Those who have been following the whole issue of the seeker sensitive pragmatics of the modern Church Growth Movement as it has infiltrated the Evangelical postchurch in postmodern America can clearly see the influence of Robert Schuller’s gospel of self-esteem. The root connection of these dubious gnostic psycho-philosophies as they have been grafted into the theology of the Purpose Driven Life as taught by Rick Warren will then appear obvious as well. However, what seems to have been over-looked in all the discussion surrounding PDL is that Jesus of Nazareth, the Founder of the Church that bears His Name, unmistakably taught that a rotten root bears no good fruit.

By Their Fruit You Will Know Them

Christ Jesus quite clearly said – A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit – Matthew 7:18. Well now, in the very liberal Christian Century the discerning reader will see something quite interesting about a very influential personality who crept into the Evangelical community unaware.

THE EVER-EFFERVESCENT Robert H. Schuller–who says he invented the megachurch–was bubbling about the architectural atmosphere of the Crystal Cathedral, which is replete with statuary, greenery and fountains. He said the architectural plan ensures that the nearly 10,000-member church he founded will last for years, regardless of who is in the pulpit… “I launched the megachurch movement through the Institute for Successful Church Leadership in 1970,” he said, referring to his annual pastors conference at the Garden Grove church. “There were no megachurches 32 years ago–we were the closest thing to it.”
(http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_8_119/ai_85106545, caps in original, emphasis added).

The Rotten Root of Robert Schuller

In his book Deceived on Purpose author Warren Smith is correct when he writes – “Rick Warren was getting most of the publicity, but it seemed that Robert Schuller was really the man of the hour. Christian leaders, Rick Warren and Bruce Wilkinson, both had best-selling books that depended heavily on Schuller material” (pp.,119,120, emphasis added).

When Internet writer Tom Challies posted his review for Smith’s Deceived On Purpose he said:

Deceived On Purpose is probably the most important contribution in the ongoing discussion about Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life and all things Purpose Driven. It is one of only a couple of book-length treatments of the subject and the one that brings the most to the table. The author, Warren Smith, is a former New Ager who, after being saved, researched and has written extensively on the topic of spiritual deception. Having been immersed in the New Age movement for many years, he is sensitive to the inroads of New Age beliefs into Christianity.

Smith contends that many of Warren’s ideas and beliefs were shaped by Schuller. Hence to learn about Schuller is to learn about Warren… Smith leaves no stone unturned in exposing Robert Schuller as a major player in the New Age movement. (http://www.challies.com/archives/000736.php)

Then Callies goes on to state a pathetic fact indeed. “Ironically and alarmingly, Schuller is also a major player in the Christian church.” This, of course, simply cannot be denied by anyone who has followed the alarming and nauseating trends set by this serpent of secular pop-psychology, which has slithered its way into the Evangelical camp. In that review of Smith’s telling book Deceived On Purpose Challies also says:

Having spent great attention on exposing Schuller as a false teacher, the author then shows the connection between Schuller and Rick Warren. Warren trained extensively under Schuller and acknowledges him as one of his primary influences. Many of the concepts and even sentences from The Purpose Driven Life are taken directly or almost directly from Schuller’s writings, and these were in turn culled from New Age material.

Please take the time to carefully consider the following excerpt from Deceived On Purpose that Callies goes on to share with his readers:

The author provides many examples of this, but I will contain myself to one. In this brief section Warren quotes from the New Century Translation:

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren – “The Bible says, ‘He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.'”

Hour of Power (November 9, 2003) by Robert Schuller – “Yes, God is alive and He is in every single human being!”

Prescriptions for Living by Bernie Siegel – “God is in everyone and everything.”

There are many similar (and even more clear) examples where Warren has borrowed or even plagarized the writings of Schuller. The conclusion we must draw if that Schuller is as corrupt as Smith portrays him, we must necessarily be suspect of Warren and any others who have trained under Schuller.

It is simply undeniable that the influence of Robert Schuller’s man-centered–people-pleasing–sinner-sensitive so-called “gospel of positive thinking” has absolutely been felt within the Evangelical church, and that this metaphysical tripe is now clearly being spread like the spiritual plague throughout the entire Body of Christ by his protégé-like Rick Warren and his own purpose-driven pragmatism.

From the article “Robert Schuller, Rick Warren—Their Connection and What That Means!” published by Lighthouse Trails Research we read the following:

*The Spring ’97 Evangelicals Concerned RECORD newsletter [a pro-homosexual organization] said, “More than 80 gay and lesbian pastors and lay leaders from the Metropolitan Community Churches participated in this year’s Robert Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership at Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral.” The speakers included Bill Hybels, John Maxwell and Rick Warren (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/warrenandschuller.htm, emphasis added)

When Is A Mentor Not A Mentor?

Now, in the interest of fairness, it must clearly be pointed out that Rick Warren does emphatically deny that Robert Schuller is his mentor, and I see no reason to doubt that he just might feel this way. In fact, here is Warren’s response to the false accusation that it was Robert Schuller who “founded” Saddleback Church, as posted by Richard Arbanes, who just happens to be an active member at Warren’s church:

I have never even had a private one-on-one conversation with Mr Schuller—ever! I have been in several interdenominational meetings that he was at, and I shared my testimony about what our church was doing at 3 of his Pastor’s conferences in the 1980s. But the invitation came from Wilbert Eickenberger, the director, not even from Schuller himself. The first time I met Schuller in a meeting was in 1985—6 years after I started Saddleback—so obviously, he didn’t start our church (http://abanes.com/warren_lighthouse.html).

However, what needs to be clearly pointed out here is that the issue is not: Did Robert Schuller personally “found” Saddleback church; the real issue is: How much did the teachings and philosophies of Schuller’s rotten theology contribute to the foundation of this whole phenomenon of the phantom purpose driven life? Because, it is one thing to say that someone’s not your mentor, but it is quite another to have to deny the fact that you had Schuller endorse your book The Purpose-Driven Church, and–at the very least–you have definitely befriended, as well as given forum to, this wolf in sheep’s clothing.

What this viper is teaching through this forum is what we will turn to next as we point out the Apologetic Index notes that Shuller is sometimes “referred to as the evangelist without a gospel,” and with good cause. And while it has been thoroughly documented elsewhere that Warren’s theology has been infected by Schuller’s cultic teachings, what has not been covered is what this actually means. So this must now be our focus. If it can be demonstrated that Schuller’s theology is at best from of the Cult of Liberal Theology, but truly finds its origins in the slimy spiritual ooze of the metaphysical gnostic cults, then the root of the fruit cannot be in Christ. And since Jesus tells us – He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad (Matthew 12:30, KJV), the issue then becomes this transparent: If this root is not in Christ, as we love the Lord with all our mind, simple logic then tells us that this root is antichrist. There is no third position.

The Peale Connection

It is an incontrovertible fact that one of “Norman Vincent Peale’s most ‘successful’ protégés is Robert Schuller. On Schuller’s 1000th Anniversary television show (The Hour of Power, aired on 4/2/89), Schuller’s son said of Peale that he was ‘responsible for dad’s possibility thinking.’”
(http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/guidepo/peale.htm, emphasis added).

Watchman Fellowship wrote of Peale “occasionally through our research we find people who may be well known and influential, yet definitely fall into the category of false teachers.” Unfortunately, this once fine group has missed quite a few lately, but in this case they go on to show that Peale was most definitely not a minister sent forth by Jesus Christ:

One of these is Norman Vincent Peale, publisher of Guidepost magazine and writer of many books including the best selling Power of Positive Thinking. Our conclusion after much research is that Norman Vincent Peale is a universalist, that is, he believes that everyone is going to heaven if they believe in a god, and have some redeeming value, which is just about everyone. This is evidenced by several situations documented in Peale’s life (http://www.watchman.org/reltop/peale.htm, emphasis added).

The key connection of Schuller to the equally heretical Norman Vincent Peale is very important in understanding just how quite ancient gnostic teachings that are now permeating the so-called modern Church Growth Movement initially found their way inside the Church of our Lord. Space doesn’t allow going further into Peale’s theology at this point, save for a couple of quick examples of his New Thought cult doctrines of devils.

And in this regard, the Watchman Fellowship article also brings out a further connection between Bernie Siegel–mentioned earlier–Schuller and Peale:

In Dr. Bernie Siegel’s book, Love, Medicine, and Miracles, Peale writes, “In these pages is found a precious secret, that of health and well being” (inside cover). In the book Siegel describes how he got his message and insights through guided meditation and an inner spirit guide (ibid., p.18-20).

Peale is also on record as teaching:

“There is a deep tendency in human nature ultimately to become precisely what you visualize yourself as being…you will be what you visualize… Now, you may believe that this is all theoretical. But I believe, and…all because of the power of the positive image” (Jeanne Pugh, “The Eternal Optimist,” St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Florida, Religion Section, June 8, 1985, emphasis added).

And in concluding our look at Peale we also find out that:

Dr. Peale himself credits his theology of positive thinking to Ernest Holmes, founder of New Age/Occultic Church of Religious Science (Ernest Holmes, The First Religious Scientist, James Reid, p. 14). In fact, Peale borrowed the phrase “positive thinking” from Charles Fillmore, founder of the New Age Unity School of Christianity (Positive Imaging, p. 77). Charles Braden documents Peale’s evolvement into his New Age synthesis in his book Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought (http://www.watchman.org/reltop/peale.htm, emphasis added).

Schuller’s New Age Teachings

So now we have seen the murky metaphysical gnosticism from which Schuller’s unbiblical doctrine actually originates. And further, counter-cult researcher and apologist Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries brings out the crucial issue when he informs us:

The book, A Course In Miracles has been taught at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral and is right in line with Schuller’s philosophy. This is a book from a disembodied voice dictating its contents, who claimed to be Jesus Christ. Its purpose was to correct the errors in the Bible. ( A Course In Miracles). The Course teaches that “forgiveness” is simply recognizing that sin does not exist and therefore there is nothing to forgive. To accept the Course’s teachings is to reject all Biblical doctrine, yet those who embrace it are able to call themselves Christians. This book’s promotion to ignore our sinful nature is right in line with Schuller’s philosophy.
(http://www.letusreason.org/Poptea1.htm, emphasis added)

And then regarding the critical issue for a true minister of Jesus Christ–how a person is saved from his sins–in his own book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation Schuller himself, this so-called Evangelical Christian pastor–who is openly and warmly embraced by the likes of his close friend Billy Graham–says:

What we need is a theology of salvation that begins and ends with a recognition of every person’s hunger for glory (pp. 26-27, emphasis added).

I am humanly unable to correct my negative self-image until I encounter a life-changing experience with non-judgmental love bestowed upon me by a Person whom I admire so much that to be unconditionally accepted by Him is to be born again” (p. 67, emphasis added).

“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” (p. 68, emphasis added).

Those with eyes to see will immediately detect the pride of the father of lies in this horribly corrupt teaching. In other words, it’s oldest lie in the Book (see–Genesis 3:5)! And, just in case you haven’t seen the clear evidence of things taught by demons yet–in his meticulous article The Faulty Gospel of Robert Schuller theologian Joseph P. Gudel informs us that:

According to Schuller, in order to reach the multitudes of nonbelievers today, a new reformation is needed, a reformation based on building up their self-esteem. This reformation must be anthropocentric, that is, man-centered, not theocentric, or God-centered. Indeed, Dr. Schuller believes that classical theology seriously errs in insisting that all theology be centered around God instead of around man. One might legitimately ask why Dr. Schuller believes classical theology errs so gravely. His answer: Luther and Calvin were listening to the wrong person! He asks the following rhetorical question: Luther and Calvin, we know, looked to the Book of Romans in the Bible for their primary inspiration. Were they, unknowingly, possessed more by the spirit of St. Paul than by the Spirit of Jesus Christ? Are we not on safer grounds if we look to our Lord’s words to launch our reformation?

Men and women, here we have just seen the unmistakable denial of Evangelical Protestant doctrine concerning the Word of God, which I might add is also the doctrine that has always been taught by the historic orthodox Christian Church. First of all Schuller’s statement that Luther and Calvin “looked to the Book of Romans” as their “primary inspiration” is erroneous, but even worse than this, is the attempt to draw some kind of a Barthian distinction between the words of Paul and Jesus, as if they were not both speaking under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit. So clearly this psycho-babbling philosophy of Robert Schuller is not the theology of a true Christian minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Why on earth can’t Evangelical leaders today see this and throw this devil out of their fellowship? Because the issue before us here is as clear as Christ’s Resurrection from the dead; if a man openly teaches heresy, and regularly turns his pulpit over to those who blaspheme and deny the very Lord who bought them, then someone must finally stand and tell it like it is: This man is no Christian!

For the Bible unquestionably says – But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves – 2 Peter 2:1, emphasis added. And what is more, if Schuller is not a Christian, then this is what Jesus says – “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30, emphasis added). The true Church of Jesus Christ must stop letting people openly mock the Lord they say they believe in! Enough with this tepid tolerance and insolent indifference (see–Revelation 3:16).

Destructive Heresies: From Schuller to Warren to The Evangelical Church

This false prophet, Robert Schuller, has also boasted:

What has been accomplished already through this church is phenomenal because of the dedicated members and friends we have. I see the results today of the Institute for Successful Church Leadership which we dared to launch 35 years ago and it is still going strong. Here ministers are inspired to believe in their dreams and to present the good news of the gospel in positive terms. And some of those students are well-known. Bill Hybels now pastors the largest church, I think, in the United States, the Willow Creek Community Church. Bill has often said that there probably would not be a Willow Creek Church if he hadn’t been able to come to our pastor’s institute here. I’m so proud of him.

And there’s Rick Warren, a pastor who today is phenomenal. He came to our institute time after time. And in “Christianity Today,” his wife was quoted as saying, “When we came to that institute, we were blown away.” How God has blessed him. And today Rick Warren is blessing millions of people.

Then not long ago on Larry King Live, the well-known host grumbled into his microphone:

Tonight, faith gave Ashley Smith the courage to get through her hostage ordeal with the courthouse killer suspect… Plus, Dr. Robert Schuller, the renowned minister who mentored Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” the bestseller that Ashley Smith read to the suspect, Brian Nichols. (http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0503/14/lkl.01.html, emphasis added)

And finally, we have this quite revealing confession by Warren’s own wife in an article from “Christianity-Lite Today” magazine, which Schuller was alluding to above:

During his last year in seminary, [Rick Warren] and Kay drove west to visit Robert Schuller’s Institute for Church Growth. “We had a very stony ride out to the conference,” she says, because such nontraditional ministry scared her to death. Schuller, though, won them over. “He had a profound influence on Rick,” Kay says. “We were captivated by his positive appeal to nonbelievers. I never looked back.”
(http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/012/1.42.html, emphasis added)

The Lie of the Church Growth Movement

The grave danger is found in those last few words – “We were captivated…” This is indeed the root of what has happened to way too much of the once strong Evangelical church here in postmodern America. For years now many of our top scholars and apologists have been busy protecting their academic status within the scholarly community of the world by capitulating to so-called scientific evidence regarding the age of the universe. And through this compromise of Holy Scripture, they have accepted as truth, mere theories which are already doomed by the false presuppositions of naturalism and uniformitarianism. I don’t intend to get into this issue fully here, as much more capable men than I, such as my friend Dr. John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research have written on this critical subject. I mention it only in passing as the root reason why God the Holy Spirit–grieved after years of watching His Word be denied in such a public forum as this–has finally begun withdrawing from large sections of the Evangelical community abandoning it to the increasing darkness of their apostasy.

All the while, as this travesty has been going on in the secular scholastic world, an equally devastating departure from the historic orthodox faith once for all entrusted to the saints has been going on with many Evangelical theologians in religious discussions here in this pagan nation. Fearful of standing for the absolute truth of what the Bible actually says, they have been all too willing to look for ways to lessen the severity of Almighty God by embracing the spurious speculations of neo-orthodoxy concerning the inspiration of Holy Scripture. O call compromise by whatever name you’d like, but the tragic fact is that this skubalon is really no different than the modernism spewed out by the Cult of Liberal Theology, and will only ultimately end up in a denial of the cardinal doctrine of the inerrancy and infallibility of Holy Scripture (think of Clark Pinnock)–which brings us precisely back to the dark doorstep of one Robert Schuller.

And once you open this despicable door you are left on the merry-go-round of human speculation and the following of one’s “heart” as to how you decide what is true. Have you read Jeremiah 17:9 lately – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (KJV) Anyone with a small smidgen of discernment can see this is exactly how postmodern America has come to view the subject of truth. So, rather than Christ’s Church being the salt and light within our clueless culture, we have instead rushed to hide our light under the big bowl of the philosophy of relativism as I have mentioned on a couple of occasions. Now you also know why so many professing “Protestant” Evangelicals–following our corrupt human nature’s warped view of “love,” are so ready to re-enter the bondage of the self-righteous Church of Rome–the self-professed true Church of God. However, if these men would come out of their ivory towers long enough to see the insipid results of their spineless ecumenical dialogues, perhaps with their shame manifest, it might finally drive them back to the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ that they profess to carry.

The absolute truth is, that the actual message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be priority of the Christian Church today as the skies grow ever more red this morning. We simply cannot change this message, and we cannot dumb it down to the culture in which we live, because the message is not ours, it belongs to God! And now you know why this malevolent seeker sensitive so-called “modern” Church Growth Movement is so – so very dangerous. Because, to borrow the old phrase, “if it looks like the world–if it sounds like world–and if it acts like the world–then, by revelation from the Holy Spirit–it must be the world.”

He who has an ear, let him hear…