First the king stepped aside for the crown prince. Unfortunately for the prince, the king found his son’s performance as monarch unsatisfactory, so he got the nobility to give him back his throne and banish the prince to the wilderness. Then the king, having finally grown too old to continue his duties, decided it was time to elevate his daughter, the crown princess, to the throne. The important thing, of course, was to keep the throne in the family.

This may sound like a European royal soap opera, but instead it is being played out in southern California, specifically at the Crystal Cathedral. The Reformed Church in America congregation founded in a drive-in theater by the Rev. Robert Schuller in 1955 has a new leader, and you can guess who she is. According to the Associated Press:

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, founder of Southern California’s Crystal Cathedral megachurch and host of the “Hour of Power” televangelism broadcast, announced Sunday he will retire after 55 years in the pulpit and his daughter will take over.

The 83-year-old Schuller told his congregation that Sheila Schuller Coleman will become sole lead pastor, after sharing that role with her father for the past year.

Coleman previously served as principal of a private Christian school run by the cathedral and head of the Orange County church’s family ministries division.

She was ordained just a month before she was appointed to head up Crystal Cathedral Ministries.

Coleman’s appointment comes two years after Schuller’s son, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, split from the church during a family rift that made headlines. The younger Schuller had been groomed to take over for his father.

Robert A. Schuller is now part of Dallas-based American Life Network, a cable channel aiming to produce family-oriented programming.

I will admit that I’ve never been a fan of Robert Schuller, who built his church aping Norman Vincent Peale and eviscerating the gospel. Part of the reason he forced his son out, so I’ve heard, is that he objected to a more biblical focus on Christ and the cross, which perhaps Schuller Sr. thought made him look bad. I know nothing about his daughter, though it doesn’t sound like she has anything like the pastoral experience to lead a congregation such as the Crystal Cathedral (was she really approved for this position by the California Classis?). But here’s the real question that I pose for discussion: is it valid for Reformed churches to become what amount to family kingdoms, with children succeeding parents in leadership?

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