What Is a Hillsong NYC Pastor Missing?

Hillsong, the church founded in Sydney, Australia, by Brian and Bobbie Houston, now has an offshoot church in the USA—in New York City. It was founded by Carl Lentz and Joel Houston.

I was saddened to hear recent comments by the pastor of the New York Hillsong, Carl Lentz. He was interviewed by Katie Couric (an American television journalist, author, and talk show host), and this interview was also reported in Charisma News. The article states the following:

[Carl Lentz] did not believe he had a “moral imperative to speak publicly about some of these more controversial issues” because, he says, “We try to be like Jesus.”

“Very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues,” the 35-year-old pastor explained in a pre-recorded interview that aired Thursday. “It was about the deeper things of the heart, and often people want to talk about behavior modification. Our church isn’t about that.”

You can hear Carl Lentz’s statements for yourself by watching the actual video clip (the section I am commenting on starts at 4:30).

I must admit I was greatly concerned and also saddened at the statements Lentz made. Let me just make a couple of responses.

1. Who Is Jesus?

Is it true, as Lentz contends, that “very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues?” Well, I would first ask: who is Jesus?

  1. He is the Creator:

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:15–16)

  2. He is the Word:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1–5)

  3. He is the Omniscient One:

    . . . in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3)

My point here is that the whole of God’s Word—from Genesis to Revelation—is the Word of Jesus Christ. I encourage you to read this blog post I wrote about this issue.

And the Word has a lot to say about moral issues! Jesus the Word in Romans 1 spoke clearly against homosexual behavior. In fact, in this passage, one sign that God is turning a culture over to judgment and withdrawing the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, is the prevalence of homosexual behavior—which is being condoned across this nation, from the U.S. president down.

And Jesus, as the God-man, made it very clear in Matthew 19 that marriage is to be between a male and female only! For more on this teaching, read this blog post I wrote.

2. We Must Contend for the Faith

Now, I agree we all need to be like Jesus. But what I mean by that doesn’t seem to be what Carl Lentz is saying. I mean, we need to stand on the authority of the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation and “contend for the faith.” And when we do this, we will be controversial as far as the world is concerned, because the Bible makes it clear that:

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)

God’s Word makes it clear that:

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16)

And when light shines in darkness, there will be division:

“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.” (Luke 12:51)

So really, from the world’s perspective, if we are not being divisive (for the right reasons, of course) and creating controversy (because God’s Word is the absolute authority and the judge of what is right and what is wrong), then we need to rethink what we are saying!

“Lovingly” Avoiding Truth

There is much more I could write on this topic. But to conclude—and it’s sad to say—we are seeing more of an emphasis from many churches to not make statements that are seen to be “controversial.” This means not speaking plainly about sin and hell, and against “gay” marriage as such are considered too controversial! (By the way, our lead article on the web today deals with the topic of how many church leaders, who have been caught up in the seeker-sensitive movement, avoid talking about sin and don’t want to be seen as “unloving” if they speak out against “gay” marriage and for biblical marriage.)

The church, in general, needs to wake up and stand up for biblical truths!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken