Charlatans, charismatics, false teachers, NAR apostles–these people have an ally. His name is Michael Brown. As we’ve reported before, he’s the go-to apologist for modern-day Montanists. He’s defended Word of Faith huckster, Benny Hinn, false teacher Bill Johnson, and many others. We’ve also reported on the gullibility of Michael Brown and the charismatic movement in general. Michael Brown continues to display his gullibility.
We recently reported on Carl Lentz’ interview with Oprah on her Supersoul television show, in which the Hillsong, NY pastor was asked if someone had to be a Christian to have a relationship with God, to which he replied, “no.” In short, Lentz gave Oprah a version of Christianity that the new-age universalist found palatable. He was ambiguous, and very carefully worded his comments in such a way that Oprah could find herself in agreement with him. He did not, in any way, lead Oprah or her audience to believe that he believed in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ.
Enter Michael Brown.
Every time Hillsong says or does something stupid, you can count on Michael Brown to come and set the record straight. Michael Brown published an article asking Lentz to talk to him and clarify his comments. Lentz apparently took him up on the offer. He posed the following questions in his original article:
- Do you believe people can have a relationship with God outside of Jesus or even while rejecting Jesus?
- Do you believe that people are lost if they do not know Jesus as Lord?
- Did you give Oprah and her audience any reason to be alarmed?
- Did you clearly speak to her and to them about “righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment?”
These were good questions that needed to be asked, however, Michael Brown, as usual, is unable to see the bigger picture after his phone conversation with Lentz. (This tends to be an ongoing problem with people who have phone conversations with Lentz.) In a follow-up article, Brown walks away concluding that Carl Lentz clearly and unashamedly believes in the exclusivity of Christ and that his critics “have no business accusing him of universalism.”
First I want to say thank you. Thank you to Michael Brown for giving him the opportunity to clarify his position. However, what he really believes, or says he believes, isn’t the biggest issue at stake here. I have also been told by other pastors whom I trust and who have been in contact with him privately that he may be struggling with some theological issues and trying to find some solid ground. If this turns out to be true, that would be great. I would love nothing more than to see Carl Lentz turn from the typical seeker-friendly prosperity-type gospel that is commonly espoused by Hillsong. However, that has not yet happened.
The real issue is this. Carl Lentz had an opportunity to proclaim Jesus to Oprah and her audience. Now, let’s be absolutely clear, any Bible-believing Christian that knows anything about Oprah knows that if you proclaim the full counsel of God, the wickedness of man, and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Oprah Winfrey is going to take issue with that. Oprah Winfrey is a universalist who has made it clear that she hates the doctrine of the exclusivity of Christ. She believes in a false Jesus, a new age cosmic Jesus who is merely a way, not the way. In fact, if Lentz had been true to what he claims he believed to Michael Brown, Oprah may not have even aired the interview.
Carl Lentz was ambiguous in his claims regarding Jesus. He clearly gave an equivocal and palatable answer to Oprah’s question–one that he knew, and let’s understand this, he knew that Oprah would not take issue with. Even if he truly believes that Jesus is the only way, he didn’t say that. Further, what Lentz may or may not believe is irrelevant. It’s what he said that’s the problem. Lentz may very well believe in the exclusivity of Christ. Even the demons believe that and they shudder (James 2:19). It was Lentz’ unwillingness to clearly proclaim that truth that is troublesome. Essentially, he denied Christ before man and that is a big problem (Matt 10:33). He spoke of Jesus as merely a way.
Michael Brown reports:
When I asked him the question, “Are people lost without Jesus?” he said, “Without a doubt! He’s the only hope of salvation. One hundred percent.” And he added, “Without Jesus, you can have everything but have nothing. That’s why I’ve given my life for Jesus and for souls.”
Can you be any more plain than that? And while Pastor Lentz made clear to me that he was glad to answer my questions (because he recognized me as a brother with a redemptive heart) and that he had no desire to please his critics, I would say to his critics: You have no business accusing him of universalism in any shape, size or form. He could not have been more clear.
Here’s where Michael Brown’s gullibility sticks out like a sore thumb. Michael Brown doesn’t consider that Lentz is speaking to a different audience here. Who is his audience? Well, Michael Brown, and those around him. While we have our significant disagreements with Brown, and we do consider much of what he teaches and defends to be a danger to the Church, we can say that Michael Brown has at least been consistent on these issues raised here–the exclusivity of Christ and the gospel. So Lentz, knowing that Michael Brown believes these things, has no problem coming out with a bold proclamation of Christ as the only way. Oprah and her followers don’t follow Michael Brown. He has nothing to lose by making this claim to Brown and his audience. So he does.
But Brown thinks he should be let off the hook, and that Lentz’ critics (Pulpit & Pen) have no business accusing him of universalism. The question then becomes, why not? He went on Oprah’s show, a show in which the majority of the audience is lost, and told Oprah that you don’t have to be a Christian to have a relationship with God. Again, had he done so, Oprah would have clearly taken issue with him, rather than nod her head in agreement.
Still, Brown reports:
Pastor Lentz told me with passion that while people might differ with some things at Hillsong, there was no possible way anyone could accuse them (or him) of believing in universalism.
He said that he believes in John 14:6 with every fiber of his being, with his entire life, and so he doesn’t know why he didn’t quote the rest of the verse to Oprah (namely, that no one comes to the Father apart from Jesus) because that is absolutely what he believes.
It becomes quite obviously apparent why he didn’t quote the rest of John 14:6 to Oprah in light of who Lentz is. He is the pastor of a large, seeker-friendly non-confrontational church that has compromised on many, many issues, from knowingly allowing an openly gay choir director, to allowing one of his associate pastors to pose as an obscene character, the Naked Cowboy, at a women’s conference (both of which Michael Brown attempted to minimize and defend, see here and here). The list of tasteless shenanigans goes on and on. Carl Lentz has never been the one to offend anyone–of course, except for those who call him out on his gospel weakness.
Michael Brown’s relentless defense of the biblically defenseless needs to be exposed. He exhorts people to watch the interview of Lentz and Oprah in its entirety. He believes that by watching the video, the entire interview, that it may change your perspective on the things Lentz said. Brown said in his first article,
I appreciated that you proclaimed Jesus as everything, as God, as the answer, as the sacrifice, as the atonement, as the way in. And you stated clearly that you don’t see Jesus as an option or as a good guy or as moralist. Well said!
But he really didn’t. After telling Oprah that you don’t have to be a Christian to have a relationship with Christ, he went on to say, “for me,” this or “for me,” that. “I believe,” these things about Jesus … but, for you, you don’t have to be a Christian… that’s just what I believe. Obviously, I paraphrased, but Lentz telling Oprah essentially that she could believe what she wants, and then giving her a carefully worded unoffensive version of what he believes, is exactly the kind of double-minded instability a minister of God’s word is not supposed to have. See, Oprah is perfectly fine if you believe that Jesus is the sacrifice, the atonement, that He is God, as long as you don’t believe that he is the ONLY sacrifice, the ONLY atonement, and the ONLY God. See, Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers–they all believe that their gods are the right way for them too, and as long as you don’t become exclusive, you’re in good company.
Clearly, Lentz was in good company, or at least Oprah thought so. And that is grounds for criticism.
Finally, Michael Brown says,
I would also say to his critics: I am not here as an apologist for Hillsong, since I have never attended a Hillsong service in my life or read a book or listened to a full sermon by Brian Houston. I can only address my conversation with Pastor Lentz.
I would beg to differ. You ARE an apologist for Hillsong. You’ve stepped in to “set the record straight” nearly every time Hillsong comes under fire. You are gullible and you believe everything someone tells you if you like them enough. Lentz captivated you like he has done to others, with a personal phone call. You need to stop being so moved by these interactions. One phone conversation doesn’t undo the historical record of Lentz’ dealings. You need to look at the entirety of his ministry to judge if he’s theologically sound. If you were to do so and compare his ministry to biblical teachings you would see that Lentz is clearly theologically inept and unqualified to represent the Word of God in the capacity he’s currently in.
I do pray that Lentz would seek the guidance of orthodox, biblically qualified, and theologically sound teachers to guide him to point where he is able to rightly handle the Word of God, and uncompromisingly and unambiguously proclaim Jesus as the only Savior, to which without coming to Him in faith and repentance, you are lost, and will spend eternity in Hell. I also pray that unless this happens, Michael Brown would stop defending those who compromise the gospel while attacking those who stand solely on the authority of God’s Word.
Michael Brown, you cannot hold hands with God and the devil.
[Contributed by Pulpit & Pen]