Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Wife Prays for Oprah

It is true. My wife has prayed for years that one day Oprah would become a follower of Jesus Christ. There is no question that Oprah’s fame and fortune would make her a very influential Christian, and it appears from recent programs that her thoughts are becoming more “Christian.” A few articles I read recently raise some concerns about her power and influence.

In this USA today article Chris Altrock, minister of Highland Street Church of Christ in Memphis says, “Winfrey believes there are many paths to God, not just one. After doing his doctoral research three years ago on postmodernism religion, a religious era that began in the 1970s as Christians became deeply interested in spirituality and less interested in any established church, he came up with what he calls "The Church of Oprah," referring to the culture that has created her.”

In his blog Mark Driscoll critiques, “Oprah seems to be a contradiction perfectly suited for a confused world of pluralism. She is a billionaire who speaks passionately about the pain and suffering in the world from the comforts of her sheltered life. She is among the most beloved icons of mothers yet she has never had any children. Many viewers tune in to learn how to improve their marriages yet she has never been married. And, she speaks of spiritual matters often and has an entire segment of her show titled "spirit," which makes you wonder which spirit she’s referring to.”

Though these critiques may seem harsh, we should certainly be cautious embracing people who represent a false gospel. On the other hand, Oprah has done a lot to help the suffering world around us. In the example set by my Godly wife, more Christians should be as quick to pray for famous people like Oprah as they are to criticize.

1 comment:

Maria said...

Scott --

Well, I never post or blog because I simply have no time, but I was stirred to respond to this months-old post because the issue is something I battle daily in academia; furthermore, it's recently been a subject of conversation in my family via long hours on the phone and pages and pages of e-mail text.

For years, I've watched Oprah off an on, an epidsode here or there, and it has always been evident that while she may believe in a supernatural being, her faith does not rest in the Lord Almighty. As you note from Driscoll, she is a spokesperson, though maybe in an unintentionally covert manner, for pluralism, weaving many Eastern religion practices, ideals, and creeds into her feature stories and advice bits. What frightens me more than Oprah's influence on the unsaved is her influence on believers, both young and mature. Pluralism abounds in the world today in multivariate forms (no newsflash here), and it's often recognizable, for instance, at the local grocery store's announcement board, where one regularly finds postings for meditation groups, transcendental thought groups, prayer and yoga gatherings, and the like. Trails of postmodern thinking are left behind by nearly every Hollywood production, and much Eastern religious thought can be found interspersed in the hardbacks and paperbacks lining the bookstore shelves.

As I say, the group I more often pray for are the believers (this is all of us, me included of course), who, over time and with consistent worldly input, can be moved to accept and even usher in New Age and/or postmodern practices and lines of thinking (e.g., prayer labyrinths, contemplative prayer, espousal of the 'carpe diem' philosophy, etc.) into their otherwise solid, Scripturally-grounded system of belief, thought, and action. In attempting to immerse ourselves in (or even tiptoe around) our relativist, your-god-is-my-god-is-our-god culture in order to more effectively communicate with and witness to non-believers, we disciples of Christ must hold fast to the words of Jesus and the apostles and not forget that He who created us is never changing -- who He is today is who He was yesterday and who He will be every day hereafter. (What a glorious truth to cling to and rest in!) In seeking to engage with a postmodern culture, we must ask God to grant us discernment for and keen awareness of false teachings and unbiblicalities in all that we encounter and in all that we absorb, even within the Church. The bottom line is that the Truth is the Truth. The Gospel, the power of the Spirit really, always has and will continue to cut the barriers, be they culural, physical, emotional, mental, or linguistic, and no process of cultural immersion should compromise this.

Just a few thoughts from a non-blogger. I'd be happy to continue the discussion or hear from any of you on it.