Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed the amount of search engine queries landing on this site have shot heavenward for Carlton Pearson. The searchers have typed:
- carlton pearson goes bad
- carlton pearson has cancer
- carlton pearson has lost his mind
- is carlton pearson gay?
- did carlton pearson get a divorce?
As far as I can tell, Carlton Pearson’s “badness” quotient has gotten no worse than when I wrote my semi-definitive exploration of his doctrine of inclusion back in early 2006: “Carlton D. Pearson: The Charismatic Bishop of Heresy.” I’ve read that around 2005 Pearson had been diagnosed with prostate cancer but, according to last night’s 20/20 program (read the segment: ‘Nobody Goes to Hell': Minister Labeled a Heretic), it is now in remission. Pearson appears to enjoy full possession of his faculties, as far as the TV demonstrates (though he did once hear revelatory voices from God), he has not publicly admitted to any homosexual inclinations that I know of (or can find), and nobody anywhere has reported a divorce.
But Pearson did publish a book recently, and I figure that caused some of the alarm. God Is Not a Christian defends his views, answers his critics, and, according to the sole reviewer “he also throws in a lot of ideas about God, the divinity of man, and why he views Scripture as flawed in places. This will bother some of his conservative Christian readers.”
If there are any.
Pearson’s book currently ranks #829,524 on Amazon.com (as of Saturday, July 14, 2007). It’s no Mere Christianity-style instant classic to be sure (which ranks at #405), and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (ranked at #1,432) must have a marketing genius pushing the tome when compared to Pearson’s sales rate.
But the media love Pearson and I’m sure his sales will pick up well before Hell freezes over. Not that Pearson wants to profit off of Hell. No, he’s done getting paid for Heck-Fire:
“If I say everybodyâ€™s going to heaven, then I canâ€™t raise money from you to get me to keep people out of hell.” (20/20, “‘Nobody Goes to Hell': Minister Labeled a Heretic“)
Problem is, once you’ve done away with Hell, why stop there? Since, in Pearson’s view, the doctrine of Hell rests on man-made documents about a man-made myth, then the doctrine of Heaven itself is on shaky grounds.
The flipside of Pearsonâ€™s hell-doubting theology, however, is that he sounds awfully skeptical about the existence of heaven. “We donâ€™t know what happens after this life,” he says. “But we presume something good happens. So we’ve come up with these thrones and gates and virgins â€¦ But the closest to God youâ€™ll probably ever get is you.” (Reuters, “Checking in with Carlton Pearson – who doesnâ€™t believe in hell – in Tulsa“)
Not a quote I’d want to enter Eternity with, for sure.
I watched Bill Weir’s 20/20 documentary on Hell last night, but after Tivoing the program, I must have run out of disk space. I only captured 33 minutes of the program. Sadly, the show cut off before the commercial break leading into Pearson’s segment. Otherwise, I would have shown you a clip. But if you hurry, you might be able to catch it streaming off of the ABC.com website.
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