Steve Kozar over at The Messed Up Church reviews the full video of Hillsong New York’s pastor Carl Lentz speaking to Oprah, and we’ve shared it here with his permission:
Super Pastor Carl Lentz, from Hillsong New York, was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and presented a confusing version of Christianity that uses some Biblical words, but ultimately had more in common with Oprah’s prominent New Age beliefs, than actual Christianity. You can view the entire video here.
It would have been great if Pastor Lentz would have clearly proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ; people in Oprah’s audience really need to hear it: the Gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But he didn’t. He really appeared like someone attempting to say Christian things that wouldn’t offend non-Christians. He also proved himself incapable of disagreement with Oprah-even going so far as to agree with her when she said the Holy Spirit is “a thing, a power, a force,” or “divine energy.” Lentz agreed and told her “that’s exactly what it is: a divine energy.” Huh??
Interestingly, just a few weeks ago a major survey was released that showed how a large segment of the Christian population in America believes things that are totally heretical (like the Holy Spirit is a power or force). Carl Lentz proclaimed some of those very same things in this interview. Maybe he was really nervous and forgot what he was saying, but he repeated his murky version of Christianity throughout the entire interview-often getting close to the Gospel without ever proclaiming it.
In the video below, we’ve taken clips from this interview to highlight where Lentz biffs it. You may want to find out where he mimics the uninformed Christians in the State of Theology survey.
Clip 1. His first confused attempt at explaining the “Gospel.” Sort of. Kind of. I guess.
Clip 2. Oprah asks him “Do you believe only Christians can be in relationship with God?” His answer comes immediately: “No.” Although his response could have been much better, I will cut him a little slack, because this is a tricky question that Oprah seems to be using to test him, or even trap him. Because she never defined what she meant by “relationship with God” I’m not going to make too big of a deal out of this (plus, his response gets even worse). He is obviously very sensitive to the charge that Christians are judgmental and narrow-minded, and he seems to be over-compensating. He then goes on to give a pretty incoherent explanation of Jesus’s very clear words “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (without quoting the rest of the verse: “No one comes to the Father but by Me.”) He ventures into universalist territory and says “That’s what this whole Gospel is based on-it’s love…” He seems to be trying to explain something like the Law and the Gospel, but it comes out confusing and contradictory.
Clip 3. This is so unclear that after repeated listening it’s still confusing… Let’s just move on to the next one.
Clip 4. Here is where Pastor Lentz really jumps the shark. He is the poster boy of hip, trendy pastors and he preaches at the most hip and trendy church on earth: Hillsong New York City. But he actually says that they are teaching the ancient faith and it doesn’t need to be hip and trendy. Here’s a proposal for Pastor Lentz: remove your rock band, the lighting crew, the dancers, the sound crew, discontinue the slick marketing videos, and start using Hymnals (with good theology). Stop dressing like an attention-starved rock star. Then ask all the celebrities to stay away for a while (so they can be catechized privately). After you’ve done that, see if your church continues to grow. I dare you. Let’s be honest: Hillsong New York City is an entertaining spectacle and you know it.