26 October 2010

The Robert Schuller saga, and questions it provokes

by Dan Phillips

I'm sure you've all heard this: Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral declared bankruptcy last week. The church is seeking protection regarding $7.5 MILLION that it owes creditors who, according to Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman (!), have filed lawsuits. In all, the Cathedral is apparently $55 MILLION in debt. The Wall Street Journal speaks of "a trail of hundreds of [i.e. 550] unpaid creditors from California to Washington, D.C." (Here is a partial list of top creditors.)

The CC had apologized to creditors, but you can't live on apologies.

In a notable paragraph from the WSJ article, we read:
The church's style may seem extravagant, but it brought worship to life, said Brett Judson, a member who is listed as a creditor for pipe-organ performances. Pageantry, he said, "is something the congregation wants. All the musical and dramatic outlets are a way to open people up to a positive Christian message." (Emphases added.)
Right; because it takes expensive music and entertainment to bring worship to life (pace Colossians 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:1-4), and that's what non-Christians really need (pace Romans 10:17).

There will now be abundant material for tracing the CC's financial downfall — but that isn't my main focus. My interest turns to Schuller himself, in two particulars, from the second of which I'll launch a bit more broadly.

First — huh? Schuller's daughter is pastor of the church? How did that happen? Her only degree that I know of is a doctorate in business administration... and there's that whole she's a woman thing.

Happily, we need not speculate, because the senior Schuller explains to us exactly how this happened: God told him to have his daughter replace him. Oh, don't take my word for it. Here we go:
The Rev. Schuller shared in yesterday's ministry announcement that, after he told God he was too old to lead, God told him, "Give me two more years - 24 more months. . . . Don't worry. I have called your daughter Sheila, too. She is equipped and she will be your legs."
So there you go. It's all Charismaticky. Schuller had a word from "God," which he quotes verbatim, in which "God" says a doctorate in BA is jake with Him, and that whole ban on female pastors thingie can be waived. ("God" didn't explain when He'd changed His mind on 1 Timothy 2:8-15 [I speak as a leaky-Canoneer].)

If Scripture isn't enough, something else will take its place. No large surprise that the "something" came from within Schuller's mind.

Second, Schuller has himself now spoken publicly about the bankruptcy.

And what did Schuller say? Dare we hope? Did he express broken repentance for years of preaching false doctrine, lifting up man, twisting or altogether ignoring Scripture, effectively denying the Gospel? Did he lament such opulent waste, such fleecing of sheep, such wasted years? Did he beg his listeners to forgive him, warn them of the wrath to come, and plead with them to flee to Christ alone for salvation by His blood?

Well, Schuller did plead, all right — but what he pled for was more money and more support. Because, by yiminy, he's earned it! Again, don't take my word for it, hear Schuller himself:
"I need more help from you," Schuller said, according to the Orange County Register. "If you are a tither, become a double-tither. If you are not a tither, become a tither. This ministry has earned your trust. This ministry has earned your help."
Yes, well... my, my — "broken" and "repentant" aren't the words that leap to one's mind, are they?

Which brings me to my launching-off point. Surely someone has asked, but I can't find any article (except Al Mohler's post, to a degree) posing what is to me the biggest and most obvious, pressing question that should come from this.

The question is: how could this happen?

I don't mean, "What bad business-decisions and financial practices led to this?" I mean, if what Schuller has preached for decades is true, how could this happen?

For decades and decades Schuller has urged vast audiences of complete strangers, about whom he knew absolutely nothing and for whom he takes absolutely no responsibility, to become "possibility thinkers." He has unconditionally and unqualifiedly exhorted each and every last one of them to adore themselves, believe in themselves, embrace themselves, dream really really big, and launch — assuring them that God will foot the bill.

Now, I don't recall Schuller ever saying, "Dream big, launch — and if you don't get there just go beg for money from working people." Maybe he did. I don't think so.

Here's what I wonder, though. How many poor folks took Schuller at his word, adored themselves, embraced their drives, "trusted" God (to rubber-stamp their plans), launched — and ruined themselves, their families, their reputations, their health, their lives?

I imagine that I'm pretty safe so far, with this readership. And if I throw in Joel Osteen's name, again I'll get nothing but nods.


But what if I then toss in Rick Warren? What if I specifically refer to his talk at the 2010 Desiring God conference, at John Piper's invitation, followed by Piper's admiration for what a wonderful communicator Warren was?

What are the total strangers who heard Warren's plea for "imagineers" — an ironic borrowing of the term from Disney — going to do with his exhortation, delivered as it was under the auspices of Piper and all? What reporter is going to trace out downloads of that message, and see what the fruits are in the hearers? No doubt, some will filter the charge through a Biblical grid, and accomplish great things. But who will find the family, for instance, where the frantic wife wonders how she'll feed and clothe the children while her husband is off "imagineering" himself (and themselves) into financial and social ruin?

I know one isn't supposed to ask these questions, but my mind just runs that way. I asked questions like these when Francis Chan released his (to my mind) bizarre and troubling letter about walking away from his ministry. Some cheered, some movingly bore confirming witness, others roared in outrage, others ignored. But I can't help wondering, and marvel when others don't. It isn't rocket science.

Every time I hear a story of someone who faced the odds, held on in the face of ruin and pulled it off, I wonder how many will be emboldened by that story to follow that example — and will themselves fall into shameful, miserable ruin, instead of the bright happy ending they (ahem) imagined?

You're bright folks, you don't need me to go on and on about this.

Contrast all this with being a minister of the Gospel. I remember some really terrific counsel I received from one of my first pastors, back in the seventies. He said something like this: if you can't preach the same Gospel in the mansions of Beverly Hills or the trenches of Vietnam, you aren't preaching the real Gospel. The Gospel is trans-cultural, trans-temporal, and trans-situational.

So what should we do? Oh, golly (he said innocently), I don't know. Just off the top of my head?
  1. Believe, study and live God's Word, the Bible.
  2. Preach the Gospel; in fact
  3. Preach the whole Word as absolutely vital, essential, sufficient.
  4. Use the brains God gave us (as His word orders us to do) to fill in the gaps, taking responsiblity for the decisions you make.
Do that in trusting, prayerful, Christ-centered faith, and you're far likelier to reach the end of your life with God glorified, rather than needing to apologize and beg.

Dan Phillips's signature

74 comments:

Eddie Eddings said...

Looks like his engine is running out of esteem.

stratagem said...

Every time I hear a story of someone who faced the odds, held on in the face of ruin and pulled it off, I wonder how many will be emboldened by that story to follow that example — and will themselves fall into shameful, miserable ruin, instead of the bright happy ending they (ahem) imagined?

Exactly! Imagine Schuller (or Osteen, or Warren, or Copeland, or...) coming into a roomful of people and saying "would everyone who ended up dead by taking my advice, please raise their hands?"

Robert said...

To me, it all comes back to who are you counting on, God or yourself? If you are counting on God, then you go to His Word, where He speaks to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. If you are counting on yourself, then you'll make up words and say God told you this, that, and the other.

It is quite amazing that the words that we make up are a lot more in line with what we want instead of what He wants. God wants us to feel broken over our sin. "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word." (Isaiah 66:2) I feel like modern/western Christians have lost some of the reverence for God that the Jews had/have (although they take/took it to an extreme). Why is it so easy to attribute words and thoughts to the Creator and Sustainer of eeverything? Should we not fear Him not only in respect and awe, but also trepidation?

Tom said...

Every time I hear a story of someone who faced the odds, held on in the face of ruin and pulled it off, I wonder how many will be emboldened by that story to follow that example — and will themselves fall into shameful, miserable ruin, instead of the bright happy ending they (ahem) imagined?

That's part of the American Dream. For every one Bill Gates there are millions who lead lives of quiet desperation.

The problem is, some Pastors want everyone to believe and donate like they're a Warren Buffett, when in fact the best they'll ever do is work at Old Country Buffet.

DJP said...

Four comments, and already two rimshot-worthy! This meta will ROCK.

donsands said...

Another excellent post. Jam packed with a lot of great thoughts. I love what your pastor told you about the Gospel.

$55,000,000 in debt?

You would think they would have seen the debt problem when they first began to get into the tens of millions.

I guess it could be a lot more complicated than seems apparent.

Schuller to me is an empty cloud. As is Joel.
Warren may have a drop or two of rain in his cloud, but he's basically a cloud without any spiritual nurture.


I remember Michael Horton asking Robert Schuller if he preached to the people that they are sinners. He was unsettled with that question and said, "I hope you don't tell people they are sinners. They will never come to your church if you tell them that."

Thanks for such a well done post. Have a terrific day in our Savior's grace and peace.

allen said...

The sheep hear the Shepherd's voice and follow Him (Jn. 10:27). But the goats, led by hirelings, crave pageantry and entertainment.

This man and his ministry have been spiritually and biblically bankrupt for years. In one sense, Schuller has been the head-hireling over an entire movement away from the gospel and biblical truth.

Truth is, we all are bankrupt ---apart form Jesus' righteousness, and all who realize this glory in the evangel!

Jason Kanz said...

Well said. I was in the crowd for Warren's video message at DG10 and I heard people behind me saying "amen" and so forth. I was struck that if one simply removed Warren's occasional Bible verses, the same message could have been given by Tony Robbins or Dr Phil.

Near the end, he said something to the effect of "without vision, we have no hope" and I nearly stood up and screamed "WITHOUT CHRIST WE HAVE NO HOPE!!!!!"

stratagem said...

donsands: Schuller really said that? Ohmygoodness. Oy vey. Aye aye aye. help me Rhonda. I'm really happy he lost his palace now.

DJP said...

As you might imagine, Jason, hearing Proverbs 29:18 tortured yet again, particularly in such a setting, was fingernails on the chalkboard for me.

Al said...

One becomes like that which she worships. A severly bankrupt church is a testimony to her god and its message...

al sends

Scott said...

Dan, you mean to tell me that God isn't our kind old Grandpa, full of big belly laughs for our missteps (or the more proper term, sin) and bailout money when we chase another shiny quarter into traffic? I've been lied to!

On a more serious note, I'm deeply, deeply thankful to you, Frank, and Phil for all your excellent posts on da Gifts. It really opened my eyes to a lot of very sloppy teaching in my life and irresponsibility in my own heart. Just the another day, I learned of a decision taht fills my mouth with the bitter taste of massive debt in the future. I fear the decision was made due to quasi-revelation and chasing the mirage of relevance.

olan strickland said...

Robert Schuller: "The core of original sin, then is LOT - Lack of Trust. Or, it could be considered an innate inability to adequately value ourselves. Label it a 'negative self-image,' but do say that the central core of the human soul is wickedness. If this were so, then truly, the human being is totally depraved. But positive Christianity does not hold to human depravity, but to human inability" (Self Esteem: The New Reformation, pg. 67).

Why should Schuller repent of the bankruptcy of the CC when he has never repented of his personal bankruptcy before a holy God?

However, as Dan has correctly pointed out, this current saga with the CC ought to make people ask questions.

Eric said...

How sad that many people who set Robert Schuller up as an idol due to his tickling of their ears will dig deeper into their pockets and shower his "ministry" with gifts. The fleecing is heinous and on par with the Word Faith/TBN fleecing that is so prevalent.

sonofthunder7 said...

Powerful and sobering post, Dan. Thanks.

Joey White said...

Dan, I appreciate the post. I'm in agreement with you that Schuller's daughter is not qualified as a pastor because of being a woman. But are you also saying someone's degree (or lack thereof) qualifies or disqualifies a person as a pastor?

DJP said...

Nope.

Eric said...

It has been shown that Warren has been influenced by Schuller, so it is not at all surprising to see similarities in their teachings and expect similarities in their fruit. Question: How many years until there is a similar story about the PDL empire?

Joey White said...

Thanks for clarifying. Have a good day sir.

damewood said...

Thanks for the post Dan. I have one slight critiscm. I'm wondering if you are lumping unlike things together. Do Chan, Warren, & Schuller really have that much in common? I did rather enjoy Driscoll's questioning of Chan over at the TGC. I know that's against code around here but it was almost as if he could be a guest blogger if his head shrunk a bit and he stopped wearing those ugly shirts.

The OC, as it's called, is a unique place. In the early 2000s we lived there for two years and visited 20 or so churches and all of them were strangely "positive." We ended up spending our last year in SoCal driving up to Roscoe Blvd. to listen to Phil's boss every Sunday just for decent teaching. Nothing like an hour commute to church each way.

DJP said...

Obviously I think they have in common what I said they have in common. Anything beyond that isn't my focus.

Mike Westfall said...

Paul is appealing. Peale is appalling.

Oh wait, we're talking about Schuller, not Peale. Oh, well. Same difference. "Positivity thinking" goatherders, both.

DJP said...

Schuller said he learned Possibility Thinking from Peale's Positive Thinking.

Peale said he learned Positive Thinking from Ernest Holmes.

Ernest Holmes founded the Science of Mind (aka Religious Science), the non-Christian cult from which the Lord saved me.

Solameanie said...

My late stepfather had the occasion to be in earshot of a meeting with Schuller when my stepfather was working in maintenance at Melodyland in California. (Long story how that happened). He overheard Schuller talking about charismatic ascendancy, and how his church would have to find a way to appeal to them because there was lots of money there.

I had already lost it with Schuller when he came up with the "cross sanctifies your ego trip" line, but that was just another nail in the crystal coffin.

Solameanie said...

BTW, Dan, was it C.S. Lewis who said he "found Paul appealing and Peale appalling?"

Larry Geiger said...

"Kristina Oliver, livestock supplier: $56,000"

$56,000 for LIVESTOCK!!!!!!!!!!
They owe $56,000 for cows and chickens! I'm having a very hard time imagining this. How long have they owed this to her? Good grief, Dan. You don't even have to read all that stuff that you wrote (good stuff!) to know that something is severly wrong on Fantasy Island.

A "church" that owes someone $56,000 for animals for the Christmas pageant is all anyone needs to know that something is just not right.

I can't think of any other way to say it. I'm totally flabbergasted.

DJP said...

Dude, you read the piece.

They need the pageantry, or they can't worship and non-Christians won't come.

Mike Westfall said...

I first heard the Paul/Peale quote from J. Vernon McGee, but I believe it was Adlai Stevenson who used it first during his election campaign of 1952.

DJP said...

Wasn't it Finney? Or Wesley or Moody?

BrettR said...

When Pastor Schuller is right down the street from Pastor Disney, a guy (gal)'s gotta do what ever they can to keep up with the Jonas's (Disney).

So who do you think does a better job at proclaiming the gospel: Disneyland or CC? It is a small world after all...

The Squirrel said...

"I remember some really terrific counsel I received from one of my first pastors, back in the seventies. He said something like this: if you can't preach the same Gospel in the mansions of Beverly Hills or the trenches of Vietnam, you aren't preaching the real Gospel. The Gospel is trans-cultural, trans-temporal, and trans-situational."

That quote alone was worth the price of admission!

Squirrel

Mike Westfall said...

> That quote alone was worth the price of admission!

Yes, indeed, but don't make a big deal of it, or the Pyros might start thinking they can double our membership dues here...

J♥Yce said...

Empty pockets never held anyone back, only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. ~ Peale

So there we have one how this could happen.

Terry Rayburn said...

Virtually all false teachers use truth to support their false teachings.

They don't mind using truth, if it accomplishes their purposes.

Truth: The mind really is an amazing thing. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made".

Truth: God allows men to accomplish things that would astound earlier generations.

Truth: If you focus like a laser on riches (or anything), you are much more likely to get them, statistically speaking.

Truth: Power and money and "self-esteem" can feel really good.

Truth: If you don't ever think of "possibilities", you're not likely to get them.

The false teachers who have the greatest following are the most skilled at incorporating truth into their programs.

But they always always always twist or deny some or all of the Word of God...

...even while they lift up their Bible and chant...

"This is my Bible [true]. I am what it says I am [true]. I have what it says I have [true]. I can do what it says I can do [true]. Today I will be taught the word of God [not really]. I boldly confess my mind is alert, my heart is receptive [this makes it true?]; I'll never be the same [true]. In Jesus name, God bless you."

David Regier said...

As one involved in music ministry in Southern California, I will say that there are precious few of us (self included) who, before the past couple of years or so, would have turned down an invitation to sing there. Even among guys who are really solid.

We'd ask, "So would you sing at Crystal Cathedral?" and respond something like, "Yeah, but I'd have to sing a song like 'In Christ Alone' to do it in good conscience." I even did an arrangement for a friend who sang there, and got a little puffed up about it.

But we don't read the book of Proverbs much here in SoCal. That Wisdom lady must be calling long distance.

Robert said...

I'm wondering how far behind Osteen will be. He has the same amount of, if not more, pagentry on display at his facility (which used to be where the Houston Rockets played their home NBA games). And he preaches the same type of message.

I guess the main difference would be the cultural differences between Socal and Houston. Here many people proudly walk around as spiritual people (some nominal Christians) while being as worldly as possible. That and the economy here is actually doing OK compared to most places. When times get tight, though, people aren't as apt to support these guys and their wild spending habits.

Blue Collar Todd said...

Great post and I think bringing in Rick Warren is justified. It seems he has written a forward to LaVerne Adams' new book about destiny. Seems a bit like the Word Faith crowd to me. Add to that all the times Warren speaks to Muslims and says let us do global good deeds and totally disregards the Gospel.

Rob said...

I think it was one of Phil's sermons, where he talked about the real dangers to Christianity not being the militant atheist, but rather post-modern, nominal Christian churches like Schullers, where congregations are fed on "expensive music and entertainment". Where is this flock going to turn now once the CC is gone? I doubt its going to be the local Reformed Baptist congregation...

greglong said...

From the article:

Kristina Oliver, who supplied livestock for the Cathedral's "Glory of Christmas" last year, has lost her house in Hemet after the church failed to pay her about $56,000 for her services. The Crystal Cathedral was her biggest client. Her family has supplied livestock for the "Glories" for nearly three decades.

On Wednesday, Oliver said she and her family were locked out of their house in the rain by the bank that acquired the property after foreclosure. Oliver has two young children and a husband who is recovering from cancer.
"We had no jackets, no medication...it was awful,'' she said.

The Oliver family will get one last opportunity to pack up their things and move to a trailer, she said.


Obviously the Olivers aren't thinking positively enough.

RealityCheck said...

Well Dan, I was all ready to tell you how much I agreed with this post and add some snarky remark (I know, surprise surprise) about what I think of Schuller and especially things like the situation with The Oliver Family. But then I read this line…

“where the frantic wife wonders how she'll feed and clothe the children while her husband is off "imagineering" himself (and themselves) into financial and social ruin?”

Boom… like a slap in the face I realized that I did this a while back and didn’t even know that that’s what I was doing or afterwards, that that’s what I had done. Not to the degree of no clothes but to the degree of some pretty serious financial problems. And the entire time it was my positive attitude that allowed it to go on. And here’s the really embarrassing part… I see that I’m doing it again. I can actually find the messages that these guys give repulsive and yet somehow at the same time find myself believing too much in myself. The next thing I know I’m doing things financially (and in other areas of my life) that I know I shouldn’t do but justifying them by telling myself, it’s o.k., ”I” got it. Talk about not noticing the log in ones own eye.

What a fool, huh? Anyway, thanks for the great post and the wake-up call that was in it.

DJP said...

Was it kind or a, you know... reality check?

(c;

Thanks for your candor.

the phantom of the bookstore said...

The single most shocking thing about this? (I found this in Al Molher's article)

The fact that Phillip Johnson designed the Crystal Cathedral.

Preacher, writer, editor, blogger, and yes, architect.

How does he do it all?

Doesn't he also write books against evolution?

The guy is a MACHINE !

DJP said...

Thank you, I meant to point that out.

Yes, our Phil is a veritable bursting cornucopia filled with surprising wonderfulnesses.

RealityCheck said...

“Was it kind or a, you know... reality check?

The snarky remark? I guess it would have depended on ones perspective. In reference to the money owed for the Christmas animals, a remark considering additional connections between the animals (particularly the donkeys) and Schuller might not have been considered very kind by animal lovers.

Aren’t you glad I decided against it? ;-)

~Mark said...

The Rev. Schuller shared in yesterday's ministry announcement that, after he told God he was too old to lead, God told him, "Give me two more years - 24 more months. . . . Don't worry. I have called your daughter Sheila, too. She is equipped and she will be your legs."

Ok, now THAT'S the kind of "God said so" that doesn't even require consideration since it completely flies in the face of Scripture.

~Mark said...

Realitycheck-

I can empathize being awakened from a stupor. I'm praying for you the moment I post this comment!

donsands said...

"Schuller really said that?-Strat

Yep. I heard his interview on the White Horse Inn.
You could probably go there and find it in the archives.
I did paraphrase it a bit, but it's basically what he said.

Jeremiah 23:16-17: "Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”

Rachael Starke said...

Solameanie,

I know of other stories, also. Far worse, but 'twould be gossip/hearsay to repeat them. His church's behavior with the Olivers is indictment enough. Utterly sickening.

Rob raises a good point. Try telling morbidly obese junk-food addicts that what they really need is fruit, vegetables and lean protein. They'll laugh at you all the way to the drive through.

Unless someone convinces them they're dying.

Rachael Starke said...

And thanks, Dan, for asking the question you'd think would be the proverbial elephant in the room? Where's Sixty Minutes? Where's CNN? Is it because Schuller's a nice, smiley heretic, relatively harmless in the face of bigger fish like the Koran-burning guy?

And maybe someone with far better understanding of non-profits and the law (which means anybody) can explain how a non-profit, built upon the charitable donations of citizens, can be granted bankruptcy protection! What on earth are they going to be able to do to pay their debts? Oh yeah, fleece the same sheep who got fleeced before, and no doubt will happily be fleeced again.

Fusion! said...

Good post but not sure why you had to throw Francis Chan in there. The man has never compromised on the gospel. Seriously, that felt like a cheap shot.

DJP said...

I stand by it. The theme is asking hard questions when people run their mouths.

Chan did.

We should.

(Respectivley... in reverse.)

RealityCheck said...

~Mark:

“Ok, now THAT'S the kind of "God said so" that doesn't even require consideration since it completely flies in the face of Scripture.”

And if I remember correctly, his son replaced him first and then they had some kind of disagreement so the daughter came in. Are we supposed to believe that God told him to go with his son first and then God changed His mind and switched to the daughter?

BTW, thanks for the prayers, I appreciate it.

RealityCheck said...

“Were's Sixty Minutes? Where's CNN? Is it because…”

Is it because Schuller’s so far off the doctrinal reservation that any light shined on this ordeal will allow clarification of what Christians are really supposed to believe and in turn cause some free good publicity for Christianity? Plus, I haven't seen his "hour of power" show in years but doesn't he have celebrities on there frequently? Are the powers that be holding back on this one?

Just wondering out loud.

mennoknight said...

Dan Philips:

Taking names.

Dropping Bombs.

Thanks for the update and the prime reflections Dan.

I am curious though as to why it's actually taken this long. I was aware of the Crystal Cathedral's financial woes at least a year ago. They sure held on for dear life...

Please keep us updated as to whether or not Matthew Barnett, Fedrick Price, or Rick Warren buys the Crystal Castle Greyskull and turns their hurts into halos.

Cathy M. said...

This is the money quote for me: "If Scripture isn't enough, something else will take its place."

trogdor said...

Why did God not tell them the good places to invest? Are the Opennessists right, and He didn't tell them because not even God can predict the stock market?

"This ministry has earned your trust. This ministry has earned your help."

Now this is interesting. Let's assume for a second that Schuller's teaching is true. Then it would be inconceivable for God to fail to come through (financially) for his faithful servants and big-dreamers. Which must mean that Schuller was faithless - in which case, how has he earned trust and help?

The alternative, of course, is that his teaching is garbage - in which case, again, how has he earned trust and help?

So basically his appeal boils down to: "I'm either a false teacher or a faithless hypocrite. Give me money!" Classy.

beachbirdie said...

I feel a great sorrow for all the people who will end up hurt, betrayed, maybe marginal Christians or folks not quite at the point of meeting the true grace of the Savior.

Most will go on in their lostness and that is a tragedy. Some will never come back.

When I was a very young mom I used to watch Oral Roberts and PTL on TV. I got suckered because I was an immature Christian. I sent my "seed money"and wondered why God didn't "bless" me as promised.

I thank God for leading me into His truth and I sure pray for many of Schuller's flock to find that grace as well.

Susan said...

I'm cutting and pasting this before I read all the comments (because I don't have time tonight), so I'm sorry if someone already noticed it, but...

"In 1981 the church dedicated the famous “Crystal Cathedral,” a massive glass sanctuary designed by Philip Johnson, one of the most famous architects of the twentieth century" (from http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/10/22/banruptcy-in-the-cathedral/).

I think it is missing one "L", but close enough to Phil the Pyro's name to be ironic!! :D

one busy mom said...

One thing I've always wondered was: Do these guys actually believe what they're saying themselves?

It seems like the 1st person to be asking "How could this happen" should be Schuller himself....if he actually ever bought into what he was peddling all these years.

If Scripture isn't enough, something else will take its place.

No Kidding!! And those "something elses" seem to be getting progressively more and more bizarre and less and less questioned!

Sir Aaron said...

But are you also saying someone's degree (or lack thereof) qualifies or disqualifies a person as a pastor?

Dude....let me break it down for you. A Pastor is presumably an expert. Just like the plumber you hire to fix your leaky pipes is supposedly an expert at plumbing. Does your plumber need to have a degree? No. But would you expect the plumber to show you something that indicates his expertise? OR would you hire a plumber that yesterday graduated with a degree in business administration?

So why wouldn't you apply the same hiring criteria when you pay a pastor?

Julian said...

So is this the Christian schadenfreude thread? Where it's OK to have a little laugh at the expense of the apostate? This entire website often reminds me of a certain Pharisee in a certain parable...

There's a right way to speak the truth in love, but this is not it.

Mike Westfall said...

Look, a sheepskin is no match for "God told me ..."

Don't put God in a box.
Touch not God's anointed.
Etc.

Stefan said...

Beachbirdie:

Yes. We should be crying for the people who have been or will be broken and hurt by this.

And we should be praying for Robert Schuller, his family, and his ministry, too: that he would come before the throne of grace, and find redemption and forgiveness in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

A false teacher he may be, but he needs Jesus Christ, too, just like the rest of us sinners.

Thomas Louw said...

I thank God for His grace that I have not slipped on the path of “God told me so”.
Today I sit in a job I don’t like too much but, it pays the bills. When I took the job I was working as the senior pastor’s wingman. I enjoyed it but, I did not own a car (which made me basically ineffective) and was earning a $100 a month. Me and my now wife of 9 years today, were planning to get married having being dating for 3 years.
If I did not take the job we would have not been able to have gotten married. I was still young and believed that time that I should not take the job, because God called me for full time service. I counciled with some older brothers prayed about it, and took the job.
I have no regrets about marrying my wife (she’s the best), but not a week goes by when I think about “the path not taken.” My heart still yearns for the ministry; I’m studying now harder than ever, praying earnestly for even an air-vent to open.
I have listened to Kevin deYoungs sermon “Just do Something.” He has a book with the same name. I’m still not sure that I fully understand what he saying. “Just do something” is not just something. It has trucks loads of implications, in my case for my wife and two adorable kids.
So to hook it on the Meta.
This pastor guy did his thing most often. He didn’t use his head. He didn’t use the Bible. His daughter did obviously not use her education. Now a lot of people will be throwing stones. Glass will crack windows will fall. The truth will be hidden from most, “this man served himself not God.”
Typing this “this man served himself not God.” Hurts me, more that I can say that. This guy had the privilege to expose the word of God, looking at the size of the building; you see evidence of someone with some natural talent and huge potential in doing the Lord work. He threw it all away. Opportunity, after opportunity. How can one man be so blind?
The saddest of all are the pew warmers who could have been exposed to the real saving lovely gospel. Now they will only see ugly greed and vanity. The pastor still can be saved; God can still do saving work in many. God can turn bad thing into good.
Let us all be warned, grace is all that keep us on the straight and narrow. Pray God to have mercy on us all. So that we will, not fall in the trap. Our might not be greed but spiritual pride.

Steve B said...

What get's me more than anything about this is the betrayal of the stewardship. People who sent money believing they were supporting the work of the Lord, because that's what Schuller SAID, and yet he somehow managed to drive that organization $55 mil in debt, and is now asking for MORE to bail himself out.

Isn't there a saying: Don't put the same person in charge of getting you out of a mess, that got you into it in the first place?

At what point does Schuller get "fired?" Any corporate CEO found guilty of such malfeasance would most likely be canned before the end of the business day.

Where's the accountability for, essential, financial fraud?

Brian said...

DJP & Phantom:

The CC architect was Philip Johnson (1906-2005). Philip E. Johnson (b. 1940) is the author of Darwin on Trial.

Kevin Musser said...

People who live in glass houses shouldn't stow thrones.

donsands said...

"This entire website often reminds me of a certain Pharisee in a certain parable..."

Yep. I wish we could only learn that we need to be like the tax-collector.
But couldn't even someone be a Pharisee, when he has pride in that he is the tax-collector beating his breast asking for mercy?

Me no think you know a lot about the the three TeamPyro Amigos my friend, if you make a stement like that.

Michael said...

A degree in business administration and they can't balance their checkbook. That's not positive thinking, it's wishful thinking.

My understanding is that they got into financial difficulty in building that church long ago. Apparently they didn't learn their lesson back then, and this is simply the latest manifestation of being fiscally incompetent. Apparently the sins of the father got passed on.

Sir Brass said...

I'm still nodding when you brought up Rick Warren.

I don't care if John MacArthur endorsed him, if he (Rick Warren) is still teaching what he teaches now if such an endorsement comes then I'll STILL say that Rick Warren is a false teacher.

What other men say of a man does not negate the reality of his current, unrepentant bible twisting ways. What it DOES do - if those men endorsing him are known for their biblical faithfulness - is reveal that those men are just that: men. Fallible, and prone to err.

We ought judge men based on how their teaching compares to the Word of God, not on who gives their material his own kind of imprimatur.

Robert said...

Sir Brass,

Just to clarify...your statement is a hypothetical one, right? I've never heard of such an endorsement. In fact, much the opposite.

yankeerev said...

It is Positively Shameful!

Sir Aaron said...

@Robert: He's saying even if that happened, not that it did happen.

Joni said...

Would it be appropriate for Christians to help Kristian Oliver and her family with bills?