Verdict: Carl Lentz is both unqualified and an obvious false teacher.
Part of how this Discernment ministry operates is taking in reader questions about prevalent teachers. There were multiple requests to investigate Carl Lentz, and due to him leading the field of requests, this investigation into his teachings was undergone. You can make a request here and see our answered verdicts here.
Carl Lentz was born in Virginia, studied at King’s College and its seminary before attending Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia and graduating in 2003. Between 2003 and 2010 he met with Joel Houston, the son of Brian Houston, to launch Hillsong Church NYC. Hillsong NYC grew its megachurch which boasts at or around 9000 attendants. Hillsong NYC is a go to destination for celebrities and tourists in New York. The celebrity culture surrounding Carl Lentz and the Hillsong branding boosted his credibility in the Evangelical industry in a short period of time. Currently, Carl Lentz is one of the most widely known pastors in the United States.
The Evangelical Dark Web has addressed the question as to whether Brian Houston is a false teacher in the past. The implications of the Evangelical Dark Web’s conclusions can be carried over and applied to Carl Lentz. Because we concluded that Brian Houston was indeed a false teacher, this implication can be applied to Lentz. However, this verdict will take a more holistic examination of Lentz.
Hillsong has been notoriously pro-homosexuality for a church that has not come out of the closet in support. Part of this observation is credited to Carl Lentz’s statements and actions.
In 2013, Carl Lentz said in an interview with Katie Couric that he does not preach on sexuality in order to avoid ostracizing people.
“When it comes to people’s sexuality, I don’t want to use a public forum to talk about private things. Because how in the world could you have a dialogue? How in the world can I hear your story? How in the world can someone have a question?”
Carl Lentz’s refusal to address issues regarding sex because of the private nature of the sin is fraudulent as other sins such as pride, envy, covetousness, and greed are also private sins. What Carl Lentz is articulating in this interview is that he does not want to offend people, so he is willing to avoid several passages in the Bible that offend. This statement is unbefitting of a pastor.
In early 2015, it was reported that Hillsong’s NYC franchise had a homosexual leading their choir his partner singing in it. They announced their engagement in January. In August, Hillsong released a statement in August. However the homosexual couple denies Brian Houston’s lack of knowledge. Brian Houston, however, is on video in November of 2014 acknowledging at best and bragging at worst about having homosexuals in ministry positions. A full timeline of events can be found here.
It was Carl Lentz who knowingly had homosexuals in ministry positions and did nothing about it until this got widely exposed.
In January 2020, Carl Lentz said in a CNN interview that “anything’s possible” in response to whether his church would change its views on issues like homosexuality and abortion. Carl Lentz will ultimately not get the opportunity to change with the culture at Hillsong NYC because of his termination (see below).
Just as Carl Lentz is theologically flimsy on homosexuality, he is also flimsy on the issue of abortion. In 2017, Carl Lentz famously went on ABC’s The View and in front of their panel of leftist could not articulate whether abortion was a sin when directly asked. In 2019, when New York passed the most pro-abortion bill in the country. However, Lentz attempts to shift the definition of pro-life. In an Instagram post, Lentz gave this monologue:
“recently, and I remember it taking me years to process that these LITTLE PEOPLE, had come into our world! A miracle, without a doubt. And I’m saddened and angry that we are now a state that has made it legal to have an abortion even into the last day of a pregnancy. I spent hours talking to lawyers and people who hold opposing views on this issue. Although it is layered and there is language in it that some are claiming will protect mothers in peril, the only way I can describe where we are and where this is all headed..is evil, shameful and demonic. I dont use those words lightly, but they are applicable here. Some have said this is strictly a “women’s rights issue.” i dont disagree. We simply believe that WOMEN IN THE WOMB deserve the right to life, deserve the right to breath. Laws like this say unless you have a voice, if somebody deems you “viable/non viable” you have no protection. Psalm 139, tells us otherwise. I have hope still, that God will help us raise our collective voices, to see this change. This cannot stand. …I know @hillsongnyc and many many other churches and organizations have been working hard for years to create options and help for those dealing with a pregnancy that is overwhelming for many reasons. And we will continue to do so. I’m also aware that often “pro-life politics”(while also supporting the death penalty, of course) have been quick to condemn abortion and the people that have them and then be invisible and hypocritical when it comes to helping women in need, in poverty, those who cannot gain access to proper medical care and creating policies that can help those that dont choose abortion. Those are facts. But this law, isn’t about politics. This is about generations of babies that have no defense. Despite this dark day, our future is STILL bright because we know where our help comes from. #occupyallstreets”
Just as in his comments on other controversial issues, Carl Lentz feels the need to straddle both sides. He points to a nonexistent contradiction between opposition to abortion and support for capital punishment and further applies logic to say we should support entitlement programs.
Carl Lentz is most renown for his tattoos and metrosexual attire. But the gospel he preaches is a watered-down gospel that the Evangelical Dark Web has coined as the Popularity Gospel. Consider how he articulates the gospel on Oprah Winfrey’s show:
“Our thing is to say, hey, if you allow God, if you bow your knee, admit your need of God, and if you do that, and Lord … there’s a moment where my repentance matters, and it’s right now, I am handing over the keys, if you do that…I think the premise of Christianity is looking in the mirror going, alright, I’m not going to make it, I can’t do enough, God I need you, and in that moment, I believe there’s a rescue of salvation that you can’t counterfeit any other way.”
This is a very palatable way to articulate salvation that obfuscates the true necessity of it and minimalizes Jesus’ role. And this is the issue with the Popularity Gospel and it its emphasis on the self ultimately creates a lot of false converts. This reputation for palatable messaging is almost as perceptive as his appearance.
It is worth mentioning, in that same interview he articulated that there were other ways to have a relationship with God.
No, 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 when maybe you’d take a left, but I believe God loves people, and that’s what this whole gospel is based on, it’s love
This is heretical Christology. 1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (NASB 1995). God makes no promises to hear the prayers of reprobates. Carl Lentz reduces Jesus to a mere road map instead of the gate (John 10:9).
In November of 2020, Carl Lentz was terminated by Hillsong for undisclosed reasons with moral implications. Carl Lentz quickly confessed to an adulteress relationship. According to a leaked audio recording of Brian Houston, Carl Lentz was having multiple affairs. But the reason why Carl Lentz is not going through a restoration process at Hillsong is primarily because of Houston’s frustration with working with him, not so much the abject moral failure.
Though this adultery is disqualifying and unbecoming of a pastor, it is likely Carl Lentz will emerge again. This affair does not prove he is a false teacher as opposed to an unqualified one. However, this affair is the culmination of his false teachings with regards to sexuality.
Proxy issues such as homosexuality and abortion can be very revealing of a pastor’s views on Scripture. Thus when Carl Lentz is not only squishy on these issues but outright acting against what Scripture says is reason to conclude that Scripture is not the highest standard in Carl Lentz’s ministry. In addition to having worked for Hillsong, a propagator of the Prosperity Gospel and Popularity Gospel, Carl Lentz subsequently sabotaged this set up with conduct unbefitting as well as a questionable temperament. However, it is worth taking a moment to compare Lentz to Houston. Whereas Houston is interested in building an empire and engaging in feuds with adversaries like a mob boss, Carl Lentz is more of a people pleaser reveling in celebrity culture like a sycophant.
 Formerly Hillsong International Leadership College
 This paragraph was taken from Is Brian Houston a false teacher?