Carlton Pearson tells followers he’ll think of them in Heaven as rumors of death abound

Bishop Carlton Pearson in his hospice bed.
Bishop Carlton Pearson in his hospice bed. | Screenshot/Facebook/CarltonD Pearson

In what he says is likely his final message to his followers as he battles terminal cancer, former megachurch pastor Bishop Carlton Pearson, who lost his ministry after he stopped believing in Hell, says he will be thinking of them in Heaven as rumors of his death abounded on social media.

“This will be probably one of the last times you'll see me like this as I may be closing some things out but I'll never close you out in consciousness,” Pearson said in a message pre-recorded from his “hospice room” and shared on his Facebook page Tuesday night by his longtime “Streaming Consciousness” online show co-host and spiritual life coach, Malachi Gross.

“I'll never stop thinking of who you are, and why you are, and how somehow, we were divinely drawn together in this divine intersection of lives. But I feel you, and I hope you feel me even when I'm in Heaven, or on the other side, or the other iteration,” Pearson, who looked like a shell of himself, continued.

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A day earlier, Pearson’s family announced in a statement that he had begun receiving “comfort care” as his advanced prostate cancer remained a “significant challenge.”

On Thursday morning, however, popular comedian Rickey Smiley announced in a video post that appears to have since been removed, that Pearson had died.

Neither Gross nor Pearson’s team immediately responded to a request for comment on his current health status from The Christian Post on Thursday, but Larry Reid, an online personality and friend to Pearson, declared in a statement on Facebook that the former megachurch pastor is still alive.

“Even with me coming live days ago, giving thousands an update at the family’s request, y'all still do what y'all always do, which is report stuff that ain’t true. I didn’t hear it so I don’t know if it’s true, but that lie was pumped out through @rickeysmileyofficial morning show because of another media outlet lying. Hold media accountable y'all,” Reid wrote.

Pearson, who turned 70 in March, is an affiliate minister at All Souls Unitarian Church. He was once one of the most sought-after Pentecostal speakers in the U.S. before he lost his megachurch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 20 years ago for declaring there is no Hell, but remains a respected voice among some progressive Christians.

The Netflix film 'Come Sunday' documents how Carlton Pearson (Chiwetel Ejiofor) risks his church, family and future when he questions church doctrine and finds himself branded a heretic.
The Netflix film "Come Sunday" documents how Carlton Pearson (Chiwetel Ejiofor) risks his church, family and future when he questions church doctrine and finds himself branded a heretic. | NETFLIX

Pearson, whose life is documented in the Netflix film "Come Sunday,” was raised in the conservative Church of God in Christ, the world's most prominent black Pentecostal denomination, and later founded Higher Dimensions Evangelistic Center in Tulsa in 1981. The church grew from 75 members to more than 5,000 members, according to the Christian Research Institute.

In the late 1980s, he started the Azusa Conferences at Oral Roberts University and became a mainstay on Christian television. After he challenged the biblical definition of Hell, the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops Congress branded him a heretic in 2004 for preaching inclusionism, which the Christian apologetics ministry Got Questions calls the "old heresy of universalism re-packaged and given a new name."

In a March 2018 interview with Megyn Kelly, Pearson explained how his theology evolved after he began questioning the idea of people burning in Hell for eternity.

“I believed in Hell; I just didn't believe anybody would be in it because of the finished work of the Cross. Then I started thinking about the absurdity and the vulgarity of eternal torture — if it was primitive or corrective or remedial. I can understand some kind of Hell, but when it's punishment, and little children, if you're 12, and over, till you're 90 years old, would all … be tormented. It just didn't. I couldn't reconcile that with the moral character of a God of love,” Pearson said.

He explained that his beliefs had since evolved to the point where he's now “not trying to correct anybody [but] just enhance everybody — who you already are, bringing out the best in you, celebrate own honor, respect, love yourself, and be yourself.”

“We spend our lives, most of us, impersonating who we think people want us to be, and we become a world of imposters and impersonators,” he said. “When I stop putting on that air, trying to please the people, and I love people. I had to face the guy that I had never met.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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