Peale, Schuller, Warren and New Age Leader Bernie Siegel
By Warren B. Smith (4-4-12)
(View B. Warren Smith Books & Articles)
Why do Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, and Rick Warren all make specific reference to author Bernie Siegel--a New Age leader with a spirit guide named "George"? On paper, Siegel is an unlikely person for church figures to be quoting, referencing, and even praising. That is, unless Siegel is a merging, overlapping, interconnecting link between the New Age and the church--much like Rick Warren's colleague Leonard Sweet praising New Age leaders in his book Quantum Spirituality. Here a little, there a little. Seemingly small connections can lead to much bigger connections down the line. Why are these men warming up to a New Age leader like Bernie Siegel rather than warning the church about him?
Excerpted from A Wonderful Deception, pp. 75-77
Dr. Bernie Siegel in his book Love, Medicine, and Miracles writes: . . . Anything that offers hope . . . has the potential to heal.1
—Robert Schuller, 1989
As I described in Deceived on Purpose, one of the early clues about Robert Schuller’s pervasive, overlapping influence on Rick Warren’s ministry was Warren’s seemingly out of the blue reference to New Age author Bernie Siegel. In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Warren suddenly and indiscriminately referenced Siegel regarding the subjects of “hope” and “purpose.” He did this without warning his readers that Siegel was a New Age leader with a spirit guide named “George.” In his 1986 book Love, Medicine & Miracles, Siegel described how he had contacted “George” the very first time he meditated.2
I also described how I had discovered that thirteen years before Rick Warren referenced Bernie Siegel regarding “hope” and “purpose,” Robert Schuller had referenced Siegel in regard to this same theme in his 1989 book titled Believe in the God who Believes in You.3 On his Hour of Power television program, Schuller had even described the New Age Siegel as “one of the greatest doctors of the 20th Century.”4 Siegel, in turn, was one of the prominent front-page endorsers of Robert Schuller’s 1995 book Prayer: My Soul’s Adventure with God: A Spiritual Autobiography. Rick Warren’s reference to Siegel is probably what Saddleback apologist Gilbert Thurston referred to as certain things Rick Warren “learned from the books of Robert Schuller.”5
To try to distance Rick Warren from the reality of Schuller’s obvious mentoring influence, Saddleback apologist Richard Abanes wrote that it was actually Baptist preacher W. A. Criswell—not Schuller—who mentored Rick Warren. Abanes wrote:
If anyone can be credited with being his [Rick Warren’s] spiritual mentor and model, it would be this stalwart of Christianity.6
But Abanes’ attempt to deflect attention away from Robert Schuller and over to W. A. Criswell ended up backfiring on him. In 1995, Criswell not only endorsed and wrote the foreword to Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church, but he also endorsed Schuller’s book Prayer: My Soul’s Adventure with God. Criswell’s endorsement was just several endorsements below that of Dr. Bernie Siegel. The irony of Abanes’ attempt to deflect attention away from Schuller via Criswell is that Criswell leads right back to Schuller. Criswell’s endorsement of Schuller’s book actually turned out to be a blanket endorsement of anything that Schuller had ever written. Criswell wrote:
Anything the world-famous preacher/pastor Robert Schuller writes is fascinating and inspiring to the whole world. How much more so when the book concerns his soul’s adventure with God.7
W. A. Criswell, the “mentor” Rick Warren referred to as his “father in ministry,”8 and C. Peter Wagner, the “mentor” Warren had for his doctoral dissertation,9 both had such high regard for Robert Schuller,10 it is not surprising that Schuller has had so much influence on Rick Warren’s ministry. And it is also not surprising that Norman Vincent Peale, Schuller’s self-professed mentor, was also involved with Bernie Siegel. Peale’s prominent endorsement was featured on the back cover of Bernie Siegel’s Love, Medicine & Miracles. This Peale-Schuller-Warren connection to Siegel crisscrosses and intersects in such a way as to make the interconnection between the three of them undeniable.
1. Robert H. Schuller, Believe in the God Who Believes in You (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1989, 1991), pp. 199-200.
2. Bernie S. Siegel, M.D. Love, Medicine & Miracles (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1986), pp. 18-20.
3. Schuller, Believe in the God Who Believes in You, op. cit., pp. 199-200.
4. Robert H. Schuller, “Principles for Powerful, Prosperous Living”-Part IX (Hour of Power, Program #1572, no specified date given, http://web.archive.org/web/20050421161228/http://www.hourofpower.org/booklets/archives/pppl_1563-1573/1572.html).
5. Gilbert Thurston, “Response to Deceived on Purpose by Warren Smith,” op. cit., p. 4.
6. Richard Abanes, Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him, op. cit., p. 40.
7. Robert H. Schuller, Prayer: My Soul’s Adventure With God (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1995), p. ii.
8. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, op. cit., pp. 11-12.
9. Rick Warren’s doctoral thesis outline: “New Churches for a New Generation: Church Planting to Reach Baby Boomers. A Case Study: The Saddleback Valley Community Church (California),” 1993 at Fuller Theological Seminary, available on Deception in the Church website: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/addendumNAR.html.
10. C. Peter Wagner, Churchquake: how the new apostolic reformation is shaking up the church as we know it (Ventura, CA: Regal Books: A Division of Gospel Light, 2000 paperback edition), p. 177.