CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Gospel According to Oprah

Jun 18, 2009

Who is the number one promoter of New Age philosophy in the world today? Is it Eckhart Tolle? Rhonda Byrne? Dan Brown? Marianne Williamson? Nope. The numero uno New Age evangelist is by far Oprah Winfrey. When Oprah says jump, people ask, ‘how high?’

Unquestionably, Oprah Winfrey is the most influential woman in the world today. The television show host, author, publisher, actress, philanthropist, and media personality is a multi-millionaire, and when she speaks, people – especially her legions of dedicated female followers – consider her utterances to be almost divine revelation.

The Oprah Winfrey Show is seen by some 46 million viewers each week in the United States and is broadcast around the world in 134 countries. Her O magazine, which first came out in April 2000, has a monthly circulation of 2.65 million as of late last year. And her Oprah.com website averages more than 6 million users a month. All in all she has a lot of clout.

osteen 5Consider further her website – it is a sort of God Central. It is as if one is in touch with the Almighty. Everything necessary for life, happiness and peace can be found on the site. There are sections on health, relationships, spirit, money, food, sex, and more.

Take one interesting post: “The Top 20 Things Oprah Knows for Sure”. In it are some certainties that you can count on. Number two says, “You define your own life. Don’t let other people write your script.” Similar to it is her sixth point: “What you believe has more power than what you dream or wish or hope for. You become what you believe.”

This is of course typical New Age mumbo jumbo. The idea is we create our own reality by positive thoughts and an upbeat attitude. Life is simply a script and you are the script-writer. Reality can be whatever you want it to be. You creatively visualise what you want in life, and presto sazzo, you get it.

You see, all this is possible because you in fact are divine. Since you are God, then of course you can call all the shots. You are the centre of the universe, and what you want is what you get. It is all a very me-centred gospel. But given your own divine nature, her seventh point seems a bit odd: “If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, that will be enough. (From the German theologian and humanist Meister Eckhart.)”

But just who are we supposed to say thank you to? As it turns out, we of course have no one else but ourselves to thank. After all, we are divine – although most of us don’t realise it yet. So when you wake up in the morning, simply say, “thank you self!”

So where is Oprah getting all this foolishness from? Well, it is all standard New Age fare. Indeed, I used to promote this same stuff, back in my BC (Before Christ) days. I was into the New Age Movement (NAM) big time before I became a Christian. So all this is familiar ground, and it has been around for a while.

It is just that the New Age hucksters have gotten even more popular and persuasive now, in no small measure due to Oprah’s promotion. Consider just three of many NAM books which have sold like hot cakes because of Oprah’s endorsements.

One popular book, often described as the “Bible” of the New Age Movement, is the 600+ page book, A Course in Miracles. It was written in 1965 by a Jewish atheist psychologist Helen Schucman (1910-1981).  She claims to have channeled messages from a New Age Jesus who would show us how to thrive in difficult times. Interestingly the last two years of her life were characterised by deep and chronic depression.

The three-volume work contains gems of wisdom such as this:
-“God himself is incomplete without me.”
-God is simply “a nonphysical love force that is neither vengeful, judgmental, nor punishing – only loving and forgiving”.
-“The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it.”
-“Sin is the grand illusion.”
-“My sinlessness protects me from all harm.”
-We are to make this claim for ourselves: “I am the light of the world.”
-“The name Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God.”
-“You are one with God. Again, how simple is salvation? It is merely a statement of your true humanity.”
– “My salvation comes from me.”

Anyone even remotely familiar with the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus can see that this has nothing at all to do with Biblical Christianity. This is simply the counterfeit Christ of the NAM.

Australian-born author Rhonda Byrne is another New Ager who has been tremendously helped by Oprah’s plugs. Her book, The Secret, has also sold quadzillions of copies, and is equally full of New Age baloney. The gist of the book is you get what you want. Name it and claim it. Hatch it and catch it.

Do you want to be thin? Easy. Think skinny thoughts. Do you want to be cured of cancer? No probs. Just think no-cancer thoughts. Do you want to end world hunger? It’s a snap. Just don’t think hunger thoughts. Do you want to escape poverty? Piece of cake. Just think money thoughts. Do you want to escape the slums? Easy-deasy. Just concentrate on mansion thinking.

And like all New Age hokum, we can do all this for the simple reason that we are God. Yes we are in fact the centre of the universe. Consider the closing paragraph to her book. It’s a real zinger:

“The earth turns on its orbit for You. The oceans ebb and flow for You. The birds sing for You. The sun rises and it sets for You. The stars come out for You. Every beautiful thing you see, every wondrous thing you experience, is all there, for You. Take a look around. None of it can exist, without You. No matter who you thought you were, now you the Truth of Who You Really Are. You are the master of the Universe. You are the heir to the kingdom. You are the perfection of Life. And now you know The Secret.”

Wow, and there I was having troubles getting my car started this morning. Gee, as the centre of the universe, I guess it’s goodbye to burnt toast, indigestion, and global warming. Thanks Rhonda! For more on The Secret see my other two write-ups:
www.billmuehlenberg.com/2007/05/23/nothing-new-about-%E2%80%9Cthe-secret%E2%80%9D/
www.billmuehlenberg.com/2007/05/24/a-review-of-the-secret-by-rhonda-byrne/

A third New Age heavyweight who has also benefitted enormously from the promotions of Oprah is of course Eckhart Tolle. His The Power of Now (1999), and A New Earth (2005) are mega-best sellers thanks to the O factor.

For example, in March 2008 a half million people from 140 nations joined with Oprah for a cyber-class featuring Tolle. The interactive event was one of the largest in Internet history. A New Earth has been selling over 3 million copies a month, and had made it to amazon.com’s number one spot.

Tolle offers more of the same foolish NAM claptrap. Consider a few nuggets from Tolle:
-Jesus came to “show us the Christ Consciousness that he had, and that that consciousness abides with all of us”.
-“The good news is you can free yourself from your mind…. The good news is, if you can recognize illusion as illusion, it dissolves.”
-“All things are vibrating energy fields in ceaseless motion.”
-“Aligning yourself with the Now is aligning yourself with universal purpose, the purpose of the whole. What is the purpose of the whole? The birth and flowering of consciousness. The whole then guides you in whatever you think or do.”
-“Awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment…. The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, your purpose, is to bring that power into this world.”
-“We need to understand that heaven is not a location but refers to the inner realm of consciousness.”

This is all par for the New Age course. But the real trouble is, with all this promotion of the NAM, Oprah also claims to be a Christian! Yes, she tries to reconcile all this NAM silliness with biblical Christianity. How can she get away with this? Easy, she simply rescripts the Bible and Christianity to mean just what she wants it to mean.

Indeed, she describes herself as a “freethinking” Christian. That’s for sure. Thus she has said, “Spirituality for me is recognizing that I am connected to the energy of all creation, that I am a part of it – and it is always a part of me.”

This is how she describes her understanding of the mission of Jesus: “Jesus came to show us Christ’s consciousness… One of the biggest mistakes we make is to believe there is only one way. There are many diverse paths leading to God.”

She of course is not promoting the Jesus of the Bible, but a deceptive false gospel. Consider what she has said about promoting A New Earth: “Being able to share this material with you is a gift and a part of the fulfillment of my life’s purpose … it was an awakening for me that I want for you too.” She is an evangelist alright – an evangelist for a false gospel which is leading people away from God, not to him.

Jesus warned that many false Christ’s and false prophets would come, seeking to deceive even the very elect. And Paul warned about those who “are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:13-14).

The truth is Oprah is not a prophet of God. That should have been obvious when late last year she made newspaper headlines about her tremendous difficulties in keeping the pounds off. I don’t know about you, but if she was God, I would have thought that trimming a few kilos would not be a major hurdle in life.

But such is the nature of false gospels: they make all sorts of grandiose claims and offer you the world, but at the end of the day, they are not even good enough for keeping your weight down. Well did John warn, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

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26 Responses to The Gospel According to Oprah

  • Thanks Bill.
    Of course, one can see this sort of thing coming from pop psychology which has trumpeted self-esteem, self-realisation, self-fulfilment, self-you-name-it. But there is another dimension: the existentialist philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre in particular. For him existence precedes essence. that is, there is no such thing as “human nature”; no “character traits”, etc. You start with your existence and you become what you make yourself to be. Anything less than that is mauvaise foi – bad faith!

    Hence the NAM is a development from that: you have it in you to realise your inner potential. But just as existentialism was popular in the late C20th, now the NAM has taken up the cause and made a philosophy into a fully-fledged religion, albeit a pagan one.
    Murray Adamthwaite

  • Thanks Murray

    Yes there are a number of streams which feed into the NAM. Eastern religions of course are a major tributary. The really scary thing however is how much “Christian” teaching is so similar to all this, especially the Word of Faith Movement, the Health and Wealth Gospel, etc. See for example:
    www.billmuehlenberg.com/2009/05/18/will-the-real-gospel-please-stand-up/
    www.billmuehlenberg.com/1999/11/28/a-review-of-you-need-more-money-by-brian-houston/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Funny,

    The liberalist politically correct wing of the Catholic church believe in the same ideas. And the Catholic schools are full of these people!

    Jane Petridge

  • And another funny thing:

    Harking back to the dominance of scientism in your previous post Bill, the secular astronomers insist on the scientific fact that the Earth is NOT the centre of the Universe.

    So is scientism battling New Age-ism? Ah but no, these two are merely co-belligerants against the truth, and people who hold to both sets of ideas call themselves sane!

    Cognitive dissonance: the uniquely human ability to hold two opposing ideas in one’s head without exploding – for a while, at least!

    John Angelico

  • I like that term, Cognitive dissonance, thanks for sharing John. Sounds like something Francis Schauffer would have said. Thanks for the post Bill, I know it isn’t the purpose of this site but could you please write something on how to preach the Gospel to New Agers (by first addressing their beliefs and whatnot, I understand it is not as simple as just preaching…), they seem to be the hardest to get through to.
    “Cognitive dissonance”, two words of the week!
    Keith Jarrett

  • Thanks Keith

    Yes I plan to write more on this topic, so I can include some hints on reaching out to those in the NAM.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thank you Murray (or was that “thank you self”?).

    Bill, would you mind sharing how you firstly got into the NAM and how you got out of it (and into your current faith)?

    Murray Bentham

  • Thanks Murray B

    Yes I would be happy to, but a short comment is not the place to do it in. It would require at least a whole article (if not a short book) to do justice to my story. But maybe I can start with an autobiographical article sometime soonish. Add it to my growing list of articles in need of writing.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill
    That is a very good article. I, for one, have NEVER been impressed with Oprah. I have always believed her to be one of those unintentional comedians. Not a comedian like one of my favourites, Harpo Marx. He knew what he was doing, In fact, If you spell his name “harpo” backwards, what do you get?
    After giving it much thought, I believe a contributing factor in her “popularity”, mirrors the unhealthy adoration of Barack Obama. The Left has been so successful, through the media (which are part of the Left) in convinncing many among the gullible public, that alleged racism is the worst sin on the planet. Being seen to be anti racist, by adoring Oprah and Barack Hussein Obama, is the passport to being considered to be on the “correct” side, among trendies, in relation to racial issues. Add to that number, those searching to fill that vacuum of not knowing what to believe in, results in having an additional massive number of followers of these two false gods, Oprah and Barack.
    I believe everyone has a natural spritual element in their make-up. This includes natives, living in the wild, even in those areas, where there are no missionaries to influence them. They have their witch doctors.
    If someone doesn’t have a spiritual devotion to the real God, then there is a vacuum, which has to be filled, because nature abhors a vacuum. It is often filled by belief in the stars, other forms of the occult, witch doctors, money or other shallow attractions, such as Oprah Winfrey or Barack Hussein Obama, who, unfortunately if he has two terms as president, will go very close to destroying the U.S. as we know it.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  • Thanks Frank

    Yes quite right. Not only is Oprah potentially helping to deceive millions of people about the true nature and gospel of Jesus Christ, but she managed to persuade many to vote for Obama, and we are only just beginning to see the extreme damage he is causing to America and the world.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • It seems to me that a world devoid (or slowly emptying itself) of the judeo-Christian world-view will be dominated by a blend of New Ageism and scientism (or sciencism as some say). This is shown in Bill’s words, here, and in some of the responses.
    John Thomas

  • I really like Rhonda Byrne.

    Really, I do.

    What she says is such utter and obvious rubbish. It so completely, universally and devastatingly fails that anyone who bothers to engage their brain can see through it.

    Oh, one exception. It works for authors and publishers.

    God Bless,
    Michael Hutton, Ariah Park

  • Oprah makes me sad. I wish she would just love Jesus. There has never been anyone more radical and life changing and world changing, than him.
    Kelly Williams

  • Thanks Kelly

    The really sad thing is she would probably claim that she does love Jesus. But she cannot of course claim to be a biblical Christian while at the same time heavily promoting a worldview and ideology which is completely and utterly at odds with the biblical gospel. One must make a choice – it is either Jesus as Lord, or the false gospel of the NAM. The two are completely incompatible, and to choose one is to reject the other.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • “Oprah Winfrey is the most influential woman in the world today.”

    Don’t agree with that. Her sort of New Age mumbo jumbo is already there in the population. She’s a canny girl reflecting it back at them for a quick buck. Some of this stuff sounds like the verbiage thrown at me years ago in a management motivation course. The audience (or victims) were largely professional corporate types who dutifully appeared to lap it up. The instructors came across as touts, including a psychologist who was paid $600.00 per hour for his spiel of common sense and psychobabble.

    Years ago I heard a possibly apocryphal story about her. She was sitting on her back porch, philosophically watching the sunset and reading a little book of wisdom penned by an Amerindian sage. The joke was that the book was a hoax written by a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

    John Snowden

  • Dear Bill, Thank you for your article. Oprah is in it for the filthy lucre she earns from gullible people who will watch her silly shows. I will go and have a cosmic shower now. [ha ha]
    Yours Sincerely and God Bless,
    Patricia Halligan

  • Horse racing, due to betting, and Oprah are two programs that are banned in our home. I choose to delete them so that thet have no place in our home.
    Judith Bond

  • Hi Bill, I believe that the NAM will be tied in to the rise of the Antichrist. Very seducing. I also believe that the Antichrist will be a human clone. Man square, in a twisted ”all human” mockery of the virgin birth. I think that ties in perfectly with everything. I don’t know, maybe I’m ”out on a limb”.
    Samuel Rosenbalm

  • Hi Bill
    I strongly oppose Oprah’s shows and her view about God. Since she is an influential lady people are just listening without second thinking. The money, power and influence are the god of her life and many even spiritual christians are so eager to watch her program. Her endorsement of the NAM books gained millions. She denied true Christ and teachings of the Bible. I dont think she loves Jesus.
    Queenie Ratnajeya

  • Sorry im just seriously confused as to why you are so interested in Oprah Winfrey’s life philosophy, sure you obviously disagree but what are you attempting to do? You people make such incredible assumptions about a lady you do not know at all, Queenie you say “The money, power and influence are the god of her life” and aptly assert that you “Dont think she loves Jesus” how on earth do you know this? More importantly why do you care? It seems all of you are very quick to make assumptions but if any non religious person was to visit this website they would quickly make assumptions about you which I am sure you would not appreciate, more dangerously they would make assumptions about your religion which I doubt would make them feel welcomed. You must understand from an outsiders perspective this reads very much like a group of people who understand that most people find their approach abrasive and as such have decided to just share abrasiveness amongst yourselves.
    David Line

  • Thanks David

    As I mentioned in the article, Oprah is a very public person with a huge amount of influence. She peddles her version of events in the public arena, so surely other people have a right to discuss her views in the public arena. That is what a democracy is all about David.

    Although we live in an age which devalues truth, some people still think truth is important, and that various truth claims can and should be publically assessed. That is also a feature of living in a democracy.

    And given that Oprah is seeking to wed Christianity with New Age mysticism, then such an attempt is also something which others can publically discuss, including those Christians who believe such a merger is both dangerous and deceptive. And this is not even to make assumptions: she and her friends have millions of words in print and online. Thus one can very assuredly discuss what her points of view are. No guesswork is needed here.

    Oh, and one last point about a democracy: people can send in comments such as yours, even though some other people might find them, well, a bit abrasive.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • David Line: “It seems all of you are very quick to make assumptions but if any non religious person was to visit this website they would quickly make assumptions about you which I am sure you would not appreciate”

    Aren’t you making a very quick assumption of your own here, namely about non-religious persons? What exactly is a non-religious person anyway? Did you know that the sociologist Greeley reported independent studies in the USA and Britain that showed that a minority of non-believers actually pray? So how non-religious is non-religious?

    John Snowden

  • I have watched Oprah and although she sometimes professes a kind of belief in Jesus she certainly opens her show up to anything New Age and controversial. Sometimes it is enlightening and sometimes just mind boggling. I couldn’t believe it today when she interviewed a caucasian man and his three wives living in America, happily selling the idea of polygamy to the general populace. Then another woman who had escaped from a polygamous (?) commune with her 8 children and she was the third or fourth generation of polygamous living and had known of no other life. She was obviously glad she had escaped but still thought the problem was not that it was wrong but that she hadn’t been given a choice!
    Lesley Kadwell

  • That’s sad, but today’s date a lot of people like to follow those who have power, money, fame, ect. They may even sell their soul the same devil just to please their leader, and do not realize they are just follower that are going down the edge along with their gods.
    They forgot that Oprah and many other like her will be judge by God almighty they are rejecting, and will end up in eternal fire. Hence, Oprah and all her follower will be begging for mercy, but it will be too late. Hope they may repent before it’s too late.
    Lluvia Kami

  • Keith, start with the Gospel, Epistles and Revelation of John.
    Grant Vandervalk

  • Thanks guys

    Oprah has such dedicated and devoted disciples. Please watch this – it is as hilarious as it is sad: www.theonion.com/video/oprah-invites-hundreds-of-lucky-fans-to-be-buried,18443/

    Bill Muehlenberg

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