If you haven’t heard it yet, This American Life re-broadcast a story last week about Carlton Pearson, a pastor who was once rising in the evangelical ranks. Pearson is also responsible for introducing the Christian world to Pastor T.D. Jakes. So why was Pearson once rising as opposed to still rising?
Because he stopped believing in hell.
And then all hell broke loose. Because “when there’s no hell (as the logic goes), you don’t really need to believe in Jesus to be saved from it.” His closest friends and associates left him, he was deemed a heretic, and he had to essentially start over. Pearson now preaches a “gospel of inclusion” at New Dimensions church.
The story is worth listening to the entire way through, regardless of your own beliefs. The show did a great job describing his thought process through his decision, and you realize how even now, many of his former church members refuse to speak about him in interviews. I was amazed how quickly Christian leaders turned on Pearson when he decided he didn’t believe in hell. The same people who claimed to have “Christian love” wanted nothing to do with him. It’s not the only time this has happened. When I listened to the story, I thought of how James Dobson suddenly withdrew from Ted Haggard’s counseling team after Haggard’s allegations came forth, citing “lack of time.” You would think the one time Haggard is asking for help, he could rely on Dobson, a man who builds his reputation on “protecting the family.”
While I don’t think Pearson went far enough in saying where the Bible was wrong, he shows an attitude that is much more admirable than many other pastors– one that isn’t intent on condemning everyone who thinks differently. It’s at least a step up. One step up a very long staircase.
To hear the story, download the mp3 here. If the link doesn’t work, you can stream it live here.
[tags]This American Life, Heretics, Carlton Pearson, atheist, Christian, hell, evangelical, Ted Haggard, James Dobson, New Dimensions, T.D. Jakes[/tags]