A theologian #3: Rev. Carlton Pearson

Recently, I have been doing more reading and I have just finished reading The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Fundamentalism to the True Love of God by Carlton Pearson (ASUZA Press/Council Oak Books, 2007). Today, Bishop Pearson is considered a heretical pentecostal preacher who no longer believes in hell and believes that everyone will be saved. Proponents of universalism believe that whether or not one leaves this earthly life believing in Jesus Christ as the son of God, one will eventually be saved. This is the theology that Pearson has now accepted.

The rise and fall of Carlton Pearson intrigued me. Before being rejected by his congregation of 5,000, by his fellow pentecostal-charismatic clergy, and labeled a heretic, he was at the height of his pentecostal ministry in the charismatic world, but it all came crashing down. In his early days, he sang in the Oral Roberts gospel choral team, attended Oral Roberts University, and was noticed by Oral Roberts himself and taken under his wings. He was considered a protégé of televangelist Oral Roberts, and even sat on the Board of Regents at Oral Roberts University (ORU). But what a change of events when he announced to the world that he held universalist beliefs. He eventually lost the congregation he worked so hard to build. They left him. The church property went into receivership. He was no longer welcomed to speak at pentecostal conferences.

He begins his book discussing where he came from and where he has gone in his theology and ministry. Living a life holiness and evangelism defined his Christian life. He was as typical a Pentecostal as one could get. He also started the Asuza Conferences that brought in the big names like T.D. Jakes, and others.

Today, he has invited gays and lesbians to take an active part in the ministry of the church. The bulk of his book is spent discussing why he disagrees with the theologies of hell and damnation. He refutes the orthodox understanding of faith and grace. His book also begins with some quotes from the early church fathers. He also claims that most of the early church fathers were universalists themselves.

I was taken aback as I read his book, The Gospel of Inclusion. I could never imagine that a person of conservative evangelical influence could ever go that far away from one’s theology. By the end of his book, I got a slight feeling of insecurity because if someone like him I can go that far with his theology, who is to say that I might never go this far myself? When I look back and reflect on where I have been and where I am now, some might also consider me a heretic…but I’ll be quiet about that.

From what basis does Carlton Pearson build his theology? Is it the bible? Or is it from the writings of the early church fathers? I am cautious of putting the early church fathers on a pedestal simply because their theologies contradict one other’s. Some read their theologies as if they were the gospel truth but there is a hidden element of danger to doing so because it puts their writings on the same level as the holy scriptures. It is ironic that the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox church, and some from the liturgical Anglican and Lutheran persuasion hold that the historic faith of the ante-Nicene fathers are orthodox and apostolic. How can anyone claim that there is a true historic episcopate when the theologies of the early church fathers contradict one other’s theology? In my humble opinion, this simply does not square. Today, a part of the emerging church movement has placed a premium on the theologies of the early church fathers, but at what cost? Have they traded in theological truth for theological acceptance and inclusion of all religions?

Also see similar posts:
A theologian #2: Rev. Francis Schaeffer
A theologian #1: Rev. John Shelby Spong

20 thoughts on “A theologian #3: Rev. Carlton Pearson

  1. Your welcome , Reverand Sam .

    And thank you for the commentary on Matthew 7:14.

    It is easier to comment anonymously , due to how I am borderline computer illiterate …not computer saavy at all and I find the process of registering for blogger very complicated .


  2. Anonymous, in Mat 7:14 where Jesus says: "there are few who find it", is open to interpretation.

    Thanks for this copy of the article makes sense. I don't think there's any need to comment anonymously.


  3. Furthermore, how about using the scriptures that indicate that God desires to save everyone as the scriptures to interpret the other scriptures that seem to indicate some sort of permanent punishment —instead of the other way around .?

    John 3:17 reports that God did not send his son to condemn the world but that the world through hiom might be saved' .

    If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tommorrow, then his role would always remain the role of NOT being sent to condemn mankind but to save it .

    Though the Fundamentalists may wish to quote the verse that reports for narrow is the path that leads to life and there be few that find it , notice that Jesus does not say "there be few that ever find it" .

    It is certainly plausible that he meant there be few that find the narrow path *during that time period*, in which he was teaching in ancient Israel .


  4. THE PERILS OF HUNTING SO-CALLED "HERESY" [part 2 section d]

    In Matthew 25: verses 31-46 , the criteria that Jesus said would separate the blessed from the accursed was NOT any doctrinal theological "correctness" for its own sake, but instead whether or not a person showed kindness to those who he called 'the least of his bretheren' . The ultimate criteria according to Jesus that separated the sheep from the goats was NOT whether they believed in doctrines like baptism by immersion , the impassibility of God , the authority of the apostles, the protestant canon , total depravity , or any of the doctrines that Calvinists and other Fundamentalists allege to be such paramount doctrines , but instead whether they fed, gave drink, clothed, welcomed , visited those that Jesus called 'the least of the bretheren ' .

    That is NOT to say that Matthew 25 taught redemption by works , but rather that Jesus taught that following him and God involved making a conscious effort to show kindness to the destitute out of a pure principle of charity — and also NOT expecting any reward for doing so .

    Note that in Matthew 25:37-40 , the people who Jesus calls blessed are apparently suprised they served Jesus in helping the least of the brethren . They ask questions like 'when did we you hungry and give you something to eat ?, when saw you a stranger and take you in? ' et al.

    Are these questions that Jesus predicts the blessed people will ask in Matthew 25 rhetorical questions or earnest questions ?

    If they are *earnest* questions then that suggests that these people (which Jesus calls blessed) do these acts of charity *without expecting any reward for doing so at all , but do so to serve a principle of kindness towards the unfortunate . That further indicates that a person having the "heart" (disposition) directed toward kindness to the unfortunate is more important a criteria to Jesus than doctrinal correctness when such doctrinal "correctness" is conceived apart from the more purely ethical considerations .

    The irony is that the people in the story of Matthew who give unto the least of the bretheren did so , not to avoid some unpleasant torture in some hell nor to gain litertalized rewards in some paradise but did so sheerly out of kindness ..charity , for after all they did not fully realize that by feeding , visiting , giving shelter to the least of the believers in Jesus they were indirectly giving to Jesus too .

    In the New Testament epistle called I John sums up what is most important in terms of the teaching of Jesus that the epistle calls 'his commandments' .

    ' And this is his commandment that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as he gave us commandment '.

    Thus in the epistle called I John, the basic tenet of belief is indeed a very basic tenet and believing the gospel is NOT equated with a lengthy list of doctrinally correct beliefs that heresy hunting sectarians claim !



    Hence 2 Timothy 3:6 describes people who ,

    "creep into houses and lead captive silly women captive with sins , led away with divers lusts. " .

    1 Timothy also warns against those who forbid others to marry .(see 1 Timothy 4 :3)

    Apparently the verse in the book of Revelation also that warns against , 'the doctrine of the Nicolaitans' (Revelation 2:15) is, according to church fathers like Iraneaus , directed at the anti-nomians that had been followers of a man named Nicolas. He apparently had advocated liberated sex and going to feasts devoted to polytheistic idols (aka to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed to idols) .

    Thus, much of the concern about false doctrines can be more plausibly interpreted as being about doctrines by legalizing factions and factions of the early church that promoted sexual immorality and hedonism —and NOT about exotic theology (that so many of the fundamentalist heresy hunters are against) .

    It is indeed bizarre that many Fundamentalists, Calvinists and so on try and apply such warnings about 'heresy' and give them broad interpretation towards theological doctrines and beliefs they find exotic (such as open theism .open theism,. by the way, is more in keeping with the concept of God in Judaism as being open to dialectic with created beings . And Jesus is very Jewish ) .

    Jesus in the gospels when he speaks of false prophets uses a moral criteria and NOT a criteria of "doctrinal correctness" as a means of explaining how you can tell true prophets from false prophets . In Matthew 7:18 he teaches,

    'a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit '.

    Jesus in the gospels takes a very ecumenical approach –accepting some of those who chose to remain outside the community of his own apostles as still serving the kingdom of God . In Mark 9:38 John tells Jesus that there was one casting out devils in his name and how he and the other disciples 'forbade him for he followeth not us'.

    Jesus then told him in the next verse , forbid him not' and in Mark 9:40 added ,

    'He that is not against us is on our part' .

    Jesus in the gospels did NOT say anything to support the heresy hunting that many Fundamentalists support at all .



    That Paul has authority as an apostolic leader was a marginal doctrine that Paul promotes –even in one epistle writing to the community where he states ,

    'be ye followers of me as I am of Christ' .

    And yet Paul does NOT emphasize the doctrine of himself having authority as being as important a doctrine as say , the resurrection and atonement of Jesus . Furthermore, he is willing to rejoice when those that disagree with his authority still preach Jesus (as in Phillipians) and does NOT refer to them as "heretics" nor does he claim they are preaching a 'different gospel' .

    Paul in another letter Romans chapters 14 verses 1-6 he accepts those in the 'christian community' that follow the holy days and dietary rules (apparently of Judaism ) as serving God JUST AS MUCH as those who claim that under grace they are free from such dietary rules –thus allowing for an ecumenical approach in regard to that area of doctrine .In Romans 14:5 he wrote ,

    'let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind ' .

    You , sir, mentioned the church fathers .

    Apparently many of the people who have studied the writings of the Church fathers –have come to the conclusion that the primary factions that the New Testament letters warn about false doctrines were the legalizers and the anti-nomian factions . The legalizers taught that the ceremonial law (and NOT just the moral law) of the first 5 Mosaic books were required for being a follower of Jesus . It is the legalizers to which Paul addresses in Galatians .

    The anti-nomians, in contrast, promoted the belief that because Jesus had presented God's grace (instead of mere ceremonial law) as a means of relating to God, that it was somehow then okay to throw away the moral law as well and engage in wild sex -even extramarital sex and wild hedonism without much restraint on conduct .

    It is the anti-nomians that are alluded to apparently in some of the writings of the very early church fathers . That sheds apparent light on the warnings in the epistle called Jude about ungodly men 'turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness' and in the New Testament epistle 2 Peter, of "false teachers" –as well as the warnings against the warnings in the epistle of 2 Timothy about those that "will not endure sound doctrine" and have "itching ears"
    and be 'turned unto fables' . It is the anti-nomain factions –sexual perverts and those that forbid marriage that 2 Timothy warns about –NOT anyone that has an unusual doctrine –NOT open theists, charismatics ect .



    NOTE: The following article is taken from an exchange which took place about 3 years ago on a Myspace forum— regarding the interpretation of bible verses sometimes claimed in support of a rather broad and loose interpretation of the term "heresy" —with the phrasing of the original comments I posted edited for better phrasing with some addenta .

    Other Person in The Debate : Don't forget the anathema declaration in Gal. ch. 1. It pretty much sums up the concept of a "different gospel". Paul is asserting his apostalic authority against heresy, particularly those calling for circumcision. We are also exorted to take a stand for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Being a "saint" or an "apostle" has lead to extreme views of control and credal formulae, but the idea of heresy is definitely applied by the apostles, church fathers, and those who rebelled against them.

    THE RESPONSE : Actually it is dubious that the references to a different gospel or 'another Jesus' in Galatians refer broadly to any doctine that is unusual or very exotic , as many ultra- fundamentalists might claim . The reference to 'another Jesus' or "another gospel" could have very well referred to someone proclaiming another man other than Jesus is messiah . As you point out, the letter of Paul to the Galatians was particularly concerned with those factions of the early Christian community who attempted to promote the belief that one HAD to be circumcized or one could not be a follower of Jesus –a belief that Paul rejects *in Galatians*

    To claim that the part that warns against following another gospel applies to every belief that is considered exotic or novel is a broad interpretation that is NOT warranted by the explicit wording of the verses in Galatians !

    In Galatians, the primary opponents that Paul addresses are the faction of the early Christian community that promote circumcision as a requirement for being a follower of Jesus , to apply that warning to any exotic doctrine (as many Fundamentalists often do these days) is conjecture and goes beyond the explicit words of the text . The basic concern of the gospel that Paul was promoting was salvation from sin by the grace of the sacrifice of Jesus–and not by the doing of ritualistic works like circumcision .

    (Paul, elsewhere in other epistles like Phillipians, takes a more ecumenical approach, accepting those in the Christian movement who disputed him on some matters of doctrine as still preaching the same jesus and serving the same God even though they disagreed with Paul strongly) .

    Take, for example, those in Phillipians chapter :1 verses 14-18 who Paul reports were against his leadership .

    In Phillipians 1:16 , Paul

    ' The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds '

    Notice that Paul refers to these people as preaching Christ 'of contention ' –contention apparently towards Paul himself rejecting the authority of Paul as a leader . And yet Paul believes that these same people who reject the authority Paul as a leader were preaching the same Jesus as he was . He even rejoices that these people that reject the authority of Paul as a leader are preaching Jesus .

    In Phillipians 1:18 Paul writes,

    'What then?nothwithstanding , every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and therein I do rejoice, and will rejoice '.



    The only time the word 'heresies' gets anything almost like a definition is when in the New Testament epistle called 2 Peter chapter 2 verse 2 which describes heresy as 'denying the Lord that bought them', and NOT in the broad sense that the word 'heresy' is used today. Thus, according to 2 Peter chapter 2 verse 2, the term 'heresies' specifically refers to denying the Lord. It does NOT in that verse have a broad application of applying to each and every exotic or unusual doctrine or belief .

    In the book of Revelation, there is a particular doctrine that is villified called 'the doctrine of the Nicolotaines' (Revelation 2:15) . However, according to many of the early church fathers like Iranaeaus , the doctrine of the Nicolataines was rejected and opposed by the author of Revelation out of an objection that was more basic , inasmuch as the Nicolaitaines were anti-nomians (i.e. hedonists) of a sort who espoused wild sexual promiscuity and also eating foods set aside to be devoted to polytheistic pagan idols . Hence, the opposition in the book of Revelation was NOT based on some sort of doctrinal groupthink which sought to reject notions because they were too exotic–but, instead, out of ethical objections having to do more with personal conduct and also a disapproval of accepting polytheistic practices .

    It is interesting to note that in Phillipians I :15-18, St. Paul acknowleges that those in the Christian community which were against Paul as leader were, nonetheless, preaching the same Jesus and rejoiced in that they were doing so .



    In this present era especially , there is a lot of talk in some sectarian groups–especially Fundamentalist protestant groups and in some anti-progressive factions of Catholicism about so-called "heresy" and "heretics" . What's odd is that in some of these religious factions –especially Fundamentalist factions to label some notions "heretical" apparently because these notions seem way too exotic or way too unusual , even though some of the beliefs supported by such Fundamentalist pundits and theologians were, at one time in history, themselves called "heresy" by many of the other earler dominant churches when these religious movements, to which these Fundamentalists belong,
    emerged .

    An example: the practice of the Baptist denomination to baptize people as adults when they had made more of an inquiry into what Baptism meant about 3 or 4 centuries ago –when the Baptist sect was young–was condemmed as a heresy by the earlier dominant church denominationsin Europe.

    It is also quite hazy as to whether a lot of the hunters who object to so-called heresy have any fixed criteria for deciding if some notion is heresy or not. Calvinists and those factions of Arminian /Protestants who believe in free will (and are ALSO fundamentalists) tend to regard the doctrines promoted by each other as alternative forms of Christianity –the Calvinists disagree with Arminian doctrine and vice versa (but with perhaps a few odd exceptions) don't call each other heretics, yet might call other doctrines so-called "heresies" like open theism (to give an example) or say elements of the Charismatic movement -to give another example .

    Jesus in the gospels never uses the word 'heresy' . Jesus denounces some people for being NON-consistent.. having internal contradictions in beliefs and attitudes, and/or for being petty , superficial , venal /greedy, NOT for having some exotic theology ! Though Jesus is fond of pointing out *internal* inconsistency in the beliefs that some people express , he does NOT in the gospels show any desire to support some doctrinal " correctness" as any goal for its own sake .

    Jesus criticizes the false prophets not for teaching unusual doctrine , but instead for fostering unethical conduct . The difference between a true prophet and a false prophet was a true prophet produced good fruits and false prophet bad fruits .

    St.Paul uses the term 'heretic' in the epistle to Titus , but does NOT define a list of doctrines that make a person a heretic or make up 'heresy'. Thus it is presumptuous to claim support from St.Paul for the broad use of the term 'heresy' that many Fundamentalists and *some* factions of Catholics like to bandy around .


  10. Hi ,

    Reading the comments from other people, who have posted in the present message board, that allege that Christian Universalism is some sort of so- called "heresy" makes one cringe .

    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 someone here 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 ! 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 .

    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 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 hell and sent to some other place that is *neither* heaven nor hell —that does not have any of the pleasures of heaven nor the pain and sufferring of hell—a neutral place of endless tedious boredom , maybe .


  11. I am a simple servant of our precious Lord Jesus, and I have learned that we are to have the mind of Christ in all things. Due to 'religious' teaching over the centuries, persuasive words of mans wisdom and tradition has made Gods word subject to carnal thinking and teaching of those who honor with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. I could quote all kinds of scripture that puts control of Gods plan of the ages back where it belongs, in Gods able hands, even if that means we must learn to say Yes Lord to things we do not totally understand, but the Spirit of Christ has promised to lead us into ALL truth. Jesus did not leave us as orphans, but returned as promised on the day of Pentecost baptizing the 120 with His Spirit and with fire…
    Even Peter discussed after being filled with the Spirit, the "restitution of ALL things".

    Read Romans 8 with an open heart and especially the part regarding mans subjection to vanity, futility, frailty, etc…it was NOT by mans own will, but by the will of God IN HOPE that even creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

    Jesus said Himself, If I be lifted up, I WILL draw (greek meaning "drag") ALL men unto Myself.

    And having made peace by the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile ALL things unto Himself, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven…Col 1:20

    1 Tim. 2: 3,4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who WILL have ALL men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth!

    1 Tim. 4: 9-11: verse 10 beautifully and with all hope states, we labor and suffer reproach because we trust in the Living God, Who is the Savior of ALL men, especially those that believe…verse 11: these things command and teach.

    Interesting to say the least?

    Should we be 'against' Gods will? Itis ALL God…none of us. It is ALL His grace and not our works trying to please some kind of Holy tyrant that is taught by the religious babylon.

    For the SUM of Gods word is truth…and the Sum is Christ! Does it truly bother we who love and serve our mighty Lord that just MAYBE ALL things will be restored through the cross of Christ and His victory over ALL that had bound men throughout time?

    Should we not be shouting for JOY and preaching Christ and Him crucified, in demonstration of the Spirit and power of God? Plant seeds, let God bring forth the increase and quit condemning dear souls for whom Christ died to some imaginary "hell" made from mans tradition. Gods is a consuming FIRE…and it is no small matter when sin is practiced as it hardens the heart of man and man runs from a God who they were told is ready to zap them every time they make a mistake…is that shallow and defiled 'religion'?

    Be willing to have ears to hear and eyes to see beyond religious tradition…we all must make that trip to the pool of Siloam (meaning Sent) to receive our sight…John 9

    What are we afraid of after we receive the revelation of Christ as the blind man did? He was set free from the traditions of men, and not only received physical sight…but spiritual sight to believe on the Son of God!

    He has the victory over death and He as the last Adam was made a life giving Spirit. He is God of both the dead and the living, and God works ALL things according to the counsel of His OWN will…not ours, in His timing and not in our timing, ALL things shall be reconciled, praise His wonderful name! Jesus bless you with Himself each day!

    Your brother in Christ


  12. You might be interested to know that Universalism in this country has usually been very grounded in the scriptures not in church fathers. Universalists affirm condemnation of sin, punishment for sin, the temporal reality of evil and above all the importance of claiming one’s salvation by Jesus Christ. The only difference is that the wages of sin are not eternal division. Only God endures beyond time and where God is there is no darkness. God is Love and he came, as Paul notes, to reconcile ALL THINGS to himself.


  13. To:ALL
    Maybe that’s part of the ‘problem’, we’re “embracing” everything ‘but’ God/Jesus, and the Word. Something tells me that less and less people (sadly even myself at times) ‘stay true’ to the Bible, by reading it day in and day out, and not letting “anything” or ‘anyone’ sway us from what we know is true (Holy and Righteous) via the Word.
    God/Jesus, and the Word told us in advance what we should be ‘looking’ for, when it comes to what we’re seeing going on around us, but when you search for something ‘other than Jesus’ satan has no problem giving you just what you’re looking for, or you end up deluding yourself in the long run.
    I pray earnestly for Pearson to turn from what he’s been blinded to, and return to Jesus with his whole heart before Christ returns. Even if it means the Lord has to work through his children to do it, I’ll be praying for him and others who’ve ‘lost their way’ to return (especially if it’s the Lord’s will).
    As the saying goes, “there but for the grace of God goeth I”. Pearson, as well as the rest of us, need to stay close to God/Jesus, (and the Holy Ghost), and stay in the Word as well. Time is drawing to a close, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Christ returned ‘sooner’ than we’d like to believe He will. God help us all.


  14. Hey Kevin, I remember Pearson, but I never listened to him or watched him either.

    I do think that it is sad, but I wonder if he is being led by other internal conflicts.

    I did watch the ABC show on him, and that is when I found out about his positions, and it was sad. Today there are so many voices, and people misrepresenting others, and what not that we are in dangerous days.

    Most of here are regular bloggers and know that there are many new diverse positions coming in such as Preterist, Open Theisms, Universalism, etc. Of which we should be careful before we jump ship and embrace them all to soon.

    Anyhow, we can still pray for him and hope that his heart and mind will change.


  15. Kevin, I’m not sure whether annihilationism could lead to universalist beliefs or not, but it could certainly open one’s thinking to antinomianism, which is at the root of many forms of gnosticism.

    You are correct to raise the issue about remembering these religious figures are human, and humans at their best, are mistake prone. Just as Roman Catholics must be cautious about putting an over abundance of confidence in the Pope, protestants must be careful of this same error in the “personal papacies” that we set up when we become overly enthralled with a particular preacher, teacher, or theologian.


  16. Gary and Stan, when we see all these people on television, it’s good to keep in mind that nobody is perfect. TV personas can sometimes give us that impression.

    TC, thank God you don’t consider me a heretic. 😉

    L.Wells, I heard that John Stott believed in annihilationism, which surprised me. Isn’t annihilationism something that can potentially bring a person closer to believing in universalism.

    Thanks for all your comments.

    Yes, there does seem to be more evangelicals embracing all kinds of doctrines, not just universalism. I don’t know how and why evangelicals are getting into all this stuff–even new age stuff.


  17. Actually I think you’re right about more evangelicals embracing universalism these days Stan, though I’d say the numbers are still very low. Another view I feel is growing among this group is annihilationism, which I’d say is a much more defendable position than is universalism, though I remain unconvinced. From what I understand, John Stott, the renowned evangelical Anglican has embraced annihilationism, though I cannot verify this with certitude.

    I was just having a conversation with my priest today about Karl Barth and his strong influence on the Church. As I read Barth, he seems many times to hint at universalism, only to back away without saying it outright. I read somewhere before where he had been accused of universalism and that he vehemently denied the charge, so I don’t really know. Perhaps some of you have more experience with his view on this topic. If so, I’d be interested in hearing from you on it. I find him a very interesting thinker, though I don’t always agree with him. Over the next several months I am going to be required to read up on other theologians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Paul Tillich, and Richard Hooker, but I was intrigued by Barth for quite some time and decided to read some of his work on my own, so he has now been worked into my course of study. I’ve got to say, if nothing else he is the most difficult theologian I’ve ever read, though I hear Hooker is going to be even tougher.

    As touching the Church Fathers, I do hold them in high regard, but they, just like our theologians today and at all other times, didn’t agree on everything by a long shot. Also, while I believe in apostolic succession, it has always been obvious that all bishops are not always correct at all times, including today.

    As for Pearson, I used to watch him years ago, but only every now and then, so I really don’t know much about him, though I do remember something of this fallout. I pretty much gave up on the television preachers long ago, though there are a few I still respect, such as Charles Stanley.


  18. Kevin,
    I also used to watch Carlton Pearson, except it was on TBN. I remember thinking at the time that he really had it together. That was quite a ways back.

    It’s sad to see how far he has fallen. Going heretical. Wow.

    Is it just me or does it seem to anyone else that there are more “evangelicals” embracing universalism lately?


  19. Kevin, this is a great moving piece. Like Gary I too watched a piece on Carlton, but it was about 5yrs ago on ABC’s Nightline.

    By the way, I don’t consider you a heretic (smile).

    Because of his universalism Carlton has to explain away Scripture. After all, what is sin? I don’t get it.


  20. Hi Kev,
    I watched a piece on Pearson on one of the news channels the other day. I used to see him back in my undiscerning days on Oral Roberts program. It’s really sad to see someone you thought was a straight arrow lose his sense of direction like that.
    I think there is great danger in elevating the early church fathers to such a high level. Take a cue from Luther and stand on scripture alone. That’s the solid foundation.


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