That Oprah Winfrey received one of the Kennedy Center Honors at the start of the year must have evangelicals gnashing their teeth. While there is a certain strain of Protestant church women who just love the media empress, many others in the church have issues with her message.
“Most Americans consider themselves Christian and, for many of them, the Oprahfication of American spirituality has been a good thing,” says Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “Yet, the overwhelming majority of Protestant pastors don’t view Oprah as a Christian.” Of course, with LifeWay being a unit of the Southern Baptists, most of those respondents were men.
Still, Stetzer is in good company. Erwin W. Lutzer, pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago, where Harpo Productions is located, two years ago issued a book that pretty much called Oprah a “deceiver.” In Oprah, Miracles and the New Earth Lutzer writes:
“Suppose you were Satan, burning with a hateful passion to deceive everyone on the face of planet Earth. What if you had the ability to inject thoughts into the minds of some people and tempt others to take your suggestions? What if you were preparing for a final worldwide takeover? Suppose you could do all of your initial planning without being detected. What schemes would you use to get your message across?
“Your primary goal is not materialism, immorality, drugs, or despair. There is something else you long for: you want recognition and worship — Satan has never lost sight of his long-term goal — the enslavement of multitudes. He wants us to believe that the spirit world around us is a friendly place, and therefore connecting to the supernatural is both beneficial and not to be feared. Satan makes promises like a god – and pays like the Devil. And one of the most famous promoters of his deceptions is Oprah Winfrey — and several of her guests who teach these doctrines that deceive the masses.”
Christian apologists Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett, in “O” God: A Dialogue on Truth and Oprah’s Spirituality, warn that Oprah “uses the language of the Bible and Christian traditions” but mixes that with other traditions to “create a hodgepodge of personalized faith,” reports Christian Post. Sin is an illusion, McDowell says, of Oprah’s belief system.
Many others in this country might say the same thing, but Oprah – the “Universal Absolver of Celebrity Sin,” as one writer references her – has a bully pulpit that adds believability and impact.
Oprah’s friendship with Marianne Williamson, author of A Course in Miracles, led to her endorsement of Williamson’s website course on the book. Stuart Briscoe, former pastor of the Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, WI, a year ago wrote about the course:
“It rehashes elements of first and second century Gnosticism, teaches New Age emphases, overtly rejects the fundamentals of the Christian faith concerning Christ as Saviour and Lord and the meaning and means of salvation, redefines the work of the Holy Spirit, and remains ominously silent on fundamental subjects like sin and repentance.” Concludes Briscoe: “Oprah seems to have embraced all of this and is now actively propagating it.”
Briscoe says he has met women who were Oprah fans and who clearly had no understanding of what she was teaching. And therein lies the rub. In this day when three paragraphs on the Internet, or nine paragraphs in USA Today, is all the indepth news anyone wants to read, the commonweal is at the mercy of hawkers of untruth like Oprah. Ha, deceivers for sure.
Well, at the start of the year, Oprah left the network and switched to a cable channel, where she is likely to be more influential than ever. “Oprah is a way of life,” says an executive with Discovery Communications. What god do the foolish and undiscerning put their faith with in the years ahead?
Trouble is, how does the Christian church counter such trash? Certainly not in small books that scarcely sell 5,000 copies to the already convinced. Evangelicals fall miserably behind in catching the ear of the public. Dr. Del Tackett’s The Truth Project [ www.mytruthproject.org ] from Focus on the Family, is an immensely intelligent series that arms viewers with the truth of the Gospel, from perspectives of culture, reason, history, and science.