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Controversial universalist preacher Carlton Pearson dies

Carlton Pearson speaks at a news conference in 2013. Associated Press/Photo by M. Spencer Green, file

Controversial universalist preacher Carlton Pearson dies

Carlton Pearson died Sunday night in hospice care after a brief battle with bladder cancer, his agent, Will Bogle, told the Associated Press. He was 70 years old.

What was Pearson known for? An influential Pentecostal preacher mentored by evangelist Oral Roberts, Pearson founded Higher Dimensions Family Church in Tulsa, Okla., in 1981. The church, which boasted a membership of about 6,000 congregants by 2000, shrank to only a few hundred members after Pearson began preaching his “gospel of inclusion,” a form of universalism rejecting the Biblical doctrine of hell. The Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops Congress declared Pearson’s teachings heretical in 2004. In 2007, Pearson led other clergy members in endorsing controversial bills. For example, he supported legislation expanding federal hate crimes law to include classes such as sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity. Opponents of the legislation at the time argued it was a step toward curtailing the free speech rights of Christians who believe homosexuality is immoral. Pearson later became a United Church of Christ minister.

Dig deeper: Read Mary Jackson’s report in WORLD Magazine about the acceptance of homosexuality within evangelical churches.

Johanna Huebscher

Johanna Huebscher is a student at Bob Jones University and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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