As former President Harry S. Truman often said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” And that’s exactly what conservative columnist Matt Walsh is urging Pastor Carl Lentz — and any minister who fails to unequivocally condemn abortion — to do.
In late October, Lentz, pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City, found himself in hot water after he sidestepped an abortion question from “The View” co-host Joy Behar. Rather than condemning it immediately, Lentz offered a wishy-washy response, telling the co-hosts people have to “live with their own convictions.”
As IJR previously reported, it wasn’t until Lentz endured eight days of social media backlash — and a statement from the church’s founding pastor, Brian Houston — that the New York City preacher finally acknowledged his belief that abortion is, in fact, “sinful.”
In a column at The Daily Wire, Walsh likened Lentz’s struggle to condemn abortion with a doctor who is waffling over whether it’s “a bad idea” to contract the Ebola virus:
A pastor who takes eight days to come to the conclusion that you shouldn't murder kids is like a doctor who has to retreat into the woods and meditate for a week to figure out if it's a bad idea to contract Ebola. It's nice that he finally landed on the right answer, but is he really qualified to be a doctor if he was stumped by that inquiry in the first place? Either the man has no understanding of medicine at all, or he harbors some strange sympathy for the Ebola virus.
“Likewise, we must either conclude that Lentz hasn’t the slightest clue about what the Bible actually teaches, or he’s too fearful and cowardly to speak the most basic and important biblical truths publicly,” Walsh continued. “Whichever is the case, he should not be a pastor.”
The conservative writer raises a valid point. It’s not that a Christian pastor can’t be understanding, full of grace or receptive to other people’s life experiences. They must simultaneously speak with love and boldly elevate the truths found in Scripture — that every human life is knitted together in God’s image and has inherent spiritual value.
In the words of the famous German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lentz fell into the trap of “cheap grace” during his appearance on “The View”:
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Unlike Lentz did on “The View,” pastors should be pointing nonbelievers and believers alike toward “costly grace,” which according to Bonhoeffer, “is costly because it calls us to follow” Jesus’s teachings, no matter what.
“Trying to teach a person about the hope of Christ without teaching him about sin,” Walsh wrote, “is like trying to teach someone how to use a parachute without teaching him first about gravity.”
He concluded that any pastor who is “afraid” to condemn abortion should “find a new job,” because they “aren’t qualified” to stand behind the pulpit.