New Movie Tells True Story of Pentecostal Pastor Who Challenged Oral Roberts, Became Universalist

Chiwetel Ejiofor in "Come Sunday"
Chiwetel Ejiofor in "Come Sunday" (YouTube/Netflix)

At one point, Bishop Carlton Pearson pastored Higher Dimensions Family Church, a Pentecostal megachurch of over 5,000 people in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was mentored by Oral Roberts and served on the board at Oral Roberts University. Then Pearson declared that he no longer believed in hell and preached what he called the "gospel of inclusion." As a result, he was forced to resign from ORU's board of regents and was deemed a heretic by his former peers. He traded his Pentecostal ministry for universalism.

Pearson's story is now the subject of a new Hollywood film, Come Sunday, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

In a provocative clip, Pearson (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) asks, "Are we more merciful than God?"

Pearson worked with screenwriter Marcus Hinchey and director Joshua Marston on the film. According to TheWrap, Pearson attended Sundance and told the screening audience, "Our heads are spinning, it makes more sense to me, to Gina, to my children, than when we lived it."

The film, which was originally titled Heretic, also stars Martin Sheen as Oral Roberts, in addition to Lakeith Stanfield, Danny Glover, Jason Segel and Condola Rashad.

Early reviews have been highly positive for Ejiofor's performance but mixed-to-negative for the movie itself.

Come Sunday will release April 13 on Netflix.

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