Original post from Christian Post 1 Dec 2017
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.”
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.”
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.
For my rebuttal read Tattoos and Taboos
If you want to a brief answer to Carl’s scholastic overview of the scriptures:
The Leviticus Prohibition
So why the taboo of Tattoos?
‘Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.’ – Leviticus 19:28
What does it say? – “Ye shall not. . .print any marks upon you. . .”
A lot of people when confronted with Leviticus 19:28, seem to think that’s not for today.
That’s the Old Testament, that’s not relevant to us today!
If we take the time to read the verses around verse 28, we get the overall context:
” Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.
29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.
30 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.
31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.
32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.
By the way, have you ever read, and thought about Leviticus 19:29?
“Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore….”
This is the only place in the Bible that God directly forbids someone to prostitute their daughter. And since, it’s ONLY in the Old Testament Levitical Law it can’t be an ok by the Lord for a parent to cause their daughter to be a prostitute.
There are many other ‘moral laws’ that are ONLY forbidden in the Old Testament, such as the human sacrifice of children. No where in the New Testament is it mentioned or forbidden.
“And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 18:21
Did you know that “bestiality” was ONLY forbidden in the Old Testament Levitical Law? It is mentioned only twice, once in Leviticus 18:23 and again in Leviticus 20:15-16. Does that mean a Holy God NOW – under the New Testament, somehow approves of bestiality?
Here’s one of the verses again in context – Leviticus 18:20-24
“20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her. 21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. 22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. 24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you.”
Don’t do these things – why? Because they bring cursing, not blessing. God’s judgement eventually falls on such people.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary at the beginning of Leviticus 19 explains that most of Leviticus 19 (such as verse 28) are moral commandments that applies not only for Israel but for the New Testament Christian today.
“Some ceremonial precepts there are in this chapter, but most of them are moral. . . Most of these precepts are binding on us, for they are expositions of most of the ten commandments.”
(Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Leviticus 19:28)
“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD”
Notice also, the phrase “for the dead” is ONLY referencing the “cuttings in your flesh”. The condemnation of “nor print ANY marks upon you” is not qualified by the phrase “for the dead”. Also, if you’ll notice the verse clearly says “ANY marks” period.
Unger’s Bible Dictionary under the definition for “Mark” includes the following reference;
“In Lev. 19:28 we find two prohibitions of an unnatural disfigurement of the body: ‘Ye shall not make any cutting in your flesh for the dead, nor any print any marks upon you.’ The latter (Heb. qa aqa, incision) refers to tattooing, and has no reference to idolatrous usages, but was intended to inculcate upon the Israelietes a proper reverence for God’s creation.” (Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 1974 ed., p. 696)
Notice that Unger teaches that tattoos were forbidden without any reference to pagan, heathen, or idolatrous usages. In other words, the tattoo itself, regardless the reason, was forbidden.
Wycliffe’s Bible Encyclopedia under the definition for TATTOOING says:
“While ‘cuttings in the flesh’ have reference here to mourning customs [for the dead], the tattooing does not appear to pertain to such practice.” (Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, 1975 ed., p. 1664)
The New American Commentary on Leviticus 19:28 writes the condemnation was for, “cutting the body either for the dead or with tattoo marks.” (Mark F. Rooker, The New American Commentary on Leviticus, 2000 ed., p. 262) Explicitly recognizing the tattoo was not “for the dead.”
Tattoos and Worship
“Ye worship ye know not what. . .” -John 4:22
Throughout history the tattoo bears the mark of paganism, demonism, Baal worship, shamanism, mysticism, heathenism, cannibalism and just about every other pagan belief known.
The tattoo has NEVER been associated with Bible Believing Christians. And whenever and wherever, in history Christianity appears – tattoos disappear. The only exception is — 20th century, lukewarm, carnal, disobedient, Laodicean Christians.
The birth of the tattoo has always born the fruits of pagan religion and mysticism. Without exception, research after research, study after study, book after book, the roots of the tattoo never wavers.
The following documentation is just a small drop of the ocean of research documenting the pagan and demonic source of the tattoo.