Carl Lentz, pastor at Hillsong Church, spoke with RELEVANT magazine for an interview published on Wednesday, where he addressed controversial comments he made about abortion during an early November appearance on "The View."
What were the comments that got him into trouble?
Lentz came under fire after his appearance on the ABC daytime show after refusing to outright call abortion sinful.
"God’s the judge," Lentz told co-host Joy Behar after she asked him if it was a sin in his church to have an abortion.
"People have to live to their own convictions, and I think if I have to tell you … that’s such a broad question to me," he explained.
Behar then pressed Lentz further and said, "So it’s not an open-and-shut case with you?"
He responded, "Some people would say it is. I think, to me, I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first, 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."
Lentz initially clarified his position after the backlash, and on Twitter said, "Recently in an interview, I was asked direction if abortion is sin. I did not answer the question directly for a number of reasons and that has caused some confusion about our stance as a church on this matter.
"I do believe abortion is sinful," Lentz wrote. "Our prayer is that we can continue to help and love those that deal with the pain of regret from personal choices, rather than cast further shame and guilt on those already carrying so much and create a church that can teach people how to form convictions based on God's word, that will be the driving force in all their decisions."
He concluded, "I will continue to point people to Jesus, above all else, every opportunity I get. The story of God's redemptive grace, available to all, is the best news available."
Thoughts addressing a recent interview: pic.twitter.com/WoAcFwy8UQ
— carl lentz (@carllentzNYC) November 7, 2017
What is he saying now?
Lentz told RELEVANT magazine's Cameron Strang exactly what was in his mind when he visited the set of "The View."
"I went in with this chapter of interviews going, 'I’m gonna speak a lot more clearly on things that we maybe in the past, we’ve willfully chosen to go, 'You know what? let’s keep the conversation moving,' in particularly about abortion. And I went in there prepared, because I knew that’s what they were gonna say," Lentz explained.
Lentz admitted that due to the high energy of the roundtable discussion, he was not able to make his point in its entirety.
"I was going to talk about Psalm 139, because she said 'How do you feel about homosexual marriage? How do you feel about abortion?' and then before I could even say anything, the other host jumps in and immediately asked me a question about something so specific," Lentz said.
"The host who asked me the question is not a Christian, doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t believe what we believe and she asked me about sin," he added. "So I felt like a higher question would be 'Let’s talk about who Jesus is before we go there.'"
Lentz explained, "I just felt like the best thing I could do in the moment was point to Jesus."
"My answer was, 'Before I tell you about what I think sin is, I would like to know your name,'" he admitted. "I still stand by that. I’m still gonna do that. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to get to the truth; it doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything to say. My point is, 'You want go there, before we do, [I want to exercise] my right as a human to say: What’s your name? Where are you from? Why did you get an abortion? Who is the other factor in this? Where were you raised?' Just so it will be more effective."
To those Christians who criticized him over the comments, Lentz had just one thing to say in response.
"A lot of Christians that don’t know who we are say things like 'You’re a coward' and 'Truth is truth' and 'You need to speak out,'" he revealed. "I just say, 'I think me and you – first of all – might know a different Jesus.' I think I did what I would always do, which is try to get to know a person. To me, I’m going in there with the intent of pointing to Jesus and hopefully speaking a language the world can understand."