A group of Pentecostal bishops has declared that Bishop Carlton Pearson of Tulsa, Okla., is a “heretic” because he preaches the controversial doctrine of “inclusionism.”
“We do hereby declare that the doctrine of Inclusionism is an unorthodox teaching and shall be classified as a heresy by the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops Congress,” wrote Bishop Clifford Leon Frazier, chairman of the joint college’s doctrinal commission, in a March 29 report released to Religion News Service.
“Because of our concern for the many people that could be influenced to adopt this heresy and in so doing put at risk the eternal destiny of their souls, we are compelled to declare Bishop Carlton Pearson a heretic.”
The strongly worded report–“`Inclusionism’: A Heresy Explored and Rejected”–comes more than a year after Pearson addressed the organization at a Washington doctrinal forum. At that forum, Pearson defended his “gospel of inclusion.”
While many evangelical clergy believe that a personal confession that Jesus is savior gives a person entrance to heaven, Pearson has a different perspective. “A more careful study of Scriptures will reveal that salvation is also and, perhaps more often or more comprehensively, pictured in a universally inclusive way, in which God is redeemer of the whole world or creation, including all human beings,” he told forum attendees in March 2003.
Pearson, 51, pastor of Higher Dimensions Family Church in Tulsa, was in Africa and could not be reached immediately for comment.
The Joint College of African-American Bishops Congress is based in Cleveland and is part of a movement known as “high-church Pentecostalism.” Its members combine the fervor known among Pentecostal worshippers with vestments and other aspects of liturgical churches.
The leaders of the joint college said they will now urge their colleagues not to welcome Pearson into their pulpits. They felt compelled to speak because they believe “the suggestion that all ways lead to God is false.”
The document, which cites numerous Scriptures, said Pearson is guilty of “gross distortion of the Bible.” It notes verses in Romans that speak of the need for redemption. “To put it succinctly, the Inclusionist (Pearson) rubs the sin-hardened repudiation of the Gospel message in the face of a loving Lord who died for the sins of the world,” the 18-page paper reads.
“To suggest that the reward of heaven–the ultimate gift of salvation–will be provided to unrepentant, unregenerate man … is ludicrous in its concept, lethal in its effect and contrary to both the content and intent of holy writ.”
– Group Says Pentecostal Bishop Pearson a ‘Heretic’ for ‘Inclusionism’ Views, Religion News, Apr. 1, 2004 Service