Carlton is not the first to realize that everyone can be saved, and that hell is here on earth. But he lost more by admitting it than most people. I had not heard his name before today, when I listened to the latest This American Life podcast #304 12/7/08 entitled Heretics. The entire program is dedicated to his story, and it is a wonderful story. Carlton started out an Evangelist. When he was a kid people cast demons out of each other, and he tells the story of the first time he did it. After 9/11 he gained national media coverage and began to get a lot of attention. His church and speaking engagements around the globe were very popular and profitable for some time. But he did too much reading, he studied the scriptures and the history. He learned Hebrew and some Greek. He began to develop his own interpretation of the bible. He refined his understand through years of research, and shared his thoughts with his giant congregation. He heard the voice of God in his head.
The moment that enough people grasped that his interpretation clearly opposed the traditional teaching, he lost his following. It happened in front of a television. But then he was denounced by the fundamentalists, and estranged. His ideas were repudiated by the very people who made him rich and famous, and he was branded a heretic. He continued to preach, to those who remained, his idea that everyone can go to heaven, not just the members of one particular brand of religion. And in so doing he gained a whole new following, which most notably included homosexuals.
I find his website too purple, but his story is thought-provoking. This is how strong the established order is. Don't try to deny heaven and hell and still be part of the club. No doctrine of inclusion is likely to beat them in our lifetimes. But by golly, there are a lot of us out here who agree substantially with Carlton Pearson, we just don't go to church.