Friday, October 22, 2010

"Churches only have idea problems."

By now many of you have surely heard the news that the world famous Los Angeles Church, The Crystal Cathedral, has filed for bankruptcy. It is indeed a sad thing when a church runs aground financially. But considering this particular church and its founding minister, Robert Schuller, the story becomes sadly ironic as well.

Al Mohler writes:

How does the “gospel of success” deal with bankruptcy? The filing of bankruptcy papers would be humbling enough for any ministry, but how does the very epicenter of “Possibility Thinking” deal with the stark reality of financial calamity?

In his 1986 book, Your Church Has a Fantastic Future, Schuller provided what he called “A Possibility Thinker’s Guide to a Successful Church.” The book is a manual for a ministry built on pure pragmatism, sensationalistic promotion, a therapeutic message, and a constant and incessant focus on thinking positively.

His message about money was simple: “No church has a money problem; churches only have idea problems,” he asserted.

In an odd and upside-down way, the news of bankruptcy at the Crystal Cathedral makes that point emphatically. The most significant problem at the Crystal Cathedral is not financial, but theological. The issue is not money, but this ministry’s message. The “gospel of success” is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, therapy is no substitute for theology, and “Possibility Thinking” is not the message of the Bible.

It turns out that Robert Schuller offers the best analysis of this crisis with his own words. “No church has a money problem; churches only have idea problems.” The theological crisis in Garden Grove is far more significant than the financial crisis.

Read Mohler's entire post HERE.


Harley A. said...

Not sure if it was intentional, but juxtaposed against the preceding post about the sister from N. Korea it is a powerful contrast.

Cathedral indeed - it has been "the chair" for the worst form of simony and false Christianity for years. Hopefully, a museum will buy it out and it will no longer serve as a mockery to Christ.

Todd Pruitt said...

Couldn't agree more Harley.

A museum is a great idea. Maybe we can find a way to turn it into a museum of false gospels. It could put on display 2,000 years of distractions, distortions, and outright denials to the Gospel. Robert Schuller could have his own wing.