Inheriting the Schuller legacy limited Angie Schuller Wyatt from truly knowing God beyond the God that was preached in the renowned Crystal Cathedral, she says.
While growing up a Schuller, she realized that listening to dad (Robert A. Schuller)’s or grandpa (Robert H. Schuller)’s sermons is no comparison to reading the Bible for herself. And being raised in one of America’s biggest and controversial churches actually confused her perception of God, she shared with The Christian Post.
“I thought that God was expecting me to be powerful, successful, wealthy and famous and that is so off base from his true heart for people. For me the question was ‘who is God to me’ and not ‘who is God in Crystal Cathedral.’”
The Crystal Cathedral has been a big name in the American church scene for decades. The “positive” teachings of Robert H. Schuller, founder of Crystal Cathedral in Southern California, have been identified with a form of prosperity theology and drew large crowds.
The megachurch is perhaps best known for its all-glass sanctuary and its lavish Christmas and Easter productions. This year’s “The Glory of Easter” show was canceled following lawsuits and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Though the church has been wracked by controversy and financial problems in recent years, it continues to draw thousands to its weekly services and an even wider international audience to its “Hour of Power” television program.
Reflecting on her early years at the church, Wyatt indicated that as a pastor’s kid, it’s easy to adopt or inherit the faith of your parent. But she emphasized the importance of growing spiritually on your own.
“Growing up a Schuller, I saw the way faith and family dynamics can become toxic and I see that in a lot of churches,” she explained, “seeing people who believe in God but their spirituality and their faith isn't really healthy. I think that the only way to have a healthy faith is to hear God.”
And that’s what she began to do.
“I began to read the Bible for myself and not just dad's sermon,” she said. “As I began to get serious about prayer, I learned that God is a speaking God and that He wants to speaks to us. So it's really a small growth process in which I leaned to hear God and by the time I was in college, I discovered that.”
Wyatt attended Oral Roberts University, what she considers the number one choice for pastors’ kids. There she found that most stereotypes about PK’s were true.
“I went to Oral Roberts University so I know almost every PK on the block because almost everyone sends their PK to ORU or so it seems. In some regards, I think that it is a lack of intimacy with the Father,” she said. “I don't want to point fingers because some of those who rebel against church … it's truly just a prodigal son story.”
Later, as a professional and spiritual counselor, she realized that the problem with many PK’s begins with “a perceived notion of manipulation.”
There are situations “where people who are in a religious authority have abused God to manipulate and control others,” Wyatt said.
The attempt to control their children through the excuse of “God told me” has unwelcome consequences, she pointed out.
“So what happens for a lot of these PK’s is that they are raised in homes where mom and dad are going to say ‘well God told me that you should do this with your life’ or ‘God told me that we need to do this as a family.’ So the children begin to resent that because we are intuitive people and so we are able to understand the covert message and the covert message is ultimately ‘you can't argue with God.’”
So instead of being used to help build an authentic relationship, God’s “voice” is used as a tool to control and manipulate certain behaviors.
While she doesn’t deny that God does speak to parents about their children, she suggests that there are different ways of letting kids know what they should or shouldn’t be doing.
“It's not to say that God didn't tell them because sometimes God does tell things to parents but in most cases it's a parent's responsibility to harbor that in heart. There is a time for sharing what God spoke to and there is a time for not [sharing].”
Her advice: “Rather than saying ‘God told me,’ a parent ought to be asking the child ‘what is God saying to you’ and then guiding the child in learning how to hear God.”
By allowing the child to reach a solution that is God-driven, parents open up the way for children to personally choose to listen to God’s voice.
Helping people hear God’s voice is the most essential tool for anyone, highlighted Wyatt, who is married to Internet and television pioneer Chris Wyatt, founder of GodTube.com and CEO of ComStar Media.
“If you can teach them to hear God, He will reveal their deepest need and heal them with the truth about the situation in their lives,” she stressed.
Wyatt hosts a television show called “Spiritual Wellness Minutes” on FamilyNet where she offers simple but spiritual answers to problems, relationships and church hurts – without a religious agenda.
She is currently finishing her book Spiritual Wellness: The Art of Hearing God.