Bishop Carlton Pearson, a Charismatic minister, is the founder of the Azusa Interdenominational Fellowship of Christian Churches and the pastor of Higher Dimensions Family Church in Oklahoma. Pearson preaches the "gospel of inclusion," a controversial doctrine claiming that Jesus Christ saves all people no matter what their beliefs or actions. He spoke with Beliefnet recently about what his theology means for non-Christians.

Could you describe your message--the "gospel of inclusion"--in a nutshell?

The Gospel of Inclusion is the exciting and liberating news that in the finished work of the cross, Jesus redeemed the entire world to God from the cosmic and organic sin imposed upon it by Adam, the original man. In effect, the world is already saved, they just don't know it; and, unfortunately, most Christians don't believe it. First Timothy 4:9-10 says, "...we have put our trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men, and especially those who believe." Jesus did not just die for Christians, He died to redeem, reconcile, and ultimately save the Cosmos.

Jesus was not a Christian, He was a Jew. God, however, is Spirit and cannot be confined exclusively to any particular religion including Christianity. He's not Jewish or Christian or Hindu or Buddhist; yet, He is all of that if we want or need Him to be, while at the same time, none of it conclusively, because He can't be and, in fact, is not limited to a person's or culture's perception of Him.

He loves everybody, He understands everybody, and He has a covenant with everybody-again, whether they know it or not.

Every human being in the history of the planet was created in the image and likeness of God. Anything else is an impersonation. God sees Himself in everybody, in every belief system, in every icon, perhaps even the devil. The devil can't subsist on his own. He came from God, has a specific assignment, and carries it out well.

The devil is in the image of God?

In the totality of [God's] vastness, there is evil. But the evil of God is not the way we perceive evil. It's a distortion of good, good in a different form. With God, there is no bad in the sense that our human consciousness understands "bad." Scripture teaches that everything that is or was made, was made or created by God and that everything God made was good. (Gen. 1:31, John 1:3 and Col. 1:15-20). Everything works for good, for God and has a specific and designated purpose.

According Isaiah 54:16-17, nothing the devil does, even though it may appear to us as destructive, will ultimately prosper. It is temporary, it has a purpose, and is ultimately accountable to the sovereign God.

So everyone is saved through the cross and through Jesus, but people don't have to believe that?

It's just like the sun's rays reach Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, and backsliders. Do you have to believe in the sun for it to shine on you? How do you receive sunlight? Even on an overcast day, the solar rays reach the planet, and you will see it and feel it and receive it. You have no choice or vote on the matter. The S-o-n of God is as inclusive and non-discriminatory in his light and warmth as the s-u-n is.

You don't have to do anything or believe anything. You can be born blind, but the sunlight will still shine on you. God is greater and bigger than the s-u-n, he created and can override any resistance to him. And by his Grace he does.

Everyone loves Christ. The word "Messiah" simply means "anointed one." All the religions spiritually overlap and are intertwined. They all have meaning and all should be respected and valued. I'm discovering that the Prophets are basically saying the same thing; it is the theologians that are confused.

So how do you answer critics who quote the gospel verse "No one comes to the Father except through me"?

When my detractors interpret that passage, they tend to mean, "No one comes to God except through 'Christianity' rather than Christ." They think it means "no one can get to the Father except you (they) get down on their knees, confess Jesus, and jump through all the traditional religious hoops in order to reach God." But that scripture doesn't mean that at all.

For example, the door you entered through to get into your office building. Did you kiss it, acknowledge it, or ask it to let you enter through it? Thousands of people may walk through that door and not pay any attention to it at all; in fact, most don't. But because the door is unlocked and open, they simply go through to gain access to the inside of the building.