Friday, May 12, 2006

The Church of ... Oprah?

An article in USA Today entitled “The divine Miss Winfrey” reveals a disturbing trend in the spiritual life of the United States. Oprah Winfrey, a talk show host, is lauded as “today’s Billy Graham.”

The article reports on the spiritual leadership aspect of Winfrey’s “ministry.” She is characterized as the “spiritual leader for the 21st century,” as "America's Pastor," and as the “Church of Oprah.” Both Ellen DeGeneres and Jamie Foxx have made half-joking quips about getting to heaven and finding out Oprah is God.

It shouldn’t be surprising to find such cavalier attitudes toward God among the lost. But it is a serious matter when people who profess to be believers and followers of Jesus Christ begin to jump on the bandwagon. A poll conducted at reported that 33 percent of 6,600 respondents said Winfrey has had “a more profound impact” on their spiritual lives than their church leaders.

The poll did not report on the percentage of respondents who also professed to be Christians but I would not be surprised to find a sizeable chunk of them included in that 33 percent. I’m even more convinced this is the case when I read the comments from church leaders on the subject.

“One of Winfrey's most appealing subtexts is that she's anti-institutional,” said Chris Altrock, minister of Highland Street Church of Christ in Memphis. He said Winfrey believes there are many paths to God, not just one.

That any Christian could allow a person who believes “there are many paths to God” to have a “profound impact” on their spiritual life is more than merely regrettable. Her “teachings” on spirituality run contrary to Scripture, which every Christian should know is THE authority on our “spiritual lives.”

The responsibility for this falls squarely at the feet of the Church. We have been far too lax in discipleship. We have not taught our own the truth of Scripture. We have not feasted on the meat of the Word. As a result we have people who claim to be Christians who have no problem with “The divine Miss Winfrey’s” version of the truth.


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