Is Oprah the Next Billy Graham?

oprah2.jpgWhen I came home a couple of weeks ago, I found my daughter watching Oprah. The show that day caught my attention (I know, I am now busted admitting that I was watching Oprah!). I heard Oprah talking about a ‘webinar‘ being offered based on the book entitled, “A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose“. Since I just recently preached a sermon at my church from Rev. 21:1-5 on the New Heavens and New Earth, my interest was peaked.

In the book, A New Earth, New-Age, spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle advocates that we begin to heighten an awareness of the present. At the same time he asserts that we must dismantle the “ego” as the path towards awakened living. A New Earth unapologetically gets its title from the verse in Revelation referring to the coming of “a new heaven and a new earth.” But, according to Tolle, there is a different twist. For Tolle, “heaven” is merely the awakened state that will bring about “a new earth” in the outer world, which he calls, the world of form.

OK, so what’s new here? Oprah always has people on her show advocating and hawking “new age” themes and world views. You can feel free to argue with me over this point, but I think that Oprah has ratcheted it up a notch. How did I come to this conclusion? All because I decided to give away a hour and a half of my life to watch Oprah’s first ever worldwide, “webinar”.

What did I learn under Oprah’s tutelage?

First, Oprah is on a mission.

These days, Oprah is not interested in simply pushing the latest book on her show. She is on a mission and she has a new calling. Oprah has become an uber-evangelist.

If you have ever talked to a foreign missionary you know that one of the issues they face when they bring Christianity to a new people and tribe is syncretism. Syncretism is when the new converts to Christianity blend and fuse together their old religious beliefs with their new found Christian faith. This is the style of Oprah’s evangelism – merely old school syncretism.

The fun starts right out of the gate during the webinar when a viewer, Kelly, asks Oprah how she has reconciled her Christianity with this “new spirituality”. Oprah doesn’t miss a beat. She admits that she is attempting to reconcile Christianity and Tolle’s ideas. Her “reconciliation” superficially blends and borrows a peppering of biblical imagery with Tolle’s ideas of self-actualization and “new age” thought.

Not only did Oprah identify herself as a new kind of Christian, she also proclaimed to a world-wide audience that she does not believe “Jesus Christ came here to start Christianity.” “God can’t be contained in a church.” she said. She went on to say that Christ’s purpose on earth was to show people “Christ consciousness”. Oprah has officially transcended from well-meaning talk show host to evangelist.

Second, Oprah has influence and brand loyalty.

It doesn’t do an evangelist any good if no one is listening to their message. But with Oprah, she has an audience. She had over 500,000 people attend her first webinar – that is incredible! Seeing those raw numbers made an indelible impression on me concerning the scope of Oprah’s influence and the trust and loyalty of people to the Oprah “brand”. Most likely your neighbors are reading what Oprah is recommending. Some of them may have even attended the webinar.

Third, Oprah, the evangelist, is giving Christians opportunities to evangelize on a silver platter.

I believe God can use a book like A New Earth as a conversational bridge for us to be able to discuss with our neighbors the real and eternal “hope” that is within us. Our message though will be unlike what Oprah’s been peddling- Jesus and Tolle can’t be reconciled.

Tolle’s views aren’t the “new spirituality” that he suggests but rather a warmed-over, Gnostic view which sees only the spirit as important and enlightened, while diminishing our physical bodies and the physical world we live in. All Tolle is concerned with is embracing a Christ consciousness. In contrast, for Jesus it was all about the physical. He came to dwell among us not as a disembodied spirit, but as fully human – the incarnation. He was physically tortured, crucified, and buried. He then physically rose from the dead three days later.

This Sunday we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ. We are going to remember what Christ did on the cross and how He conquered sin and death by bodily rising from the dead. Real hope can only be found in the resurrection. Any alternative message like Tolle’s that offers hope that doesn’t include the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is no message of hope at all. Without the bodily resurrection of Jesus -death hasn’t been defeated, sin hasn’t been paid for and we have no hope. This is not only a real message of hope for our neighbors who do not yet know Christ, but also for us – who await a day when every tear will be wiped away, when true justice will prevail, when mourning will turn into dancing, when all of creation will be restored and when we will live with resurrection bodies in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

About Bill Reichart
  • Alan Noble

    Welcome to the group Bill!

    One of the things that is interesting to me about Oprah and this book is that it is New Age. In my opinion, the New Age movement seems to be dying out, replaced by a optimistic commercialism/materialism which promises to sooth our sorrows combined with an I’m-okay-your-okay view of morality. But your story of this book, Oprah, and her webinar is going to make me rethink that position. Oprah might be single handedly keeping the New Age hip.

  • http://sbtsstudent.blogspot.com Terry Delaney

    I think the problem with Oprah and her minions is that many people cringe at the thought of taking on someone like Oprah. Unfortunately, Kelly, the one who asked the question about Christianity and New Age thought is more than likely rethinking her Christianity as well because of what Oprah said.

    It seems to me that the influence of Oprah among Christians can be directly attributed to an ignorance of the Bible. Sure, it sounds smart and good when she says stuff like “Christ consciousness” but do her hearers really know what she is saying? As ministers we need to engage this and somehow prepare our “troops” (i.e., our congregations) for battle. This is nothing less than the spiritual warfare being given flesh and bones.

    Great post, brother.

  • David

    Welcome Bill to the site, and great firs post.

    @ Alan- I think you’re right about New Age generally dying, but this type of syncretism lives on just about everywhere. We are running into it in our own city with self-professed Evangelical college students who believe Jesus is both “The Savior” and “A Savior among many.”

  • http://cindyswanslife.blogspot.com Cindy Swanson

    Excellent article, Bill! Coincidentally, I mentioned Oprah Winfrey in my own blog today. Apparently there’s a woman who is living her life by Oprah’s principles and has a blog about it called “Living Oprah.” Hmm, I guess “What Would Oprah Do?” bracelets are next??

    I love how you find something positive in all of this–that Oprah is giving us as Christians an opportunity to evangelize. Good stuff!

  • Bill Reichart

    I did the that site with the woman who is living the Oprah lifestyle – that is wild.

  • http://www.filwj.blogspot.com Letitia

    You are right, in the fact that Oprah the evangelist, is giving Christians opportunities to evangelize on a silver platter…

    We have to be sure to speak up when the Spirit presents each opportunity to share the gospel…the REAL good news!

    Your last paragraph says it all…great post , brother!

  • http://www.marques.co.za/duke duke

    Check out “consciousness Gurus”
    at the Believers Information Network

  • http://discerningtheworld.wordpress.com/ Deborah

    Hi Bill

    Thanks for posting on my site and sending me to your article. Oprah is deceived and deceiving millions by confusing Jesus Christ with the New Age ‘cosmic Christ’.

    Unfortunately this New Age thing is alive and well in the Church of today and can be seen in a lot of prophecies by well known ‘Prophets’.

    The difference is, Oprah ‘openly’ confuses Christianity with New Age whereas the so called Prophets of today within the evangelical church hide it in their sermons and ‘prophecies’.

    Either way millions upon millions will fall for it. And those who are deceived by their own pastors will ultimately agree with Oprah for her message sounds pretty similar to the one they heard on Sunday in church.

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  • http://www.theocentric.com/culture/issues/the_old_lie_of_a_new_earth.html Rich

    Great thoughts. I spent some time critically analyzing Tolle’s book. My take is unique in that I actually believe the church should recapture a healthy incarnational spirituality and true mystical union of participating in the very life of God. Here’s one conclusion from my review: “People would not so quickly buy into Tolle’s system if their hunger for spirituality had been met in the Christian church. The church’s treasure-house of spiritual riches – its profound and mystical union with God in Christ through the Spirit, its sacramental way of viewing creation as a means of revealing God’s grace, its call to practice God’s presence in all things, etc. – has hardly been mined for all its worth.” If more would be interesting or helpful, feel free to check out the whole article: Blame It On the Ego

  • Amie

    I’ve read some of the posts on the message boards on oprah.com discussion the book and the online course. To say my heart is burdened for those who are following the teaching and turning away from God and the Bible is an understatement. As I read each of those posts, I prayed that God would open their hearts and minds to Him and His Word – not the word of Oprah and Tolle. I also read posts from Christians trying to witness to those same posters, and they are also in my prayers – that they keep Faith and strength. Too many people are looking for an ‘easy’ way or ‘back door’ to salvation, and there isn’t one. I have had people tell me they were looking for someone or something to ‘fire’ them up. Well, you have to fix what’s wrong wtih you – SIN – to be open to God’s Will.

  • http://discerningtheworld.wordpress.com/ Deborah

    I just wrote another article on Oprah (there is a video that accompanies the article) and it’s quite an eye opener!

    http://discerningtheworld.wordpress.com/2008/04/07/oprah-winfrey-new-age-priestess-with-her-own-church/

    Deborah’s last blog post..Oprah Winfrey – New Age Priestess with her own Church

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  • Swordbearere

    Thanks for posting on this!

    You’re right when you say that “Jesus and Tolle can’t be reconciled.” One declares Jesus to be the Son of God, the other declares him only to be one among other “way-showers”. One endured the cross as a necessary means to secure our justification, the other denies it’s needed at all.

    You’re also right in the fact this provides an excellent opportunity for Christians to evangelize. People are reading. People are talking. What a great time to set the crux of the matter before them!

    http://christianskepticism.blogspot.com/2008/04/eckhart-tolle-followers-versus-bible-on.html

  • Gail taraschuk

    I also agree this false hope and teaching of Oprah’s can be a door opening for us True Christian’s who trust in God’s word as truth and In Jesus as our only Savior and Lord to speak up…wake up from our sleep! Many Christian’s have become lazy about our privilege to share the Gospel of Christ and the truth with others. Let’s use this opportunity to lead other’s to the real truth, the word of God! People are easily lead by every false teaching because they DO NOT read God’s word. Does any one realize how many innocent people gave up their lives so we could have a copy of God’s word for ourselves to read . Yet they don’t even read it ! No one had to die for anyone to have a copy of Oprah’s books, they just need a credit card…etc… If the message in God true word was so important that all those people were willing to die for it….shouldn’t we read it! let it not be that these innocent people died in vain…please read the Bible for yourselves and you will find True love and true Hope. In the end it’s only God word that will stand the test of time..all else will fall.

    Praise be to Jesus our only Lord and Savior and to God’s word ( the Truth)
    Love Gail

  • http://N/A Avia

    How many of Oprah’s critics regarding her Christianity are following the following teachings of Jesus Christ.

    31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/featured/podcast-22-pop-cultures-startling-lack-of-restraint-viol Richard Clark

    How many of Oprah’s critics regarding her Christianity are following the following teachings of Jesus Christ.

    Um, we don’t really keep formal records, but anecdotally, I’m going to say a lot.

  • Noble

    Good day! The babes are here! This is my favorite site to visit. I make sure I am alone in case I get too hot. Post your favorite link here.

  • http://oprahantichrist.blogspot.com Kathi

    Amen! Well said!

    ¯`’•.¸(¯`’•. ¸*♥♥♥♥*¸.•’´¯)¸.•’ ´¯)
    ♥(¯`’•.¸(¯`’•.¸*♥♥*¸.•’´¯)¸.•’ ´¯)♥
    ♥♥(¯`’•.¸(¯`’•.¸**¸.•’´¯)¸.•’´ ¯)♥♥
    ~~~~~JESUS LOVES YOU!!!!!~~~~~
    (_¸.•’´(_¸.•’´*♥♥♥♥*`’•.¸_)`’• .¸_)
    ♥(_¸.•’´(_¸.•’´*♥♥*`’•.¸_)`’•. ¸_)♥

  • dayofwrath

    Gibran Khalil Gibran and now Ekhart Tolle and Oprah all these new age gurus are free to think what they want,but that is not the truth and opposite to christianity.Millions of people were attracted to Gibran who was a pioneer of new age,in his book Jesus son of man divested Jesus of His divine nature and miraculous attributes presenting Him as a sage,a guru.If we have to attain salvation through our own efforts,the sacrifice of Christ becomes useless.The message of the cross is nonsense to those who are being destroyed,but it is God power to us who are being saved.I ask Oprah if she dare,to speak on tv about the power of the cross and blood on that good friday in Jerusalem in 1994 in the book the coin of the temple by souheil bayoud,(published in 2006).What oprah is saying about the Lord Jesus Christ is a deadly error,and it seems that new age teaching is an introduction to the end times universal religion of the antichrist.
    dayofwrath


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