Seeking vs. Following

September 14, 2007

 I will have faith in man

that is hard to understand.

Show some humility,

you have the ability,

get right with me.

                             Depeche Mode

I watched a news story last night about Bishop Carlton Pearson, the Tulsa Pentacostal minister who burned bridges after declaring that homosexuals are not going to hell, as a matter of fact, no one goes to hell. His argument, in a nutshell, is that if God is truly an entiy who loves humankind unconditionally, then such an entity would not subject the very human and fallable objects of this agape affection to eternal damnation. His minsitry changed course from the age-old fire and brimstone, repent-or-else, salvation through Jesus or nothing messages to one of inclusion. He realized that God is everyone’s god, and such a great being would not, could not stipulate such parochial and limiting conditions for acceptance into the kingdom of heaven.

For this groundbreaking declaration, the bishop has lost friends, mentors, his congregation, and his credibility, and has been labeled a heretic among his former contemporaries, and the God-fearing faithful.

He understood, one day, that to be God-fearing was to be in a dysfunctional relationship with God. If one is seeking closeness to Christ, then the fear, the limitations, the conditions and stipulations must be disposed of. This man has experienced a rare event–rare in it’s occurance among fundamentalists: He had an epiphany. This sets him apart, as it should from his evangelical brethren and colleagues, because he truly and deeply sought, as pilgrims do, the closeness to his creator. His seeking spirit opened his eyes, opened his life, and he understands that if God loves us, then he loves us. Period. He doesn’t love us if, or doesn’t love us when, or but or because. He loves us absolutely. There is no cruelty in this love, no bargaining, no culling of earthlings based on faith or standing or degree of sacrifice, or who wears the biggest hat with the most flowers to church this Sunday.

So, I say to Bishop Pearson, bravo, good work, don’t back down. Jesus’ message and example of inclusion wasn’t popular either. You’re in good company. You’re being punished for refusing to follow a fear-based and hateful teaching. Wasn’t it Jesus who said something about a prophet not being accepted in his own land? Followers are not courageous and will never discover anything, about themselves, about the world, about God.

The seekers are the lonely and reviled lot, who in their hunger for truth will eventually know God.