A beautiful Story of an Oklahoma Pentecostal minister
Joan Bokaer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 01:24:29 PM EST
This piece, aired today (Sunday, 12/18/05) on NPR's This American Life, is a very moving and powerful story.
This is a quote from NPR/This American Life's web site:
Heretics, This American Life, NPR, December 18, 2005:
             The story of Reverend Carlton Pearson, an evangelical pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
            His church, Higher Dimensions , was once one of the biggest in the
            city, drawing crowds of 5,000 people every Sunday. But several years ago, scandal engulfed the Reverend,
            he was denounced by almost all his former supporters, and today his congregation is just a few hundred
            people. He didn't have an affair. He didn't embezzle lots of money. His sin was
            something that to a lot of people is far worse ... he stopped believing in hell.

I listened to it twice this weekend, and I really admired the pastor's courage to preach and practice his convictions. His knowledge and understanding of the Bible was what made him rise above the fearmongering so common in that sect, and while it cost him his congregation, I also believe that it redeemed his humanity and soul.

I encourage everyone to listen to this show when it is posted on the site.

by Lorie Johnson on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 04:59:57 PM EST

I'm also waiting impatiently for the program, or especially the transcript, to be posted online myself.

This is a pure example of what I've discussed in my most recent post--a lot of groups in that particular flavour of Christianity are dominionist and even cultic, but every once in awhile someone in those groups discovers something that causes enough "cognitive dissonance" they know something in the church isn't right.  It's a rare thing when people actually manage to keep their faith in the process.

This preacher is a prime example of it--he read the Bible, realised he couldn't accept the idea of Hell--and whilst his congregation left him, he found his "key" to realise what is broken--and hopefully to fix it someday.

Robert Bakker is another person I bring up in this, too--he's an evangelical who, after both being involved in paleontology and reading the Bible along with the works of St. Augustine, could no longer accept the Biblical account of creation--but his research and his "crisis of faith" actually has helped him in his own religious path, and he actually mentions in his speeches paleontologists who both believed in evolution and were diehard Christians to show people that the two are NOT incompatible.

There are others like that, too.  The thing is, we can't force it--everyone has to discover the "key" for themselves.  

(This is another reason, as a minor aside, why I often shake my head at especially the ordination requirements for the Assemblies of God and "independent charismatic" churches.  To become an AoG preacher (or Vineyard or Calvary Chapel) you merely need to sign a statement of faith and pay a fee--you don't have to go through any formal seminary training at all.  You can literally be a deacon at an AoG church (a duty that requires no seminary or even "Bible college" training whatsoever) and, with the recommendation of a pastor, a few hundred bucks, and a signed statement of faith, become a fully ordained AoG pastor.  One of the posts on Yurica Report regarding dominionist infiltration of the military and in particular by the Assemblies of God details this; this article notes how far this has gotten.  (Boykin, as an aside, has also been directly implicated in human rights abuses in the Abu Ghraib scandal--and there are indications he was in fact the mastermind of the abuse.  Even worse, the Assemblies of God has defended other Assemblies-associated parties being investigated for having committed torture.)  Considering that the "Bible colleges" promoted in the pente community often are essentially fundamentalist madrassas, the fact they require not even this level of training is kind of scary.)

by dogemperor on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 09:45:49 PM EST

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