Robert H. Schuller (1926- ) is the man behind the international Crystal Cathedral Ministries, based in Garden Grove, California in Schuller's famous Crystal Cathedral, a massive church with an unique architectural style. Schuller was assigned to start a Dutch Reformed Church in Garden Grove in 1955. This denomination had few members across the country and he found only two such families in Garden Grove, so he dropped the title "Dutch Reformed" and simply started the "Garden Grove Community Church."
Schuller did not stick to orthodox Dutch Reformed doctrines. One of the most famous books of that decade was Power of Positive Thinking, written by fellow Dutch Reformed minister Vincent Peale. The influence of Peale's ideas can be seen in how Schuller tries to boost the self-esteem of people, even to the point of making self-esteem a centerpiece of some of his work.
According to Schuller, the opposite of self-esteem is not humility, as commonly assumed, but rather shame. This, in turn, results in a negative self-image which prevents a person from finding and appreciating the love of God. Through a better awareness of God's love, however, a person can eliminate shame, boost self-esteem and thereby improve their lives dramatically.
Schuller has many critics, and a common complaint is the way he packages Christianity for the purpose of mass consumption. As T.D. Allen wrote in 1976:
His critics contend that Schuller has done for Jesus what Colonel Sanders has done for chicken, that he offers a kind of fast-food franchise salvation bearing the same relationship to the Christ of the Cross that the plastic automaton Abraham Lincoln at Disneyland does to the American Civil War.
Even though some regard his theology as shallow and others are dismayed that he has often remained silent on important social issues like race, homosexuality and the ordination of women, the fact remains that he has become enormously successful. Schuller appeal to people through terms they can understand and he presents an image of someone who is much like them.
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