Oprah uses this tag line at the end of her magazine to prompt personal reflections on those things that seem absolute to her. The topics vary, some of interest, some not, but one entry I recently read struck me to the core. Not only did I find her words to be alarming and confusing, but I also immediately recognized the potential damage she could do by representing and perpetuating this message that is completely wrong.
Yep, I said it. Oprah Winfrey is wrong.
Everyone has a right to an opinion, right? I like blue, you like red. I think that the Georgia Bulldogs football team will win the national championship, you sadly, don’t. I want Jason Castro to win American Idol, your want the rocker guy to be the final guy standing. I encourage and listen to those opinions different than mine, because well, there are lots of people smarter than me and sometimes, if you listen intently enough, you might walk away with something you didn’t know before. HOWEVER, those opinions offered that persuade others to embrace non-truths that will ultimately lead to their demise will put me on the defensive every time. Particularly, when this erroneous, albeit influential, message has the potential to misguide millions worldwide, not to mention that this implication is born from a human perspective, rather than one that is Divine.
Oprah Winfrey is using her far-reaching celebrity to promote the teachings of author Eckhart Tolle, a New Age “teacher” whose books include A New Earth, Stillness Speaks, and the Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, the latter which Winfrey calls “the most transformative book I’ve ever read:” She also refers to Tolle as a “prophet of our time.” Classes are taught through her television network every Monday night to encourage viewers to embrace this spiritual lifestyle, even though it is based on the teachings of someone without a valid education or credible background. Even more alarming, 700,000 people have registered on Oprah.com for a 10-week Web seminar with Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, who says his philosophy, which includes Buddhist, Christian and Islamic influences, is "not like academic study with new information you have to absorb. Rather, it's about uncovering what's already in you, getting at that deeper level." (USA Today).
The inherent problem with this new age nonsensical method is that it represents what Christian philosopher Ravi Zachariah refers to as relative truth as compared to absolute truth. Relative truth refers to ideas or thoughts based on the opinions and feelings of others whereas absolute truth represents the security of certainties presented in the Bible. Tolle's version of the truth does not come primarily from the Bible, which he readily admits, but comes from a collection of many resources which he has weaved together to present as the "new truth" others should embrace.
The Bible is an absolute to me - either you believe it is God’s Word or you don’t.Embracing just parts of it, picking and choosing those Truths that suit or justify your lifestyle, is a half-hearted pursuit that leads to living a life full of empty, gray-filled areas. This gray area, unfortunately, leads the unfulfilled to seek comfort in mere humans, which, proven time after time, is a bottomless void that will always lead to disappointment.
Winfrey has stated “I am a Christian who believes that there are certainly many more paths to God other than Christianity.” The Bible clearly says it differently:“ I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Tolle may be counselor and guru to Oprah , but I will continue to claim Jesus as mine.
I would love to see an opportunity in which Oprah is provided a setting to correct the misgivings she is sharing in a global manner (Maybe her new show should be called Oprah’s Big Misgive). Granted, the opportunity wouldn’t be with me. I don’t have the confrontational experience or persuasion skills that would be necessary to convince her that she is misleading folks in a way that will lead to dire eternal consequences. However, I would love to line up Christian Super Stars like Beth Moore and Charles Stanley or Kay Arthur and Dallas Willard – folks who have led tens of thousands to Jesus, basing their messages not on hokey-pokey mumbo jumbo that makes us all feel warm and fuzzy on the inside but on God’s Word, the Book that changes us on the inside.
I do want to be present if the interaction ever occurs, though. I’ll be the one standing behind the wall of these theologian giants hopping up and down behind them like a little, yippy dog as they courageously face the media giant. My head would periodically be seen as I leaped up and down between each biblical precept they shared, hoping to at least get in one “Amen”.
“Yeah,...that’s what I meant to say!.” (jump again)
“Yeah, that too!” (jump again)
“Tell it sister! Can I get a glory?” (jump again) “
"New Age, Schmoo Age! Preach it, preacher! ” (take a deep breath, ’cause now I’m tired)
So how do we protect ourselves from being influenced by the influential, or worse, misguided by the misguided? Seek the answers on your own rather than accepting the cliff note versions from others. Know why you believe what you believe. Immerse yourself in God’s Word so you can defend the Truth when the doubters come calling. Be strong and courageous knowing that God promises to be with you wherever you go.
The Bible describes many events that will occur in the last days – false prophets, tribulation, the Anti-Christ – and only God knows when the last day will be. I’m not advocating that the world is coming to an end, and you won’t find me chanting incoherently in an ill-fitted robe at the airport selling beaded necklaces to promote such an idea. But I am urging you to gather the battle gear necessary to combat the attacks that will absolutely occur against your faith during this lifetime. Don’t settle for what feels good and makes you like yourself more. Embrace Him. Believe Him. Trust Him. Love Him.
Christian believers versus a Media Giant, armed with just a sling and a stone. The battle hasn’t even occurred but I’m confident in who wins. See, this Story joyfully has already been written.
That is what I know for sure.