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

Theological bankruptcy

Christianity Today has a thoughtful editorial on the bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral and what that means (or should mean) for contemporary Christianity:

This past October, the megachurch prototype of the late 20th century filed for bankruptcy. A 24 percent drop in donations and a $50-$100 million debt owed to more than 550 creditors forced the Crystal Cathedral to file. It was a poignant moment in the history of modern evangelicalism.

Robert H. Schuller’s famous Crystal Cathedral was built on a foundation of self-esteem. In a 1984 interview with Christianity Today, Schuller said that when he came to Garden Grove, California, in 1955, he asked himself, “What human condition exists here that I can have a mission to?” His answer was “emotional hunger.” “Because of that,” he said, “we have developed our present ministry.” . . .

Schuller was tapping into themes of the human potential movement, the rage in the 1960s and ’70s, when Abraham Maslow’s theories deemed self-actualization the highest expression of human life. . . .

It’s like building a state-of-the-art structure. Technology moves at such a rapid pace that as soon as you move into the new building, you immediately find yourself stuck with an architecture that is already technologically dated, if only in small degrees at first. It isn’t long before another developer announces plans for something even more state-of-the-art.

Today both the Crystal Cathedral and the theology that undergird it seem woefully inadequate buildings in which to house the gospel. In an age deeply sensitive to energy conservation, a glass house of worship is a sinful extravagance. In a culture increasingly addicted to the self, the gospel of self-esteem is clearly part of the problem. In short, the Schuller enterprise is filing for bankruptcy on more than one front.

Some are tempted to hit the man while he is down, but this is unwise. Robert Schuller is not the problem—contemporary evangelicalism is. Schuller was only leading the parade of those who believe they are responsible for making the gospel relevant. The lesson is not that Schuller got it wrong or that his theology is out-of-date; it is not that we just need to find a better, more current point of cultural contact. The lesson is that our attempts to find and exploit a point of cultural contact inevitably end in bankruptcy. . . .

We must repress every fearful thought that suggests that making the gospel relevant and meaningful rests on our shoulders. The mystery of why and how people come to faith is just that—ultimately a mystery.  . . .

In fact, it is not only the listener who is deaf and blind to the gospel. The church is equally handicapped, especially regarding what will “work” to achieve genuine conversion. But—God be praised—we have a God who makes the deaf to hear and the blind to see! In every age and every culture, we are wise to trust the God who is rich in mercy and is able to accomplish through his Word that which he intends.

via Cracks in the Crystal Cathedral | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

It’s significant that Christianity Today is saying this, since that magazine has not been all that critical of the various church growth movements–each with their attempt to be culturally relevant–up to now.  Do you think this heralds the end of the megachurch church-marketing concept?

Top religious developments of 2010

What do you think were the major developments in the world of religion for 2010?  I think we can do better than the lists from religious journalists that I’ve seen.  Look not only for events but also for trends that came into view in the preceding year but that might have a longer lasting effect.

I’ll go first:

–With the election of Matthew Harrison to the presidency, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod made a U-turn in direction, from a church body that officially wanted to emulate the rest of American Christianity to a church body that other American Christians may want to emulate.  The new president stands on the Lutheran confessional distinctives without being insular, and pushing the denomination in a winsome, compassionate, internationally-engaged direction.

–Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral went bankrupt.  Other positive-thinking, prosperity gospel ministries and believers ran up against the economic collapse.   Does this herald the end of that particular heresy?  Does it herald the decline of the megachurch?

Crystal Cathedral goes bankrupt

One of the first and most prominent megachurches, the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, has gone bankrupt.  The 10,000 member congregation listed assets of $50 million and debts of $100 million.  The church was built by Robert Schuller, who preached a gospel of “positive thinking.”  He said that the Reformation was  mistaken in  its emphasis on sin, which gave people a negative self-image.  He wanted Christianity to be more positive, and he taught people that they could achieve their dreams and change their reality by having positive thoughts and faith in themselves.

Rev. Schuller retired from ministry a few years ago.  His daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, is currently the pastor of the church.

via Crystal Cathedral Ministries Seeks Bankruptcy, Blames Recession.


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