The House, a church in Modesto, CA, is hosting a free conference from August 19 through August 22, 2017. Its featured speakers include “apostle” Samuel Rodriguez, Jabin Chavez and Hillsong NYC (New York City) pastor Carl Lentz. For my next 3 profile posts, I want to compare each speaker’s teachings with God’s Word to see if this conference is worth attending (given the fact I cannot find a single statement of faith from The House, I’m not getting my hopes up).
First, I want to start with Hillsong’s Carl Lentz.
Lentz is a well-known pastor at Hillsong NYC. If you do a google-search on him, you will find many articles/videos on him. One video calls him a false teacher who endorses Creflo Dollar, another false teacher (this same video calls Dollar a “heretic” and shows Lentz referring to truth as relative, which is false because God’s Word doesn’t change—2 Timothy 3:16-17; Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). Steven Kozar wrote an excellent article breaking down Lentz’s failure to preach the Gospel on Oprah Winfrey’s show back in October 2016. There’s also the fact Lentz is affiliated with Hillsong, which has a laundry list of problems (not to mention a pastor, Brian Houston, who has no business being a pastor after doing stuff like coverup sexual abuse, abandon the hurting and twist a biblical text so badly that his sermon is referred to as “one of the more demonic things…heard in a long time”). However, the affiliation itself is not reason enough to dismiss him altogether (although it certainly does not help him).
In my comparative work, I wanted to find some recent sermons from Lentz and see if what he preaches does square with God’s Word.
This “scandal” referred to is Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that allows one to have eternal life through Him. Speaking at “The Father’s House” church in Rochester, New York, Lentz begins talking at about the 13 minute mark. You’ll notice he doesn’t get into the Word until….well, about 13 minutes later. He does call the Bible “inspired of God” (true, per 2 Timothy 3:16-17). However, why such a delay in getting into God’s Word?
In this sermon, he preaches from Matthew 28 (which talks about Jesus’ resurrection), beginning at verse 1. He reads the verses and at verse 8 (roughly the 28:55 mark), he starts to comes apart. First though, let’s take a look at the passage (Matthew 28:1-8 [NASB]). In doing so, we’ll employ the three sound rules for biblical exegesis; they are context, context, and context. We must understand the passage’s context to see what the text is about.
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.”
This passage obviously is about an angel of the Lord’s telling Mary Magdalene and the other Mary that Jesus has risen. However, Lentz, after reading the first 7 verses, takes a “side note” after reading verse 8 and says, “When God frees you from a tomb you probably deserve to be in, go.” This is a problem because this passage is about Jesus, not the reader. What Lentz does here is something known as eisegesis (bordering on narcigesis). He reads into the text something that is not there (i.e., leaving a tomb you “probably deserve to be in”). This passage isn’t talking about leaving tombs “you probably deserve to be in”; this passage is about the resurrection of Jesus.
At the 30:20 mark, Lentz says, in describing the mission of “The Father’s House Church”, that it is their “mission to spread rumors of this scandal throughout this city.” I am not so sure I would call this a “rumor.” A rumor, according to Merriam-Webster, is a “statement or report current but not authenticated.”
I understand it would be dishonest and perhaps low of me to state that when Lentz used the term “rumor” in the phrase “spread rumors of this scandal throughout the city”, he meant that this “scandal” was something “not yet authenticated.” Only Lentz knows what he meant by that. However, to state that it is a church’s mission to “spread rumors of this scandal throughout the city” is not tantamount to what the Scriptures say. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to just spread mere “rumors” about who Jesus is. Instead, we preach the Word, in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1). We preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23). We preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins “in His name to all the nations” (Luke 24:47). This is way more than just mere rumors. To only spread rumors is to fall short of preaching the whole Gospel. It misses the mark. It’s similar to Lentz’s aforementioned appearance on Oprah when he failed to preach the Gospel there.
I stop reviewing this sermon at this point (as opposed to the whole thing) because in short time, Lentz has already proven himself to be both eisegetical in his bible interpretation and far from someone who unashamedly preaches the full Gospel. At this point, I really do not care to listen to the rest of this sermon because he has lost his credibility.
In this setting, Lentz is speaking at Liberty University. He starts talking at about the 1:48 mark. Like the first sermon, he talks quite a bit before getting into a biblical text (for information’s sake, he finally gets into a biblical text at about the 6:40 mark). At about the 3:50 mark, he makes a remark, seemingly at random, about Christine Caine, calling her “one of the greatest preachers and teachers, not just female, but just in general.” Just after the four minute mark, he admits to not even coming there to preach a message (but he is a PASTOR, and pastors are supposed to PREACH the WORD—2 Timothy 4:1). Instead, his purpose for coming there was for a Holy Spirit encounter (whatever that means).
While I obviously have an issue with his saying he didn’t come to preach a message, I have to focus on his calling Caine “one of the greatest preachers and teachers, not just female, but just in general.”
Who is Christine Caine, you ask? Well, for starters, she is a “female”, as Lentz stated. Why is that a big deal, you ask? While she is not a pastor, she often teaches and exercises authority over men, which is against what God’s Word says (1 Timothy 2:11-15; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35; see also this segment from Chris Rosebrough on Jory Micah, someone who doesn’t believe women are to be kept silent in the church). Caine also has ties to Hillsong (which, as mentioned, has problems of its own). Michelle Lesley has some excellent information on her, including how her affiliation with many a false teacher (i.e., Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, Bethel, etc.) violates Scripture. Another website expands on that and it also shows her Scripture-twisting and connections with New-Age teaching (which contradicts what the Bible says). Despite all of that (and the resources listed clearly prove that), Lentz unashamedly endorses her, calling her “one of the greatest preachers and teachers, not just female, but just in general.”
At this point, I do not even care to hear what Lentz has to say in the rest of his sermon. Earlier, I mentioned how Lentz endorsed false teacher Creflo Dollar. Here, he endorses another false teacher in Christine Caine by giving her some very high praise despite her obvious false teachings. Furthermore, even though he is a pastor (and pastors ARE supposed to preach the word, per 2 Timothy 4:1), he said he was not there to preach a message even though he is…..preaching a message (I think). Why is this all a problem? Let’s see what the Bible says in 2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB):
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearance and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.“
In this passage, the apostle Paul is giving young Timothy quite an important charge given it is in the presence of God and Christ Jesus (the savior of the world–Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 1:15). This charge involved preaching the word, being ready in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with great patience and instruction. The reasons for doing so follow in verses 3-4 (which are in bold). Because of the false teachers who are looking to scratch itching ears with their own mythical manmade doctrine that contradicts God’s Word, pastors need to have no offseason as they preach the word, reprove, rebuke and exhort with great patience and instruction. According to Blue Letter Bible, the word “reprove” comes from the Greek word “elegcho“, meaning “to convict, refute, expose…correct by word or by deed.” As seen in the first sermon, Lentz does not preach the word with “great…instruction” given his eisegesis and shortchanging of the Gospel. In this second sermon, Lentz, instead of reproving the false teacher Christine Caine, endorses her with some very high praise. Caine, as shown earlier, is a false teacher who scratches itching ears with her mythical non-sound doctrine, teaching for shameful gain what she ought not to teach (Titus 1:11). Lentz should be reproving her, exposing her false teachings to the light. He should not be endorsing her, calling her “one of the greatest preachers and teachers, not just female, but just in general.” After all, he is a “pastor.”
After taking a look at two of Lentz’ more recent sermons and taking into account previous work done on him, it can be concluded that Lentz is not a “pastor” in the sense of what a pastor really is. A real pastor does not endorse a false teacher the way he endorses Creflo Dollar and Christine Caine (be aware this is not an exhaustive list of false teacher endorsements from Lentz; there may be more out there). Furthermore, a real pastor would not describe the Gospel as a “rumor.” A real pastor preaches the real Gospel. How can Lentz do this? He can talk about how heaven is a free gift that is not earned or deserved (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). He can talk about how man is a sinner that cannot save himself (Romans 3:23; Matthew 5:48). He can talk about how God is a merciful and loving God but also a just and holy God who must punish our sin (1 John 4:8; Exodus 34:7). He can talk about how God solved this “love/holy” problem by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross and rise from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase a place in heaven for us (John 1:1, 14; Isaiah 53:8; 1 Timothy 1:15). Finally, he can say that we receive this free gift of eternal life through a trusting, saving faith in Christ alone instead of mere head knowledge or temporal faith (James 2:19; Acts 16:31; 4:12). Lentz has had many an opportunity to preach the real Gospel. Unfortunately, he has not done so.
At this point, the “Rise Conference” would not be an event worth attending if Carl Lentz was the only speaker (it’s already a questionable event for any Christian to attend given the aforementioned statement about my being unable to a find a statement of faith from The House church). However, I still need to evaluate Samuel Rodriguez and Jabin Chavez’s teachings against Scripture since we are called to test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). Examinations will reveal whether or not this is a good event. So far, I am leaning towards the negative. Furthermore, it would be a good idea to mark and avoid Carl Lentz (Romans 16:17), given his inability as a “pastor” to both follow God’s Word in preaching the full Gospel and expose false teachings to the light.