Ten minutes with UCC’s Carlton Pearson

Written by Nancy Haught, Religion News Service
September 5, 2007

Editor’s note: ’10 Minutes With” is a periodic religion interview series in The Oregonian and distributed widely by Religion News Service. This week’s conversation is with the Rev. Carlton D. Pearson, a member of the UCC, who lives in Tulsa, Okla.

Seven years ago, Bishop Carlton D. Pearson was a fourth-generation evangelical preacher and one of Oral Roberts’ anointed; he hadpearson-lg.jpg graduated from Oral Roberts University and served on its board of regents. He prayed with U.S. presidents, preached to 5,000 people in his home church in Tulsa, Okla., and to thousands more on television.

And then, in an interview, Pearson said that he did not believe God would consign countless souls — or anyone, for that matter — to hell.

And then, in an interview, Pearson said that he did not believe God would consign countless souls — or anyone, for that matter — to hell.

In that instant, he broke ranks with those Christians who believe that unrepentant sinners will go to hell. That doctrine, called universal salvation, is an old one, but it’s still not popular in some circles.

Pearson was denounced by the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops and by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was then president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Pearson’s worldwide television audience disappeared. Only a few hundred stayed in his local congregation, and he lost the building itself in foreclosure.

Today, Pearson, 54, is still a bishop. (“Once a bishop, always a bishop,” he says.) He’s joined the United Church of Christ, and his steadfast disciples — maybe 1,200 of them — meet in an Episcopal church in Tulsa.

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At one time I would have considered Carlton Pearson a premier celebrity preacher. Having released successful CD projects, appearing at other celebrity preachers conferences, traveling in private jets and living large after working people gave their hard earned money in the offering. This article provides an alternative look at what happens when you fall from grace. I actually believe that he is the great example of one who has received God’s grace although he lost favor with many men and women.

Lesson that I see – When our goal is to please man we miss the opportunities to receive the best that God has for us.

Challenge for leaders – What are we doing to please people more than pleasing God?

Grace Be With You

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