Carl Lentz of Hillsong New York recently appeared on ABC’s “The View,” where he was asked whether or not abortion is considered a sin at his church. While the answer was unclear, Lentz said that “God is the judge” and that he would prefer to know a person’s name and beliefs before making a determination as to whether or not they have sinned.
“Hillsong is seen as this hip, progressive church that’s drawn huge millennial crowds, but it’s still evangelical,” co-host Sara Haines stated to Lentz during the Oct. 30 broadcast. “So, where do you stand on social issues that young people are particularly passionate about, like gay marriage [and] abortion? Like, how do you address those types of things?”
“I think our job is still to help people—not necessarily change how they think—but try to point them to what God has said, what we believe the Bible [has] to say,” Lentz replied. “We believe that God is good, that God loves everybody, that Jesus was here to set people free, and that’s still the good news of the gospel.”
He said that he tries to allow everyone who would like to hear the message to come to Hillsong because sometimes evangelicals and others shut out those who disagree on the issues.
Bringing Lentz back around to the question, co-host Joy Bahar then asked, “So, it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?”
“Um, that’s the kind of conversation we would have—finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe,” Lentz replied.
“Work through it,” Haines interjected. “Like, talk about things.”
“Yeah, I mean, God’s the judge,” Lentz answered. “People have to live with their own convictions, and I think if I have to tell you…”
His response drew applause from the audience.
“That’s such a broad question to me. I’m going higher,” Lentz said. “I want to sit with somebody and say, ‘What do you believe?'”
“So, it’s not an open-and-shut case with you,” Bahar observed.
“Some people would say it is,” Lentz replied. “I think, to me, I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first [and] find out their story. Before I start picking and choosing what is sin in your life, I’d like to know your name.”
As previously reported, Lentz drew concern earlier this year after photos resurfaced of photos of the Hillsong hipster slamming shots with Justin Bieber at a bar in New Zealand. Bieber and Lentz also took a bike tour during the visit, singing along to the Ludacris profanity-laden song “Move [Expletive] (Get Out the Way).”
“I’ve been drankin’ and bustin’ too/And I been thinkin’ of bustin’ you/Upside ya [expletive] forehead/And if your friends jump in/’Oh girl,’ they’ll be mo’ dead,” the lyrics read. “Move [expletive]! Get out the way!”
While Lentz bobbed to the music and sang out the tune alongside Bieber, he substituted the recurring curse word in the chorus for “please,” while Bieber used the expletive.
Lentz likewise received criticism year after he praised Oprah Winfrey following an appearance on her “Super Soul Sunday” broadcast.
“What struck me most about her, was her ease and kindness,” he wrote. “She told me her key was ‘waking up each day and thanking Jesus for loving me and thanking Him for all he has done.’ That practice, in that order, is one to be copied.”
After followers pointed out that Winfrey is involved in New Age and denies Jesus as being the only way to God, Lentz stated that he didn’t like followers using his page as their “own personal theology blog.”
“Wrecks my picture and becomes almost embarrassing,” he wrote.
He also raised eyebrows after his interview with Winfrey was aired as some worried about his response to Winfrey’s question as to whether or not only Christians can be in a relationship with God.
No,” Lentz replied. “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 where maybe you’d take a left,” he continued. “But I believe God loves people, and that’s what this whole gospel is based on—it’s love. You take the love out of it, we’ve got a moral book.”
Lentz later said that he could have worded his reply more clearly as he really meant that everyone can have a relationship with God, and that Jesus is the way.
As previously reported, Hillsong NYC is a popular 8,000-member congregation, which according to the Australian headquarters of Hillsong, is “a contemporary pentecostal church.” It meets each week at Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan and the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, New Jersey.