Knowing Schuller From Shinola

I’m not entirely sure how anyone who owns a television could be wholly unfamiliar with Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral, but just in case, let me start with this excerpt from his writings that gets right to the point regarding what he (and now his son) teaches people about God and our place in His creation:

“The classical error of Christianity is that we have never started with the value of the person. Rather, we have started from the ‘unworthiness of the sinner’, and that starting point has set the stage for the glorification of human shame in Christian theology”. (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p.162)

Schuller has been aligned with the prosperity gospel movement, health & wealth, name it and claim it, the word of faith movement, and so on. All these false teachings are just different facets of the same baloney, a baloney that Schuller peddles so well to the masses that he long ago stopped trying to hide it under friendly sounding gobs of Miracle Whip and Wonder Bread babble-speak, and openly (endlessly) identifies it as being about one thing, and one thing only: Self-Esteem.

Evel Overcome With Good

Daredevil Knievel’s testimony triggers mass baptisms at Crystal Cathedral.

On Palm Sunday, hundreds responded to Robert “Evel” Knievel’s testimony by asking to be baptized on the spot at Crystal Cathedral. Speaking alongside the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, Knievel told the congregation in Orange County, California, how he had refused for 68 years to accept Jesus Christ as Lord. He believed in God, but he couldn’t walk away from the gold and the gambling and the booze and the women.

“I don’t know why I fought it so hard,” he said. “I just did.”

So he doesn’t know even now why he lived a life of rebellion towards God? How about…

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

The Bible has a great deal to say about sin, what it is, it’s consequences: Death (James 1:15). However, Schuller has an entirely different idea of what sin is than what the Bible does. In fact, he directly contradicts the Bible…

“Classical theology defines sin as ‘rebellion against God’. The answer is not incorrect as much as it is shallow and insulting to the human being.” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 65).

“What do I mean by sin? Answer: Any human condition or act that robs God of glory by stripping one of his children of their right to divine dignity. I can offer still another answer: sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 14).

But Knievel knew people were praying for him, including his daughter’s church, his ex-wife’s church, and the hundreds of people who wrote letters urging him to believe. And then something indescribable happened during Daytona Bike Week this March.

That entire paragraph just reeks of seminar salesmanship build-up.

“I don’t know what in the world happened. I don’t know if it was the power of the prayer or God himself, but it just reached out, either while I was driving or walking down the sidewalk or sleeping, and it just—the power of God in Jesus just grabbed me. … All of a sudden, I just believed in Jesus Christ. I did, I believed in him! … I rose up in bed and, I was by myself, and I said, ‘Devil, Devil, you bastard you, get away from me. I cast you out of my life.’ … I just got on my knees and prayed that God would put his arms around me and never, ever, ever let me go.”

So he doesn’t know how he was saved? He doesn’t know if he was saved by God, or by the “power of the prayer” of all the people at these churches and writing letters to him?

Luke 18:26-27 – And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

I can’t find ANY verses that say a person can actually be saved by the prayers of another person (or hundreds of persons), no matter how high their self-esteem may be. Make no mistake, salvation comes only by the power of God as a gift of His grace and love.

I also find it interesting that Evel has no clue as to when it happened to him at all, that he may in fact have been sleep-walking while driving down the sidewalk at the time. And as far as his comment of “Devil, Devil, you…” goes, well pass the tambourine/collection plate!

Pastor Robert A. Schuller, who took over for his father last year, looked out on the church and noticed most people were sobbing. He couldn’t simply continue with the service’s script and proceed to the offering.

“I went up front, and I said, ‘I believe there is somebody who needs to be baptized here. Maybe up on that balcony or by that door or by that wall. So come forward,'” Schuller told CT.

So everyone in attendance was already saved and just in need of baptizing? Or, did Evel’s tent-imony, er, testimony manage to save them all while they listened to it? How would they know if they weren’t doing something (or several things) else at the time like Evel?

“We started singing ‘Amazing Grace,’ and I started baptizing people, baptizing them as fast as I could. I had a little candy dish of water. ‘What’s your name? Okay, I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’—crying the whole time and going to the next one.”

“What’s your name? Okay, I baptize you…” ??? How about starting with “Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you repent of your sins? Have you/are you/will you call on the Lord to save your soul?” How about doing anything at all to even attempt to be sure that they have come to Christ before sprinkling them with sugar-water?

Of course, they were all just “crying the whole time”, and it’s all about emotions and feelings right?

“The tragedy of Christendom today is the existence of entire congregations of church members who are dominated by emotionally deprived or emotionally under-developed persons. These congregations have been accurately labeled ‘God’s Frozen People'”. (Schuller, Self-Esteem, pp.153).

Schuller continued this for 30 minutes, not realizing that four other pastors were baptizing the convicted just as quickly.

He didn’t know they were there? Where did they get their dishes of sugar-water from? Wouldn’t his staff have stopped four guys from out of nowhere from coming to the front of the auditorium and dripping water all over people?

I know I am being sarcastic, but the longer I read this over, the more disgusted I get with the whole attitude of it all just by the writing alone. “Baptizing the convicted” – being convicted is not evidence of having been saved. It generally precedes salvation, and if you are truly saved, it continues on through life, but it is not proof of salvation.

During the second service, the response repeated itself. Together, Schuller estimates, between 500 and 800 people committed or rededicated their lives to God.

Think about that. Schuller and his four unknown accomplices baptized 500-800 people. If you take an average and mark it as 650 people, divided by 5 sprinklers, in 30 minutes time, that means each one of them baptized 4 1/3 people per minute! Four and one third people per minute!! Plenty of time to be sure that each person has come face to face with the Risen Lord Jesus, honestly cried out for forgiveness of their sins, and submitted themselves body and soul to the lordship of Christ as Master and King. Right?

Well, if you accept Schuller’s definition of what it means to be Born Again in Christ, I suppose it would be more than enough time.

To be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image – from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p.68)

“I don’t want to make grandiose claims; I’m not a prophet,” said Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, who spoke with Schuller the next morning. “But I think it is a sign that in God’s own sovereign goodness, he sends these moments to remind us that we are all sinners and reaches out to us in surprising ways. This is something the Christian community in general, and particularly the evangelical community, needs to take very seriously.”

I do take it very very seriously Mr. Mouw. So much so in fact, that your eagerness to jump so quickly into this event and validate it in the press, makes it a sure thing that I will steer serious Christian students away from attending Fuller from now on. We don’t need any more feel-good ministers of mass-marketing starting up churches after college; we need people dedicated wholly and totally to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to Christ alone.

From here on, I am only including snippets as this is already running so long.

Joel Carpenter, director of the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity at Calvin College. “It is fair for any discerning Christian, when he hears a revival is happening, to be a little skeptical, not to be cynical, but to ask questions that are meant to help discern what is going on there spiritually.”

I agree completely with this, as does the Bible:

1John 4:1 – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Edith Blumhofer, director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals, said that though revivals sometimes are considered evangelistic tools, their real role—whether planned or spontaneous—is to reinvigorate church regulars. “

While I won’t disagree that revival has likely been used as a planned tool more often than it has been a true spontaneous influx of the Holy Spirit sparking a fire for God; I would definitely disagree that the true purpose of it is to “reinvigorate church regulars”. The true role of it is no different than anything else within the church – to spread the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone everywhere in every land.

The video from the Palm Sunday service will be broadcast on April 22.

And making sure that this event gets lots of press will ensure that thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of folks who’ve never watched (or have stopped watching) will tune in to see it.

The ministry, though, has been struggling recently. A week before Christmas 2004, the congregation’s longtime orchestra conductor killed himself in a church bathroom.

I had actually forgotten about that. Probably in part because it didn’t get much media attention and faded from view rather quickly.

And last year, revenues for Hour of Power, which has a $40 million operating budget, were $3 million short, Schuller said.

So drawing in new viewers and attendees would be financially helpful at this point wouldn’t it? I wonder how much of the “drop” they’ve seen has been due to his father’s retirement from the pulpit. Possibly he doesn’t have the stage presence of his dad, or lacks some appeal to the older members who have followed his dad for so many years. It’s probably too early to hope that it is just an “awakening” to the truth among the people who watch/attend, and that they are now abandoning it to find real teachers and preachers of God’s word in other churches – but we can hope, and should pray, none the less.

Schuller said, “Our congregation and church keeps saying, ‘Okay, where do we go from here?’ I’m not exactly sure. But I think the Holy Spirit will assist me in the doing the right thing.”

The Holy Spirit will indeed direct him and every person there to do “the right thing”, the Godly thing, but they still must be willing to listen, and then to act on it. If he will stop esposuing his fathers false teachings like:

“A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem. Can you imagine any condition more tragic than to live life and eternity in shame?” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 93)

And begin teaching scriptural truths like:

Mar 9:43-44 – And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Luke 12:5 – But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

2Peter 2:4 – For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

It is my hope, and my prayer that whatever was intended at that service, and whatever else did happen, that the Holy Spirit of God was indeed very present in it and uses it to draw Schuller, his staff, and his congregation to the foot of the cross. If Schuller were to embrace fully the truths of the Gospel and turn away from all the self-serving garbage theology his father has built over the years, in all likelihood the church as it is now would fracture in a way that might possibly end it entirely, or leave it with but a remnant of a congregation. But, as we know from Romans:

Romans 9:27 – Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:




One thought on “Knowing Schuller From Shinola

  1. Michael says:

    Okay, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what Schuller is all about. So where do you go into the Shinola part? 😉

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