Deceived on Purpose
The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church
Chapter 5 - Enter Robert Schuller
by Warren Smith
Conscience Press, Ravenna, Ohio, 2004
Distributed solely by Discernment Ministries, P.O. Box 254, High Bridge, NJ 08829–0254
Phone: 903–567–6423 Website: http://www.discernment-ministries.com
Home | Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven |Reinventing the Church, Part 2 | Popular Occultism
Email this page (note)
"'Our very survival' as a species depends on hope. And without hope we will lose the faith that we can cope.” 1 Robert Schuller (quoting author René Dubós) Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, 1982
"Hope is as essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope." 2 Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life, 2002
I knew I was being spiritually led when I was in the New Age. I just didn’t know that I was being led by a deceptive spirit world. I didn’t even know that there was a deceptive spirit world or that there were such things as deceptive spirits. I didn’t realize that deceptive spirits could present themselves as “God” and “Jesus” and the “Holy Spirit.” I didn’t know that the Bible warns about these deceptive spirits and tells us to test the spirits to make sure that we are not being deceived by “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” (1 John 4:1; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
Years ago, as previously mentioned, I had a number of seemingly “meant to be” supernatural experiences that made me believe that my New Age teachings were from God and that I was on the right path. I had no idea there was a Deceiver and that I was being spiritually deceived. It all started with what seemed to be an innocent psychic reading. Trying to please a woman I had just met, I agreed to see a friend of a friend of hers who was a traveling psychic from Canada. Somewhat skeptical going into the reading, I was amazed at how much the psychic seemed to know about me. Over the course of the reading she was describing things that I had never shared with anyone. This gave her credibility in my eyes and set me up for what happened later in our session.
In The Light that was Dark, I described what happened: It was toward the end of the reading that I first noticed the whirling sensation over my head. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. It was a strange but not unpleasant feeling that seemed to flutter and vibrate and even tingle above me. I was startled when Bonnie picked up on it. “Are you aware that there is a ball of light over your head?”
I was dumbfounded. A ball of light? Is that what I was feeling? This was getting a little wild.
I told Bonnie that I had been feeling something over my head but didn’t know what it was. She said it again. “It’s a ball of light.”
For a moment I tried to understand what a ball of light was doing over my head. Then I asked the obvious. “Why is there a ball of light over my head?” “You are being shown that you have a lot of help on the other side,” she said matter-of-factly.
“What do you mean by ‘the other side’?”
“The spirit world,” was her quick reply. “Family and loved ones who have passed away, as well as angels and other spirits who for whatever reasons are sympathetic to your life. They are making themselves known to you. They are reaching out to you and letting you know that they are available if you want their help.” Bonnie was smiling; she seemed pleased by this show of support.
I was intrigued that there was a spirit world and flattered by its interest in me. I asked Bonnie to elaborate. “Those on the other side know what you are going through. Although they are making themselves known to you, they will not involve themselves in your life without your permission. If you want their help you will have to ask….”3
I sat back in my chair trying to comprehend it. How amazing, I thought, that we can reach out to the spirit world. A spiritual dimension is really out there, willing and able to help us. I knew in that moment that I wanted its help. I understood that the ball of light had come at a perfect time—in the reading and in my life. It had given me a much needed sense of validation. I felt better about myself knowing that somewhere out there in the universe I was really cared for. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone. As far as I was concerned, the ball of light had been an act of compassion, and I was grateful.4
I go on to describe in my book how later that same day I prayed and asked all those on “the other side” to come into my life. Shortly after that, my life took off like a rocket ship into the New Age, as what I thought were “meant to be” experiences from God started streaming into my life. I did not understand that I had just unwittingly involved myself with a deceptive spirit world that is fully described and warned about in the Bible. It wasn’t until five years later, that I came to understand what happens when you involve yourself with spiritual leadings that are not from God, but from his spiritual Adversary.
Many New Age leaders today describe similar supernatural experiences that initiated, or further reinforced, their involvement in the deceptive teachings of the New Age. In his book Love is Letting Go of Fear, psychiatrist Gerald Jampolsky describes how, during a difficult time in his life in 1975, he was given a copy of A Course in Miracles. One day while reading the Course, he heard an “inner voice” telling him, “Physician, heal thyself: this is your way home.”5
Supernaturally impressed by the inner voice and by what he was reading, Jampolsky became an almost immediate convert to the “God” and “Christ” of A Course in Miracles. He has been a prominent A Course in Miracles proponent and New Age leader ever since. In 1979, his bestselling book about A Course in Miracles, entitled Love Is Letting Go of Fear, was published. It was this Jampolsky book that led me to A Course in Miracles and prompted me to go even more deeply into the teachings of the New Age.
New age leader Marianne Williamson claims that a number of years ago, after a “nervous breakdown” and in the midst of her study of A Course in Miracles, she met “Jesus.” One night she said she felt the presence of “Jesus” by her bed. “I was not normal and I knew it,” she said. Not understanding the deceptive spirit world and the importance of testing the spirits, she started talking to the presence that she assumed was the real Jesus:
“So I said to Jesus, ‘Look, if you can give me back my life, if you can restore me somehow, then I will do whatever you want me to do for the rest of my life.’ Like people make a pact with the devil, I made a pact with Jesus.”6
Williamson’s career skyrocketed after her book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles was enthusiastically endorsed by Oprah Winfrey on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Williamson has been an internationally recognized New Age/new gospel leader ever since.
She and Neale Donald Walsch co-founded The Global Renaissance Alliance—which includes many prominent New Age leaders—to further the New Age teachings that would soon be alternately described as the “New Spirituality.” The “Jesus” that Williamson follows is the false New Age “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles, not the real Jesus of the Bible.
New Age/new gospel leader Neale Donald Walsch was a disillusioned and depressed former radio talk show host, public relations professional, and longtime metaphysical seeker 7 when he sat down one night and wrote God an angry letter.8 He was shocked when “God” seemed to answer his letter by speaking directly to him through an inner voice.
That evening, and in future “conversations,” Walsch transcribed all of the dictated answers to his questions. These conversations were published in 1995 as Walsch’s Conversations with God: Book 1. The book was the first in a series of bestselling Conversations with God books. He is one of the most visible and outspoken New Age leaders today as he directly challenges everyone to accept the “new gospel” of the “New Spirituality,” that “We are all One.”
With supernatural experiences seeming to validate so many of us at critical times in our lives, most of us did not doubt the seeming “truth” of our experiences. But we didn’t know about the Bible’s warning to “try” the spirits to make sure they weren’t deceptive spirits delivering false teachings. Many other New Age leaders, and countless numbers of day to day people like myself, were propelled into the New Age by similar encounters with the spirit world.
In June of 1978, a Connecticut physician named Bernie Siegel attended a workshop that would completely change his life, including the way he practiced medicine. As a result of a spiritual experience in this workshop—a guided visualization— he would eventually become a bestselling author and New Age leader. In his book Love, Medicine & Miracles, he describes this guided visualization:
"In June 1978, my practice of medicine changed as a result of an unexpected experience I had at a teaching seminar. Oncologist O. Carl Simonton and psychologist Stephanie Matthews (then his wife) gave a workshop—Psychological Factors, Stress, and Cancer—at the Elmcrest Institute in Portland, Connecticut…."9
"The Simontons taught us how to meditate. At one point they led us in a directed meditation to find and meet an inner guide. I approached this exercise with all the skepticism one expects from a mechanistic doctor. Still, I sat down, closed my eyes, and followed directions. I didn’t believe it would work, but if it did I expected to see Jesus or Moses. Who else would dare appear inside a surgeon’s head? Instead I met George, a bearded, long-haired young man wearing an immaculate flowing white gown and a skullcap. It was an incredible awakening for me, because I hadn’t expected anything to happen….
"George was spontaneous, aware of my feelings, and an excellent adviser. He gave me honest answers, some of which I didn’t like at first….
"All I know is that he has been my invaluable companion ever since his first appearance. My life is much easier now, because he does the hard work.10
Since that initial spiritual encounter, Siegel has become a leading New Age author and spokesperson. Providing “hope” by fusing modern day medicine with New Age teachings and practices, Siegel has introduced New Age concepts into the professional medical community and to cancer patients everywhere. In Friendship with God, Neale Donald Walsch writes that Bernie Siegel was the “first celebrity endorsement” he received for his first book Conversations with God: Book 1. Walsch said that “it helped book buyers, who might have been skittish about a previously unpublished author, see the value of what I had produced.”11
Today, Siegel continues to influence countless numbers of people in his role as a New Age leader. In his books and workshops he encourages people to do guided meditations and visualizations—just as he once did—to initiate contact with their own personal spirit guides. Siegel openly endorses the teachings of A Course in Miracles, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors of Jerry Jampolsky’s A Course in Miracles-based Attitudinal Healing Center in Northern California.
I describe Bernie Siegel at length because I was about to discover that Rick Warren suddenly and inexplicably made reference to Bernie Siegel in Chapter Three of The Purpose-Driven Life. He used Siegel’s name in conjunction with remarks he was making about people who have “hope” and a “deep sense of life purpose.” The reference follows Rick Warren’s strange characterization of Isaiah and Job as two men who exemplified life “without purpose” and life “without God.”
The reader is given no explanation as to who Bernie Siegel is and, therefore, has no idea that Rick Warren was using the remark of a New Age leader to reference the importance of having “hope” and “purpose” in their life. Particularly for someone like myself, who came out of the New Age, it was extremely bizarre to see Rick Warren’s remarks linking hope with the New Age leader Bernie Siegel rather than with Isaiah and Job. His skewed comments were very misleading. Rick Warren wrote:
"Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope. In the Bible, many different people expressed this hopelessness. Isaiah complained, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.” Job said, 'My life drags by—day after hopeless day” and “I give up; I am tired of living. Leave me alone. My life makes no sense.' The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose.
"Hope is as essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope. Dr. Bernie Siegel found he could predict which of his cancer patients would go into remission by asking, “Do you want to live to be one hundred?” Those with a deep sense of life purpose answered yes and were the ones most likely to survive. Hope comes from having a purpose."13
Isaiah and Job without purpose?
After quoting the situational complaints of Isaiah and Job, Rick Warren stated, as quoted above, “The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose.” In reality, Isaiah’s “complaining” had nothing to do with “a life without purpose” or being “without God.” Rather, it had to do with the fact that Isaiah was finding the prophetic role that God had assigned to him to be very discouraging. He was trying to warn the people that their religious leaders were leading them astray.
"…O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. (Isaiah 3:12)
Isaiah was trying to tell the people they were being deceived, but it seemed that no one was listening. Isaiah was not “without purpose.” He was just deeply frustrated with Israel’s leaders and the people who were blindly following them. Using a New International Version Bible, Rick Warren chose to quote only half of Isaiah 49:4 in trying to make his case that Isaiah was a man “without purpose” and “without God.” …“I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.”14
The whole NIV verse paints a completely different picture. But I said, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”15 [Emphasis added]
The King James Version makes Isaiah’s sense of purpose and faith in God even clearer in this same passage.
"Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgement is with the Lord, and my work with my God." [Emphasis added]
Matthew Henry, a respected Bible commentator (whom Rick Warren cites in Chapter Four), wrote this about Isaiah’s “complaint” in Isaiah 49:4:
"He comforts himself under this discouragement with this consideration, that it was the cause of God in which he was engaged and the call of God that engaged him in it: Yet surely my judgement is with the Lord, who is the Judge of all, and my work with my God, whose servant I am. His comfort is, and it may be the comfort of all faithful ministers, when they see little success of their labours. That, however it be, it is a righteous cause that they are pleading. They are with God, and for God; they are on his side, and workers together with him…. The unbelief of men gives them no cause to suspect the truth of their doctrine."16
Matthew Henry rightly points out that Isaiah was anything but purposeless. He may have been discouraged that no one seemed to be listening to him, but he never lost his sense of purpose or his faith in God. The same is true of God’s servant Job, whose despair and temporary discouragement in the midst of great loss had nothing to do with his overall commitment and devotion to God.
The hope and purpose of Robert Schuller
Rick Warren could have wonderfully introduced hope and purpose through the godly lives of Isaiah and Job. Yet he chose to use them as examples of men who were without hope, purpose or God in their lives. Instead, he used a New Age leader to preface his remarks about having a true hope that comes from having a “deep sense of purpose.” Looking again at what he wrote:
"Hope is as essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope. Dr. Bernie Siegel found he could predict which of his cancer patients would go into remission by asking, 'Do you want to live to be one hundred?' Those with a deep sense of life purpose answered yes and were the ones most likely to survive. Hope comes from having a purpose."17
As I read this whole section in The Purpose-Driven Life, I kept asking myself: why would Rick Warren want to introduce his readers—even indirectly—to a New Age leader like Bernie Siegel? Why would he preface his whole discussion about the importance of having “hope” and a “deep sense of life purpose” by referring to a man whose own hope and purpose are so totally invested in the false teachings of the New Age? A believer’s true hope is not based on perceptions of longevity or the false hopes of this world. It is based only in the person of Jesus Christ. He is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1).
What helped to finally clarify the matter for me was my discovery that much of Rick Warren’s seemingly spontaneous discussion about hope and purpose—even his reference to Bernie Siegel—could be found in the writings and teachings of Robert Schuller.
I became aware of Schuller’s influence while searching the Internet in an attempt to understand why Rick Warren might be citing Bernie Siegel in reference to “hope.” I discovered an Hour of Power sermon in which Robert Schuller referenced Bernie Siegel in regards to this same issue of “hope.” After describing Bernie Siegel as “one of the greatest doctors of the 20th Century,” Schuller stated:
"Dr. Siegel said that he’s been accused of building false hope and he likes to tell people that the only false hope is giving them no hope."18
I was not that surprised that Robert Schuller would use a New Age leader to make a sermon point about hope. But why would Rick Warren? Bernie Siegel’s New Age hope is a false hope—and no hope at all. Was it Schuller’s obvious high regard for Bernie Siegel, and Rick Warren’s high regard for Robert Schuller, that prompted Rick Warren to make this reference to Siegel in The Purpose-Driven Life?
Hoping and coping back in 1982
My sense that Rick Warren and Robert Schuller’s references to Bernie Siegel were more than coincidence was later confirmed, when I was researching some of Robert Schuller’s previous writings, and reading through his 1982 book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation. As I read along in this book, I suddenly stumbled upon some Schuller material regarding “hope and purpose” that sounded just like Rick Warren. Schuller was citing sociobiologist René Dubós’ book Celebration of Life as the source of his remarks: In his 1982 book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, Schuller wrote:
"'Our very survival' as a species depends on hope. And without hope we will lose the faith that we can cope.”19
Twenty years later, in his 2002 book The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren, making no reference to Schuller or Dubós, wrote:
"Hope is as essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope."20
It seemed that in The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren had combined the Schuller reference to Bernie Siegel with other material that Schuller had written back in 1982. He even turned the words “hope” and “cope” into a “hope to cope” rhyme, worthy of the man he was so obviously emulating. 49
But the use of Schuller material didn’t stop there. Right after the unattributed “hope to cope” reference, Rick Warren introduced “hope” and “purpose” to his millions of readers by citing Jeremiah 29:11—one of Robert Schuller’s signature Scriptures. Warren wrote:
"If you have felt hopeless, hold on! Wonderful changes are going to happen in your life as you begin to live it on purpose. God says, 'I know what I am planning for you.... ‘I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.’”21
Sixteen years before Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life, Robert Schuller had also introduced “hope” and “purpose” by citing Jeremiah 29:11. In his 1986 book Be Happy You are Loved, Schuller had written:
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11 TLB)
This Bible verse says plainly that God has a plan and a dream and it includes you. You were born for a purpose.22 Apparently, Robert Schuller had been talking about “purpose” for years. In Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, Schuller had introduced “purpose” in relation to what he described as “God’s dream” for our life.
"God chooses us to serve his purpose. “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” Our self-esteem is rooted in our divine call. God’s dream for our life and work gives purpose and pride to our life….
"God’s plan and purpose calls for us to succeed and not to fail." 23
In his first televised sermon to Russia on December 25, 1989, Schuller began his telecast by citing Jeremiah 29:11 to preface his remarks about having hope and purpose. He concluded his sermon by referring back to Jeremiah 29:11 and using that specific Scripture as a call for peace between the two countries.24 Schuller described the importance of Jeremiah 29:11 in his own life in the introduction to his 1977 book Daily Power Thoughts.
"In preparing this book, my dream is to help you enjoy the beautiful possibilities God has available for you. A very important scripture in my life is Jeremiah 29:11."25
Siegel’s endorsement of Schuller’s book
But Rick Warren was not the only one who seemed to be impressed with the writings and teachings of Robert Schuller. I was soon to find out that Bernie Siegel had personally endorsed Robert Schuller’s 1995 book Prayer: My Soul’s Adventure With God. This endorsement appeared on the opening page of Schuller’s book:
"This is a beautiful book of value to all people…. Robert Schuller’s newest book reaches beyond religion and information to what we all need—spirituality, inspiration, and understanding. Read it and live a life with meaning."26
Later, as I was forced to read more of Schuller’s books— because of his obvious spiritual influence on Rick Warren— I found that Schuller had recommended guided meditations and visualizations 27 not unlike the kind that linked Bernie Siegel up with his spirit guide, George. It was no wonder that Schuller and Siegel expressed mutual affection for one another’s work.
As a brand new Christian, I had been horrified years ago to find what amounted to be a New Age book, written by a pastor, prominently displayed on the shelf of a local Christian bookstore. The book was filled with everything I had just left behind in the New Age. Cloaked in Christian language, it encouraged the reader to use guided visualization (now often called “vision casting”) and other metaphysical techniques to gain whatever it was they wanted. Pastors were encouraged to “visualize and dream bigger churches” or “a new mission field” or whatever else they thought would improve their church and ministry.28
The introduction to the book was written by Robert Schuller. In his endorsement of the book, which included these New Age visualization techniques, Schuller had written:
"Don’t try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it! It’s true. It works. I tried it."29
I remember warning the bookstore owner that this book, with Schuller’s extremely undiscerning endorsement, could expose countless numbers of pastors and believers to a deceptive spirit world that was only too happy to masquerade behind the labels of “God” and “Jesus” and the “Holy Spirit.” She immediately removed the book from the shelf. This was one of my first clues that Robert Schuller’s lack of spiritual discernment could prove to be a possible danger to those who trusted in his ministry.
But Bernie Siegel wasn’t the only New Age leader praising one of Schuller’s books. Neale Donald Walsch, the current point man for the New Age and the New Spirituality, had also gone way out of his way to praise Robert Schuller and to positively cite one of Schuller’s books. In his 2002 book The New Revelations: A Conversation with God, Walsch and his “God” used Schuller to help make their case for a world peace based on the “self-esteem” principles of a New Spirituality. Walsch favorably quoted Schuller’s call for a new “theology of self-esteem” and the need for a “new reformation” within the Church.30
The Schuller book that they had praised and were quoting from, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, was the same book that Rick Warren seemed to have drawn so heavily from in referencing his remarks about “hope” and “purpose” to Bernie Siegel. Under the circumstances, it seemed like a good time to take a closer look at the New Spirituality that Walsch and his “God” were proposing, and how they were convinced that Robert Schuller could help them achieve their purpose.
Posted with author's permission.
Copyright © 2004 by Warren Smith. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible. ISBN: 0-9667071–3–3
Cover design by Vernon Rousseau. Graphic design by Colin A. Leslie
Printed in the United States of America. The author and publisher receive no profits from this book. Distributed solely by Discernment Ministries, P.O. Box 254, High Bridge, NJ 08829–0254.
Phone: 903–567–6423. Website: http://www.discernment-ministries.com
Individual copies $12.00 each plus $3.00 shipping and handling.
You may also order Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel by Warren Smith Individual copies $7.00 each, plus $1.50 (shipping & handling)
Audio book on CD, $15.00 each, plus $5.00 (shipping & handling)
1. Robert H. Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Waco, Texas:
Word Books, 1982), p. 19.
2. Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life, p. 31.
3. Warren Smith, The Light that was Dark, p. 16–17.
4. Ibid., p. 17.
5. Gerald G. Jampolsky, Love Is Letting Go of Fear (Millbrae, Calif.: Celestial
Arts, 1979), p. 2.
6. Elena Oumano, Marianne Williamson: Her Life, Her Message, Her
Miracles (New York: St. Martin’s Press: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 1992),
7. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God, p. 280–283.
8. Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 1, p. 1–2.
9. Bernie Siegel. Love, Medicine & Miracles (New York: Harper Collins
Publishers: HarperPerennial, 1998), p. 18.
10. Ibid., p. 19–20.
11. Walsch, Friendship with God, p. 335–336.
13. Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life, p. 30–31.
14. Ibid., p. 30.
15. Holy Bible, New International Version (Grand Rapids, Mich.:
Zonderan Corporation, 1973 (1984), p. 1006.
16. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible
(Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), p. 1172.
17. Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life, p. 31.
18. Hour of Power. Program #1572. “Principles for Powerful, Prosperous
Living—Part IX” by Robert H. Schuller, (http://www.hourofpower.org/
booklets/archives/pppl_1563-1573/1572.html), p. 3. Also see, Robert
H. Schuller, Believe In The God Who Believes In You (Nashville, Tenn.:
Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1989), p. 246–247.
19. Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, p. 19.
20. Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life, p. 31.
22. Robert H. Schuller, Be Happy You Are Loved (Nashville, Tennessee:
Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986), p. 65.
23. Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, p. 120.
24. Robert H. Schuller, My Journey: From an Iowa Farm to a Cathedral of
Dreams (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), p. 439–440.
25. Robert H. Schuller, Daily Power Thoughts (New York: Jove Books,
Berkeley Publishing Group, 1977, 1983), Introduction Page.
26. Robert H. Schuller, Prayer: My Soul’s Adventure With God: A Spiritual
Autobiography (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1995),
27. Robert H. Schuller, Peace Of Mind Through Possibility Thinking (Old
Tappan, N.J.: Jove Publications, Inc., 1977), p. 137–142.
28. Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension: The Key to Putting Your
Faith to Work For a Successful Life (S. Plainfield, New Jersey: Bridge Publishing,
Inc., 1979), p. 44.
29. Ibid., Foreward by Robert Schuller.
30. Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God,
Home | Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven |Reinventing the Church, Part 2 | Popular Occultism |
Email this page (note)