Evangelist Carlton Pearson is ostracized by his church for preaching that there is no Hell.Evangelist Carlton Pearson is ostracized by his church for preaching that there is no Hell.Evangelist Carlton Pearson is ostracized by his church for preaching that there is no Hell.
As for the movie itself, it's the story of the faith journey of Carlton Pearson (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor.) A protege of Oral Roberts (Martin Sheen), Pearson was ordained by the Church of God in Christ (a fundamentalist, pentecostal-type denomination) and eventually became pastor of a mega-church of more than 5000 members in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But over the course of his ministry there, his theology began to change and he started to struggle with the concept of hell and divine punishment, eventually becoming a believer in universalism (or, universal reconciliation.) That led to a major split in his church and ultimately his being declared a heretic by the Joint College of African American Pentecostal Bishops.
I disagree with where Pearson's theology took him, but I can nevertheless admire his willingness to stand for what he believed in the face of the incredible pressure that was brought to bear on him to recant. It certainly showed how difficult both theologically and personally it would be for a pastor to radically change his or her views. It not only caused problems within the church and had repercussions for Pearson's career, it also ended relationships and turned friends into enemies. It's interesting to trace Pearson's theological journey, but there's no real "excitement" to the story. It's simply biographical. If I were to hazard a guess I would say that the perspective of those who made the movie (it's a Netflix production) is sympathetic to Pearson, although the portrayal of Oral Roberts was, I thought fair and balanced.
This will probably be of most interest to those who have a theological interest in universalism. (6/10)
- Apr 21, 2018