Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz has clarified his stance on abortion after coming under fire for seemingly refusing to condemn the practice as sinful.
On Tuesday, the popular pastor and author posted a statement on Twitter to emphasize that he does, in fact, "believe abortion is sinful."
"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 said.
"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," he continued.
The controversy began last week when Lentz was asked about his views on abortion during an appearance on "The View."
"So, it's not a sin in your church to have an abortion?" pro-abortion host Joy Behar asked.
Lentz responded: "That's the kind of conversation we would have finding out your story, where you're from, what you believe. ... I mean, God's the judge. People have to live to their own convictions. That's such a broad question, to me, I'm going higher. I want to sit with somebody and say, 'What do you believe?'"
"So it's not an open and shut case to you?" Behar asked.
"Some people would say it is," Lentz responded. "To me, I'm trying to teach people who Jesus is first, and 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."
It wasn't long before dozens took to social media to accuse Lentz of sidestepping the question.
On Facebook, Evangelist Ray Comfort argued that when a Christian goes on a secular TV program as a guest, they "should not be going there as a friend of the world," but as an "ambassador of Christ."
"And if you are true and faithful, you are going to clash in almost every area with their worldview-on who goes to Heaven, on the existence of Hell, the character and nature of God, the nature of man, and what's morally right and what's wrong," he asserted. "You will clash on the subjects of marriage, fornication, homosexuality, pornography, and of course on the subject of abortion. You will have contention, because you are stepping into enemy territory and upholding a flag which is utterly offensive to this sin-loving world. The flag of righteousness. Hide that flag and you will have the applause of this world...and scripture tells us 'Whosoever is a friend of this world is the enemy of God' (James 4:4)."
He concluded: "Please pray for Carl Lentz and Hillsong Church NYC."
"The Federalist" contributor James Silberman wrote: "This position might be received as a moderate stance on the issue or a lack of stance altogether. But in this case, to be on the fence is to be on the side of child sacrifice. 'Live to your own convictions' is practically the slogan of the abortion lobby. Lentz might as well have said 'My body, my choice,' or 'Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.'"
Another megachurch pastor, Lakewood Church Joel Osteen, also came under fire in 2015 after he said he avoids discussing controversial social and political issues from the pulpit because such messages can "turn people off."
"I think they are important but I think everybody has their own calling," he said when asked if he believes issues such as homosexuality and abortion are important for pastors to address.
"[but] it's not what I'm called to do," he added. "I have friends who are very political. They're pastors and that's what their thing is. But I think sometimes, that the church world, we can take one issue and make it really, really big and it can turn people off where there are many bigger issues. That's why I don't like to be defined by one thing."
"You know, our message is about lifting people up, helping them fulfill their destiny, helping them to forgive in a tough time, how to make it through this life when life tries to push you down," he said.