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Carlton Pearson’s Gospel of Inclusion

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  1. Carlton Pearson's Gospel of Inclusion
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Carlton Pearson is the 'bishop' of the Higher Dimensions Family Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.

Pearson is controversial because he teaches inclusivism: the belief that while there is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ, God will ultimately accept the 'implicit' faith of those who - while not having (fully) known or accepted Jesus - nevertheless led moral lives. This includes adherents of non-Christian faiths.

The doctrine of inclusivism (sometimes called inclusionism) is considered heretical - the opposite of orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is the body of essential Christian doctrines - those doctrines that make Christianity Christian and not something else.

Heresy is "[d]octrine which is erroneous in such a way that Christians must divide themselves as a church from all who teach or accept it; those adhering to heresy are assumed to be lost, although Christians are unable to make definitive judgments on this matter." [Source: A Biblical Guide To Orthodoxy And Heresy Part One: The Case For Doctrinal Discernment" (an article from the Christian Research Journal, Summer 1990, page 28) by Robert M. Bowman.]

Dressed casually in an open white shirt and no clerical collar, the Rev. Carlton Pearson was relaxed recently as he sat in his office at Higher Dimensions Family Church and discussed a controversy that has rocked his world.

Tulsa's high-profile pastor, mayoral candidate and Grammy-nominated singer has paid a high price recently for straying from the orthodox evangelical theology in which he was raised.

His alma mater, Oral Roberts University, has denied him use of the ORU Mabee Center for the Azusa Street Conference and forbidden his church buses to pick up students for services. He has resigned from the ORU board of regents.

Several associate pastors have left his church, and attendance has fallen off.

National Christian publications and leaders have criticized him.

He believes the controversy undermined his support among evangelicals in the mayoral primary earlier this year, and possibly cost him the election.

Even his dry cleaner refuses to do business with him.

Pearson's troubles began as word got out in the Christian community that he was teaching a form of universalism -- that everyone will be saved.

That theology put him at odds with evangelical churches and the many mainline Christian denominations, which teach that Christ's death and resurrection make salvation available to all people, but that each person must accept that salvation.

In a two-hour interview last week, the 49-year-old Pearson did not back down from his position, which he calls the gospel of inclusion.

"My posture is that all will be saved, with the exception of a few," he said.

"I believe that most people on planet Earth will go to heaven, because of Calvary, because of the unconditional love of God, and the redemptive work of the cross, which is already accomplished."

He said that includes sincere people who do not directly acknowledge Christ -- Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists.

The traditional evangelical view, he said, is that all will be lost with the exception of a few -- those evangelical Christians who have accepted Jesus Christ.

"They think that salvation is triggered by an act of faith on the seeker's part," he said.

"I say, is it more important that you accept Christ, or . . . that Christ accepts you? Which is the gospel?"

Pearson said he still believes in heaven and hell, and that there will be souls in both places. But hell will be for those few people who "deny in their hearts that there is a creator; who have a disrespect for the deity."

And his concept of hell differs from evangelical orthodoxy.

- Pearson faces theological controversy, Tulsa World, USA, Sep. 1, 2002

Pearson's theological errors do not stop there:

Bishop Carlton Pearson, the nationally prominent evangelical preacher, has already stirred one controversy for preaching the doctrine of inclusion - that everyone is saved no matter what they do.

He's about to light another fuse.

Pearson, founder and pastor of Tulsa's Higher Dimensions Family Church, now says he believes "it is reasonable" that Satan himself will go to heaven. It's possible, he says, that God could have made a mistake in condemning Satan to eternity in hell.

"Is God not big enough to change the devil?" Pearson said in an interview. "I can conceive of the devil bowing down and repenting to God, saying, 'I competed with You, but I was wrong. I'm sorry.' "

Asked if that "confession" would be enough for God to forgive Satan and allow him into heaven, Pearson replied, "He (the devil) came from heaven."

"He's crazy," said Bishop Clifford L. Frazier, pastor of The City of Life Christian Church in St. Louis. Frazier wrote a scathing response to Pearson's doctrine of inclusion after the Oklahoma preacher in March presented his views at a conference of the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops.

The organization is in the process of deciding whether to declare Pearson a heretic. Frazier is a member of the organization, but Pearson is not.

"Even people who renounce Christianity but are familiar with the sacred text would realize that some fundamental problem exists here," Frazier said. "For him to hold that view would mean that he is contra-biblical. To call what he has theology is really a malapropism. To espouse what he has is not theology, nor Christian. It is sheer, wild imagination."

- Devil may go to heaven, says beleaguered bishop, The Dallas Morning News, via, USA, May 10, 2003


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4 Responses to “Carlton Pearson’s Gospel of Inclusion”

  1. hopesome says:

    Wheat from the Chaff. Jesus loved us all, when that wasn't enough he handed us over to the father to discipline us mostly for not listening to him (jesus that is). The Father loves us all seldom do we appreciate his sacrifice for us. Reverence is saying Respect is lacking among men for my kingdom, hey seem to preferr their own.

  2. Betty McGee says:


    This is my take on one of Carton's points of view or my understand of it. I think that once we become Born again we tend to exclude people who don't look, act, pray, like us ect, and the list goes on. We become exclusive vice inclusive, Paul warned the Corinthian Church about such things. We need to be more inclusive of others saved or not, For God Soooooooooo loved the World.. I take that to mean just what it says, we love if, His loved period. We need to let Buddhist, Muslims, Bahia.....know that they are included in what took place on the Cross at Calvary there is nothing left that God can do for anyone to be saved. Carlton left out the most important step after the cross that one must confess and believe.

    Thanx Much
    Pastor Betty

  3. MackDre says:

    You say For God sooo loved the world but you don't quote the entire verse, you forgot the part that says that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall have everlasting life!!! Only one way to the Father and that is through CHRIST!!

  4. Chrissiesgoodies says:

    A former beloved theology Prof of mine explained Jn's most quoted scripture (thanks, MackDre) as thus:
    1) God so loved the world - that's "universal" (ism, if you will)
    2) HOWEVER; that "whosoever will" (part B of that verse), means "individually, personally" receives Him as Lord & Savior (Jn 1:12, 14:6, Rom 10:9-11, Eph 2:8-9, etc.)
    Not to mention the PURPOSE of Christ coming in human flesh - to save mankind from hell! (Which we are deserving of - because thru one man - Adam - ALL have sinned & fallen short of God's grace; nevertheless, thru One Man - Christ Jesus - many are made righteous - thru FAITH in Him!) God IS merciful, & He does wish for all to be saved - but His "means of salvation" is thru His Son's shed blood! And (our) faith in HIS salvic work! Romans tells us that all of Creation points to a Creator - so they are "without excuse". That same, 1st chap of Rom, tells us (vs 16-7) that it is by FAITH & belief in the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus' death on the cross & His subsequent resurrection 3 days later, that we can be saved from our sins & subsequent eternal hellfire!

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This post was last updated: Sep. 29, 2008