'Come Sunday' is Netflix's Biopic about Bishop Carlton Pearson's Preaching That There is No Hell
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.
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
Pearson had an epiphany and said God wanted him to preach about inclusion.
Bishop Carlton Pearson lost a primary election to become mayor of Tulsa.
Pearson was described as a heretic by the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops.
Church lost its building because members of Higher Dimension fell to below 1,000 when it used to be around 6,000.
Pearson was accepted as a United Church of Christ minister.
Higher Dimensions was absorbed into the All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa.
Pearson was the interim minister at the Christ Universal Termple in Chicago, Illinois.
Carlton Pearson began preaching at All Souls Unitarian Church once a month.
Pearson's wife filed for divorce, but a year later she withdrew her petition.
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.