Hillsong New York City Pastor Carl Lentz recently addressed the criticism he often receives from Christians about his tattoos.
While speaking with World Religion News in a recent interview, the popular pastor responded to a question about "conflicting or potentially conflicting Biblical passages" and how he interprets them, specifically with regard to tattoos.
"Biblical interpretation is huge right. So with tattoos not being allowed you mean Leviticus. We play both sides of the coin I think that is healthy. Like this paradox of scripture, interpretation is actually is part of our faith, the tension of it. So, on one hand, we say that is the Old Testament scripture, there is no New Testament verification of that. That law that had to do with slaves, that identified you as part of a tribe we don't believe that came through the cross," Lentz said.
The scripture the minister was referring to is found in Leviticus 19:28: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the LORD." However, Lentz says that that specific Old Testament scripture does not apply today because of what Jesus did on the cross.
"We don't believe that when Jesus died and rose again that old Levitical scripture applied to our modern life. That is ridiculous," the Virginia native maintained. "At the same time, there are some things we do believe follow through on the cross. So, the way we break down we would literally put up the Old Testament and then put a cross in the middle and then we put up the New Testament and we say anything that comes through the cross is eternal. Anything that stops is Old Testament."
Lentz gave examples of animal blood sacrifices seen in the Old Testament that no longer apply now because of Jesus becoming the sacrificial lamb.
"Honoring your wife as God honors his church that comes through the cross. So that is our scope for all Scripture interpretation. If it died on the cross then it needs to die in our theology. Tattoos are a no-brainer. Are you kidding me? Jesus was pretty clear in every detail," he explained. "Whether it is diet, whether its image, whether it's qualification, that stuff died on the cross."
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The 39-year-old concluded his response by saying that everyone must act according to their own personal conviction when it comes to tattoos.
"If I don't believe these tattoos devalues the temple that is the Holy Spirit, my body, I am doing it. I do then I don't, but I am not going to turn my conviction necessarily into theology or doctrine," Lentz ended.
Lentz has been on a promotional junket for his new book, Own the Moment. The book, which was just released, is part autobiography, "part spiritual advice," and "part self-improvement."
The edgy pastor frequently admits that his church is not the "stereotypical" house of worship as compared to others because they aim to be more inclusive.
"In church, people treat you like you have to change or else," Lentz told the NY Daily News in a 2014 interview, "Our approach is, 'We love you, nothing else.'"
Hillsong NYC church is a branch of the Australian Hillsong church (created by Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, in 1983) that often attracts the attention of many A-list celebrities. Justin Bieber, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant and Selena Gomez, to name a few, are all a part of the church.