Chapter 1 Update
A Course in Miracles
By Warren B. Smith
From Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel - Chapter Updates
Robert Schuller and the Course
The widespread introduction of A Course in Miracles into the world is an accomplished fact. On his popular PBS television specials, New Age author and teacher Wayne Dyer often praises the teachings of “the Course.” A Course in Miracles is now available on compact disc. It is read by the friendly and familiar voice of Richard Thomas—“John Boy” Walton of the famous Walton family TV series. Meanwhile Oprah Winfrey continues to be a strong friend and supporter of both A Course in Miracles and its chief proponent, Marianne Williamson.
The teachings of A Course in Miracles have also been recently introduced on “Christian” television. New Age leader and A Course in Miracles advocate Gerald Jampolsky was Robert Schuller’s featured guest on his 10/17/04 Hour of Power television program. On that program Schuller endorsed all of Jampolsky’s “fabulous” books even though they were all completely based on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.1
Robert Schuller, the man who had “mentored” thousands of Christian leaders at his Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership, was using his worldwide television ministry to openly promote New Age teachings. Giving the impression that Jampolsky was an everyday Christian believer,2 Schuller told his millions of viewers that Jampolsky’s most recent book Forgiveness was “fantastic” and available for purchase in the Crystal Cathedral Bookstore. Schuller conveniently neglected to tell his viewers that Jampolsky’s book was based on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles. Forgiveness has over 35 references to A Course in Miracles and includes Jampolsky’s testimony that “the Course” changed the way he viewed himself and the world.3 The Foreword to Jampolsky’s book was written by New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch.
Jampolsky’s New Age “forgiveness” denies that sin is real or that man is in need of redemption. In fact, it flatly repudiates what the Bible makes so clear—that ultimate forgiveness is the forgiveness of sin offered to all mankind by Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary (Colossians 1:13-14). Jampolsky’s “forgiveness” is based on the Course teaching which states that “the recognition of God is the recognition of yourself. There is no separation of God and His creation.”4
Some might argue that Jampolsky’s appearance on Schuller’s Hour of Power was an isolated event or just some gross oversight on Schuller’s part. This was clearly not the case. Schuller has had a longstanding relationship with A Course in Miracles and his “dear friend” Gerald Jampolsky.5 In fact, Jampolsky had been a guest on The Hour of Power some twenty-five years ago,6 and at one time the two of them actually led workshops together in Hawaii.7
In the fall of 1985, Christian author Johanna Michaelsen discovered that Crystal Cathedral receptionists were referring interested callers to the nearby Miracle Distribution Center to purchase A Course in Miracles—the same Miracle Distribution Center Jampolsky had listed as a resource in his Schuller-endorsed book Forgiveness. Michaelsen also discovered that A Course in Miracles study groups had been meeting with Crystal Cathedral staff in Crystal Cathedral classrooms.8 In Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church, I commented on these incidents:
How ironic that years ago, when eager students gathered together in Crystal Cathedral classrooms to study the principles of A Course in Miracles, pastors who had flown in from around the world were meeting with Schuller on those same Cathedral grounds to study the principles of “successful church leadership”—pastors who thought that Schuller knew what he was doing because he had a big “successful” church and they wanted one, too.9
Three months after Jampolsky’s 10/17/04 appearance on the Hour of Power, Robert Schuller’s new book, Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow: Living God’s Dream for Your Life, was published by Harper San Francisco. New Age leader Gerald Jampolsky’s endorsement was prominently displayed on the book’s back cover. It read:
Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow is written with such passion, compassion, and honesty that you are actually able to feel the inner linings of Robert H. Schuller’s heart. There is a spiritual energy based on faith and optimism in this book, with many heartrending stories that will uplift the reader into a new spiritual dimension.10
Sign of the Times
Back in 1994 I had warned about Schuller’s involvement with Jampolsky and A Course in Miracles on a Christian radio program. A listener was so concerned that she wrote the Crystal Cathedral. In their response, which was forwarded to me by the listener, a Crystal Cathedral representative made it appear that Schuller and his church had never been involved with Jampolsky or A Course in Miracles. In fact, the Cathedral’s “Minister of Caring” went out of her way to put Schuller’s professed “orthodox” beliefs in writing.11 When I confronted the Minister of Caring with some irrefutable facts, her denial was quickly amended to state that the Crystal Cathedral was no longer involved with the Course.12
A decade later, here was Schuller in front of millions of viewers, again featuring Jampolsky and endorsing all of his New Age books. But only discerning viewers would understand the spiritual implications of what was taking place. Robert Schuller—an avowed Christian minister and a featured speaker at the National Association of Evangelicals earlier that same year13—was blatantly aligning himself with New Age leader Gerald Jampolsky and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles. Yet Christian leaders were not holding Schuller accountable or warning the church about the New Age implications of what the Crystal Cathedral pastor was doing. Ironically, many of the leaders who should have been exposing Schuller had been trained by Schuller at his Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership.
The Jampolsky appearance with Schuller was a sure sign of the times. But an even more significant sign was the fact that most evangelical leaders were not concerned about Schuller’s obvious New Age affections. In fact, some Christian leaders even went out of their way to praise Schuller publicly. Just six months after Jampolsky’s appearance on the Hour of Power, Christian leader Bruce Wilkinson stood in that same Crystal Cathedral pulpit enthusiastically endorsing Schuller and his ministry. Wilkinson described Schuller as a “visionary” and a “real leader,” and the “grandfather” of today’s church growth movement—the man who trained pastors like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. Wilkinson’s flattering remarks prompted the congregation to give Schuller a standing ovation.14 Instead of warning the church about Schuller, Wilkinson praised him. Then he actually warned the church to watch out for those who would criticize Schuller. Thus, Schuller’s almost “in your face” joint appearance with Jampolsky had passed an important New Age litmus test. No one in the church—most especially church leaders—seemed to care.
1. Hour of Power, October 17, 2004, Robert H. Schuller’s interview of Jerry Jampolsky. Online transcript, http://www.hourofpower.org/interviews/interviews_detail.cfm?ArticleID=3079. (Note: Some of the actual comments made in the telecast were changed or omitted from the edited Hour of Power online transcript.)
2. Schuller has done this before with Jampolsky. See: Robert H. Schuller, The Be (Happy) Attitudes: Eight Positive Attitudes that Can Transform Your Life! (New York: Bantam Books, 1985, 1987), p. 150; Robert H. Schuller, Robert Schuller Presents His Legacy of Hope: The Be Happy Attitudes: Eight Positive Attitudes that can Transform Your Life (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1996), Videocassette #2 (Session 6); Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church (Magalia, California: Mountain Stream Press, 2004), p. 96.
3. Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All (Hillsboro, Oregon: Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., 1999), p. 47.
4. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume, (Text), p. 147.
5. Schuller, The Be (Happy) Attitudes: Eight Positive Attitudes that Can Transform Your Life!, p. 150.
6. Robert H. Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1982), p. 123.
7. Telephone conversation with former Crystal Cathedral staff member Conrad Hanson at the Miracle Distribution Center on November 5, 2003; Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church (Magalia, California: Mountain Stream Press, 2004), pp. 93-94.
8. Smith, Deceived on Purpose, pp. 92-93. Personal notes from Johanna Michaelsen’s telephone call to the Crystal Cathedral on October 3, 1985. Used with permission.
9. Ibid., p. 71.
10. Robert H. Schuller, Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow: Living God’s Dream for Your Life (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), back cover of book.
11. Smith, Deceived on Purpose, p. 68; March 10, 1994, personal letter from Crystal Cathedral “Minister of Caring,” Elizabeth Southard to inquiring listener.
12. Telephone conversation between author and Crystal Cathedral “Minister of Caring” Elizabeth Southard.
13. National Association of Evangelicals: Annual conference. March 11, 2004, NAE Compact Disc.
14. Hour of Power, April 24, 2005, Bruce Wilkinson speaking at the Crystal Cathedral, transcribed by author. Program 1838: Online transcript: http://www.hourofpower.org/booklets/booklets.cfm. (Note: Some of the actual comments made by Wilkinson in the telecast were changed or omitted from the edited Hour of Power online transcript.)