Sample from the Summer 2006 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine
The Gospel of Inclusion
An Interview with Bishop Carlton Pearson
Bishop Carlton Pearson was a Pentecostal evangelist and former host on the “Praise the Lord” (PTL) television program, when he had an awakening that would change his life and ministry forever. This experience led him to begin preaching a “Gospel of Inclusion.” Now, there is not only tremendous interest in his ministry but also in his compelling personal story, which may be made into a feature film
Integral Yoga Magazine: What do you mean by “inclusion” and that “God is not a Christian?”
Carlton Pearson: Inclusion consciousness means that everything evolves out of One into One and ultimately as One. All is God and all things work together in God. As a Christian, when I say inclusion, that means that, if in fact God is God and He sent a Messiah to redeem the world He would not have excluded anybody. God wants to reconnect the world to Himself or Itself and I call that reconnection Christ-Consciousness. There is a passage in scripture that says, “He was the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world”–which means, before the foundation of Christianity. I believe Christ is in all the cultures–Krishna in Hinduism, Zeus of the Greeks–in every age there has been a Christ-Consciousness. This is not necessarily the Jesus we Christians embrace, but Christ-Consciousness meaning the consciousness of a God who redeems and who is beneficent; who loves everything and everybody. He is not the sole property of any one religion.
IYM: So, why do we fight in the name of religion?
CP: There is a great amnesia — we have forgotten who we are and from whence we came. We feel entitled to be loved, entitled to peace, because somewhere in our spiritual memory we were that peace, that contentment, that love. We came from God, who is all of that combined, and because we are not educated about that, we create religions that defend the faith. When you start defending your faith, you start offending other people’s faith and then we have war all over the planet. Whenever you make your religion your God, you lose the God and, sometimes, the good of the religion. But, there is beauty in our diversity.
IYM: How do we maintain a broad view of diversity?
CP: A Jewish rabbi asked me how, in my Gospel of Inclusion, I reconcile that all these other religions are legitimate. You know, I was so involved in my Pentecostal, evangelical world that I didn’t know the other traditions counted — until I sort of came out of the closet [laughs] with this inclusion-consciousness. People perceive things a certain way and that becomes their reality. Pentecostal people speak in tongues and there is nothing strange about that to them. But, if someone is chanting “OM,” we Pentecostals deny them. All of us are seeking something we can’t see with our naked eye. We can feel it with our naked spirit and any route that we try to access that reality from is legitimate — as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights and realities of other people.
That makes the world a lot safer. Then, I don’t have to try and change all the religions. When I came out with this message, some of my Jewish friends asked me, “Would you like to evangelize Jews?” I replied, “Well, as a matter of fact, I have good news for everybody! That is what evangelism means: good news. It doesn’t mean saving people, it means loving people. So, I told them, “I have good news for everybody. But don’t mistake evangelizing with proselytizing. I don’t want to convert anybody but I would like to convince everybody. Then they asked, “Convince them of what?” I told them, “That they are loved cherished, appreciated, valued and significant to the whole.” We need to embrace and love each person for who they are and as they are.
IYM: As a Pentecostal and evangelist, how did you move to such an inclusive view?
CP: I think it was an evolution of love-consciousness, love perfecting and maturing in my own spirit. I realized my world had shrunken and was choking me to death…