps that can quickly lead to this kind of gross moral abdication
1. Make your church about the worship experience
Hillsong is famous for its music, for its bands, for its notoriously long sets of music, and it’s amazing talent. There’s nothing wrong with good music but too many churches have elevated music, emotions, and showmanship to a place of authority in their churches.
Inevitably what happens is church becomes about “my experience.” Preaching of God’s Word takes a secondary role and when preaching does happen it’s the kind of preaching that caters to the people’s experience. It should be inspiring and make them feel victorious. Thus, uncomfortable topics on sin are often avoided in place of more positive texts that can help you “live your best” and “enjoy God’s favor.”
However, you can’t lay aside God’s Word without also laying aside your Biblical foundation and laying aside God Himself. It doesn’t matter how good of a foundation you began on, when God’s Word is removed from center stage you will soon find yourself in the quicksand of murky morals, flimsy faith, and dodgy doctrine.
I think the Apostle Paul’s words to Pastor Timothy are quite appropriate and sobering here:
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. -2Ti 4:2-5
2. Commit yourself to gaining followers no matter the compromise
It never ceases to amaze me at how intent these pop-culture pastors are at gaining followers. They often claim that they are just trying to reach as many for Christ as possible but you wonder for whom they are actually reaching people.
Jesus described the efforts of the religious leaders of his day to gain followers this way.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. -Mat 23:15
I pray the same will not be said of Pastor Carl Lentz but I fear that he is not leading people to Jesus but rather he is leading them to his own charismatic personality through his charming hairdo, designer eyeglasses, and tight-fitting jeans. One thing Carl has done well is to make his own name and his own image in vogue.
If fame is our ambition we may find it but with it we will find a snare for our own soul and for those who have raised us up onto a pedestal where only Jesus belongs.
Our commitment must be to faithfully preach truth!
3. Focus on bringing in the celebrities
Mr. Lentz is known for making appearances with celebrities. Justin Bieber has often been spotted hanging out with Mr. Lentz. Now I certainly hope that Justin really has heard the gospel, truly understands, and has believed it, but I have my doubts.
We can easily make the mistake in thinking that if only this celebrity or that celebrity came to Christ then thousands of their followers would also come to Christ. This is a dangerous mistake. Yes a celebrity can easily pack out your church service or evangelistic outreach but that’s because the people are coming for the celebrity, not because they are so interested in the Gospel.
Can God use celebrities to bring others to salvation? Most certainly he can, however, we must not think that the salvation of people’s souls depends upon some celebrity appearance. In fact, looking at Scripture it would appear the opposite.
He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luk 16:31
Being raised from the dead would make you quite a celebrity but the problem isn’t in a lack of celebrity status but rather in man’s heart which is unwilling to believe the message.
Paul later tells us:
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1Co 1:20-24
The cross of Christ will always be seen as foolishness to the unbelieving world and no celebrity can change that. We must however, be careful that we do not put our trust in celebrity status but rather in the power of God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man. If we follow God’s plan for preaching the Gospel we will find that we do not need to chase celebrities. In fact the opposite is true, God often uses the least of this world to do his greatest works!
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are. 1Co 1:26-28
Let’s pray that Carl Lentz will go back to God’s Word and allow it’s truth to speak through him next time next time he is faced with a clear Biblical issue.