Quotes and Excerpts from

 "Self-Esteem: The New Reformation"

(Word Books, 1982)

By Robert Schuller

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly..."  Proverbs 16:18-19

"What do I mean by sin? Answer: Any human condition or act that robs God of glory by stripping one of his children of their right to divine dignity. ... I can offer still another answer: `Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem.'" (p. 14)

"And what is `hell'? It is the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God -- the ultimate and unfailing source of our soul's sense of self-respect. `My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' was Christ's encounter with hell. In that `hellish' death our Lord experienced the ultimate horror -- humiliation, shame, and loss of pride as a human being. A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem. Can you imagine any condition more tragic than to live life and eternity in shame?"
(pp. 14-15)

"Labels such as, `evangelical,' `fundamental,' `charismatic,' `liberal' contribute to polarization and produce a climate of implied or outspoken distrust. Respectful dialogue becomes virtually impossible. What we desperately need to offset this disunity and distrust is a new and cleansing theology of communication." (p. 27)


"Are we aware that theology has failed to accommodate and apply proven insights in human behavior as revealed by twentieth-century psychologists?

       "A widespread tension has too long existed between psychologists and theologians. Both disciplines should be committed to the healing of the human spirit. Both can and must learn from each other. Neither one can claim to have 'the whole truth.' Conflict between theology and psychology points to a need for growth and accommodation until the contradiction in thought is reconciled on the altar of truth. What we need is a theological restructuring which synergizes scientific and spiritual truths as related to the human being." (p. 27)


"What is our Lord's greatest passion for his church today? Believe that he wants his followers to respect themselves as equal children of God and to treat all other human beings with that same respect. ... I believe we know that Jesus would say something like this to us: '...Receive and the enjoy the fruit of salvation: Self-esteem, self-worth. ...

       "If the gospel of Jesus Christ can be proclaimed as a theology of self-esteem, imagine the health this could generate in society!" (p. 47)

"Many sincere students within the larger body of believers are turned off by a theology that offers nothing more than a classical heaven and hell proposition. The alternative theology of mission focuses on peace, brotherhood, and economic equality. And the tension between these two theologies of mission is strong in the church today. Somehow a strong fresh theology of mission must be articulated that will allow sincere followers of both points of view to merge mind, motive, method, and message." (p. 60) [The dialectic process -- merging opposites into a new truth]

"We are born to soar. We are children of God. ... The Fatherhood of God offers a deep spiritual cure for the inferiority complex and lays the firm foundation for a solid spiritual self-esteem."
(p. 60)

"Classical theology defines sin as `rebellion against God.' The answer is not incorrect as much as it is shallow and insulting to the human being. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity even if he or she is a `rebellious sinner'." (p. 65)

"The core of original sin, then is LOT: Lack Of Trust. Or, it could be considered an innate inability to adequately value ourselves. Label it a 'negative self-image,' but do not say that the central core of the human soul is wickedness.

      "... positive Christianity does not hold to human depravity, but to human inability. I am humanly unable to correct my negative self-image until I encounter a life-changing experience with non- judgmental love bestowed upon me by a Person whom I admire so much that to be unconditionally accepted by him is to be born again." (p. 67)

"To be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image--from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust." (p. 68)

"The Cross sanctifies the ego trip. For the Cross protected our Lord's perfect self-esteem from turning into sinful pride." (p. 75)

"Historical theology has too often failed to interpret repentance as a positive creative force. ... Essentially, if Christianity is to succeed in the next millennium, it must cease to be a negative religion and must become positive." (p. 104)


"Negative-thinking theologians looked at the doctrine of sin, salvation and repentance... through distorted glasses tinted with mortification mentality. Too many prayers of confession of sin and repentance have been destructive to the emotional health of Christians....   I am not fully forgiven  until I allow God to write his new dream for my life on the blackboard of my mind, and I dare to believe 'I am; therefore, I can. I am a child of God. ... God has a great plan to redeem society.....

     "The emerging church, reformed according to the needs of self-esteem-starved-souls under the Lordship of Christ.... will help us to affirm the concept that 'While god's ideas may seem humanly impossible, he will give us these ideas which will lead to glorious, self-esteem-generating success.'" (104-105)

"Protestants quote their Bible, Fundamentalists declare their orthodox theological dogmas, and we are all expected to renounce private reflection and peacefully acquiesce to these pronouncements. And the result is that the dignity of the person is violated by such oppressive, intelligence- smothering forms of communication."

"Christ is the Ideal One, for he was Self-Esteem Incarnate." (p. 135)

"...the kingdom of God is that invisible collection of committed Christians that transcends cultures, ideologies... and creeds-- all bound by the golden commitment to say nothing and do nothing that would attack the self-esteem, the self-respect, and the dignity of any other human being, whether or not they are committed members of the kingdom of God. The dignity of the person then is the irreducible cell of true Christianity." (p. 135)

"The tragedy of Christendom today is the existence of entire congregations of church members who are dominated by emotionally deprived or emotionally under-developed persons. These congregations have been accurately labeled `God's Frozen People.' ... And they do this by exercising narrow authoritarianism in doctrines and practices and by sowing seeds of suspicion and dissension in the religious community. ... By contrast, strong persons--self-assured personalities, whose egos find their nourishment in a self-esteem-generating personal relationship with Jesus Christ--dare to face contrary opinions, diverse interpretations, and deviations of theology without becoming disrespectful, judgmental, or accusatory."
(pp. 153-154)

"The classical error of historical Christianity is that we have never started with the value of the person. Rather, we have started from the `unworthiness of the sinner...." (p. 162)

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