Hard Questions for Robert Schuller About Sin and Self-Esteem

Controversy has swirled around Robert Schuller’s teachings about self-esteem and possibility thinking. Some have accused him of being soft on the doctrine of sin. To answer these questions we went to Schuller personally, as well as to his writings and preaching.
Hard Questions for Robert Schuller About Sin and Self-Esteem
Image: Bill Youngblood

Robert Schuller’s supporters say he has reformed the Reformation. His detractors say he has rejected it.

His supporters say he has found the wavelength of the secular mind. His detractors say he has lost the gospel.

His supporters say he presents sin without turning off the listener. His detractors say he is soft on sin.

His supporters say he has created a glass church whose openness reflects the possibilities of the gospel. His detractors say he has built a $20 million monstrosity.

What is Robert Schuller really saying and doing? To find out, Christianity Today flew a team of interviewers to Garden Grove, California, location of Schuller’s 10,000-member “Crystal Cathedral of the Reformed Church in America.” On the team were Kenneth S. Kantzer, president of Trinity College (Deerfield, Ill.), David F. Wells, professor of historical and systematic theology, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, Mass.), and V. Gilbert Beers, editor of CT.

In their taped interview, which lasted several hours, they questioned Schuller on his mission, on self-esteem, the “New Reformation,” and especially on the places he sees for sin in the Christian message.

The following is an edited transcript.

Is Sunday morning worship at the Crystal Cathedral a normal Protestant service?

Not really. Suppose that when you start a church as a mission, your audience is made up of, say, 100 non-Christians. That will challenge any body’s idea of how to plan a Sunday morning service. You can’t use regular hymns. You can’t serve Communion to people who haven’t confessed Christ. You can’t baptize children, because their parents are unbelievers.

I ask Christians, ...

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