Robert A. Schuller Short Sells His House, Insists It’s a Positive Move

It’s been a rough few years for the Robert Schullers, the once-fabulously successful duo, heirs to Norman Vincent Peale, whose book The Power of Positive Thinking has had theologians and philosophers driving into bridge abutments for decades. What with their ministry in tatters and the vaunted Crystal Cathedral sold to the Catholic (yikes!) Church, how much worse can it get?

With a foreclosure sale looming in November, [Robert A.] Schuller is seeking bank approval to sell his Laguna Beach house “short” – that is for less than the $1.66 million he owes on two mortgages on the home.

A foreclosure auction at the Orange County Central Courthouse has been set for Nov. 2, but Schuller said he has a buyer and is just waiting for the bank to decide whether to accept the purchaser’s offer.

“I’m short-selling my house. I have more loans than I can sell the house for,” Schuller said in a phone interview. “The house will not go into foreclosure. It will be a short sale.” …

According to the real estate online site Redfin, Schuller and his wife, Donna, have been trying to sell their four-bedroom, 3.75-bathroom home in Laguna’s Three Arch Bay off and on since July 2010. The couple relisted it for $1.86 million in August, then dropped the price to $1.74 million this month – a price that the bank set.

“It won’t sell at that price,” Schuller said. …

The Schullers were $39,646 in arrears when lender Bank of America filed a notice of default in April. The delinquent amount grew to over $60,000 by July when the bank filed a notice to hold a foreclosure sale.

What would Jesus do?

Schuller said he stopped making payments on the house because he believed that lenders won’t discuss a short sale unless the borrower is delinquent. Several agents who specialize in short sales said that isn’t true, although a borrower must show some kind of hardship – such as unemployment or illness – before lenders will agree to a short sale.

I guess he’s unemployed, no? It must be hard to encourage people when your empire is in ruins, like Theodosius II telling the beleaguered Romans in 410, “It’s just a phase.”

But then again, it’s at just such a time that a “minister of the Gospel” might have something of spiritual value to communicate to a vast legion of fans, many of whom no doubt are also going through hard times.

Schuller said he’s not having financial problems, but doesn’t have any cash flow because all his assets are tied up in two television networks, Youtoo and FamilyNet. He also lost a housing allowance tax deduction available to clergy when he left his position as Crystal Cathedral’s senior pastor in 2007.

“I can’t afford the house as I once could,” said Schuller, adding that he’s wealthier today because of the increasing value of his television network investments. “It’s not a reversal of fortune. … I’ve made decisions on what’s best for my family and personal resources.”

Oh, well. So much for that idea. I’m glad he took this opportunity to let us know that he’s still a wealthy man. I do worry so.

I know people who will swear up and down that they’ve been helped through spiritual depression by way of the Schullers’ ministry. And no matter how hard I beat the living fudge out them, they will not budge on that point.

I went on Amazon and pulled up the titles of some of the dad’s (Robert H.’s) bestselling books.

If It’s Going to Be It’s Up to Me: The Eight Proven Principles of Positive Thinking

The Be (Happy) Attitudes 8 Positive Attitudes that Can Transform Your Life

Turning Hurts into Halos

Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do

and my favorite:


As for Robert A., there’s

When You Are Down to Nothing, God Is Up to Something: Discovering Divine Purpose and Provision When Life Hurts

I don’t know how deeply the son has drunk of the dad’s milkshake, as not being overly familiar with his TV career. But the title of that book would lead me to say that he enjoyed more than a few sips. And one wonders why the journalist interviewing Robert A. about his woes didn’t press him more about what God is up to now that he’s “homeless.” (Please note the air quotes.)

But that may be unfair, as the focus of the article was on Robert A.’s trying to get out from under his obligations to the bank he borrowed from to pay for his lavish lifestyle. (Did no one think to ask him about the ethics of this? The man can certainly sell some of his considerable assets to pay what he owes, no?) So I guess we shouldn’t expect a journalist to dig deeper and explore what lessons the Schullers learned during these trials or how the Theology of the Cross has —

Sorry … I couldn’t even finish that sentence…

CORRECTION: The original post misidentified the principals. I read “Robert A.” for “Robert H.” and Jeannie in the combox, who obviously feels very strongly about this matter, corrected me—for which I’m grateful. I tend to read and blog very, very quickly, often while driving, and do stuff like this. It’s not an excuse, but kind of an explanation, and it is totally my bad.

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7 Responses to Robert A. Schuller Short Sells His House, Insists It’s a Positive Move

  1. ccree says:

    I’m inclined to think that with California in bankruptcy this is indeed a positive move on his part. Of course, who in his right mind is going to buy a house in CA?

  2. Jeannie says:

    Anthony Sacramone, Author, get your facts correct, please. Schuller’s SON (Robert A. Schuller) is short selling his home, not Schuller Sr. Being in real estate for 35 yrs, I’ve seen the best of the best people forced to short sale their homes. Millions of people in America have had to do the same and Robert A. Schuller has had a raw deal for years now. I am praying for his family and have followed him, not his Dad, for many years. Greed and jealousy and the devil himself infiltrated that family and I pray he and his family move on with nothing but Blessings.

    • Anthony Sacramone says:

      Thank you for the much needed correction. I was going to take the post down, but I realized my larger point still held true, so I corrected the misidentification and noted the CORRECTION at the bottom of the post.

      Where we will have to agree to disagree is the “raw deal” part. Please. This is a self-described wealthy man — who owns TV networks. There are pastors of churches out there who have to take on second jobs just to meet their basic financial obligations. If you expect me to feel sorry for him, uh, no. Who told him to take out that fat a mortgage for that much house in the first place?

  3. joanie says:

    You have it right, Anthony.

  4. Pingback: Missing ghost in this Crystal Cathedral story?

  5. Steve Bauer says:

    “So I guess we shouldn’t expect a journalist to dig deeper and explore what lessons the Schullers learned during these trials or how the Theology of the Cross has —”

    This sounds like a job for…”!”

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