Steven Bancarz| Almost an exact year ago, Carl Lentz was on Ophra’s Super Soul Sunday where he was asked by Oprah, “Do you believe that only Christians can be in relationship with God?”. Carl’s responses was:
“No, I believe that when Jesus said that “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” the way I read that, Jesus said that he is the road marker, he is the map, so I think that God loves people so much, that whether they accept or reject him, he’s still gracious, and he’s still moving, and he’s still giving you massive red blinking lights, for chances to take a right turn when maybe you’d take a left, but I believe God loves people, and that’s what this whole gospel is based on, it’s love….”
To say “no” is to deny the heart of the Gospel, which is that Jesus alone is the sacrifice for human sin and the only way to be restored to the Father. Jesus says that nobody comes to the Father except through him, because Jesus gave his life to pay the penalty for the sins you and I committed. If we reject Jesus, we are still in our sins and alienated from God. This is the harsh reality of our condition and the glory of the work of Jesus.
Carl went on to correct himself, saying that he meant that that anyone can potentially be in a relationship with God if they believe on the Lord, not only those who currently identify as being Christian. In my opinion, that clarification doesn’t fit Oprah’s question. The answer to her question is still yes, only Christians can be in relationship. All those who can potentially have a relationship with God must first become Christians who are saved by faith.
What is the harm in being clear about what the Bible teaches? Christian’s want the truth, and the unsaved need the truth.
In this article we are going to look at an interview Carl Lentz did recently on The View where he would not come out and say that abortion is a sin. And yes, it is Biblical to address public figures in the Christianity community by name when they fail (dramatically) to uphold the word of God and their position of authority as Paul called out people by name in 2 Timothy such as:
- 1:15 – Phygellus (Fugellos) & Hermogenes
- 2:17 – Philetus & Hymenaues
- 3:8 – Jannes (Yannasse) & Jambres (Yambrays)
- 4:10 – Demas (Daymahs)
- 4:14 – Alexander (the coppersmith).
And how we can forget what Paul rebuked Peter in front of everybody in Galatians 2:11? It’s important that we learn how to sniff out and identify false teaching as believers so that we aren’t led off the path in our own relationship with the Lord, and so unbelievers don’t look to them as a source of authority on the faith.
I am writing this in hopes to inspire Christians, that Carl will start to actually represent God and His Word properly, and that those who don’t yet know Jesus will not think that Carl is a good authority to turn to on Christian issues. With that being said, here is the clip:
“Not my job to change what people think.”
The View: “Where do you stand on social issues that young people are particularly passionate about like abortion”.
Carl: “Our job is to help young people, not change what they think.”
Your job as a pastor is not to change how people think about God, sin, life, and salvation? So when Paul tells Timothy that the purpose of Scripture is for correction in 2 Timothy 3:16 you don’t think he’s referring to correction in one’s thinking?
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20. Is Paul trying to change the way people are thinking by pleading with them to be reconciled to God?
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 3:1-2 The word repent is metanoia in Greek which literally means to change one’s mind.
This was the first word out of John the Baptists mouth during his earthly ministry. He is pleading with them to change their thinking, change their minds. This was also the first word Jesus said during his ministry in Matthew 4:17:
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
Of course we are to encourage and inspire change in the way people think. These were the first words spoken by our Lord. The whole function of preaching the Gospel is to change people’s minds, and hope that the Holy Spirit uses that preaching as a means to change people’s minds. This is what people pay you for as their pastor.
Carl, isn’t the purpose of your new book to change the way people think about opportunity and success? Why write a book if you are not trying to inspire change in the way people think? You are contradicting yourself by saying you aren’t trying to change people’s thinking and then publishing a book trying to change the way people think.
You ARE trying to change the way people think, you just don’t want to step on toes when it comes to controversial issues. THOSE are the issues you don’t want to change people’s opinions on. You select which topics you want to change people’s thinking on.
Of course it is your job to change the way people think.
Gospel with no instruction or guidance
Carl: “God is good, God loves everybody, that Jesus was here to set people free, and that’s still the good news of the Gospel”.
Yes, redemption is one of the functions of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but he came to redeem us from the penalty and power of sin. The very behaviours that you are refusing to address are the very sins Jesus came to die for. Jesus took the justice of God upon himself for the sin of abortion.
What good is it to tell the Good News of redemption to people if you aren’t telling them what it is they need to be redeemed from? Abortion is murder, and the Bible is clear that no murderers will have a place in the Kingdom of God. They cannot continue on as an unrepentant murderer if they wish to see God. Preaching Good News to them without telling them what it is they need to be saved from is to teach an incomplete Gospel.
It’s a double-minded Gospel to tell people that they can be redeemed by Jesus without telling them that the sin they are participating in is what put Jesus on the cross in the first place.
The View: “Who told you that? [that if you disagree with issues pertaining to the faith such as abortion that you are disconnected].”
Carl: “I don’t think anybody told me that. I think that is the culture, religious norm right now is that if you and I disagree, then we are done. And I don’t think that has to be the case…I think people right now are so caught up in disunity on every front that it invaded the church world.”
Yeah someone did tell you that; God, in the Bible. There are some non-negotiable truths of the Christian faith that draw a line in the sand between those who are in the faith and those who are outside of the faith. And it is important for people to know what that line is and when it’s being crossed so that they can get back on track:
Titus 3:9-10 “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
2 John:10-11 “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”
2 Thessalonians 3:6 “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.”
Romans 16:17 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:8
What can be more “divisive” than Paul saying let anyone who teaches another Gospel be eternally condemned, or Jesus saying he came not to bring peace by division?
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” – Matthew 10:35
The truth is exclusive and divisive by nature, and your job as a minister is to uphold these division truths regardless of their impact on social unity. The Bible tells us what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour/beliefs for people to have if they wish to be saved and live a life that is pleasing to God, and it’s your job (literally, your actual job) to instruct and encourage people in that.
Live to your own convictions
The View: “So it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?”
Carl: “Uhm, that’s the kind of conversation we would have finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe.”
The View: “So work through it…”
Carl: “Yeah, I mean God’s the judge and people have to live to their own convictions. To me that is such a broad question”.
That is your response to whether or not a Christian in your church should have an abortion? That they should live to their own convictions?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.“ – Proverbs 3:5
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” – Matthew 15:19
No, people should not “live to their own convictions”, they should seek to conform their hearts and minds to the convictions of God as revealed in Scripture. Killing is a sin, abortion is the killing of an unborn human child-in-utero who is genetically distinct from the mother. This is murder and is outside of the will of God for our lives.
We need to repent and ask God for forgiveness, and when we do is is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. No, a member of a Christian church should not have an abortion. Nobody should have an abortion at all.
It’s not an open and shut case
The View: “So it’s not an open and shut case with you?”
Carl: “For some people it is. And I think, to me, I am trying to teach people who Jesus is first, find out their story, before picking and choosing what I think is sin in your life I would like to know your name.”
Abortion in the church is not an open and shut case according to a pastor of the largest Christian organization in the world? What about rape, is rape a sin in your church?
“Well to me, rape is such a broad issue, I want to know who you are and what your name is before I start telling you that rape is wrong in the church”. I hope we are starting to see this is not the Biblical way to deal with clear-cut moral issues. Just like he did with Oprah, Carl tries to clarify after the evangelical community gets on his case:
So you believe abortion is sinful, but you just said it’s not a black and white case? You said people should live to their own convictions, and now you are saying they should form convictions based on the word of God?
Why does it seem like you always leave your pastors hat at the door when you have a chance to boldly contend for the faith on a high-profile secular platform? This is a poor example of Christian leadership, it’s letting people down, and nobody wants to see this form of spineless nominal Christianity anymore. People are thirsty for the truth, and deserve the truth shared in love and grace.
It does not honour God to try to please people into the Kingdom of God. We don’t need to create churches and cultures around people pleasing and suiting their preferences. This is not our job as Christians. God is sovereign over human salvation. We are to preach the Gospel in love the way we are commanded to, and the Holy Spirit will open the ears of those whom He wishes to open in His appointed time.
Carl, you owe it to Jesus and to anyone who has ever listened to you or anything that has ever come out of Hillsong to start standing firm in the full counsel of God. If you want to “aim higher”, then aim higher.