The Christ-al Cathedral

Robert Schuller’s Chrystal Cathedral has been bought by the Roman Catholic Church, which has renamed it the Christ Cathedral.   It will become the cathedral for the Orange County Diocese.

The soaring glass-paneled church known to millions of television viewers around the world as the Crystal Cathedral will get a new name: the Christ Cathedral.

Catholic leaders announced the name Saturday morning at St. Columban Catholic Church during the moving pageantry of an ordination ritual – the type of event that will draw thousands once the Diocese of Orange move to the site.

The naming marks “the first significant effort to identify the iconic venue as a Catholic religious center,” church leaders said.

It came four months after the diocese closed escrow on the $57.5 million sale, ordered by a court during the Protestant ministry’s bankruptcy proceedings. . . .

Meanwhile, Catholic leaders will begin renovations in July 2013 to convert the cathedral site – built by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller more than 50 years ago –to a Catholic place of worship. That process is expected to take at least a year. . . .

“I felt very bad that they lost their home. However, we needed a new Catholic cathedral because our cathedral is very small,” Brown said. “Dr. Schuller himself said he wanted us to be the ones to purchase it, so we would continue Christian worship in the cathedral and Christian ministry on the campus. That would not have happened with another buyer.” . . .

The new appointment also has personal meaning, [Vicar of the Cathedral Father] Smith said. He grew up visiting his grandparents on the property next door to the Orange Drive-in Theater where Schuller started his church, before creating the famous cathedral visible from the freeway. With his siblings, Smith would watch Schuller preach from the top of a snack bar.”We were amazed at all these people going to church in their cars,” Smith said. A church where you “don’t even have to get out of your car,” he said. “We thought this was very cool.”

“This is a memory that I now cherish,” Smith said.

Smith’s responsibilities will include managing the renovations, which will include installing a central altar, a bishop’s chair and a tabernacle to house the Blessed Sacrament.

The modern structure “is not a highly liturgical place in the traditional sense,” Catholic leaders have said.

“Yet, the Diocese of Orange considers it a ‘clean palette’ – while renovations are called for – not much deconstruction would be required and the iconic personality of the original architecture and design would, for the most part, be retained,” Catholic leaders said in an earlier announcement.

They particularly praised the imposing organ “as one of the finest in the country,” and the quality of light “and its allegory is consistent with the enlightenment of Christ.”

“It will be glorious,” said Sister Susana Guzman, of the Poor Claire Missionary Sisters in Santa Ana. Celebrations such as Saturday’s ordination sometimes require tickets, she said, because the 1.2 million Catholics in Orange County don’t have a large enough cathedral.

St. Columban is the largest Catholic venue in the county, with about half the number of seats as the cathedral site. The Diocese of Orange is the 10th largest in the nation, Smith said.

At an event last April, Smith was introduced to Schuller, the new head of the Christ Cathedral said in an interview. Schuller told him: “I built the cathedral for Christ. And I know that with the Catholic Church, it will be for Christ.”

via Catholic Church renames Crystal Cathedral: Christ Cathedral | cathedral, church, smith – News – The Orange County Register.

Not much “deconstruction”?  Isn’t this whole transaction a deconstruction of the megachurch, contemporary Catholicism, and what it means to be “Iconic”?

I find it odd that Roman Catholics would be so open to megachurch architecture and its meanings.   Do you find anything else odd about this?

HT:  Grace

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Basically, the same theology will remain in tact at that location.

    It will just come in a different package. “Two wolves tied at the tail.”

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Basically, the same theology will remain in tact at that location.

    It will just come in a different package. “Two wolves tied at the tail.”

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Dr. Veith, check out the book Ugly as Sin. I don’t recall the name of the author, but he’s a Catholic priest who laments the modern architecture of Catholic churches. The “modernization” of sanctuaries is a problem faced by both Rome and the evangelical world. It’s interesting to study how much the architects of churches in ages past saw their buildings just as integral to worship as any other part of the service.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Dr. Veith, check out the book Ugly as Sin. I don’t recall the name of the author, but he’s a Catholic priest who laments the modern architecture of Catholic churches. The “modernization” of sanctuaries is a problem faced by both Rome and the evangelical world. It’s interesting to study how much the architects of churches in ages past saw their buildings just as integral to worship as any other part of the service.

  • Booklover

    While listening to Catholic radio on Tuesday, I heard host Barbara McGuigan report that Robert Schuller also wanted the Catholic Church to buy it because then it would be there forever.

  • Booklover

    While listening to Catholic radio on Tuesday, I heard host Barbara McGuigan report that Robert Schuller also wanted the Catholic Church to buy it because then it would be there forever.

  • http://fivepintlutheran2.wordpress.com/ David Cochrane

    Well well. At the least Jesus will be really present in that place finally.

  • http://fivepintlutheran2.wordpress.com/ David Cochrane

    Well well. At the least Jesus will be really present in that place finally.

  • T. Venditti

    “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…” Philippians 1:18

    We can debate architecture, motives, mega vs mini, but lets not forget, Christ is preached, Hallelujah!

  • T. Venditti

    “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…” Philippians 1:18

    We can debate architecture, motives, mega vs mini, but lets not forget, Christ is preached, Hallelujah!

  • DonS

    “I find it odd that Roman Catholics would be so open to megachurch architecture and its meanings.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “megachurch architecture”. Is there such a thing? This particular building, which I have been in, for a couple of special events, was designed by American architect Philip Johnson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Johnson) who was known for his glass construction. The Crystal Cathedral is not typical of any other church I’ve ever seen, and it most certainly is not representative of the genre “megachurch architecture”, whatever that may be.

    Like it or not (and I don’t particularly care for it), it cannot be denied that the Crystal Cathedral is iconic, and the Diocese is committed to making the renovations that will be required for Catholic worship.

  • DonS

    “I find it odd that Roman Catholics would be so open to megachurch architecture and its meanings.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “megachurch architecture”. Is there such a thing? This particular building, which I have been in, for a couple of special events, was designed by American architect Philip Johnson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Johnson) who was known for his glass construction. The Crystal Cathedral is not typical of any other church I’ve ever seen, and it most certainly is not representative of the genre “megachurch architecture”, whatever that may be.

    Like it or not (and I don’t particularly care for it), it cannot be denied that the Crystal Cathedral is iconic, and the Diocese is committed to making the renovations that will be required for Catholic worship.

  • DonS

    By the way, just for contrast, note at the link the Los Angeles Cathedral (Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels) http://www.olacathedral.org/

    This cathedral is only a decade old, and is also distinctively modern, though built by the Catholics from the ground up. Note the linked page, which specifically says

    The Roman Catholic Church has never adopted one particular style of architecture. There has always been a appreciation for the creative spirit indigenous to the local community….The challenge in designing and building a new Cathedral Church was to make certain that it reflected the diversity of all people. Rather than duplicate traditional designs of the Middle Ages in Europe, the Cathedral is a new and vibrant expression of the 21st century Catholic peoples of Los Angeles.

    This quotation probably answers all of your questions.

  • DonS

    By the way, just for contrast, note at the link the Los Angeles Cathedral (Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels) http://www.olacathedral.org/

    This cathedral is only a decade old, and is also distinctively modern, though built by the Catholics from the ground up. Note the linked page, which specifically says

    The Roman Catholic Church has never adopted one particular style of architecture. There has always been a appreciation for the creative spirit indigenous to the local community….The challenge in designing and building a new Cathedral Church was to make certain that it reflected the diversity of all people. Rather than duplicate traditional designs of the Middle Ages in Europe, the Cathedral is a new and vibrant expression of the 21st century Catholic peoples of Los Angeles.

    This quotation probably answers all of your questions.

  • Shane A.

    This sort of pop-Catholicism is pretty much what keeps me out of the Catholic Church. Tear it down and build something worthwhile, Catholic Church, for the love of Christ.

  • Shane A.

    This sort of pop-Catholicism is pretty much what keeps me out of the Catholic Church. Tear it down and build something worthwhile, Catholic Church, for the love of Christ.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Shane@8,

    Well, that and the fact that Catholicism rejects the gospel as defined by Scripture, worships saints, has an unscriptural view of the afterlife (purgatory), and a host of other problems.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Shane@8,

    Well, that and the fact that Catholicism rejects the gospel as defined by Scripture, worships saints, has an unscriptural view of the afterlife (purgatory), and a host of other problems.

  • Grace

    We have visited the Crystal Cathedral several times, it’s beautiful. The organ is without a doubt one of the most magnificent.

    I don’t consider the building to be in line, or defined as a mega church. The reason being, it’s beauty and light from the heavens are of natural cause.

    What was missing? – preaching the Gospel of Christ.

    What will be missing now? – preaching the Gospel of Christ.

    What will be added? – icons, statues, that will be knelt to. Prayer to Mary and others.

    The beauty of the building, the organ, and light from the heavens shining through the glass isn’t the issue – it’s what is missing, the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ- HIM and HIM only.

  • Grace

    We have visited the Crystal Cathedral several times, it’s beautiful. The organ is without a doubt one of the most magnificent.

    I don’t consider the building to be in line, or defined as a mega church. The reason being, it’s beauty and light from the heavens are of natural cause.

    What was missing? – preaching the Gospel of Christ.

    What will be missing now? – preaching the Gospel of Christ.

    What will be added? – icons, statues, that will be knelt to. Prayer to Mary and others.

    The beauty of the building, the organ, and light from the heavens shining through the glass isn’t the issue – it’s what is missing, the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ- HIM and HIM only.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Regarding Catholics and mega-churches, the Crystal Cathedral, like it or hate it, really isn’t quite that–it doesn’t have that “office park chic” that is so in vogue among mega-churches. Rather it’s quite architecturally interesting, and though the materials are different–glass and steel vs. masonry and stained glass–I can see a church that built the Cathedral of Cologne or St. Peter’s Basilica (which of course dwarfs the Crystal Cathedral) using it well.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Regarding Catholics and mega-churches, the Crystal Cathedral, like it or hate it, really isn’t quite that–it doesn’t have that “office park chic” that is so in vogue among mega-churches. Rather it’s quite architecturally interesting, and though the materials are different–glass and steel vs. masonry and stained glass–I can see a church that built the Cathedral of Cologne or St. Peter’s Basilica (which of course dwarfs the Crystal Cathedral) using it well.

  • Jon

    I suspect that what will also be heard in the Cathredral – besides the chant of the ancient liturgies – will be the beautiful Spanish language. Catholic churches are often the most ethnically and linguistically integrated churches in any American city.

  • Jon

    I suspect that what will also be heard in the Cathredral – besides the chant of the ancient liturgies – will be the beautiful Spanish language. Catholic churches are often the most ethnically and linguistically integrated churches in any American city.

  • Jon

    “I don’t consider the building to be in line, or defined as a mega church. The reason being, it’s beauty and light from the heavens are of natural cause.”

    If not mega by your definition, how about it being reflective of the theology of glory, then, in its architecture?

    At least the traditional cathedrals are cruciform, reflective of the ToC.

  • Jon

    “I don’t consider the building to be in line, or defined as a mega church. The reason being, it’s beauty and light from the heavens are of natural cause.”

    If not mega by your definition, how about it being reflective of the theology of glory, then, in its architecture?

    At least the traditional cathedrals are cruciform, reflective of the ToC.

  • Grace

    Jon,

    A building built to Worship God ALMIGHTY does not require it to be in the structure of “traditional cathedrals” of yesteryear.

    “the theology of glory” – Below is the definition:

    “The Theology of the Cross (Theologia Crucis) is a term coined by the theologian Martin Luther to refer to theology that posits the cross as the only source of knowledge concerning who God is and how God saves. It is contrasted with the theology of glory (theologia gloriae), which places greater emphasis on human abilities and human reason.”

    Is the building to be like a ritual, reproduced in the same way, time after time? NO, of course not.

  • Grace

    Jon,

    A building built to Worship God ALMIGHTY does not require it to be in the structure of “traditional cathedrals” of yesteryear.

    “the theology of glory” – Below is the definition:

    “The Theology of the Cross (Theologia Crucis) is a term coined by the theologian Martin Luther to refer to theology that posits the cross as the only source of knowledge concerning who God is and how God saves. It is contrasted with the theology of glory (theologia gloriae), which places greater emphasis on human abilities and human reason.”

    Is the building to be like a ritual, reproduced in the same way, time after time? NO, of course not.

  • Grace

    The LORD Jesus Christ preached out in the open, no church, no building, no pews, nothing but HIMSELF, teaching the masses of Salvation, believing on HIM, repenting of their sins.

    I am not against the Crystal Cathedral, I am against what it was, and what it will be used for.

  • Grace

    The LORD Jesus Christ preached out in the open, no church, no building, no pews, nothing but HIMSELF, teaching the masses of Salvation, believing on HIM, repenting of their sins.

    I am not against the Crystal Cathedral, I am against what it was, and what it will be used for.

  • Christopher Martin

    The modern structure “is not a highly liturgical place in the traditional sense,” Catholic leaders have said.

    Understatement of the year.

  • Christopher Martin

    The modern structure “is not a highly liturgical place in the traditional sense,” Catholic leaders have said.

    Understatement of the year.

  • cbaggettjr

    The CC couldn’t have picked a better place to start a mission. At the very least, the body and blood of Christ will be shared rather than Schullerisms. I consider that a step in the right direction.

  • cbaggettjr

    The CC couldn’t have picked a better place to start a mission. At the very least, the body and blood of Christ will be shared rather than Schullerisms. I consider that a step in the right direction.

  • fws

    grace @ 10

    Well now.

    The Roman Catholics recite the Gospel of Christ every sunday, and
    they bring their babies to Jesus by baptizing them rather than disobeying the command of Christ.

    Your denomination does neither.

    And yes, both the Roman Catholics and your group deny that the forgiveness of sins is given, alone, by a Word of God being spoken by a preacher. Both denominations require men to DO something to be saved.
    Rome requires works that are done with a “gospel motivation” plus intellectual assent to the christian faith. Your denomination requires good works as proof of faith + faith/decision as a work of man.

    I don’t see alot of difference actually between rome and the calvary chapel denomination. What is the difference?

  • fws

    grace @ 10

    Well now.

    The Roman Catholics recite the Gospel of Christ every sunday, and
    they bring their babies to Jesus by baptizing them rather than disobeying the command of Christ.

    Your denomination does neither.

    And yes, both the Roman Catholics and your group deny that the forgiveness of sins is given, alone, by a Word of God being spoken by a preacher. Both denominations require men to DO something to be saved.
    Rome requires works that are done with a “gospel motivation” plus intellectual assent to the christian faith. Your denomination requires good works as proof of faith + faith/decision as a work of man.

    I don’t see alot of difference actually between rome and the calvary chapel denomination. What is the difference?

  • Grace

    “What is the difference?”

    Roman Catholics vs. Calvary Chapel.

    WOW, we do have something in common. Both agree, regarding no same sex marriage, and homosexuality is a sin.

    That’s a start, the RCC has a ways to go, but they have Romans 1 down pat.

    How many raise THEIR standard proclaiming:

    “I do not believe that homosexuality, per se, is a sin.”

  • Grace

    “What is the difference?”

    Roman Catholics vs. Calvary Chapel.

    WOW, we do have something in common. Both agree, regarding no same sex marriage, and homosexuality is a sin.

    That’s a start, the RCC has a ways to go, but they have Romans 1 down pat.

    How many raise THEIR standard proclaiming:

    “I do not believe that homosexuality, per se, is a sin.”

  • fws

    Grace @ 19

    Well. No Grace.
    Roman Catholics believe that homosexuality is an “objective disorder” and as such do not classify it as a sin.

    And they believe that marriage is a sacrament. So you are telling me that your denomination also has the same views on marriage. That is news to me.

    But your denomination has so many other things in common with them. Just not that. As I outlined.

  • fws

    Grace @ 19

    Well. No Grace.
    Roman Catholics believe that homosexuality is an “objective disorder” and as such do not classify it as a sin.

    And they believe that marriage is a sacrament. So you are telling me that your denomination also has the same views on marriage. That is news to me.

    But your denomination has so many other things in common with them. Just not that. As I outlined.

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