Introducing Carl Lentz

Dear M,

Carl Lentz is the latest punching-bag pastor offered to the American public by our leftist media, not because he's a game changer, but because he doesn't outrightly condemn abortion, Justin Bieber follows him, and most importantly he dresses like an idiot.  What are his teachings on sanctification, or in other words how a real Christian behaves?  Does he believe the Second Coming is around the corner and we should all be ready for it?  Does he think the Holy Spirit is speaking through him, or are his sermons just rehashes of two-thousand-year-old letters? And beyond this what do the people of Hillsong Church believe?  We'll never know, because nobody's bothered to find out.  Liberals asked the obligatory question on gay marriage* and made fun of his rapist glasses and gave the guy the psychological equivalent of a wedgie.  The American public isn't informed because they read the paper to be entertained -- to occupy their two-minute attention spans laughing at a man who's not only probably better than them, but doing what none of them are attempting for anybody else: actively trying to save strangers from damnation.

A quick Google search proves that the mainstream media is uninterested in real pastors like Francis Chan and Paul Washer; and I believe the reason, despite these two men being the most profound and game-changing evangelists** of the new millennium, is because most people in the mainstream media, maybe all of them, have never heard of Francis Chan or Paul Washer.  A real Christian revival, one that's actually dangerous to the deeply-held prejudices of our big-money journalists and ivory-tower educators, and if taken to its logical extremes possibly to the existence of capitalism, or social liberalism, or faith in any books outside the Bible and maybe John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, is as unlikely to pass under the media's review as any serious reporting about an important debate in the House of Representatives.

No: the mechanics of an actual revival are simply too boring for the average Democrat, and the language of theology too difficult -- they would recognize the movement as soon as it became filled with fakes and swindlers; in other words after it had already succeeded and began its decline.  But we see Carl Lentz's doofy tank-top and hear his opinion on a hot political issue and laugh him out of our sight, only to bury Hillsong Church alongside Mars Hill and other badly-dressed jongleurs de dieu, who gave us something to look at for a few years and then either imploded in an inevitable scandal of the leading personality's, or faded into oblivion for being otherwise too vanilla.

Hillsong is in the latter category, and as such isn't in the news because of its originality but because of its shallowness and banality.  It began in Australia with Brian Houston -- a very boring and uninspiring man who discovered that preaching inoffensive feel-good sermons and having a technically-talented but unoriginal hipster band could draw thousands of effeminate and ultimately unpromising Millenials.  Carl Lentz is continuing the tradition here in the States, operating under the philosophy (in his words) that Americans can see what's coming if you wear a priestly collar, but that you can get around their prejudices if you wear skinny jeans instead.  

In this sense he seems to mimic the Apostle Paul's to the douche I became as a douche, so I could win douches to Christ.  In the same way Lentz also seems to outrightly contradict him.  The Apostle Paul asked women to not even wear jewelry in church, and to throw even beauty away so they could focus on "the spiritual" -- a godless position if there ever was one.  Lentz has gone so far in the opposite direction that he comes across as one of the worst of the dandies, and even some heathens find his gaudy and expensive designer clothes annoying.

There is of course some merit to his position.  The question we ask ourselves every time we confront someone of the opposite position is whether they can be gained to our side or have to be fought; and the more sensible of us, knowing that we can't always have whatever we want, are content to throw away some inessential thing so we can hang on to something essential.  In this sense Lentz plays the role of an actor and a politician, and is hated by our self-styled apostles and prophets -- men who refuse to budge an inch on anything because they believe that with God on their side they'll eventually have everything, and that this utter refusal to compromise on anything is proof of the totality of their goodness.  The question isn't whether Lentz is a sellout or whether he's authentic: the question is how much you can give up without losing your authenticity, or throwing away what you really need to get.

As such Lentz suffers from the same problem every radical does.  He takes some good principle -- in this case that of camouflage -- so far that he ends up making it look horrible, like a person who believes so much in liberty that he allows tycoons to poison the water supply, or a person who believes so much in equality that he doesn't allow us to have any tycoons.  Lentz believes the church should be a part of our culture, and because he believes this he's made the church embrace the worst aspects of our culture -- our pop culture: the things that are here for a day and gone tomorrow; that in five years are not only unpopular, but laughed at; frivolous things an entire industry tries to crank out year after year, truly beloved only by our snobs and average-joe-haters and coke-snorters, and so generally looked-down-on by anyone of good standing and moderate intelligence that while the majority of our teenagers buy it, only the most desperate and attention-starved kids attempt to mimic it.

It's worth wondering, though, whether this industry and its true believers are Lentz's target audience, or whether he aims for the people who only buy it.  If it is his target, what Christian, honestly reading the Scriptures, could condemn him?  These music-industry hipsters are our prostitutes and tax-collectors -- a group of people judged by the right-wing like our racists and believers in traditional marriage are judged by the Left.  But if it isn't, and Lentz is only selling himself to their fickle and shallow customers, first off, does he really think he can compete with Nicki Minaj?  And second, how can he expect to entertain them for long?
Carl Lentz, douche pastor

The answer, I believe, is conversion -- a salvation of his target audience which lifts them beyond the circus hoops and trapezing which is the probable front of Hillsong, and gets them to look at the deeper aspects of the Christian religion and the vanity of a life lived without a God who's bigger than fashion.  The only problem is, we have no idea what kind of Christianity Lentz is preaching or whether it's deeper than the front.  The papers have given us a caricature of a man because nobody asked for a portrait.  It's up to us to find out what kind of a Christian he is -- and if his church is still growing despite the mockery, to pray that he is one of the better ones.


*The gay marriage question is obligatory because it asks not whether the pastor believes in gay marriage, but whether he believes in Christianity.  They figure that if you can handle bucking two-thousand years of universal and (until now) indisputable church consensus -- that sex is not only just for the marriage bed, but between two people whose relationships are approved "by God" for marriage -- that you're not really Christ's man, but theirs.  And they're right.  So they cut to the chase and ask the question, and if you answer it "rightly" the Christians disown you, and if you answer it "wrongly" the leftists will run you through the meat-grinder.  We needn't go into the question of abortion -- on whether or not you believe a baby is made in the image of God, with an immortal soul and inalienable rights, and then whether or not the mother can rip it to pieces.

**The reason these two top-notch evangelists are missed is because they (for the moment) are less dangerous to society and more dangerous to the popular notion of church.  Francis Chan scandalized every mega-church pastor when he threw his megachurch away, calling it a perversion of the body of Christ, tossing aside the twenty-first century and opting instead for the first.  Paul Washer shook up a children's camp by telling them, instead of nice words and feel-good stories, that maybe they were never saved and are probably going to hell -- something he's been doing ever since, which caused a lot of Christians to actually get converted.  

Jonathan Edwards was reincarnated and Vice News never gave him a call.  The Apostle Paul came into our midst and The View never invited him on.  Our media is as blind to the actual spiritual heavings of America as Evangelicals are ignorant of the latest and greatest artists of hip-hop.  The greatest American leaders are almost never in politics: we hear the best speeches on Sunday, and our deepest messages aren't heard on the campaign trail or from our pundits, but from the almost-hidden pulpit.

Follow Letters to Hannah on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. As an artist/jeweler exhibits his work displaying the facets of the subject, you have done us a service by exposing more than most want to see (or understand). Well done Jeremy.

  2. Well done! Of course now I have to get more Chan and Washer books to read.

    1. I can’t speak for their books, but you’ve got to YouTube their sermons — life changing!


Post a Comment