The pastor of a Tulsa, Oklahoma, megachurch says his failed mayoral bid has not diminished his appetite for local politics. Carlton Pearson, founding pastor of the 3,500-member Higher Dimensions Family Church, was defeated in the February Republican primary.

Pearson, 49, came in third behind Bill LaFortune and Terry Simonson. LaFortune became mayor April 1.

Pearson, a well-known televangelist and recording artist, was aiming to become the first African American mayor of the city of 381,000. Pearson cited several reasons for his loss—including late entry into the race and lack of local name recognition. But he told Christianity Today that a significant factor was his theology.

"Some of my Christian brethren were uncomfortable with me running because I've been accused of [promoting] an erroneous doctrine, which I call the gospel of inclusion," Pearson told CT. On a link to his church Website, Pearson says the doctrine "maintains that Christ's crucifixion and death on Calvary accomplished its purpose of reconciling all mankind to God. … The message man needs to hear, then, is not that he simply has a suggested opportunity for salvation, but that through Christ he has, in fact, already been redeemed to God and that he may enjoy the blessings that are already his through Christ."

Criticism overshadows campaign


Pearson has taught the doctrine to his congregation for about four years. Some Christian leaders believe the teaching is too similar to universalism, a heresy that says all individuals will be saved. Several prominent charismatic televangelists—including John Hagee, Marilyn Hickey and Pearson's mentor, Oral Roberts—have confronted him about the teaching. In time, public criticism overshadowed Pearson's political campaign.

Pearson ...

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