Okay, the “Have You Read It” series is not just a bunch of book reviews, but I will discuss another book in this part.
Actually, the first time I came across the story of Carlton Pearson was on a radio show “This American Life”. It is a weekly program on public radio that has a wide variety of story tellers. Sometimes it’s a ghost story, sometimes it’s a humorous tale of a dysfunctional family, sometimes it’s the inside story of some current event. Usually they break the show up into several stories, but for Carlton Pearson, they did a full hour.
Carlton Pearson is a preacher. He started out poor and rose very high in the structure of the Oral Roberts ministry. Oral Roberts sort of adopted him. Every Sunday he preached to thousands. He travelled the country with his message, even to the White House. Part of his message was that if you don’t accept Christ in your heart, you will burn in hell for an eternity. In fact it was quite central to his preaching. Until one day when it wasn’t.
He was sitting in his nice house, on his nice couch, with his children in his arms, eating his dinner. On the evening news, a story of children starving to death in Ethiopia. He was always thinking about saving souls, so he saw that and immediately wondered how he could save these children. How could he get to them before they died and tell them of the love of Christ? Of course he couldn’t, so he turned to God and asked why.
Why would God allow this suffering to occur? Why create this world where that happens and it is nearly impossible to fix it? Carlton felt that he could talk to God, and God’s answer was, “yeah, why would you allow that?” He, Carlton that is, not God, realized what he had been doing all his life, and almost immediately stopped doing it. His ministry suffered, he lost his church, he lost a lot of friends. It would really be best if you hear him tell it. You can listen for free, or download for a small fee. “This American Life” is very deserving of your support, so please do so.
Click here for This American Life
He has also published a full version of his story. You can read that if you like, but I’m not endorsing his theology. I asked my pastor to read it and he also has some troubles with the details of his theology, but I don’t want to focus on that. What is important to me, is that someone so entrenched in his beliefs, can, in a moment change his mind. And he was smart enough to re-evaluate his own education and re-educate himself on why. He is still a preacher, but he now preaches about inclusiveness, about love and understanding, and that we are all one.
Click here for his book