For the four years in a row (2004 – 2007), Time magazine has listed Oprah Winfrey as one of the world’s most influential people, and the talk show maven’s website boasts an overview of why:
- The Oprah Winfrey Show has remained the number one talk show for 21 consecutive seasons.
- The show is seen by an estimated 46 million viewers a week in the United States and is broadcast around the world in 134 countries.
- Since Oprah and Hearst Magazines introduced O magazine in April 2000, its circulation has grown to a stunning 2.3 million readers each month.
- Oprah.com averages more than 6 million users a month.
And what is it that Oprah uses this massive pulpit to preach?
It was once commonly know as the New Age Movement. Today, it is most often referred to as the New Spirituality, neo-paganism, or new paganism. Yes, paganism—the worship of nature—and its kindred vacuous belief, pantheism, that God is all and all is God.
Oprah’s Non-Doctrine Doctrine
Using the talk on her talk show to hammer her congregation of millions with the messages of New Spirituality, Oprah has variously preached that:
- One of the mistakes human beings make is believing there is only one way to live.
- There are many paths to what you call God.
- There are millions and millions of ways to God; there could not possibly be just one.
- God is a feeling experience not a believing experience.
- If God for you is still about a belief, then it is not truly God
- God is in all things.
In case anyone missed the message on TV, Oprah recently ratcheted up the level of instruction by teaching an online course with best-selling New Age author Eckhart Tolle. It is reported that 2 million people joined Oprah and Tolle for their virtual course in New Spirituality. In Tolle’s book A New Earth (a primary resource for the online class), he quotes the Bible some 21 times more frequently than any other single book, yet in such a new fashion that Oprah extols his thinking this way:
"I love this quote that Eckhart has. This is one of my favorite quotes in chapter one where he says, “Man made God in his own image.”
She probably feels this way because she’s done such a good job of making up her own image of God—starting when she was about 27 or 28 years of age. That’s when, as she tells the story, she rejected the doctrine of her Baptist church because she didn’t like it when her pastor claimed God is a jealous God. The notion of Divine jealously offended her, and “that’s when the search for something more than doctrine started to stir within me.”
Rightly Dividing Oprah’s Truth
I believe Oprah’s rejection of Biblical doctrine has led to her acceptance of the doctrines of demons as 1 Timothy 4:1 says will occur in the last days: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
The rejection of Biblical doctrine is the reason for the great apostasy or falling away from traditionally held Biblical truths. Journalists Richard Cimino and Don Lattin explain in their 1988 book, Shopping for Faith, that for many people “religious experience is replacing religious doctrine.” (Many of these experiences are rooted in occultism—a serious issue we address in the article “The New Spirituality Is Not So New” also in this issue.)
Oprah’s rejection of religious doctrine—and her encouragement of others to do the same—has fostered a penchant for the lies of New Spirituality. A popular saying among those who call for a liberal, ecumenical, one world church is that “doctrine divides but the spirit unites.” And they’re right, of course.
The truth of Biblical doctrine does divide. It distinguishes true converts from false ones. And a preference for un-doctrine also unites the unsaved in the spirit of anti-Christ.
Nevertheless, Oprah continues to sweep people into her congregation of New Spirituality through ever more pervasive means. On January 1, 2008, Oprah began using her XM Satellite radio program “Oprah & Friends” to host a year-long series of teachings from A Course in Miracles featuring New Age guru Marianne Williamson. Oprah and Marianne plan to cover all 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles Workbook.
(As background: The book, A Course in Miracles, was written in 1965 when Helen Schucman, associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University in New York, began channeling what she said was a New Age Jesus who would teach us how to live in these difficult times. Her book is a 600+ page transcription of these teachings. Some have described it as the “Bible” of the New Age Movement.)
Some telling quotables from the book and workbook include:
- “God is in everything I see.”
- A “slain Christ has no meaning.”
- “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”
- “Jesus is a man, who is like all other men.”
- “The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.”
- “There is no sin; it has no consequence.”
- “Sin is defined as ‘lack of Love.’”
- “...sin is not real.”
- “There is no difference between your will and God’s.”
- “Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.’”
- “My salvation comes from me.”
And to extend the cause even further, on January 15, 2008, Oprah announced that, in conjunction with Discovery Communications, she would be launching the Oprah Winfrey Network. Soon we’ll have Oprah and Oprah-think 24/7.
As more people are seduced by the New Spirituality, it becomes vital for Christians to understand this worldview in order to protect their families and friends from its deception. Christians must be equipped to engage in worldview evangelism to get at the core problems with New Age thinking.
The stakes are high. Make no mistake: Biblical Christianity and New Spirituality will both lead people to God. In a very real sense, millions of ways do lead there. It’s just that only One way leads to God as Savior. All the others lead to Him as righteous Judge.