Schuller was born in Alton, Iowa and, after finishing his studies, was ordained as a minister in the Reformed Church in America. He worked in Chicago before moving to Garden Grove, California where, after humble beginnings, the Crystal Cathedral was opened in 1980.
Strongly influenced by his mentor, Norman Vincent Peale, Schuller has focused in his teaching on the positive aspects of the gospel. Rather than condemning people for the sins they have committed, he has tried to convince non-believers that by positive thinking they can achieve anything they wish. Heavily criticized by theologians of other denominations, Schuller the heretic is nevertheless recognized as a successful propagator of Christianity in an increasingly secularized world. Also, compared to other televangelists, there have been no major scandals about his own person.
Robert H. Schuller is the author of numerous religious books such as Way To The Good Life (1963), Move Ahead With Possibility (1973), Self-Love (1975), You Can Be The Person You Want To Be (1976), Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (1982), Living Positively One Day At A Time (1986) and, most recently, My Journey: From An Iowa Farm To A Cathedral Of Dreams (2001).
He is married to Arvella Schuller. They have one son, four daughters and 17 grandchildren. His son, Robert Anthony Schuller (born 1954), is also an ordained minister, author and co-host of The Hour of Power.
Schuller features prominently in Michael Moore's documentary Roger & Me for his campaign in the economically devastated city of Flint, Michigan. His activities are portrayed as superficial and useless.
Schuller's associate William Baker was exposed in the February 15 - 21, 2002 edition of the Orange County Weekly in an article entitled “Hour of White Power: Reverend Robert H. Schuller relies on a man with ties to Neo-Nazis to build religious understanding.”  Author, Stan Brin confirmed Baker’s close ties to Willis Carto, called the “dean of American neo-Nazi politics,” and revealed Baker’s numerous other shady associations, including his 1984 chairmanship of a neo-Nazi organization called the Populist Party. Soon after, Robert H. Schuller expelled Baker and cut all ties to him.