Friday, May 30, 2008

Carlton Pearson: Heresy and Apostasy

Incredible words straight from the mouth of Carlton Pearson, former pastor of Higher Dimensions Family Church in Tulsa, OK, now an ordained "minister" of the United Church of Christ (Barak Obama's and Jeremiah Wright's denomination).

From the UCC interview with
Nancy Haught (Religion News Service), September 5, 2007, Ten minutes with UCC's Carlton Pearson -
Seven years ago, Bishop Carlton D. Pearson was a fourth-generation evangelical preacher and one of Oral Roberts' anointed; he had graduated from Oral Roberts University and served on its board of regents. He prayed with U.S. presidents, preached to 5,000 people in his home church in Tulsa, Okla., and to thousands more on television.

And then, in an interview, Pearson said that he did not believe God would consign countless souls - or anyone, for that matter - to hell.

In that instant, he broke ranks with those Christians who believe that unrepentant sinners will go to hell. That doctrine, called universal salvation, is an old one, but it's still not popular in some circles.

Pearson was denounced by the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops and by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was then president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Pearson's worldwide television audience disappeared. Only a few hundred stayed in his local congregation, and he lost the building itself in foreclosure.

Today, Pearson, 54, is still a bishop. ("Once a bishop, always a bishop," he says.) He's joined the United Church of Christ, and his steadfast disciples -- maybe 1,200 of them - meet in an Episcopal church in Tulsa.

He talked about his new book, "The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Religious Fundamentalism to the True Love of God," and some of his own temptations.

Q: Describe your gospel of inclusion.
A: Well, it's really basic universalism, but I couldn't have called it that. I needed another name. I am an evangelical Pentecostal fundamentalist and we'd always believed universalism was wrong. But the gospel of inclusion says that the whole world is already saved -- they just don't know that. If salvation is a reality and people have been saved, the question becomes, have they been saved from God? Or for each other?

Q: If salvation is inclusive, why do people need to reform their lives at all?
A: To create a heavenly consciousness or reality or experience here. Being good or kind or receptive or tolerant gives rise to some happier experience on Earth. To use reward and punishment is elementary; it will not work. If we stop this idea of a hostile God who is difficult to please or appease, when we get past that, the presence or reality of peace on Earth becomes possible.

Q: You still see yourself as an evangelical Pentecostal fundamentalist?
A: Well, I am reformed. I am a fourth-generation classical Pentecostal preacher. That's all we've ever known. I don't believe that Jesus came to start a new religion but only to reform his own. He was a Jew. ... He remained fundamentally a Jew, but he extended the love factor. He moved from the literal to the logical. The Bible says that the letter kills, but the spirit gives light.

Q: What impact has this turmoil had on you and your ministry?
A: It is humbling and sobering. You give more attention to details. Before, I did a lot of generic, sweeping ministry and delegated all the responsibilities to my staff. I was like the drawing card, sort of a celebrated guest.

Q: Was ego an issue?
A: Sure. There is a huge amount of ego in a lot of cultures. Anyone who expects everyone to look at him, listen to him for an hour every week. ... They were here for me. I was young and cocky and arrogant then, I am sure.

Q: And now?
A: I'm reaping what I sowed. Now I am on the board of Planned Parenthood -- I was a strong pro-life advocate and now I am pro-choice. Now they're saying I've gone a step beyond heresy. Now I am a reprobate, and I will be turned over to Satan. I am the anti-Christ, a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing. But some of these jerks, clowns and clones are my family. I have a 92-year-old aunt who is the matriarch of my family and she called me: "I didn't see that TV program, but people have called me and told me that you don't believe in hell. But I have a lot of Bible verses for you, and hell is in every one of them. So you stop by now."

Q: Will you stop by?
A: Well ... people used to be courteous and accommodating when my family came to church. "You're Bishop's mother, Bishop's sister, you sit up front now." But now, my family is embarrassed and sometimes defensive. They love me, but they don't all agree with me.

Q: Are you still tempted by ego?
A: Of course. I will be subject to that temptation until they put me in the grave. The ego in all of us gives us the drive to exist, but we need to keep it in check. I have a new understanding about what it is to be human. The church teaches self-loathing, teaches you to dislike yourself, but also to love others as you love yourself.

Q: It can seem like a mixed message.
A: The Bible sends a lot of mixed messages. I don't think of it anymore as the inspired word of God, but the inspired word of men about God -- and some of it has expired.
See also my earlier post, Doctrine Has Consequences.

Also listen here to host Todd Wilken, Issues, Etc., and his Sept. 12, 2007, piece on "Carlton Pearson's Gospel of Inclusion," with his guest Bob Hunter of Christian Research Institute.

Or download it here, starting at 33.30 minutes.


At 6/02/2008 7:33 PM, Blogger Servant of the Most High said...

His reformation needs a reformation. May the Spirit of God convict this man so that he may see what with clarity the consiquences of his actions.

great post,
s of MH

At 7/07/2008 9:37 PM, Blogger wwdunc said...

Pearson's journey from classic, Bible-believing Pentecostalism into the heresy he now embraces has got to be one of the saddest stories I've heard. It truly breaks my heart. May God have mercy on him and grant him repentance.

At 7/21/2008 8:16 AM, Blogger Steven Douglas said...

I echo the comments already made. Thanks for the post. Doctrine really does matter.


At 5/14/2009 5:28 AM, Anonymous clearmind said...

The doctrine of free choice and the promise of a cosmic oven if one makes the wrong choice is absurd. Fearmongering and the attempts to control people by such religious doctrines is the greatest of heresies. Pearson dared to say what many have thought and/or known for a long time.

At 7/06/2009 7:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is outrageously weird that some fundamentalists call Christian universalism and open theism “heresies” (especially when one considers that open theism is more in keeping with the concept of a dialectical God found in Judaism—Judaism being the religion of Jesus !)

Nowhere do any of the verses of the bible state that universalism , nor open theism are any “heresies” .

As a NON-fundamentalist Christian , I will always hope and pray that eventually every person will be redeemed by Jesus –or if not redeemed perhaps remediated). There may be some people who persist in some immoral behavior so tenaciously and severly that their souls may have to be destroyed partially and then have the elements of their souls reconstructed later –or their spirit somehow redeemed without the soul ..(perhaps serial killers and such might be included in such a prospect) .

Thank Jesus for universalist theologians !

Here below I am posting two articles that make the case that the use of terms like ‘heresy’ and ‘heretic’ in the New Testament epistles–should NOT be interpreted in the broad way that many ultra-Fundamentalists do…

The case is made that since in the epistles of Paul , where words such as ‘heresies’ and ‘heretic’ appear in the text…nowhere does Paul state explictly which specific doctrines are to be considered heretical , and since the only place in the bible scriptures where there is anything close to a definition of “heresy” is in the epistle of 2 Peter, where the author refers to people , ‘denying the Lord that bought them’ and NOT to Christian Universalism , open theism , or every form of unusual doctrine , but specifically to denying the Lord

And so the broad accusations that such and such a doctrine is “heresy” (that many ultra-Fundamentalists like to cast around) are playing fast and loose with the text .

I see that some have posted words to the effect that they were going to pray that Carlton Pearson stop supporting universalism and support a fundamentalist outlook . That is disgusting !

In light of how Jesus taught that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ and how that applies even to salvation , please do not pray that I become a fundamentalist. If it turns out that an ultra-Fundamentalist deity is running the universe (a different Deity than the Father of the Jesus who gave us the sermon on the mount)—then me becoming a fundamentalist and going to a fundamentalist heaven while other people (even nice people) are being tortured endlessly for not praying a Christian prayer prior to bodily death ..I would regard as a worse state of affairs than me being sent to a hell of fire and brimstone . It would be outrageously selfish for me to go to a fundamentalist sort of heaven —if there are people being tortured for an endless period of years .

If an ultra-Fundamentalist wants to send people to a fire and brimstone hell (or “allow” them to go there) where people are endlessly tortured —even nice people—then I’d just as soon rather try to persuade such a deity to to torture me instead *in the fire brimstone forever , rather than them and let the other people out of such a hell. If such an ultra-Fundamentalist deity maintains that such persons who have died without converting to Christianity are unworthy of heaven because of their sin or belief , then they could still be let out of that hell and sent to some other place that is *neither heaven nor a painfull variety of hell —that does not have any of the pleasures of heaven and yet does not have the pain and sufferring of hell—a neutral place of endless tedious boredom , or embarassment maybe .

At 1/13/2010 2:09 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

I like the first three comments by such "Brainwashed Christians" that it never fails me to appreciate the road that I took out of Christianity years ago. By the way has any of the 3 persons that commented even read his book? well of course they haven't. I have, and wholeheartedly agree with everything he has to say, even though I knew of universalism years before Carlton ever started to preach on it.

At 8/12/2010 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John 3:3 "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

John 3:17-18 "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

Can't get more straightforward than that, no matter how hard Mr. Pearson tries to rearrange doctrine.

Btw, believe this does not make a person "brainwashed". I'm guessing, Chris, that you don't have the smallest clue what brainwashing really is. If you did you wouldn't throw that term around so haphazardly.


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