Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Looking back on Mark Driscoll's 2006 thoughts about Robert Schuller, revisiting an old post from theresurgence.com

As Driscoll's ministry revamps its web presence and his scheduled reappearance approaches later this year, we could revisit what Driscoll had to say back in 2006-ish at the old Resurgence site on his interaction with Schuller.   While robots.txt still applies to resurgence.com stuff Wenatchee The Hatchet has had the following laying around since before it occurred to anyone to introduce robots.txt to MH related sites. 

Driscoll would eventually go on to flip flop about Joel Osteen ...

I am aware of the theological differences that exist between our tribe and Pastor Joel. I also know my Reformed brothers like to treat Pastor Joel like a piƱata, but there are worse things than being happy and encouraging at a time when the most common prescription medications are antidepressants.

and this in spite of his extended criticism of Osteen in the 2007 Philippians series.  If you want to revisit THAT, go over here:

Even Wenatchee The Hatchet can only preserve so much, after all.

As for another megachurch pastor whom Driscoll criticized in 2007, there's Driscoll's history of pivoting on T. D. Jakes. Driscoll went from criticizing T. D. Jakes in 2007 to shaking hands at Elephant Room 2 in 2012.

But for at least some people who kept tabs on Driscoll, they might have felt that one of the earlier flip flops was on Schuller.  But, bear in mind, Driscoll once ran in the emergent scene that included Tony Jones.  It's why Wenatchee The Hatchet sometimes thinks it would be difficult to overstate the idea that with Mark Driscoll's pastoral career pragmatism itself could be a principle.

With that in mind, and with the news of Robert Schuller's passing being so recent, it seems worth preserving for posterity what Driscoll published at one point about coming to a new appreciation of Robert Schuller's ministry.


Lunch with the Schullers at the Crystal Cathedral

Schullers This is the final week of Dr. Robert H. Schuller’s tenure as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California. He founded the church some fifty years ago and is handing the leadership of both his church and the “Hour of Power” television program, which he has led since 1970, to his son. Throughout his ministry, Dr. Schuller has been a controversial leader, lauded by some for pioneering cutting-edge ministry, and loathed by others for promoting over-the-edge doctrine.

I had my own curiosity about Dr. Schuller a few years ago when I was first asked to preach in the Crystal Cathedral for a pastors’ conference he was hosting. Unlike most of the attendees, I was theologically conservative on issues such as the inerrancy of Scripture, the depth of human depravity, and the role of women in ministry. I was also not affiliated with any mainline Christian denomination, had not yet completed a formal theological education, and lacked what many denominationally affiliated churches would accept as a credible ordination. To be honest, I was surprised that Dr. Schuller would allow me to preach from his pulpit—especially since I intended to preach through the fourteenth chapter of the book of Revelation on the importance of the American church regaining a strategic commitment to raising up young men, since Christianity has sadly become a female and feminized religion.

After receiving the invitation, I spent a few days in prayer to seek the Lord’s will on the matter. Some fellow pastors discouraged me from taking the invitation because it would affiliate me with Dr. Schuller. But that argument rang hollow. I have often been criticized for the conferences I have preached at because I prefer not to spend all my time preaching to the proverbial choir. I like to mix it up with Christian leaders who are considerably different in both their theology and practice than me. I believe that I can be of help expanding their thinking and that they also teach me and expand my heart to love all people. Consequently, as time permits, I preach in odd spots such as cults and college bars.

As I prayed, I sensed that Jesus wanted me to go to the Crystal Cathedral, though I knew not why. My lovely wife Grace traveled with me and the trip ended up being one of the most curious I have ever had.

The Crystal Cathedral is quite a sight to behold from an architectural standpoint. It opened in 1980 and its designers, Philip Johnson and John Burgee, are renowned gold medal-winners from the American Institute of Architects. It has more than 10,000 windows to welcome the California sun and can seat 2,800 worshippers.

I was surprised when my wife and I were invited to have lunch in Dr. Schuller’s office with his wife and son. I understand that he is a very busy man and did not expect to receive such generous personal time. I truly enjoyed his family. His petite wife of over fifty years, Arvella, was a delightful Christian grandmother who spent most of our lunch speaking with great affection of Jesus, her husband, children, and grandchildren. Their son, Dr. Robert A. Schuller, was also a genuinely gracious and kind man who kept refilling our water and asking how he could be praying for our family.

I was also surprised by the freedom I was given. When Dr. Schuller asked me what I would be preaching from his pulpit, I told him, and he simply said he was glad to have me and welcomed me to speak from my convictions without reservation. It is not uncommon for a man of his stature to censor what is said from his pulpit and I was honestly taken aback by his willingness to be vulnerable and trusting.

As we spoke, I believe I gained some insights into Dr. Schuller’s thinking. He explained his background of reformed theology and appreciation of the Heidelberg Catechism. He then articulated some of the sadness he experienced among discouraged, pessimistic, and even angry Christians, which helped prepare him to embrace the positive thinking principles of such men as Norman Vincent Peale. As he spoke, I became deeply convicted. I consider myself a fairly reformed Bible preacher with a deep devotion to sound doctrine. But, some young men in my church at that time had grown extreme in their reformed theology, arrogant in the judgment of anyone who even slightly disagreed with them, and disrespectful toward me and the other elders at our church. Some of the young buck Calvinists who had become like a rock in my shoe were complaining that I prayed for God to actually do things and asked people to repent of sin and trust in Jesus every Sunday, stupidly saying it undermined God’s sovereignty and election. I wondered if Dr. Schuller had not gotten burned out on the worst kind of nitpicking, systematic, reformed dunderheads that loved to quote Paul but never lived like him, similar to those I was trying to push out of the colon of our church body.

Dr. Schuller then began to speak about sitting near the pope as a special guest at the beatification of Mother Teresa. Being an ex-Catholic boy who still twitches when thinking about his days as an altar boy, I was hoping he would not draw me into a discussion about Catholicism. Thankfully, he did not. But, he did surprise me by sharing the story of sitting near the then-feeble Pope John Paul II, who leaned on his staff with his eyes closed, praying quietly to Jesus. As Schuller spoke of hearing the Pope pray to Jesus, he began to weep bitterly and smile broadly as he declared the wonder that anyone, anywhere, at any time can pray to Jesus. Schuller’s love for Jesus was simply obvious to me.
My entire experience at the Crystal Cathedral was not what I was expecting and the response to my sermon was perhaps the most surprising. I preached for about an hour straight through Revelation 14 on the importance of churches focusing on reaching and raising young men if they hope to impact culture and change the future. As I looked out at a room filled with mainly older mainline liberal pastors, including many female pastors, I feared the response I would get. Shockingly, at the conclusion of my message I received a standing ovation from the crowd, who genuinely seemed appreciative.

Dr. Schuller then came to say goodbye since I had a flight to catch. He placed his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said that I reminded him of a young Charles Haddon Spurgeon. This was a great honor because Spurgeon is my hero and the first man outside of the Bible I hope to meet in the kingdom. Dr. Schuller then laid hands on me as we stood in his church and prayed that God would raise up a generation of masculine church planting Bible teachers like Spurgeon to help me in reaching young men for Jesus Christ.

I walked away convicted that despite our differences I had been mentored in such things as hospitality, love, and encouragement. I would like to thank Dr. Schuller for his kindness to me and congratulate him on his half-century of ministry at the Crystal Cathedral on this, the final week of his tenure as senior pastor. I would also like to congratulate his son, whom I may see when I return to teach a small pastors’ gathering at the Crystal Cathedral in March.

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