I'll admit that on most Sunday mornings we usually view at least some portion of the Hour of Power on TV. It's not really my style, although the architecture of the Crystal Cathedral should be enough for almost anyone to tune in. I actually own Robert Schuller's autobiography [bought at severe discount, mind you] and it is rather fascinating.
As a student of evangelical eccesiology I was wondering what would happen when Schuller had to finally step aside from the pulpit; I predicted the church would be OK through the transition, but the television ministry would probably suffer. Then, almost two years ago when Robert Schuller named Robert Schuller [his son] to replace him, I thought everything would be OK. The son of Schuller is very much like him, even sharing similar mannerisms, and should have been able to at least maintain the ministry of his father.
But this morning's L.A. Times reports that the younger Robert Schuller has now been forced out of the pulpit by his father, citing "different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry." The elder Schuller states that the Hour of Power will now feature multiple speakers in an effort to present the best preaching in the world. He can spin it however he wants, but I'm now convinced that this signals the end of the Hour of Power program. With no definitive connection to the past, the show will fade into the sunset, yet another sign of changing times.
This may sound bad, but I almost hope there was a moral failing on the part of the son. Otherwise, it then becomes another case of an aging leader who just can't let go. I'm sure Schuller the younger was just doing what he felt he needed to do to attract a younger audience. After watching his shtick a few times, I wasn't impressed but you could at least see he was trying. But I'm sure his father was watching every one of these moves with a scowl, perhaps ever muttering, "that's not how we've always done it," until it finally became too much for him to bear.
As more and more of these megachurches attend to transition from the founding or established preacher to a new leader/vision, these incidents will become commonplace. Sadly, this one happened on a national scale. And even more disturbing is that a father did it to his son, damaging that relationship forever.
I just hope that thirty-plus years down the road, I'll be able to step aside and let go at the appropriate time. I guess as long as no one screws with my television ministry it'll be no problem.
Apparently, the younger Schuller will remain the Senior Pastor. This move dealt only with the Hour of Power television program. Still, I'm not sure if that's less awkward.
And the younger Schuller speaks! His take is that the board of the church made this move, pulling rank on his father. So if this is true (which is still debatable), then dad then towed the party line, rolling over his son in order to please the board. I'm not sure which is worse at this point. Again, it's just a sad situation.