What is Carlton Pearson's "Doctrine of Inclusion?"
By Gary Amirault
I was asked by Carlton Pearson to write an editorial for the Tulsa Beacon, a Christian newspaper in Tulsa Oklahoma on behalf of himself as to what Carlton's "Doctrine of Inclusion" consisted of. I assumed since he asked me to write it that he (Carlton) believed like I do, that is, that Jesus will accomplish what He came to do -- save the world --save those who died in Adam, which is all of us. The prophets, Jesus and His apostles attest to this. Here is what I first wrote for the newspaper. Here is what I first wrote. I had to condense it considerably for the newspaper version:
In a nutshell, this doctrine is nothing but Jesus Christ's mission on the earth. "He came not to judge the world but to save the world," not just a part of it. (John 12:47) Throughout church history, there have always been those who had faith great enough to take the bold declarations of Christ's triumph seriously and literally. Oftentimes, this great faith, especially during these end times, has been ridiculed as ridiculous when in fact it's more ridiculous not to believe plainly stated scriptures. Most Christians today do not take seriously hundreds of Scriptures which plainly state that when Jesus is finished with His work on earth, He will "reconcile all things unto Himself...whether in heaven or earth." (Col. 1:20) While some Christians have great faith for big cars, homes and health, they berate those who believe in great scriptural promises like: "This is a faithful saying and worthy of ALL acceptance. For to this end, we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of ALL men, especially those who believe. These things command and teach." (1 Tim. 4:9-11) That, in a nutshell, is Carlton Pearson's "Doctrine of Inclusion," that Christ is in deed and in fact, the Savior of both the whole world AND the "especially" ones, that is, the church. (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14) It's the only gospel that can give hope to the deepest of sinners because it knows NO limit. The traditional gospel fails most of mankind leaving those in deepest condemnation hopeless.
In 1 Timothy chapter 2, Paul exhorted us to "pray for all men." If we pray in faith according to God's will, will we not receive what we ask? (Mark 11:24) Well, according to most of the "little faith" church, Jesus will only save a handful of all those He died for. But according to scores of Scriptures, Jesus did fulfill God's will and desire: "God will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4, KJV) Why does most of the church not believe these and scores of other plain scriptures? Well, Paul warned that most of the church would fall away from this glorious truth. He warned there would be those inside the church who would draw disciples after themselves. Today there are over 30,000 denominations dividing the body of Christ from each other. We can plainly read Paul's warnings NOT to divide, yet we do it anyway, proving that most Christians "honor Christ with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him." (Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:8)
Some of the main scriptures supporting the teaching that all mankind will be eventually restored back to God are: 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 4:9-11; John 4:42; 12:32; 12:47; 1 Jn 4:14; Col. 1:16-20; 1 Cor. 15:22; Phil. 2:9-11; Acts 3:20, 21; Rev. 5:13; Gen. 12:3 and many more. (For more, see http://www.tentmaker.org/books/ScripturalProofs.html)
By the fifth century AD, the church had pretty much abandoned the Scriptures. The Scriptures were translated into Latin by Jerome who introduced many mistakes in the translation. Later, the people were forbidden to read the Scriptures in any language including Latin. During this period, the church incorporated thousands of pagan doctrines, rituals and traditions that, according to Jesus "made the word of God of no effect." (Matt. 15:6-9) While the Protestant church has discarded many of those traditions that nullify the plain word of God, it still has much Dark Age baggage on its back. Some of that baggage got into some our English Bible translations. The "lying pen of the scribes" (Jer. 8:8, NIV) added some of that Dark Age theology to our Bible versions. They put mythological characters like unicorns and satyrs into translations like the KJV even though we know today such creatures never existed. But the King James translators believed in them in seventeenth century England and so we have in some translations many things NOT found in the Hebrew or Greek.
The biggest tradition of fallen men that translators added to some Bible translations was the pagan teaching of a Hell of everlasting punishment. The word "Hell" comes from Teutonic mythology, NOT from the sacred Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. Most Christians do not even know there are major differences between English Bible translations. Most do not know there are many translations that do NOT contain the concept of a hell of eternal punishment. Here are a few of them: Young's Literal, Rotherham's Emphasized, Weymouth's N.T. in Modern Speech, Concordant Literal N.T., 20th Century N.T. as well as many more. While not popular in Hell-teaching circles, these Bibles can be ordered through most Christian book stores.
Clearly, the early believers of Christ and the church leaders taught universal salvation. St. Basil the Great, writing in the fourth century wrote, "The mass of men (Christians) say that there is to be an end of punishment to those who are punished." (De Asceticis) St. Jerome wrote in the same century, "I know that most persons understand by the story of Nineveh and its king, the ultimate forgiveness of the devil and all rational creatures." St. Augustine, while himself teaching eternal torment wrote, "There are very many (imo quam plurimi, which can be translated majority) who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments." (Enchira, ad Laurent)
An honest look at history shows that the majority of the early church believed that all would eventually be saved. The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge by Schaff-Herzog says in volume 12, page 96, "In the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa, or Nisibis) were Universalist; one (Ephesus) accepted conditional mortality; one (Carthage or Rome) taught endless punishment of the wicked." A most crucial and important in point in church history: when Emperor Constantine militarized and politicalized the church, the teaching of Hell became a more powerful weapon of control than a loving God who loved all mankind. At that point the teaching of universal salvation began to be stamped out through severe persecution. The result? The church created what we now call "The Dark Ages."
Before the Dark Ages, the church was vibrant with the teaching of God's love for all mankind. The second major church council composed of hundreds of bishops from the entire church met in Constantinople in 381 AD and elected Gregory of Nazianzus, an avowed Universalist, as president proving clearly that the great majority of the church leadership at the end of the fourth century believed in universal salvation. Yet today universal salvation is considered a heresy in most denominations. The early church better versed in the original languages of the Scriptures and closer to the apostles' teachings thought otherwise. Who do you think is more likely to have the truth? The early Church or the thousands of divisions of Christianity formed by men "drawing disciples after themselves" centuries later? (Acts 20:30)
Well-known and great men and women have embraced the "larger Hope" (as some coined the teaching of the salvation of all mankind.) Abraham Lincoln believed it. Perhaps his belief in the salvation of all mankind was Lincoln' s driving force to end slavery in this country. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence believed it. Famous theologians like Karl Barth, B.F. Westcott, and William Barclay embraced it.
Those who embrace this scriptural doctrine today are usually born from above, morally conservative, serious students on the Bible and are usually more versed in church history and the original languages of the Bible than the average Christian. They believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and they are very Scripture-centered. The main difference between those who believe in the "Doctrine of Inclusion" is that they have greater faith in God's love, mercy, and power to save than those who think God's going to trash most of mankind. And this belief, that Jesus will do what He promised to do...save the world...is the source of great persecution by the hands of our own brothers and sisters in the Lord. In Carlton's case, it may have cost him the election. Another trait of these believers in the Glorious Gospel is that they believed denominationalism spoils the witness of one Lord and Savior and one body in the earth.
Tulsa, Oklahoma is known for its great "faith" preachers. One would think that with all the Word/faith preaching going on in this city that Carlton's doctrine would be easy to believe; yet that apparently isn't the case. Apparently, the faith in this city is what Jesus called "little faith." They believe for their own health and prosperity, but not for saving God's children gone astray. This doctrine will not fit into narrow minds or small hearts that dare to limit God from achieving His plan to restore all things back to Himself through the work of Jesus Christ.
There are those who believe that Love NEVER fails -- there are some who believe it fails for most of mankind. (1 Cor. 13:8) There are those who believe nothing is impossible with God, while some believe that man's will is greater than God's will to save all mankind. (Luke 1:37) There are those who have great faith in God's promises that all the families and nations of the earth shall be blessed and there are those who don't. (Gen. 12:3; 12:18) Carlton prefers to believe Jesus over the Dark Age traditions perpetuated by those with little faith. Carlton takes Jesus at His word when He said, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (drag in the Greek) all mankind unto Myself." (John 12:32) There are some Christians like Carlton who rejoice when they read Scriptures like the following one and there are those who want to twist it and diminish Christ's glory, honor and power, "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:8-11) (We know that no one can say this except with the Holy Spirit.) Unless one has the faith of a little child, one cannot see the kingdom of God and all its glory. Some have faith to see the finished work of the cross for all mankind, some don't...yet...but eventually everyone will...and that includes you, dear reader. That's what Carlton Pearson's "Doctrine of Inclusion" is all about - it's inclusiveness - it includes everyone! "Oh, you of little faith. Why do you doubt" the power and love of the Savior of the world and His Awesome Father!?
Gary Amirault, editor, Tentmaker Publications