Bishop Carlton Pearson keeps me fascinated. I lived in Tulsa, OK where he started his ministry and still go there to visit family and friends. In my frequent trips back, I watched his rise to power as a Pentacostal preacher. I've met him twice and been at one event where spoke.
Of course, that tells you nothing, but if you ever lived in Tulsa, you'd know it the home of Oral Roberts University, the founder that saw a 900' Jesus in the desert who told him he would be called "home" (die) if he didn't complete his City of Faith hospital. (to read more on this sordid story try "Give me that Prime Religion" an expose by former colleague.)
Back to Bishop Pearson. Around Tulsa and the Evangelical world, Pearson's ties to Oral Roberts were well known.
During the beginning of Pearson's career, he led more than 50,000 and was a guest on all the major Christian television shows until, he had the audacity to say that "all" could enter heaven. Not just Christians, but Muslim, Hindu and more could penetrate the gates of heaven.
Heresy! Pearson's fall from grace was even faster than his rise. Suddenly, all of his Oral Roberts friends and Evangelicals support vanished. It was a costly faux-pas for the Bishop, but he didn't take it back. Instead, he went on to speak of a more inclusive religion that pulls together rather than divides.
This is when Pearson caught my interest. I read his books, including the latest, and much of what he says is common sense if such a thing exists in the evangelical world. Bishop Pearson applied some serious thought to his ideas and proclamation and it shows. He speaks of not taking the Bible literally and calling it a book written by inspired men.
Interestingly, his former church in Tulsa is now amalgamated with the All Souls Universalist Unitarian church there. Although, much of what the Bishop points out and proclaims is common knowledge to most non-believers, it does show growth is possible.
Where does he go from here? I have no idea, but it clear he is aware that the way it is done now is wrong. Bishop John Shelby Spong pointed this out in the 90's in his book "Why Christianity Must Change or Die," and if appears with exception of a few, his prediction will come true.