The Dangers of Carlton Pearson's "Doctrine of Inclusion" (Universalism)
There is a doctrine that is floating around the world of Christianity that is going to get some major publicity in the days ahead. Some of the leading voices in Christendom are calling it the most dangerous heresy going around. Carlton Pearson is one of the leading names being promoted as a leader in this "movement." However, this movement has been around much longer than Carlton Pearson has and this movement has had far more eminent supporters than Carlton Pearson. Other supporters and believers of the "dangerous heresy" are Abraham Lincoln (President of the USA ), William Barclay (Bible scholar), Gregory of Nazianzus (President of the Second Church Council), Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration of Independence). These and countless other well-known theologians, authors, poets, statesmen of the past and present have embraced this "most dangerous heresy," which some who have embraced it named "the Beautiful Heresy," the heresy, Paul, the apostle to the nations, spoke of when he said that he followed 'after the way which they call heresy." (Acts 24:14, KJV) Another name that will gain prominence in the days ahead under the broad umbrella term of "Inclusion" or "Universalism" will be Robert Rutherford, pastor a church in Waco , Georgia named Rock Fellowship who will be promoting this heresy on a reality TV show entitled "The Messenger" on TLC.
Liberal Media Slanting the Message
The secular media, is always looking for individuals in Christendom which they can use to mold and shape Christianity according to their views. The kind of Inclusion Message Carlton Pearson has been preaching of late resonates with the liberal media. Carlton Pearson's message of Inclusion seems to have taken a very liberal and unbiblical turn from his former Pentecostal days. His church, which has dwindled from the thousands to a few hundred since he's come out of the closet on universalism, has Hindus and Moslem's attending, according to various sources. It seems Carlton 's "Inclusion Message" is going the way of the Unitarian Universalism Association, which once contained hundreds of thousands of Christ-centered and Bible believing people and leadership during its earlier years in the early and mid-eighteen hundreds. But today, one would be hard-pressed to find the roots in this denomination that once were grounded in the Bible.
The word "Inclusion" is used many different ways in the English language even as the word "Universalism" is defined many different ways. It is not enough to accept or reject a teaching simply because one's denomination, pastor or church leader has put a certain spin or label on it. The word "Christian" was once a dirty word in the early church. Believers came to accept it as a word of endearment after many years of persecution being labeled that word by the enemies of the church. What a Bible-centered, Christ-centered Christian means by the word "universalism" is far different from how a member of the Unitarian Universalism Association might use it or far different from how an opponent of the teaching might slant the term.
Keep an Open Mind
There are millions of Christians who won't give the message of Inclusion a chance - a message with many names. Some folks call it Christian or Biblical Universalism. Others have used terms like Ultimate Reconciliation, Universal Salvation, Universal Reconcilation, Universal Restoration, the Larger Hope, the Wider Mercy Doctrine, as well as others. Most of those who have rejected the message have done so not because they have thoroughly studied the subject in the Bibles and have come to a conclusion against it, but because of what their pastors and Sunday School teachers have said about it. It may come as a surprise to most Christians, that there is a Greek term which early believers in Christ who spoke Greek used which described their belief which speaks of the "restoration of all things." One of the reasons they embraced this teaching was because they found it in the Bible. The Greek term they used to describe the teaching of universal salvation through Jesus Christ was apokatastasis. For those of you who have some knowledge in the Greek or know how to use Bible lexicons and concordances, one will find this Greek word, apokatastasis, beneath the English word restitution in the KJV in Acts 3:21:
"And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."(Acts 3:20, 21, KJV)
The New International Version has "to restore everything." The New American Standard has "restoration of all things." The New Jerusalem Bible has "universal restoration." The New Living Translation renders the word, "final restoration of all things." The World English Bible and Young's Literal Translation has "restitution of all things." This word, apokatastasis, is the term the early believers in Christ used to describe their belief that ultimately the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross would bring all mankind to salvation. Most Christians are unaware of the fact that the early church believed such a doctrine, but it is true. See:
Why Do You Believe What You Believe?
It is most unfortunate that most Christians' beliefs are not based upon what their own earnest study of scripture and prayer, but upon simply believing someone else's opinion because they went to Bible College or seminary. No, most of us believe what we believe because we have been taught it by sources who either we have trusted or who our parents or spouse have trusted and we just went along for the ride. In other words, our beliefs are often not our own, they are borrowed. A word to the wise:
"A man may be an heretic in the truth, and if he believes things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy." (F.W. Farrar, History of Interpretation, xvi)
Most Christians, according to the statement Canon Farrar made, who was a bishop in the Anglican Church, are heretics who refuse to acknowledge their heresy. Their beliefs are not their own! Any Christian that is quick to stick the label "heretic" upon another, should first stick the label on their own foreheads for a few days asking the Holy Spirit if the label fits their own belief system! One might be surprised when the answer comes.
There are millions of Christians who have been told to stay away from the teaching of Inclusion because Carlton Pearson has accepted homosexuals into his congregation. Is that a valid reason for rejecting the teaching that Jesus Christ will save all mankind one day? Carefully consider this: There are millions of Christians in the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches that accept the homosexual lifestyle. There are many ordained homosexuals in the "traditional church. Have you dropped your affiliation with these groups because some churches and denominations under these umbrellas accept homosexuals? Do you no longer use the term Protestant because there are some "Protestant" ministers who are homosexual? If not, then don't be a hypocrite. Just because some individuals under the umbrellas of "Inclusion" or "Universalism" tolerate homosexuality is NOT a biblical reason for rejecting the teaching that all mankind will be saved through Jesus Christ. There are far more Christians who embrace Universalism who oppose homosexuality as a normal lifestyle than those who accept it. Believe or reject a teaching based upon what the scriptures say in the original Greek and Hebrew, not upon what a few people within a teaching believe on unrelated subjects.
There are millions of Christians who will not look into whether the Bible actually teaches Universal Salvation in the original languages of the Bible because some men like Carlton Pearson seems to have by-passed the need to accept Christ as part of the Gospel Message. He seems to have Hindus and Moslems in his congregation and the emphasis that "You must be born again" and "There is no name under heaven but Jesus by which one may be saved" seems to have become disfavored in his church. It is true that Carlton seems to have backed off from the centrality of Christ based upon my limited observation. But Carlton is not the personification of the teaching of the restoration of all things as spoken by the mouths of the prophets. Is it wise to reject a teaching because some have perverted it? In the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant camps (which includes Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Charismatics as well as other branches), there are thousands of pastors who do not preach a "born again" gospel. Have you, dear reader dropped your affiliation with these groups and movements because thousands of leaders within these movements differ with you on the issue of being "born again?" No, you have not! So please do yourself a favor - don't turn yourself into a hypocrite by judging an entire teaching because fallible men and women sometimes distort or misrepresent things.
Many Universalists or Inclusionists are Christ and Bible Centered
Personally, those Christians I know who have come to see that the Bible indeed teaches the restitution of all things as did the early church, are Bible-centered and Christ centered. They believe one must be "born from above" to see and/or enter the kingdom of God . They understand that most people on this planet have never been born again through the gospel of Christ. But they believe the scriptures point to a time in which "every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess Jesus is Lord to the glory of God, the Father." They believe Jesus holds the keys to death and Hell, they believe Jesus is Lord of both the living and the death, and they believe Jesus knows what to do with prison keys - set the prisoners free! Jesus is NOT limited to this lifetime to set prisoners free. He is Lord of all on this side of the grave and on the other side.
The Apostle's Creed of the early centuries of the church clearly taught that Jesus went to Hell/Hades and preached to them. They got this understanding from 1 Peter 3:19, 20 where Jesus preached to them that were disobedient in the days of Noah. Yes, Jesus knows how to leave the 99 found sheep and go after the single sheep still lost and to search for it until he finds it. This is the heart of the Gospel - a Savior, a Shepherd who knows how to take care of His sheep, to give His life for them.
The Beautiful Heresy
Dear Christian, if you believe and teach that God is going to allow most of mankind to fry in eternal flames simply because you've heard it a thousand times but never really searched thoroughly whether this hideous doctrine is true, then you are a heretic! You live a lie. You live on borrowed teachings. And you will one day have to give an account of why you so grossly misrepresented Him in this lifetime. You will be reminded of this article. Did you cast it off because you didn't want to take the time to search this out for yourself because you were too busy being entertained with Hollywood 's filth? Or did you not check things out for yourself because you know that if you find yourself believing this teaching that you will suffer the persecution that comes along with this message? Are you a coward and not willing to admit it? Paul made a most remarkable statement regarding the teaching of the salvation of all mankind through Christ and persecution:
"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 of those who believe. These things command and teach." (1 Tim. 4:9-11, NKJV)
Paul divided humanity into Christians and non-Christians and informs us that Jesus is the savior of both groups. Furthermore, he informs us that this teaching will bring persecution. Are you being persecuted for believing Jesus is the savior of all mankind? If not, perhaps you are not preaching Paul's Gospel. Do you know Paul never mentioned the word Hell/hades a single time in his gospel except to declare victory over it through Christ? (1 Cor. 15:55, check the Greek) Who would have ever thought that the greatest persecution of Christians would be other Christians? However, those who carefully study the Scriptures and church history will discover that those with the most glorious message will always be persecuted by those who prefer the darkness. Who was it that first persecuted the earliest believers in Christ? The most religious people within "God's Chosen" community! And that is who is doing the most persecuting of those who today bear the gloriously Good News that Jesus paid the cost for every single lost soul in Adam and that He will not be satisfied until He brings the very last sheep home to His Father.
Having understood the Biblical doctrine of Universal Restoration through Jesus Christ for many years, I have had countless discussions with Christians on this issue. Most Christians have never studied this subject out for themselves. And most won't take the time to "study to see if these things be so" because it is simply not important to them. Whether most of mankind rots in Hell or not is not at the top of the list. Getting their dog's nails trimmed is more important! It's sad but true, but millions of American Christians and Jews have more love for their dog, cat or exotic pet than they do for an Arab child that was vaporized by one of our WMD's or a child on the brink of starvation in the Sudam. You KNOW what I'm saying is true. And many of you who are reading this aren't even blushing with shame.
Negative consequences of Inclusion Message
Most who do study it out and are sincere in their hearts end up believing apokatastisis, that is, the "restoration of all things." However, many keep silent about it because of the severe persecution it brings from the church, especially the leaders and the most "zealous" ones - you know - the busy bodies. It amazes me to see the lost and unchurched hungry are for this message; they don't reject it but rejoice because they find hope for themselves and their lost friends and relatives; but the churched - that's another matter. They are often vehemently against it.
Universalism can really mess up a church structure. A pastor who begins to teach it may lose his job if he is in a denomination that forbids teaching it. He may lose his congregation because they don't want to be labeled heretics. At the very least it will bring a church-split. The Truth sometimes does behave like a sword. I know many pastors and leaders in Pentecostal, Charismatic, Evangelical, Catholic, non-denominational churches who believe the Bible teaches the restoration of all things, but they won't preach it nor will they tell their congregation they believe it because they are afraid they will lose their paycheck and retirement benefits. It is not until they retire that they begin to have some courage and let a few people know their true beliefs. This is sad, but true.
Not all things conservative are good and not all things liberal are bad. Most Christians I know who believe in the Universalism found in the Bible are conservative in their morality. In the days ahead, the liberal media is going to give more liberal voices in the message of universalism a lot of positive publicity. There is good and bad in this. Simply bringing attention to this much needed message is good, but the perversion of the message is not good. I ask the reader to go to the message and the Book that contains the message and the God who is the Savior in that message, and not to charismatic personalities Hollywood might use to promote their agenda which is not good to anyone including themselves. The secular media has changed the church far more than most Christians are aware of. The American church has been Judaized quite thoroughly. The secular media wants to control this message just like it has controlled the Evangelical world through the false teaching of Zionism.
Carlton Pearson is appearing on a national television show produced by National Geographic entitled "Book of Revelation." Pearson is also going to appear on NBC's Dateline with Stone Phillips this year. Carlton was also on National Public Radio on which he was treated very cordially and received much national attention. A very charismatic and upcoming preacher who teaches a form of the Inclusion message is Robert Rutherford, pastor of Rock Fellowship in Waco , Georgia . He is going to appear along with nine other men and women in a reality TV show on TLC entitled "The Messenger." If men like Pearson and Rutherford have a lust for the limelight, those who are producing and promoting these shows may have an opportunity to get this message focused on accepting the homosexual lifestyle instead of focusing on whether the teaching of Ultimate Reconciliation is Biblical and historically correct. May God keep or bring those leaders in the Message of Inclusion centered on the Christ of the Bible and not get distracted from the centrality of Jesus, the Savior of the whole world.
Dear reader, don't allow the media to misdirect this important subject. The focus is: does the Bible teach universal salvation through Jesus Christ? Can those passages in some Bible translations which appear to teach a hell of everlasting punishment to be translated to harmonize with those many passages that teach the salvation of all? Are there Bible translations which do not contain any passages on Hell or everlasting punishment? Am I not willing to look at this important issue because I'm too lazy, don't think I'm smart enough to figure it out for myself, or am just too afraid of the persecution I might receive if I discover this teaching is from God and is in the Bible. These are the issues, not the issues the media wants to misdirect the message to. And those issues must be taken to your God and your Maker. Nothing is impossible with God. He is able to bring you to the truth, if you decide to be honest with Him. He will give you the revelation and the scriptures to support that revelation if you become transparent to Him.
Helps on the Teaching of Universalism/Inclusion
Here are some helpful links on this most timely and important subject, Universal Salvation:
Tentmaker Discussion board. Lots of Bible-centered Christians teaching and learning how big God's love for all mankind really is:
Tentmaker's Scholars' Corner. Scores of articles and books and word studies proving apokatastasis, universalism, inclusion is biblical and that the early church taught it:
Tentmaker Ministries' Home Page. A collection of hundreds of articles, books, audio and video files aimed at bringing Christians into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The Hell Site. A collection of articles showing how pagan myths crept into Christianity and some Bible translations.
P.S. I (Gary Amirault, author of this article) was asked by Carlton Pearson to explain the teaching of Universalism, which he called the "Doctrine of Inclusion" to a Tulsa Oklahoma newspaper when he first began to teach it. Since Carlton was new in the teaching, and I had been writing on the subject for a number of years and had a couple of large Internet Sites devoted to the subject, perhaps he felt I might explain the teaching better than he could at the time. Below is a link to an article I wrote explaining Universalism or the "Doctrine of Inclusion" as Carlton called it for a Tulsa newspaper. It is most unfortunate that Carlton appears to have shifted somewhat from the doctrine and spirit found in this article. Nevertheless, this article expresses in brief form the belief of many thousands of Christ-centered, Bible-centered Christians around the globe. We also call it the Glorious Gospel and the Victorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. We call it God's plan of redemption - and it is most glorious indeed - too glorious for the eyes of much of the church world that still lives in and loves darkness.
What Is Carlton Pearson's "Doctrine of Inclusion?"
Another article of interest is:
One thing you'll find among those who have seen the Victorious Gospel. We encourage people to look at both sides of the issue. We even provide links to the best articles on the internet refuting Universalism. You won't find the same attitude among those who speak against it.