Hillsong NY Pastor Carl Lentz has demonstrated once again that his grasp of the scriptures and theology proper leaves much to be desired, when he appeared on the Logan Paul show Implausible to suggest that Jesus was killed because he wasn’t interested in the rule following of religions.
Q: What do you say to the people that will say “celebrities go to Hillsong because they’re lazy in their religion.” What do you say to people who have practiced strict catholicism for so long that they look at what you guys preach, which obviously I love, and say “this is not enough, this doesn’t get you a ticket to heaven. You’re not doing what needs to be done to-“
Well, that’s why they killed Jesus. Like just because something’s harder doesn’t make it better. Like it’s ok to do something smarter. So the reason why people freaked out with Jesus is cuz he was saying ‘all those rules-all that fancy stuff you do, I’m not interested. All you need is gonna be found in me.’ So for people who judge somebody, I don’t look at someone who’s ‘devout’ and what they do solely as the reason why I would respect that. You know, and I think ours is just as devout, it’s just different. Just because we’re not miserable, just because we’re not carrying these solemn faces, doesn’t mean this isn’t a life that takes discipline and dedication. But if people want to judge somebody else’s faith, go for your life.
Q: If I were to tell you religion scares me, what’s your response to that?
Religion should scare you. Because I don’t even believe in religion. Religion is a construct of things that you have to do. I believe in a relationship with God. And that’s totally different. Imagine thinking about something like a relationship rather than a parole visit…it’s almost like this dread.. like that’s ‘my religion’, and I have to go have the priest bless me, I have to go do this and I can’t do that. But if it’s a relationship this is an active conversation. This is alive. This is a God that actually wants to hear your voice, so often we’re just redefining who Jesus has always been because everybody thinks God’s so far.
It should go without saying that the reason why the Jews wanted to kill Jesus was not that he was “taking away the rules,” but rather because he was making himself equal to God. We see that very clearly in the early part of the gospel of John:
And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things (Miracles) on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:16-18)
Again, promoting theology that would not be out of place at a United Methodists pre-teen girls’ youth group, Lentz goes on to say that he doesn’t even “believe in religion,” which means he would have some explaining to do to Jesus’ brother James who famously said in his epistle:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
This is basic Christianity 101. This is theology at it’s simplest form. These are not difficult concepts to be wrestled with. It’s not like we’re plumbing the depths and offering a defense of supralapsarianism or unpacking a treatise on the Communicatio Idiomatum. Rather, this is point and click, then copy and paste theology that every pastor who has been in business for a decade should know.
The fact that Lentz doesn’t, and is leading thousands, is a shame.
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