Rev. Robert Schuller, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral and also the iconic minister who was the leader of THE HOUR OF POWER religious program for decades has resigned from the board of the church after it was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange last month due to the bankruptcy of the church. Robert Schuller is unclear about what future he will have with the once powerful mega-church, which often was accused of detractors of preaching a “Prosperity Gospel” of financial success. Many top business leaders such as Herman Cain, the founder of Godfathers Pizza, as well South Korean business tycoons once presented testimony at this church about their faith in God and success in business. Today, it seems as if Joel Osteen from Houston has become the top “Prosperity Gospel” television preacher. Joel Osteen was a former cameraman and producer for his father, John Osteen, who suffered a sudden heart attack and died. The younger Osteen had only preached on camera once before, but he was suddenly thrust into the lead pastor role of his father’s church. Joel Osteen quickly became a success far greater than his father. His boyish looks, kindly and friendly, nonconfrontive nature, gave him a broad appeal and widespread positive reception, even among those with no faith at all.
But, the latest news for Robert Schuller’s church isn’t near as rosy. Robert Schuller was for years one of the greatest religious speakers on television, offering a top notch religious program, with big name entertainers and guests, making it almost like a religious variety show of sorts. For many Christians, attending services at the Crystal Cathedral, which is right near Disneyland, was an important vacation event. And unlike many of the TV preachers who are some form of a fundamentalist, Robert Schuller was a ordained preacher in the Dutch Reformed Church, making him one of only a few mainline Protestant ministers to preach on television that had a large audience. As a whole, mainline Protestants as well as Catholics have largely ignored the importance of using TV to convey their religious message, only allowing the huge growth of Christian fundamentalism in American Christianity. This has also resulted in widespread social and political consequences for the nation as well.
For now, THE HOUR OF POWER program continues to air in syndication across the nation and the world on satellite, led by Robert Schuller’s daughter. Sheila Schuller Coleman, but she unfortunately lacks the real charisma of either the elder Robert Schuller, or his son, which became the lead pastor of the church for a few years until he was forced to step aside, really leaving the church without any strong charismatic figurehead.
The decline of THE HOUR OF POWER really came about in 2008, when the younger Robert Schuller was removed from the TV program and later resigned from the church. The elder Robert Schuller’s messages were largely based in psychology and much more secular messages, while the younger Schuller’s religious views were much more in-line with the popular Evangelism movement popular in Christianity, and far more scripturally based. The son managed to keep THE HOUR OF POWER as the #1 religious program in the world with 25 million viewers, but a lack of a shared vision of the two Schullers really helped to create a serious split in the church despite the widespread success of the ministry. It was a sad case of a family working against each other, only creating a failure for everyone.
All of the sermons and books dealing with the importance of a positive attitude, just didn’t seemed to help a family with serious strains and differences of opinion, tearing at itself, only to create this failure. What a great treasure THE HOUR OF POWER was once was as a religious program. It seemed perfect under the leadership of either Robert Schuller, but that wasn’t enough to heal differences in this family. Now, the church property has been sold under bankruptcy. All of this only illustrating the very high cost of not getting along with your family.
My own father knew that I was a real fan of this TV show, watching it each and every week for a good 20 years. My father was very impressed what a good speaker Robert Schuller was and even found himself occasionally watching at least the sermon portion of this once very popular TV religious program.