Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Heretic: A Message of Love and Universal Salvation

Carlton Pearson

I'm a huge fan of Ira Glass's radio program, This American Life, which airs on my local NPR affiliate WCQS on Saturdays and Fridays. Glass's pieces are typically drenched in sarcasm and/or pathos.

One of his last programs in December had no sarcasm but plenty of pathos. And unlike most of his one-hour shows which are typically broken up into 10 - 15 minute segments, this show gave the full hour to one subject, one person, one story -- that of Bishop Carlton Pearson.

Pearson was the "black son" of Oral Roberts and was deeply enmeshed in Roberts' ministry. He broke away but essentially maintained the same Pentecostal message of his spiritual father and mentor. Until a little over a year ago.

Pearson had an epiphany which radically transformed his theology. He embraced a doctrine of universal salvation and discarded the typical Christian view of Hell, which holds that it is a place for non-believers, the unsaved, to gnash their teeth in a fiery eternity. Pearson adopted the view that Hell is indeed here on Earth, on this plane, and is of our making. Hell is a product of man's sadism and/or lack of love.

This theological shift cost him 95% of his followers (20,000 plus in weekly attendance), his pastoral staff, most of his friends, and his physical church. But he has moved on, holding services in a Episcopalian church in downtown Tulsa.

I highly recommend that when you have an hour, to listen to the show. I sat in the car in the driveway to listen to it -- Genna was kind enough to download it for from and burn it to CD. But you can listen to Pearson's journey and message for free here. (Requires RealAudio).