Is it true that America’s largest church is one being pastored by a woman who speaks to millions everyday?
Dr. David Reagan and I recently had the pleasure of asking this question of James Walker, President of the ministry Watchman Fellowship based in Arlington, Texas. James is a former fourth generation Mormon who found the Lord Jesus Christ and since then has dedicated his life in trying to lead people out of the spiritual darkness of the cults. Experts on cults and false religions, his ministry has indexed nearly 1,200 religious organizations, cults, occultic groups, and controversial doctrinal practices to aid people in spiritual discernment.
Oprah’s Christian Upbringing
James Walker: Absolutely. I would call that the “Church of Oprah.” I think that Oprah Winfrey is probably the most influential woman in America right now. And, especially since 1994, the direction of her program, her altruism, and what she does has a spiritual focus to it. A Time Magazine editor called her the “New Mother Theresa.” She is a spiritual leader, and the kind of spirituality she is leading us to is not historic Christianity.
Oprah was raised as a Baptist, but really what happened to other countless millions of Americans has also happened to Oprah. She went through a transformation. She moved from her Judeo-Christian understanding of who God is and His nature and she transitioned over to a metaphysical New Age concept about who God is.
The main watershed in Oprah’s life, and we can document this, took place in 1994. That is when the major shift took place. She was indeed raised Christian, in fact even as a little girl being raised in the Baptist church she felt that one day she would be a missionary evangelist of the Gospel. It came true, but unfortunately it’s really not the Christian Gospel, though.
Evidence early on of her transition from Christianity to New Age theology derived from some misunderstanding Oprah made. She was raised in Mississippi and her father was a very devout Christian, but when her pastor said that God was a jealous God she misunderstood that and thought that maybe God was insecure and so she had issues with Him. Nevertheless, growing up she still maintained her Christian perspective and worldview.
Oprah’s worldview as I said all changed in 1994. The reason for this was her pastor at the time in Chicago was a fairly well known and now infamously know minister by the name of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. While Oprah was a member of his church that’s when she met President Obama. They met at the church and they were members. There she rejected the traditional Christian faith and turned to what her pastor taught who is a social Gospel preacher. When Oprah rejected the traditional Christian faith she was probably rejecting the type of Christianity promoted by Jeremiah Wright, though we may never fully know the answer to that question.
Oprah’s New Age Beliefs
When I say that Oprah has veered off the path from Christianity into the New Age, I use the term “New Age” as kind of an umbrella term. Basically, New Age spirituality is a combination of borrowing elements from various sources, partly from Eastern religions, especially the doctrine of Monism which is the idea that all is one and that one is identified with God. In Monism God is impersonal and everything to them is God. They would claim, “I’m God, you’re God, the table is God, the trees are God.” There are also elements from Taoism, from forms of Hinduism and some from Buddhism as well.
In New Age teachings, those Eastern religions are mixed in with 19th Century occultism. Some of the New Agers would be involved like Oprah is documented being involved in channeling. Channeling is where a person puts themselves in an altered state of consciousness to allow some supernatural spirit to come inside and take control of their bodies. They believe it’s some dead person or some kind of ascended master or some type of angel coming in and taking control of their body. So, there are a mixture of beliefs that we can kind of put under the umbrella of New Age.
While New Age believes in a god and that God is one, they also believe that God is all and everything is God. Technically, this is called Pantheism. A New Age pantheist would be more comfortable saying God is a force or a power or a principle, not that God is a who. They would say to find God one must go inside oneself because all is God. That means you too are God, but you just don’t know it yet. So, what you need is some type of altered state of consciousness or some type of event that helps you go within and contact the deity that is within you. It’s the same deity within the dolphins, it is within the trees, and it’s within all.
Now, concerning what the New Agers think about Jesus Christ, they have a lot of respect for Him. They’ll say what a great teacher Jesus was, but they believe that what Jesus taught was New Age spirituality. They’ll claim that Jesus recognized Himself as God, but He also recognized all is God. They will misinterpret where Jesus said “the Kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus was talking about His own self in saying that the Kingdom of God is in their midst, but they would retort that, no, that’s not what Jesus meant to say. He meant that you are God, but you just don’t know it yet.
Back to Oprah, she does do a lot of good with orphanages in Africa, giving away automobiles to people, and all those sorts of things. I read last year Oprah’s unauthorized biography by Kitty Kelley and I’ve watched hours and hours of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She has her own network now called OWN, as if Oprah owns you, which stands for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
After all of this, I still believe that she is sincere. I think that somewhere inside of here there is sincerity, and that’s why I’m not giving up on praying for Oprah. I pray for Oprah as I do for other Christians. If she was to become saved she would be a game changer. Could you imagine? If she would just transition to the true God of the Bible and true Christianity, how influential that would be?
In the next part of this series “According to Oprah,” we’ll look at how she views God.