Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz was asked a question on The View about abortion being sinful. Lentz confused two things.
The question of abortion being sinful has nothing to do with the spiritual disposition of the sinner and everything do with the objective nature of the act. Abortion is either a sinful action or it’s not. The only in-between is the culpability of the act, which only God can judge. If the question probed to Lentz were “do you condemn people who have abortions?” then his answer would be correct. That is not the case here, however.
“So, it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?” pro-abortion host Joy Behar asked.
Lentz responded: “That’s the kind of conversation we would have finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe. … I mean, God’s the judge. People have to live to their own convictions. That’s such a broad question, to me, I’m going higher. I want to sit with somebody and say, ‘What do you believe?’”
“So it’s not an open and shut case to you?” Behar asked.
“Some people would say it is,” Lentz responded. “To me, I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first, and find out their story. Before I start picking and choosing what I think is sin in your life, I’d like to know your name.” DailyWire
Lentz separates the story of redemption from the story of sin. Lentz took a week to acknowledge that abortion is a sin
One wonders if Lentz would be so circumspect in his answer had he been asked whether racism is a sin. What if Joy Behar inquired as to the sinfulness of joining the KKK? Would the good pastor have insisted that Klan members are merely “living their convictions” and we ought to get to know them and their story before we start “picking and choosing”?
That’s the thing about these warm and fuzzy Christians who are allegedly too focused on loving people to bother denouncing evil: they seem rather selective. You’ll notice that they never, ever hesitate to call out bigotry, “homophobia,” “intolerance,” etc. They’re quite eager to rebuke Christians like me, who, in their opinion, are too forceful and “divisive” in our approach. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been personally and viciously condemned by the same Christians who are too “loving” to condemn child murder. It’s an odd thing, isn’t it? They seem to have developed this magnanimous and overriding tolerance only for the kinds of sins that are most popular in our culture. What a coincidence…
Of course, there are those who say that we ought to take it easy on Lentz and his ilk. Perhaps they don’t get all the theology exactly right, the argument goes, and perhaps they aren’t the best moral guides, but they still do quite a lot to bring people to Christ. Look at the size of his church! He must be doing something right!
Yes, he obviously appeals to a lot of people. So does internet porn. Yes, he makes people feel good. So does heroin. Yes, he gives his followers a vague sense of spiritual fulfillment. So does Buddhism. Yes, he spreads happiness, sort of. So does Disney. But shouldn’t a pastor deliver a message completely distinct from what a person can already gain through internet porn, heroin, Buddhism, and Disney films?
Here is the distinct message: Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the cross, which opened up the doors of salvation. In his mea culpa statement, Lentz said that his goal is to tell the story of “God’s redemptive grace.” That’s a great story and exactly the one he should be telling.
However, it’s exactly the one he refused to tell on The View. You cannot separate the story of redemption from the story of sin. You cannot talk about salvation without talking about why we so desperately need to be saved. You cannot talk about Christ’s sacrifice without talking about the evil that necessitated it. You cannot talk about Christ’s cross without talking about the sin that nailed Him to it.
You cannot skip right over the hard stuff, the dark stuff, the challenging stuff, and go right to “hope.” What use is the cheap and easy “hope” of a person who has not acknowledged their own wickedness? You cannot see the stars during the day. You cannot appreciate the light of Christ’s love until you have seen and confronted the darkness of your own sin. Hope is found in the triumph of good over evil, not in the denial of evil itself. DailyWire
While reading these articles I was reminded of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s term “cheap grace.” The benefits of Christianity without the costs.
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of grace! That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Cheap Grace vs. Costly Grace