The United Church of Christ biannual General Synod is meeting this week, and that guarantees there will be plenty of weirdness to comment on. Exhibit A is the preacher who spoke to a group of synod delegates on Saturday:
His Gospel of Inclusion created controversy in the Church of God in Christ. But Bishop Carlton Pearson says his life is “one big memorial.”
“I am remembering that I love you and I know you.”
A longtime member of the African American Pentecostal Bishops Conference – a group that came to declare him a heretic – Pearson spoke Saturday afternoon to a group of delegates and visitors to the UCC General Synod 27.
His separation from the Pentecostal movement occurred when he “could not reconcile the absolute love of God for all” with the concept of God “who would eternally torture.”
“I could no longer hide my theological crisis. I did not have permission to love people” with an opposing theology. “But in my heart I felt related to the stranger.”
Pearson discovered his religion was creating barrier between himself and those he felt called to serve. “I’ve dismissed so many people to hell,” but, “God is love.” He says the UCC message of inclusion is empowering.
“Did Jesus come to protect us FROM God or connect us TO God?,” he asked. Pearson emphasizes that we need to give people permission to think again.
I have no real idea what a lot of that means, but I can tell you that the “Gospel [sic] of Inclusion” that Pearson preaches is universalism, the doctrine that all will be saved regardless of faith or lack thereof in Christ. It’s a doctrine that means that actions and beliefs in this life have no consequences, that there is no reason to trust in Christ, and that God is not holy and righteous, but fluffier than your grandmother. In short, it is the perfect message to lead off a UCC synod.