There’s Nothing New Here Under The Sun
This Apprising Ministries piece comes about because of a post today from Cambourne Christian Fellowship called (One of) The Poisonous Roots of Post-Modern Theology. I now tap my keyboard for the insight Jesus has given Pete to recognize the awful impact that Robert Schuller has had upon the visible church.  Pete works an interesting, and accurate, angle concerning the murky mystic roots of what Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough is calling Liberalism 2.0:
Psychologist, Dr Helen Schucman published the 3 volume book, “A course in miracles”(ACIM) in 1975. It was the result of 7 years of channelled messages by a spirit guide who called himself Jesus. Although Christian terminology is used throughout, the principals taught are overtly “New Age.” (Online source)
From 21+ years in the ministry fields of apologetics, Comparative Religion, and evangelizing non-Christian cults, I recognized immediately that Pete’s brought out a key element here with ACIM. Not only is its doctrines of demons channeled from seducing spirits but ACIM is also steeped in the type of philosophical psycho-babble so common with those who practice Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), with its meditation in an altered state of consciousness called Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP).
Both Robert Schuller and his mentor in liberal Christianity Norman Vincent Peale have been involved in the practice of this kind of transcendental meditation-lite. Now consider the following from Bob DeWaay from his Critical Issues Commentary article Faulty Premises of the Church Growth Movement:
Since the advent of the modern church growth movement which dates from the 1950’s, pastors and local churches have been under massive pressure to do something to facilitate church growth. The movement was founded primarily by two people, independently. Those people are Donald McGavran and Robert Schuller. Donald McGavran wrote The Bridges of God in 1955. C. Peter Wagner claims that this book, “launched the Church Growth Movement.”
Rick Warren cites McGavran’s book as being influential early in his ministry. About that same time Robert Schuller started his ministry in California which became the Crystal Cathedral. Later, in 1970, Schuller founded the Robert Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership, where he has trained many key leaders in the Church Growth Movement including Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. It is accurate to say the McGavran is the intellectual founder of the movement and Schuller the most visible popularizer of the movement. (Online source)
So imagine the impact when Schuller, “the most visible popularizer” of the semi-pelagian (at best) Church Growth Movement, blesses ACIM. As Pete correctly explains:
ACIM was mainly read in New Age circles until it was championed on Robert Schuller’s “Hour of Power” by Dr Gerald Jampolsky… The promotion of ACIM by Robert Schuller was not a mistake. Schuller has always sought to shift the boundaries of Christian Orthodoxy. His writings show an attempt to turn the truth of the Gospel on its head. “A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem.” (Self-Esteem, The New Reformation, pp.14-15).
Turning the Gospel on it’s head is precisely what Schuller’s wide-reaching influence has done. In that very book cited above you may recall that Schuller wrote that ”classic theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God- centered,’ not ‘man-centered.’”  Schuller was a fore-runner of postmodern Humpty Dumpty language ala Emergent Church leader Brian McLaren where words mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean, which makes actual dialogue virtually pointless because one never truly knows what exactly they mean when speaking.
You are probably aware that Schuller’s Self-Esteem: The New Reformation was used in most mainline seminaries beginning in the late 1980′s. However, you may not know, as I do from personally investigating this issue, that is was also used in many mainstream evangelical seminaries as well. So with this in mind, now as you survey the teachings in that latter community, factoring in its now open embrace of the EC with its core doctrine of CSM, you just might be able to see a little bit more clearly through the postmodern fog in the church visible today.
As I close this out for now, let me point out that we’re seeing the idea of personal salvation under increasing attack. You may recall my piece from earlier this year Katharine Jefferts Schori Calls Individual Salvation Heresy/Idolatry where I told you that Schori actually sounds a lot like more and more leaders in the sinfully ecumenical Emergent Church e.g. like EC icon Rob Bell, who’s a protégé of McLaren’s. Now look at the following from Christian apologist Mike Oppenheimer in his post Another Possible Gospel of Robert Schuller’s:
The book, A Course in Miracles has been taught at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral and is right in line with Schuller’s philosophy… His new reformation is not repentance or a renewed sense of dependence on God and his word… In fact he states: “I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ that and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.“ (Online source)
More and more people are wondering today how it is that we’re suddenly in this tsunami of apostasy; but the truth is, it’s really been right there all along…we just weren’t paying attention.
1. For more the interested reader is referred to Robert Schuller: Father Of The New Reformation, accessed 3/6/10.
2. Robert Schuller, Self Esteem: The New Reformation, (Waco: Word, 1982), 64.
3. Timothy Wallace gives us a good look at the difference here in God-Centered vs. Man-Centered Theology, accessed 3/6/10, and my Man-Centered Gospel Vs. God-Centered Gospel will prove helpful as well.