As a former New Age follower, I could hardly believe it. On Oct. 17, 2004, more than 20 years after his first appearance on the “Hour of Power,” New Age leader Gerald Jampolsky was once again Robert Schuller’s featured guest. I was not surprised on one level because I had always been aware of Schuller’s affection for New Age teachings. What did surprise me was Schuller’s willingness still to be so openly aligned with a veteran New Age leader like Jampolsky.
I was very familiar with Gerald Jampolsky. When I was exploring New Age teachings, he was the first one to introduce me to the New Age Christ and to the New Age/New Gospel teachings of “A Course in Miracles.” Widely reputed in New Age circles to be the closest thing to a New Age bible, “A Course in Miracles” taught me that “there is no sin,” “a slain Christ has no meaning” and “the recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”
On this “Hour of Power” program, Schuller praised Jampolsky and recommended all of his “fabulous” books – in spite of the fact that every one of them was based on the New Age teachings of “A Course in Miracles.” He also stated that Jampolsky’s latest book, “Forgiveness,” was available in the Crystal Cathedral bookstore. Amazingly, Schuller had begun the year as a featured speaker at the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals. He was now closing the year by featuring a prominent New Age leader as his special guest. As usual, no one in Christian leadership was holding him accountable, or even seemed to care. Over the years, Robert Schuller had obviously done a good job of softening up the church.
Schuller’s latest move is to hold a “Rethink Conference” at his Crystal Cathedral. With an unusual mix of Christian and non-Christian speakers, the conference will take place Jan. 17-19, 2008. He is co-hosting the conference with Emerging Church movement leader Erwin McManus. Schuller’s “rethink” website states the purpose of the conference: “Our aim is to bring together a cross-section of the key leaders in today’s culture so we can grapple with what’s truly happening in our world.”
Among the 30 speakers lending their names and varying degrees of credibility to Robert Schuller’s conference are Lee Strobel, Dan Kimball, Charles Colson, George Barna, Rupert Murdoch, George Herbert Walker Bush, Larry King and Rick Warren’s wife, Kay Warren. While Rick Warren has tried desperately to deny his spiritual ties to Schuller, his wife’s presence at the conference speaks volumes.
Conference speaker Lee Strobel’s recent book, “The Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ,” purports to expose today’s deceptive false Christs, yet an in-depth discussion of the false New Age Christ is completely missing from his book. Meanwhile, apologist Strobel, a former Saddleback pastor, makes no apologies for aligning himself with New Age sympathizer Robert Schuller.
The Emerging Church also refuses to take the New Age seriously. Not surprisingly, two of its top leaders – Erwin McManus and Dan Kimball – agreed to participate in this Schuller “Rethink Conference.” The word “rethink” can be found throughout Kimball’s book “The Emerging Church,”which was forewarded by Rick Warren and Brian McLaren. The word “rethink” can also be found throughout the books of other Emergent leaders, including McLaren. So what is this “Rethink Conference” really about? What do Schuller and “the forces that be” hope to accomplish?
In defining the word “rethink” Webster’s states: “to think over again, with a view to changing.” From my perspective as a former New Age follower, I believe that Robert Schuller’s mission has always been to “rethink” and “change” biblical Christianity into something “new” – as in New Age/New Spirituality. There is a reason that New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch and his New Age “God” refer to Robert Schuller as an “extraordinary minister.” There is a reason Gerald Jampolsky and so many other New Age leaders go out of their way to praise Schuller. They know that Robert Schuller has always been open to spiritual compromise.
In fact, in his latest book, “Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow: Living God’s Dream for Your Life,” Schuller eagerly writes about the virtue of compromise. In this book, that bears New Age leader Gerald Jampolsky’s endorsement on the back cover, Schuller states, “We need to learn the healing quality of wise compromise.” He further states, “Perhaps the only way to deal with contradictions is to combine them creatively and produce something new. That’s ingenious compromise.” Whether Schuller knows it or not, he just presented the recipe for a New World Religion.
In “Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow: Living God’s Dream for Your Life,” Schuller uses the term “God’s Dream” in the subtitle and within the book. He used the term “God’s Dream” heavily in his 1982 book “Self-Esteem: The New Reformation.” Saddleback pastor Rick Warren used the Schuller term “God’s Dream” to introduce his widely publicized global “P.E.A.C.E. Plan.” He described his peace plan as “God’s Dream for you – and the world.” Brian McLaren, Bruce Wilkinson, Joel Osteen, Erwin McManus and a host of other Christian leaders also use the Schuller term “God’s Dream.” Why?
Although “God’s Dream” is a Schulleresque term with no biblical foundation, it has become part of the vocabulary of the church’s new emerging purpose-driven mindset. It is interesting that Warren uses the Schuller term “God’s Dream” to describe his peace plan. Is “God’s Dream” suddenly becoming the metaphor for world peace? Will we be asked to “rethink” and “compromise” our faith for the good of the world? Will we be asked to “rethink” and “compromise” our faith to attain the world peace that is “God’s Dream”? Is this Schuller-inspired conference designed to initiate this kind of “rethink” and “compromise” process? So what are we expected to “rethink”? What must we ultimately “compromise”? The answer lies within the New Age itself.
The New Age also has a “peace plan” and its adherents are also calling for conferences like these. They insist that world peace will only occur when Christians abandon their “exclusive” and “divisive” relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Neale Donald Walsch, speaking for his New Age “God,” unequivocally states that “the era of the Single Savior is over.” Yet at the same time, Walsch’s “God” suggests that Robert Schuller could be instrumental in providing a bridge from the church to the peace and oneness of a New Spirituality. Is this New Spirituality where Robert Schuller and these kinds of conferences are ultimately headed? Time will tell. It is important to note that Walsch is not some obscure New Age leader. He is a best-selling author and highly regarded by his New Age peers. Just ask Gerald Jampolsky. It was Walsch who wrote the introduction to “Forgiveness” – the book that was so highly recommended by Schuller on that 2004 “Hour of Power” program with Jampolsky.
In Revelation 2:2, Jesus Christ commends the church of Ephesus for exposing false teachers and driving them out of the church. Men like Robert Schuller wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in Ephesus. And neither would those who continue to stand alongside Schuller giving him undeserved influence and credibility. The church does not need to “rethink” and “compromise” its God-given biblical doctrines to accommodate the world. It needs to rethink its willingness to follow worldly leaders like Robert Schuller.
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Warren Smith, a former community social worker who came out of the New Age movement, is a freelance writer. His books include “Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church,” “The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace,” and “Reinventing Jesus Christ.”