Pastor Carlton Pearson: Visionary or Heretic?
So every week I download a podcast on itunes called "this american life". Apparently, this show is the number 1 dowloaded podcast show on itunes.
There is one episode recently that i had downloaded about three or four weeks ago that really had a profound affect on my outlook on religion.
The show was primarily focused on religion and how a former, world reknown pastor, Pastor Carlton Pearson, went from a superstar pastor with 2000 plus followers to a small 100 plus congregation.
The interviewer gives a lengthy background on Pastor Pearson's life and how his success in the evangelic scene had come to fruition. Especially as an african american pastor, his followers were composed of a mulitracial/ethnic group of individuals that fully enjoyed and felt the presence of God through his sermons.
However after much success, Pearson suddenly has a revelation. (Sometime in 1996) While watching the television, a report on the rwandan genocide showing the horrors and the atrocities committed between the tutsi's and the hutu's (sp?).
During this part of the interview, he also begins talking about how even after a long sermon in another state he would always try to make himself appear to be a pastor and try every way to "save" the guy/girl sitting next to him on the plane or atleast get then interested by some indication that he was a devout christian. He explains that it was a never ending struggle to "save" these people. Finally, he says that after he watched the report about the rwandan genocide, he realized that he couldn't save everyone. He wanted to save the rwandan people, but he just couldn't take plane and fly there... So he prayed to God. And he said that God told him that that is exactly how he (god) fealls. After this revelation, finally realized that there is no hell; That it is "we" who create the environment of hell And through this he realizes that he can't save everyone and therefore he comes to the conclusion, that ultimately, everyone :jew, muslim, gay, atheist: is saved and that the hell does not exist.
As farfetch'd as that sounds, Pastor Pearson gives an example. He says:
"Imagine a young Buddhist monk in Maynmar who lives high in the mountains. All the monk does all day is tend the sheep, pray, eat, sleep, and help the elders and poor. He does this everyday. And then one day, he goes to the mountain to tend his sheep and he slips and falls down a steep ravine, and dies without even the hint or knowledge of the Lord and goes to hell."
Therefore, was he predestined to go to hell or was it not his fault or what?
I don't need to explain the profundity of this example to express what Carlton is trying to express.
Well... Long story short, Carlton tried to pass this through his congregation and evangelical groups and it didn't fly. Eventually 90% of his congregation left him and he was later labeled a heretic by the evangelical society.
Today he would be labeled an Unitarian Univeralist which are also labeled heretics...
I know this idea isn't new, but I just found it very striking and profound.
he is still alive and preaching though...
This was a really long-messy essay, i'm sorry if it was too much.