Excerpts from

Hard to Believe

By John MacArthur

(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003)

Referring to “man-centered evangelicals:”


"It’s interesting how this trend has come into the church. I’ve been around long enough to have seen it arrive. It blossomed, I think, most pointedly through the effort of…[the] religious personality Robert Schuller and a book he wrote a number of years ago called Self-Esteem: The New Reformation.... It was an effort to replace the biblical gospel with a new gospel. And it worked." (p.3)

        "In that book, Robert Schuller attacked the Protestant Reformation. Calling for a new reformation, he wrote: 'It is precisely at this point that classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God-centered’ and not ‘man-centered.’ So, according to Schuller, the first thing we have to do is put an end to classical, God-centered theology and replace it with man-centered theology.” (p.3)


"To define man-centered theology (an oxymoron), [Schuller] wrote further, 'This master plan of God is designed around the deepest needs of human beings - self-dignity, self-respect, self-worth, self-esteem.'"  (p.3)


"For Schuller, the pearl of great price is self-respect and self-esteem. He went on to say, 'Success is to be defined as the gift of self-esteem that God gives us as a reward for our sacrificial service in building self-esteem in others. Win or lose: If we follow God’s plan as faithfully as we can, we will feel good about ourselves.” (p.4)


"In this new reformation of self-esteem, the first thing required is to pull God down from His supremely elevated place so you can then lift yourself up, replacing God-exalting theology with man-exalting self-esteem psychology. [And] to pull this off requires altering and misinterpreting the Bible and the gospel for the grand purpose of making people feel better about themselves, so they can fulfill their dreams and realize their visions."  (p.4)


"Maybe the most amazing statement in Self-Esteem: The New Reformation  is the following: 'Once a person believes he is an ‘unworthy sinner,’ it is doubtful if he can really honestly accept the saving grace God offers in Jesus Christ.' So, if you want to be saved, according to this new gospel you cannot believe yourself to be an unworthy sinner.

       "How twisted is that? How contrary to the truth is that? But it is just this sort of man-centered, self-esteem gospel that eventually became the seeker sensitive movement, which has hijacked so many churches. It’s kind of a quasi-Christian narcissism, or self-love, that is characteristic of false teachers: according to 2 Timothy 3, which reminds us, “Dangerous times will come, for men will be lovers of themselves.” (p.4)


People are breezing through those wide, comfortable, inviting gates with all their baggage, their self-needs, their self-esteem, and their desire for fulfillment and self-satisfaction. And the most horrible thing about it is they think they’re going to heaven.” (p. 13)


See Self-Esteem: The New Reformation

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