Monday, January 09, 2006

The "Gospel" According to Schuller

I am continually amazed at what passes for Christian teaching these days. Now, I'm sure that Robert Schuller has read the Bible (or portions of it) at some point in his life, but I have yet to hear him convey accurately the truth it contains.

The following is an excerpt from his latest "sermon." (FYI, the emphasis is Schuller's):
    What is the number one problem in the human race? I've thought about it, I've written a lot of books, I've met and listened to some of the most profound thinkers in the world. I have studied under Viktor Frankl, I have an immense collection of what I have been taught and heard and I conclude that the number one problem in the human family is boredom. Yes, even more than guilt, because boredom produces activity that generates guilt. Boredom comes first. This means that the single deepest need in every human being is stimulation...excitement. And that is what the Christian faith offers.

    When the stimulation and excitement is offered to you by secularism, how do they do that? Through something that works through your glands, maybe a pill, maybe a drink, maybe sexual activity. All these will do you more harm than good. Stimulation through secularism is not the answer.

    The answer comes through a spiritual faith. How does that work? Spirituality through the Christian faith alone provides stimulation from boredom, through salvation from guilt...and that delivers self esteem, dignity and self respect, to do God's dream for your life. Now you are truly stimulated!

    I'm talking about the deepest human need that will never go away, not in one thousand years—not in ten thousand years. The human being needs to be stimulated or he will be bored and that is the road to hell. To be stimulated, you need salvation. What holds us back more than anything else is lack of internal harmony, which we call salvation? Yes, get rid of a thing called guilt because next to boredom it is guilt that holds the human being back. When your internal emotions and spiritual system is in harmony, and not internally conflicted, then you'll end up with self esteem, self respect, and dignity. Live that way! Then, "You can come to the end of your life with pride behind you, love around you and hope ahead of you." (I delivered these lines at Senator Hubert Humphrey’s funeral in 1978.)

    Only the Christian faith can deliver this kind of a life...stimulation, salvation and self-esteem!
Having trouble finding the nuggets of biblical truth in Schuller's message? That's because there aren't any.

Rather than talk about man's sinful nature, Christ's atoning sacrifice and the need for faith and repentance, he talks about things like "boredom," "guilt" and "self esteem." Has it ever occurred to him that human beings feel bored because we are not rejoicing in the promises of our Heavenly Father? Could it be that we feel guilty because we are guilty? We have all violated God's law, but Schuller's concept of sin centers around our failure to be positive and our failure to engage in what he calls "possibility thinking."

Schuller goes on to say that one of the reasons he is stepping down as president of the "ministry" at Crystal Cathedral—he's passing the torch to (who else?) his son—is that he wants to focus more on writing: "I have theological concepts that have never been written and I think I need to write them." Here's a tip: Anytime someone starts talking about a "new" theological concept, what they are really talking about is an "extra-biblical" theological concept. As Solomon wrote, "There is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

It is sad that we can no longer expect even a rudimentary presentation of the gospel in most churches today. Thankfully, the rock of our salvation is not Robert Schuller but Jesus Christ, and our guide for living is not a book of inane, post-modern psycho-babble but the living Word of God. Perhaps it's time we got back to basics.


Mike Ratliff said...

I have a huge problem with Robert Schuller and others of his Humanistic ilk for a long time. Your article was nicely done. We must pray for God's people to turn their hearts back to Him in full repentance. Yours in Christ--Mike Ratliff

Lee Shelton said...

I think "humanist" is the best way to describe Schuller's "ministry"; it certainly isn't biblical.

Yes, what is needed is true repentance.

Anonymous said...

Schuller is a leader in the "Christian Hedonist Club". Unfortunately this is an ever increasing trend. We are expereincing the "turkish delight" style of christian endeavor. It may be something...but it ain't Christian.

Jeremy Weaver said...

'Hedonist', probably, 'Christian', definitely not. 'Christian Hedonist'= Me.

Lee Shelton said...

According to John Piper, Christian hedonism "is desiring the vast, ocean-deep pleasures of God more than the mud-puddle pleasures of wealth, power or lust ... because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." Schuller is more of a humanist hedonist.

Anonymous said...

Lee, a gentleman we once knew by the name of Mike Linton reviewed for "First Things" magazine a passion play produced at the Crystal Cathedral a few years ago. He concluded with this thought on what kind of Christianity Schuller's followers "apparently prize": "...a Christianity that requires little more of its faithful than a sparkling grin and an optimistic outlook, a religion high on receipts but low in speaks grimly of a people biblically illiterate and spiritually etiolated."

Lee Shelton said...

That is so Mike Linton!

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