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Friday, March 20, 2015

Blogging The Rev. Robert H. Schuller: Do I Have To?

"Do I have to?" is a question I am sometimes asked by students.  So, with a touch of humor I am following through on a promise made earlier in the week to post something on the perils of being a popular minister in the mold of a Robert H. Schuller.  However, this subject is deeper than it first appears, as my research is showing.  (Long-time readers here know I value research.)

It happens I do see beauty in the original Schuller message.  And his faith and optimism had a positive impact on my life several times in the past.  Whatever has happened since doesn't erase that fact.

Having said that, it is obvious something went terribly wrong at The Crystal Cathedral.  Some are saying things aren't right at Sheperd's Grove (the successor church), either.

From past experience I know well that churches have problems.  They are made up of people. And people, being imperfect, bring along problems.  This is to say the obvious.

The point is it does seem a bit uncharitable to bash someone who is down, as Rev. Schuller certainly is -- at least in one sense.  He is reportedly happy in new circumstances.*  He is also 88 years old and having trouble speaking after surgery.

Not to so quickly put the foregoing aside, but there is nevertheless a moral tale to be seen at the Crystal Cathedral.  There are theological problems with the success theology promoted by Rev. Schuller.  Somehow a doctrine of sacrificial love for both Christ and Christ's people seems to get short shrift in such a theology.

In a world hurting from vast economic uncertainties and pain, an emphasis on one's own safety is understandable.  Thus, the appearance of ministries which offer reassurance is, again, very understandable.

Love -- true love -- involves criticism, if kindly given.  Let us be critical of the Crystal Cathedral problem, even as we commiserate with all who suffered.

* Source:  The Rev. Robert A. Schuller, the son, as written of on-line recently

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