Dr. Robert H. Schuller’s Hospital for Sinners now spiraling toward a Secretive Exclusionary Cult

By Penrod Schoefield - June 27, 2011

The Departure from the Doctrines and the official position of the Reformed Church in America.

The issue over Gretchen Schuller Penner’s “Worship Team and Worship Choir Covenant” just won’t go away. As time passes a pattern develops illustrating a direction that those now in charge are leading the ministry toward becoming a secretive, exclusionary cult. As if the exclusionary “Worship Covenant” also referred to as the “Anti-Gay Covenant” wasn’t sufficiently destructive and divisive to the dignity and harmony of our church fellowship, the June 8th “Ignite the Fire” event supposedly celebrating Pentecost was a significant departure from the doctrines of the Reformed Church in America. Admittedly, the church was packed with mostly Hispanics with only a few long time members that attended for no other reason to see what transpired. For those of us accustomed to our main stream traditional worship service, this event was nothing less than a shock to our sensibilities. Sheila Schuller Coleman, Senior Pastor seemed out of her league up against Hispanic Minister, Dante Gebel. The Arabic Minister was also in the Pulpit. The showmanship in the battle between Sheila and Dante in “jockeying for position” and one attempting to upstage the other soon resulted in Sheila trailing. Gretchen Schuller Penner and her husband Jim Penner were seated in the audience. When Sheila began to fold, Gretchen literally pushed her husband, Jim out of his seat and told him to “get up there and rescue Sheila. He did and attempted to rally support for his side by jumping up and  down and  screaming.  I forgot  to mention  there  was also faith healing, lots of raised arms in true Pentecostal style  worship  and  at  the  end  people  milling  around and speaking in “tongues.” This included the Colemans and the Penners.




What transpired at that event is not the subject of this editorial. However, it is important to demonstrate the new direction the current leadership is taking the Ministry away from the principles of its Founding Pastor, Dr. Robert H. Schuller as well as departing from the Doctrines of the Reformed Church in America.

It is easy to determine that the current leadership is becoming paranoid which is exactly what one expects of the leaders of a religious cult. Their agenda mandates they must weed out the gays and the lesbians; one or more of them, in this case, Gretchen Schuller Penner, openly declares she is the “anointed prophet of the Lord. They become secretive and anyone who refuses to get behind their agenda must also be told to leave.

Where does all of this lead? I think it is important to note the last paragraph of the document below:

Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, RCA general secretary, stated, in reference to equal rights for gays and lesbians:  "No issue today has as much potential to spawn divisiveness, mistrust, gossip, suspicion and conflict in the church as this one. No issue has more capacity to confuse our focus, drain our energy, injure our fellowship and divert our mission than this one. No current issue can so easily demoralize our meetings, paralyze our process, fuel our anxiety  

One can easily determine from the statement in the above paragraph just how destructive the “Anti-Gay Worship Covenant” has been to the Ministry and its long term members. In my humble opinion, consecrated pastors are not equipped to preach and manage the complexities of a church of this magnitude that is also televised worldwide.

The Reformed Church in America dates from 1628 when members of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands arrived in the US as the first Dutch settlers. They are a mainline denomination. They reported 559,000 members and active communicants in 1986. Their highest authority is the General Synod which meets every June. The denomination has studied sexual orientation for over 2 decades:

1978: The Theological Commission to General Synod studied the status of homosexuality as mentioned in the Bible. They issued their report titled "Homosexuality: A Biblical and Theological Appraisal". They concluded that "the Scripture's repeated endorsement of heterosexuality as the Creator's express intent is far more significant for our understanding than the few negative pronouncements concerning homosexuality...Heterosexuality is not only normal; it is normative. Homosexual acts are contrary to the will of God for human sexuality. God's gracious intent for human sexual fulfillment is the permanent bond of heterosexual love. This redemptive word must be spoken, with sensitivity, caring, and clarity to any person who would make a perverted sexual choice, and to society as a whole." On a positive note, they concluded that "The denial of human and civil rights to homosexuals is inconsistent with the biblical witness and Reformed theology."

1978: One year later, they studied how the denomination should care for and support gays and lesbians. They concluded: "The church should acknowledge its sins against the homosexual....[It] should make a genuine effort to understand the homosexual...The pastor can help both homosexual and Christian community to see that this problem is not unique, but is of the same order as other problems with a strong compulsive element."

1990: The General Synod passed a resolution stating that "the practicing homosexual lifestyle is contrary to Scripture." They urged "love and sensitivity towards such persons as fellow human beings."

1990: The General Synod passed a resolution stating that "the practicing homosexual lifestyle is contrary to Scripture." They urged "love and sensitivity towards such persons as fellow human beings."

1994: The General Synod asked their Commission on Theology to prepare a "study guide for use in RCA congregations, which will assist Christians in reading and understanding the 1978 and 1979 statements of General Synod on the church and homosexuality." It was to provide a "process of reflection for RCA congregations who are seeking to increase their sensitivity and awareness of the ways in which persons of homosexual orientation have wrongly suffered in our churches and in our society"

1995: The Theology Commission outlined the "guiding parameters" for the study guide requested in 1994. Their assumptions are:

   Homosexual behavior is not God's intended expression of sexuality.

   Homosexuality is no more nor less serious than other forms of human sinfulness.

   There are varied and complex causes of homosexual orientation and behavior; hence, simplistic analyses and solutions should be questioned.

   Any expectation for persons of homosexual orientation to experience wholeness should be shaped by both the hope and the realism of the Christian life.

   Homosexual persons should be accorded their full measure of human and civil rights.

1998-JUN: Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, RCA general secretary, stated, in reference to equal rights for gays and lesbians:  "No issue today has as much potential to spawn divisiveness, mistrust, gossip, suspicion and conflict in the church as this one. No issue has more capacity to confuse our focus, drain our energy, injure our fellowship and divert our mission than this one. No current issue can so easily demoralize our meetings, paralyze our process, fuel our anxiety  

The official position of the Reformed Church in America on Homosexuality

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