Justin Bieber’s Christian credentials have come in for a knocking in recent months for well-documented reasons, but Carl Lentz – Pastor of the Hillsong Church in New York City – where the singer has previously attended services is speaking up in his defense.
The Pastor added: “What should we do? People who are like, ‘Is he even a Christian?’ With Justin, I tell people grace and acceptance does not mean approval. I can accept you as a human being and not approve of your actions. That’s how we’ve been loved. We love — because we were first loved.”
Lentz went on, “With Justin, it’s not my job to be his police officer. It’s my job to be a friend to him, and that’s all I am.”
It’s an interesting view. Certainly it’s the bigger, Christian view, which probably wouldn’t sit well with the over 271,000 signees to a “We the People” petition demanding the government “Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card.”
While it’s not known exactly how long Bieber has been attending Hillsong Church’s services, which were previously held at Manhattan’s trendy Irving Plaza but recently moved its Sunday worship to Manhattan Center, the openly Christian star does have a relationship with Lentz and Seattle City Church leader Pastor Judah Smith who he was introduced to by his also Christian mother — Pattie Mallette.
Last September during New York Fashion Week, Justin tweeted that he “broke down” after attending an “amazing sermon” by Lentz, and Smith previously revealed he selects Biblical text for Bieber to read and even traveled as far as South Africa to attend the singer’s Believe tour concert in Johannesburg last year.
Love to my guy @carllentzNYC for the amazing sermon at church this morning. Love you man. I broke down today. Thank u :)
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) September 9, 2013
It was reported last month that during a Super Bowl-related visit to New York, Bieber tried to find a private pool in Manhattan so he could be baptized by Hillsong. In February, one of two sources told the New York’s Post Page Six:
“Justin and his team spent time on Saturday searching for a place with a pool where they could conduct a baptism for him, a cleansing ritual, with the Hillsong Church. But they couldn’t find a place in time.”
Another insider said, “Justin is serious about his Christian faith, and after recent events, he needed to take a pause.”
Before his failed Baptism attempt, Lentz and Smith were also seen with Bieber when he was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter last October [later published November 29), and the singer has previously tweeted photos and messages to both pastors.
Justin’s so far incident-filled 2014 has dominated headlines and brought him to the attention of with law enforcement.
Bieber was accused of egging his former neighbor’s house in Calabasas, Calif. on January 9 which may result in a criminal charge. Just two weeks later, he was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Miami Beach. A toxicology report revealed the active ingredient of marijuana and Xanax were in Bieber’s system at the time of arrest. Days later, he was charged with assault over an alleged fracas in Toronto.
But, unlike some, Pastor Lentz isn’t interested in condemning Bieber but instead wants to help him out of this troubled period of his life.
Asked during a 2013 Fox network spot what advice he gives Bieber, who “has every earthly temptation” readily available to him, Pastor Lentz who has previously called the performer a “spectacular young man” replied he would ask Justin to ask himself what Jesus would do.
(Photo: Bieber praying with Pastors Lentz and Smith in October 2013 while attending an interview with The Hollywood Reporter).