Robert Schuller

Quotes from Self-Esteem: The New Reformation

Schuller's theology is nothing but dressed-up humanism--religious humanism. Religious humanism is much worse than secular humanism because of the religious language used to convey the message. As one noted reviewer of Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Word:1982) said: "He sets man rather than God in the forefront, has no room for a doctrine of human depravity, ascribes man's resistance to grace to a lost sense of self-worth, and thinks we should tell sinners that they are worthy rather than unworthy. He redefines the terminology of the Faith so as to produce an entirely different, and false, theology."

Schuller says he believes in salvation by grace, but what he actually believes is that salvation is being rescued from poor self-esteem. He says he believes in hell; but his hell is the loss of self-esteem, not a place of fiery eternal torment. He says he believes in sin; but sin is not willful rebellion against God and His law, but the loss of self-esteem. He says he believes in Jesus Christ; but his positive-only, "Self-Esteem Incarnate" Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible. The man is an arch-heretic, a blasphemer.

Nevertheless, Schuller's book was endorsed by such so-called evangelical leaders as Clark Pinnock of McMaster Divinity College, David Hubbard of Fuller Theological Seminary, and Kenneth Chafin of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1984, Christianity Today editors examined Schuller's theology, and, amazingly, concluded that he is not a heretic, claiming that, "He believes all the 'fundamental' doctrines of traditional fundamentalism. He adheres to every line of the Apostles' Creed with a tenacity born of deep conviction." (All emphases below have been added.)

General Theology

"I found myself immediately attracted to Pope John Paul II when, upon his election to the Papacy, his published speeches invariably called attention to the need for recognizing the dignity of the human being as a child of God" (p. 17).

"Classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be 'God-centered,' not 'man-centered'" (p. 64).

"Historical theology has too often failed to interpret repentance as a positive creative force. ... Essentially, if Christianity is to succeed in the next millennium, it must cease to be a negative religion and must become positive" (p. 104).

"Roman Catholics utter their Papal edicts, Protestants quote their Bible, Fundamentalists declare their orthodox theological dogmas, and we are all expected to renounce private reflection and peacefully acquiesce to these pronouncements. And the result is that the dignity of the person is violated by such oppressive, intelligence-smothering forms of communication" (p. 153).

"One classical role of the pulpit in Protestantism has been to 'preach sermons' which imply indoctrination more than education. Within this from of communication, there is an inherent, intrinsic inclination to intimidate, manipulate, and, hence, offend the person's most prized quality of humanness--his dignity" (p. 153).

"In a theology that starts with an uncompromising respect for each person's pride and dignity, I have no right to ever preach a sermon or write an article that would offend the self-respect and violate the self-dignity of a listener or reader. Any minister, religious leader, writer, or reporter who stoops to a style, a strategy, a substance, or a spirit that fails to show respect for his or her audience is committing an insulting sin. Every human being must be treated with respect; self-esteem is his sacred right" (pp. 153-154).

"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.' ... And they do this by exercising narrow authoritarianism in doctrines and practices and by sowing seeds of suspicion and dissension in the religious community. ... By contrast, strong persons--self-assured personalities, whose egos find their nourishment in a self-esteem-generating personal relationship with Jesus Christ--dare to face contrary opinions, diverse interpretations, and deviations of theology without becoming disrespectful, judgmental, or accusatory" (p. 154).

"The classical error of historical 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" (p. 162).

What is Sin?

"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'" (p. 14).

"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. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity even if he or she is a 'rebellious sinner" (p. 65).

"The core of original sin, then is LOT--Lack of Trust. Or, it could be considered an innate inability to adequately value ourselves. Label it a 'negative self-image,' but do not say that the central core of the human soul is wickedness. ... positive Christianity does not hold to human depravity, but to human inability" (p. 67).

"Any analysis of 'sin' or 'evil' or 'demonic influence' or 'negative thinking' or 'systemic evil' or 'antisocial behavior' that fails to see the lack of self-dignity as the core of the problem will prove to be too shallow" (p. 68).

"... the core of sin is a lack of self-esteem. ... Sin is psychological self-abuse. ... the most serious sin is one that causes me to say, 'I am unworthy. I may have no claim to divine sonship if you examine me at my worst.' For once a person believes he is an 'unworthy sinner,' it is doubtful if he can really honestly accept the saving grace God offers in Jesus Christ" (pp. 98-99).

What is Hell?

"And what is 'hell'? It is the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God--the ultimate and unfailing source of our soul's sense of self-respect. 'My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?' was Christ's encounter with hell. In that 'hellish' death our Lord experienced the ultimate horror-humiliation, shame, and loss of pride as a human being. 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?" (pp. 14-15, 93).

What is Salvation?

"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).

"We are born to soar. We are children of God. ... The Fatherhood of God offers a deep spiritual cure for the inferiority complex and lays the firm foundation for a solid spiritual self-esteem" (p. 60).

"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).

"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).

"The Cross sanctifies the ego trip. For the Cross protected our Lord's perfect self-esteem from turning into sinful pride" (p. 75).

Who is Christ?

"Christ is the Ideal One, for he was Self-Esteem Incarnate" (p. 135).

"Jesus never called a person a sinner. ... Rather he reserved his righteous rebuke for those who used their religious authority to generate guilt and caused people to lose their ability to taste and enjoy their right to dignity ..." (pp. 100, 126).