The Netflix movie, Come Sunday, tells the story of Bishop Carlton Pearson, and how when he started questioning church doctrine, his congregation walks away, and mentor Oral Roberts part ways with him.
Come Sunday, stars, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Bishop Pearson, and portrays the true story of Pearson, who was a renowned evangelical minister in Tulsa, OK. In the late 90’s Pearson was the popular pastor of the Higher Dimensions Church, with a reported 6,000 members.
He had a national audience as guest host on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. He was on the Oral Roberts University Board of Trustees. He was among a handful of national black religious leaders advising then-President-elect George W. Bush.
Then Pearson committed evangelical heresy by beginning to preach that all people will go to heaven, a theology he called “the gospel of inclusion.”
Pearson’s outlook on preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ changed when his incarcerated uncle (played by Danny Glover) hung himself after Pearson refused to write a letter to the parole board, instead insisting that his uncle wasn’t ready to be saved just yet and needed to “do the work.” Additionally, Pearson was troubled by the Rwandan genocide, in which thousands of innocent people—including children—were killed.
Pearson recounts that he was distraught and prayed to God for guidance. It’s then that, according to Pearson, God spoke to him and told him that there is no Hell. Those killed in Africa did not need to be saved to enter the kingdom of Heaven, and thus everyone on Earth could still go to Heaven even if they don’t make the explicit decision to accept Jesus Christ as their savior.
Pearson decides to speak about his conversation with God during his next sermon, and as you might expect, his congregation, colleagues, peers, and mentors are extremely troubled. He’s pressured to recant his testimony, and Oral Roberts himself —Pearson’s mentor—suggests Pearson may not have heard God that night, but the Devil instead. But Pearson persists, even as his congregation crumbles apart and friendships come to an end.
Come Sunday starts streaming in April on Netflix.