'Come Sunday' is Netflix's Biopic about Bishop Carlton Pearson's Preaching That There is No Hell

Updated on April 16, 2018
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks writes for HubPages and Blasting News. She loves sharing interesting information with people all over the world.

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the central character in "Come Sunday"
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the central character in "Come Sunday"

Come Sunday is a newly released Netflix biopic about the real-life Bishop Carlton Pearson and his crisis of faith. The once popular preacher became ostracized by his own church, Higher Dimensions when he began preaching that there is no hell.

At one time, Higher Dimensions was one of the largest churches in Tulsa, Oklahoma with an average attendance of about 6,000. Pearson's sermons were heard all over the world.

Preaching the new doctrine caused him to lose favor with fellow preachers and with those in his congregation. They found it hard to believe what Pearson was preaching. Even so, the evangelist did not back away from what he insisted God had revealed to him.

The film depicts the moving story of Bishop Pearson's personal journey from leading a megachurch to being labeled a heretic.

About the Biopic "Come Sunday"

Come Sunday was released in the United States on Netflix on April 13, 2018. It is based on Carlton Pearson's excommunication and his fall from grace.

Director Joshua Marston did an excellent job by using Chiwetel Ejiofor to portray Pearson. He looked and talked just like the once popular minister. Viewers had to remind themselves that it was Ejiofor and not Pearson himself who was in the central role.

Netflix did not put impose its own bias on the film and did not express its opinion about Pearson's struggle. It did let all characters share their belief by their own words and actions.

The title comes from Pearson's advisors who told him, "Come Sunday you will have to explain to the congregation just what inclusion is all about."

Characters in 'Come Sunday'

Come Sunday is not only Carlton Pearson's story, but it is also about those who are part of his life and how they too struggled when he introduced a new doctrine to them.

His wife, Gina, is played by Condola Rashad. She struggles with her own place in the church and in the marriage. Jason Segal, Stacey Sargeant, and Lakeith Stanfield all play core members of Carlton's church team who react in different ways to what some called the bishop's radical revelations. Danny Glover plays Pearson's incarcerated uncle.

Stanfield plays Reggie, a closeted gay man who has been told by another church that he will go to hell because of his lifestyle. Pearson ministers to him and tells him that is not the case.

Martin Sheen plays the part of Dr. Oral Roberts who is Pearson's mentor. Roberts talked to Pearson concerning his latest views about hell and tries unsuccessfully to get him to change his mind back to what it used to be.

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the central character in "Come Sunday"
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the central character in "Come Sunday"
The real Carlton Pearson
The real Carlton Pearson

Up until 1998, Pearson was delivering the same message that other preachers were preaching. People packed his church and other churches when he was a guest preacher. All of his conferences were filled to capacity. His sermons were broadcast all over the world. Things changed after Pearson said God spoke to him about the doctrine of inclusion.

His uncle, played by Danny Glover, hung himself in prison because Pearson refused to write a letter to the parole board on his behalf. His uncle's suicide and the ongoing genocide in Rwanda caused Pearson to preach that there is no hell after he insisted he heard from God. He insisted that all those people killed in Africa were not going to hell no matter how they had lived their lives on earth. He preached that they didn't have to be saved by Jesus to get to heaven but because of God's love and mercy, they will not go to hell.

This type of preaching did not go well in his Tulsa-based popular Pentecostal church or with other pastors, preachers, and high ranking religious leaders in the community.

Doctrines of Universal Reconciliation and Inclusion

Universal reconciliation is the doctrine that all sinful people will ultimately be forgiven and reconciled to God because of God's love and mercy. According to the doctrine, they don't need to be saved by Jesus Christ.

The doctrine is rejected by Christian religions where members believe in the doctrine of special and individual salvation in order to spend eternity in heaven.

Timeline of Bishop Carlton Pearson's Fall From Grace

Year
Event
1998
Pearson had an epiphany and said God wanted him to preach about inclusion.
2002
Bishop Carlton Pearson lost a primary election to become mayor of Tulsa.
2004
Pearson was described as a heretic by the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops.
2006
Church lost its building because members of Higher Dimension fell to below 1,000 when it used to be around 6,000.
2006
Pearson was accepted as a United Church of Christ minister.
2008
Higher Dimensions was absorbed into the All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa.
2009-2011
Pearson was the interim minister at the Christ Universal Termple in Chicago, Illinois.
2014
Carlton Pearson began preaching at All Souls Unitarian Church once a month.
2015
Pearson's wife filed for divorce, but a year later she withdrew her petition.
2018
The bishop is still preaching and teaching inclusion.

What is Carlton Pearson Doing Now?

At the end of the Netflix film, it was indicated that decades after his painful experience of loss and rejection, Pearson is still preaching. The sermons of the 65-year-old preacher are much different from the ones he preached to thousands of people decades ago. He was licensed as a minister when he was 15 and ordained when he was 18 years old.

Pearson has followers including the gay community since he preaches that they will not go to hell. Also, his followers include people of different religions.

The bishop appeared on NBC's Megan Kelly Today on March 26, 2018. He explained how he lost everything including his megachurch that he founded, his home, his 401K and his longtime friends. He almost lost his marriage. His wife, Gina filed for divorced in 2015, but she withdrew the petition less than a year later.

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    • revmjm profile image
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      Margaret Minnicks 4 weeks ago from Richmond, VA

      Thedecadentone, thanks for reading and providing detailed comments to go along with my article. I have been reading your comments and I went to your page to follow you, but I see you haven't written any articles yet.

      Your comments are biblically based and could be developed into articles of your own which I would love to read. Consider posting an article soon.

    • profile image

      Thedecadentone 4 weeks ago

      Fortunately sinning doesn't disqualify from eternal life. Ruling and reigning with Christ on this flawed earth for a thousand years before New Jerusalem arrives, yes, but I'm just fine being a garbage man in Christ's kingdom. Living eternally in the new heaven and new earth is what is important.

      You won't go to hell, no, but you will be in Sheol if you die before Jesus' return or when Satan is free to start armageddon, then burned in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the baleful eye of god the father purging sin which sadly destroys the host as is taught in scripture. Moses barely survived looking at His back. Everyone being purified by fire and welcomed into heaven is a Muslim and old Catholic teaching which isn't supported. Mr. Pearson is very close, but still off track since he's basically saying to the holy spirit that He isn't needed.

    • revmjm profile image
      Author

      Margaret Minnicks 2 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Tim, for your positive comment as usual. I watched the film and was happy to see that Netflix did not judge either. I believe the producers did a great job of portraying what Bishop Carlton Pearson struggled with when he went public with his conviction that was and still is a controversial subject.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 2 months ago from U.S.A.

      Excellent article. Love is a universal concept; it's inclusive. Although I am merely human, I will not try to fathom all of the love our God has for us. It's impossible. However, I take it on faith that the Word of God as written in the Bible is true. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the way and the life and the light.

      I've met gay people who said they knew Christ and demonstrated loving hearts. Likewise, I've met straight people who acted in Christ name but knew Him not.

      Interesting and thoughtful article on such a controversial figure. I will not judge. Thank you.

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • revmjm profile image
      Author

      Margaret Minnicks 2 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Dora and Eric, thanks so much for your comments relating to the Netflix biopic about Bishop Carlton Pearson's doctrine of inclusion and how it affected those around him. Netflix released the film to let the public know the details surrounding his decision.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I do like your straight forward look at this man and the movie. I saw it come up on new releases and pondered watching it. To me one of the most striking things is his version of just getting out of the boat and following without caring about his "stuff". (or maybe caring but sacrificing it)

      I do not like well carved out exceptions to rules. Abortion is a life ended. Babies that die are a life ended. Some folks in Indonesia may never hear of Christ. And the total imbecile who cannot fathom the Holy Spirit. We contort exceptions for these children of God.

      And then we come along like we are against the notion that God is not restricted by laws for man. And then we contrive that one can be saved through their parents. Baby baptism.

      "Will" as opposed to "can".

      For me I just take it on faith. If God chooses someone for Heaven then that is that and all my suppositions are just machinations of man. God rocks and He always does what is right.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      I watched it. In fact, I was anxious to see it, because I knew it would help me understand Pearson's detour. I have several friends who changed their beliefs midstream and I am always willing to listen to their stories. I am disappointed but I am also encouraged to keep my focus.

    • revmjm profile image
      Author

      Margaret Minnicks 2 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Ronald, thanks for your detailed opinion about the Netflix's movie. I watched it as a writer and not as one to be swayed by Carlton Pearson's doctrine of inclusion. I reported it without including any opinion of my own. That's what journalists, reporters, and writers do.

      My article stated the bare facts without taking a side one way or the other, and Netflix did the same thing.

      As far as exposure is concerned, we can't and don't live in a bubble. That's why the Bible says we are IN the world but not OF the world.

      I found nothing wrong with watching the biopic and I don't feel tainted for having done so just as you probably don't feel that you have sinned for reading the article. For once, I disagree with your opinion. Thanks for the pageview and your comment.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 2 months ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I won't be watching this film. I think anyone thinking of watching it should first ask himself or herself - is it possible that this something God would have people expose themselves to?

      Not only is the existence of hell taught throughout the Old and New Testaments, but Jesus Himself taught it as a much-to-be-feared reality (see, for example, Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 5:22, 29; Matthew 18:9; Luke 12:5).

      I firmly believe that the Bible is very clear that any preacher who teaches that God has given him a revelation that shows Jesus was wrong is a false prophet who should not be listened to.

      2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

      The devil is a liar, and he’s good at it. But those who listen to his lies “bring on themselves swift destruction.”

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