I was in the early days of the ministry when someone suggested I read Robert Schuller’s book about possibility thinking. It told the story of his starting a church at a drive-in in southern California. He was a disciple of Norman Vincent Peale. The book was quite inspirational, especially Schuller’s positive message concerning the Lord’s work in our lives.
Of course, his approach to the topic is now heard in Joel Osteen’s health and wealth message.
My response to his “possibility thinking” book though, wasn’t as radical. I came away challenged to trust God, always remembering his love and good will toward us – that he sees a way through when I can’t.
I moved on from Schuller. Never read another of his books or watched him preach a sermon. Still, that one book became a small part of my spiritual DNA – helping to form me into an optimistic Christian rather than taking a more narrow, pessimistic view of things. Sometimes when I’m around people who constantly grumble and complain or see those on the Internet who are constantly at war with other Christians because of some areas of disagreement, I wish they’d gotten a shot of possibility thinking early in their lives too.
Even before Schuller’s retirement from the day to day operation of his mega-ministry things were going south at the Crystal Cathedral. He tried to turn the ministry over to his family members, but unlike the Osteen story, the children couldn’t fill the father’s shoes. Last year the Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy protection and these days there’s a real chance that the entire church campus will become a Roman Catholic facility, although there remains a chance that the church building itself might remain in the hands of the ministry if a university manages to get the property.
Even though my theology is quite distant from that of Schuller and this toppling mega-church I can’t help but remember reading his book today and realizing that the Lord used it to help shape my thinking in ways that still influence me today.