What is the doctrine of Oprah?
Should Christians look to Oprah for guidance and advice on spiritual matters?
We all know Oprah Winfrey is very popular and is thought of in an extremely high regard. Josh McDowell called Oprah Winfrey by far the most influential woman in the world. But for those of us that are Christians, we need to step back and keep her accountable to the Word of God on what she says. Her influence should never supersede the influence of the Word of God in a Christian. In fact, if she is wrong we should be the type that are not afraid to call her wrong. If her influence is not a good one, we should be the type that avoid her influence.
Another big influence on our Christian culture is Joel Osteen. Joel Osteen is the pastor of the biggest Church in America, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. The attendance at church is 43,500, about 20,000 more the next largest church. The man is also a best selling author and now has his own greeting cards. You can see why people flock to him when you see his radiating personality and infectious positive attitude. Since he is in such a place of influence and so pleasant, he often gets invited to speak on the biggest TV shows in the nation. Joel Osteen is about to participate in a series that Oprah is doing. I thought it was important to address what to look for in Oprah’s spiritually and Joel Osteen’s potential influence on such a popular show.
Oprah’s religion is most closely associated with Eckankar. Eckancar is a pantheistic religion, which means they believe this entire world is God and God is the world. Eckancar teaches that by focusing on the self you’re focusing on God. The more freely you can focus on consciousness the more accurately you’re viewing God. The practices of Eckankar deal with New Age type of mind freeing. You are to focus on your inner energy and look within. A key goal is to focus on pure consciousness, the pure self. You are not to act and react, but simply be. You are to put aside striving and desires. It involves meditation and yoga.
Practices like this have going on from the days of the ancient Hindus and Buddhists up until the so called New Age spirituality. It encompasses a lot of different people groups. Unfortunately, there are many people that are not consciously aware that they are participating in New Age spiritism. They think that emptying themselves and focusing on the energy within them is a good practice to free the mind and relax.
Another potential deception that Oprah presents is an appearance of agreement with the God of Christianity. She calls God “the God (father of) of Jesus”- which is true… if left there. But then she considers God the father of Muhammad, Krishna, and Buddha as well as the father of every person that lives. She is somewhat of a universalist, probably for the sake of tolerance and open-mindedness.
When she speaks of Christ (Jesus) she speaks of a Christ-consciousness that is available to everyone. She thinks Jesus came to give everyone an example of how to tap into the “christ” in all of us. Behind the influence of Eckhart Tolle she teaches people to seek the Christ-consciousness within them.
It must be at least a little intimidating to be on stage with Oprah, the most influential woman in the world. I wonder if Joel Osteen will be interested in exposing these contradictions or if he will participate in a phony unity. Will he assume that he and Oprah are talking about the same God? Or will he point out inconsistencies and areas in Oprah’s theology that are unbiblical? Will Osteen be all buddy buddy or will he offend for the sake of truth?
I think book titles serve a good indication of how much these two actually have in common. The books by Osteen are called “Become a Better You” and “Your Best Life Now”. Some of the books by Oprah are “10 steps to a better body and a better life”, “O’s Big Book of Happiness”, a book about her called “I Don’t Believe in Failure”, and the first issue of her magazine was titled “live your best life”. These are more than just similarities, it looks like Osteen and Oprah have the same exact goal in mind. They both want to give self-help strategies to try to make people happier.
There are certainly some points of unity between Osteen and Oprah- their obsession with the self. Both believe in the power of positive thinking. Both believe in the goodness of man. Both are interested in improving the lives of other people through strategies in contemplation and speaking positively. What will be the results of this spotlighted interview for Osteen? Will he seek friendship with the world? Or will he pursue the gospel that offends?
To speak positively of Joel Osteen, I would say the man is tender hearted, gifted in speaking and communication, and generous. He has an extremely difficult job with pastoring an enormous church and being in the spotlight constantly. I believe the man is a genuine Christian and really does desire to see people be saved.
It should not come as a surprise that I have some criticism for the man also. I don’t consider Joel Osteen to be the most proficient man of theology. In fact, he is probably a better business man than pastor. He is an expert in a very narrow area of theology, which seems to leave a lot of the other areas of theology extremely shallow if not non existent. You could consider him the leader of the prosperity gospel. He teaches that God wants you to be healthy and wealthy. He’ll add in some “name it and claim it” messages. If you think positively and speak positively over your situation then positive things will come of it. His message is drenched with self help advice. Just look at the titles of his two Blockbuster books, “Your Best Life Now” and “Become a Better You”. Do you see who his message is about? His message is about me. Maybe that’s why his church is so crowded and his books sell like wildfire. We are obsessed about ourselves and Osteen is fuel for the fire. We love a “gospel” that is all about us. Self confidence isn’t always a bad thing, but it is horrible if it’s at the expense of forfeiting brokenness before God. Our confidence must be in God and not in our self.
Now a word about Joel Osteen’s happy, healthy, wealthy “gospel”. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Paul was determined to glory in his weakness, because when we are weak He is strong. He counted all his material and status gains as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. John the Baptist said I must decrease and he must increase. Jesus said blessed are you when you’re persecuted for my sake. He said blessed are the poor in spirit and the meek. The blessed man that Jesus talked about is the one that beat his chest and tears his clothes in humility and shame and cries out “God have mercy on me a sinner!” Jesus said to the Father, “not my will but your will be done”, then he endured excruciating suffering. All kinds of calamity struck the Apostles (and especially Paul), which they celebrated because they were so in love with Jesus and honored to speak his name.
If America is gonna look up to you as a man of God then please preach some of those difficult, offensive things so that the message will be accurate and the name of Jesus can be glorified!
Now for a quick refutation of Oprah from a biblical perspective. The Bible tells us not to put hope in our self, but to trust in God. The Bible tells us 2 empty ourselves in a sense, but emptiness is not the goal as it is with Oprah. Emptiness for the Christian is for the sake of being filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Oprah believes that God is everything and everything is God, but the God of Christianity is transcendent, which is the only way he can remain holy and pure. A pantheistic god cannot be holy and pure while encompassing people that commit murders and have disagreements. Oprah wants to accept contradictory religions, which is illogical. She will teach that the truth is relative to the person, which is self defeating. If truth is true relative to the person then why did she teach that? Apparently, by her own doctrine, I don’t have to accept her truth, but she will act as if I do.
How can Oprah ever call herself a Christian when she rejects all the foundational Christian doctrines? She has a misunderstanding of who God is because she is a pantheist. She has a misunderstanding of truth since truth is absolute and knowable. She has a misunderstanding of salvation since salvation is by God’s grace through Jesus and not through searching through your own consciousness. She has a misunderstanding of who Jesus is. Oprah rejects Jesus’ core teaching about himself. Jesus said he was the way, the truth, and life, and that no person comes to the Father except through him. Oprah denies that fact aggressively. Jesus said that unless you believe that “I Am” (referencing the name if God) you will die in your sins. He says that if we deny him he will deny us. What a dangerous position Oprah puts herself in by rejecting Jesus’ message about himself.
I don’t know about anyone else, but at this point I look forward with eager anticipation for the Osteen/ Oprah interview. Maybe I will blog a response after I see the interview.