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.

Friday, May 23, 2008

We're All The Same?

Comedian and talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, recently interviewed Senator and Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, on her show, Ellen. Speaking of Ms. DeGeneres' stated intention to take advantage of the California Supreme Court’s recent gay marriage ruling and "marry" her partner, actress Portia di Rossi, Ms. DeGeneres made the following statement:

"Yeah, I mean, I think that it is looked at, and some people are saying that blacks and women did not have the right to vote. Women just got the right to vote in 1920, blacks didn’t have the right to vote until 1870, and it just feels like there’s this old way of thinking that we’re not all the same. We are all the same people. All of us. You’re no different than I am. Our love is the same."

"We are all the same people. All of us. You’re no different than I am. Our love is the same."

Scripturally, what does the Bible say to this statement? If you were asked to respond, what would you say, and how would you support it by scripture? Book, chapter and verse, please.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Why Doctrine Matters

Is it enough to “believe in Jesus” in some amorphous sense that divorces “faith” from any particular doctrine about Him, or is doctrine—and the content of our faith—really important after all?

Scripture plainly teaches that we must be sound in the faith—which is to say that doctrine does matter (1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 4:2-3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1). It matters a lot.

“If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Tim. 6:3-4, emphasis added).

Sound, biblical doctrine is a necessary aspect of true wisdom and authentic faith. The attitude that scorns doctrine while elevating feelings or blind trust cannot legitimately be called faith at all, even if it masquerades as Christianity. It is actually an irrational form of unbelief.

God holds us accountable for what we believe as well as how we think about the truth He has revealed. All Scripture testifies to the fact that God wants us to know and understand the truth. He wants us to be wise. His will is that we use our minds. We are supposed to think, meditate, and above all, to be discerning.

The content of our faith is crucial. Sincerity is not sufficient.

Consider, for example, these well-known verses. Note the repeated use of words like truth, knowledge, discernment, wisdom, and understanding:

“Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom” (Psa. 51:6).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psa. 111:10).

“Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Thy commandments” (Psa. 119:66).

“Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:2-6).

“The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding” (Prov. 4:7).

“We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9).

“In [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that He wants us to use our minds. And one of the most vital duties facing every Christian—especially in an era (such as ours) when the church is overrun with contradictory ideas and spiritual confusion—is the duty of discernment. As those who would be faithful Bereans of the Word (Acts 17:11), we must be careful to watch our lives and our doctrine closely (1 Tim. 4:16).

(John MacArthur, Why Doctrine Matters, Pulpit Magazine, May 9, 2008)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Martyn Lloyd-Jones & Worshipping Trinity

Great News!

Now, available for FREE downloads, are Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones messages in MP3!

"Living Grace," a weekly radio broadcast featuring Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, is now streaming at You can also download the individual broadcasts for your iPod/MP3 Player or sign up for the podcast. It's just what the Doctor ordered!


Check out Robin Parry's, Worshipping Trinity: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship (Paternoster Publishing, June 1, 2005).

The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the distinguishing beliefs of Christianity, but have we ever thought about its implications for worship? Worship is God-centered. And God is the Trinity. So it follows that worship should be Trinity-centered. This book seeks to make the three members of the Godhead central to singing, preaching, the discernment of spiritual gifts, communion, and creativity in the arts.

Writing for church leaders, worship leaders, and songwriters as well as those interested in theology, Robin Parry looks at why the Trinity matters and addresses pressing questions such as:
  • What is the relationship between theology and worship?
  • Why is the Trinity central to Christian living and believing?
  • Does the Trinity help us understand what we do when we worship?
  • How can we write and select songs that foster an awareness of the Trinity?
  • How can we make the Trinity central through Holy Communion, spiritual gifts, preaching, and the use of the arts?