Rev. Dr. Carlton Pearson
The random title-o-matic on the top of the screen tells me to "Write Something About Testified", so this seems appropriate.

If you didn't hear This American Life last week, listen to it. Here's a link, go listen. Then I don't even have to write a blog entry.

Ok, fine, I'll tell you about it, but you should still listen.

Carlton Pearson was a very up-and-coming charismatic Evangelical preacher. He first started to get well known when he was a teenager, leading a revival, and his girlfriend was possessed by Satan, and he healed her. He spent the next three days casting demons out of his whole community, and became something of a hero in his town.

He went on the become close friend of Oral Roberts, to the point where Roberts called him his "black son". From there his career really took off, and he led a congregation of some 5,000 people. He was really funny (listen to the audio, really, they have some clips of his sermons) and also extremely scholarly, and would compare the King James to the original languages. In the process, he discovered that there is no hell.

He says that he was watching a program about Rwanda, and was overcome with guilt to see all of these starving child refugees. He told God that it was unfair that they would all go to hell because they hadn't heard the Gospel, and that God replied (remember, he's a Pentacostal preacher, so God replying wasn't as odd for him as it would be for me) that he should put down his dinner and go save them, then.

    "God, don't put that guilt on me... I can't save the whole world..."

And God replied:
    "Precisely. You can't save this world. That's what we did."

So he began preaching Evangelical Christianity (with all of the passion and fire that is usually associated with it) but without hell. There's an awesome clip from another sermon, where he has a church member reading from John, chapter two. And when the guy gets to the line "And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world" he just stops, as the full impact of that sentence sinks in. Pearson admits that there is plenty of Biblical evidence in favor of damnation, but there is also some pretty clear cut text in favor of Universalism.

Of course, if no one is going to hell then no one needs to come to Jesus. This was a little... unsettling to the church. He was eventually labeled a heretic, and lost almost his entire congregation. His church is getting forclosed, and he's currently preaching to 400 people a week in the Episcopal church.

I would love to hear him speak. He has all of that black Southern oratory that is so delightful, but it's in the service of such a nice message.

Anyway, go listen to it. Really.