Religion

Some are put off by Oprah's ‘gospel'

Some evangelical Christians have voiced alarm that Oprah Winfrey is introducing the 46 million viewers who watch her each week to nontraditional spirituality they don't condone.

In May, two dozen Christian newspapers pooled their resources to publish an article titled “Oprah's ‘gospel'” that prompted more letters to the editor than any story some of the individual papers had ever published.

In a first-of-its-kind venture, the evangelical newspapers hired Colorado writer and editor Steve Rabey to write the story.

“For some Christians who have considered themselves part of Oprah's electronic family, her sins against evangelical orthodoxy have increased in number and seriousness,” Rabey said.

In recent months, Southern Baptist newspaper editors also have written editorials declaring, “It's time for Christians to ‘just say no' to the big ‘O'” and calling her a source of “foolish twitter and twaddle.” And Charisma, a prominent charismatic and Pentecostal magazine, ran a story in its July issue with the headline “Oprah's Strange New Gospel.”

Lamar Keener, publisher of the Christian Examiner regional newspapers in California, came up with the idea to work with a dozen “mom and pop” publishers to address Winfrey's theology.

“Our point is we want our readers to be aware that what she is teaching does not represent traditional, historical Christianity, according to the Scriptures,” said Keener, who also is president of the Evangelical Press Association.

Twenty-three monthly papers from across the country and Canada published the story.

Keener was inspired after viewing a video titled “The Church of Oprah Exposed,” which has had more than 7.2million hits on YouTube.

“It's taking actual clips off programs,” Keener said. “That's what got my attention.”

One of Winfrey's quotes highlighted in the story is her belief that “there couldn't possibly be just one way” to God.

“One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way to live,” Winfrey said.

A spokesman for Winfrey's Harpo Productions said the celebrity is a Christian.

“Oprah was raised Baptist and has stated many, many times that she is a Christian and that she believes in only one God,” said the spokesman, who asked not to be named. “She has also said, ‘I'm a free-thinking Christian who believes in my way, but I don't believe it's the only way, with 6 billion people on the planet.'”

The spokesman noted Winfrey is hardly alone; 70 percent of Americans said “many religions can lead to eternal life” in a recent survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Part of the evangelicals' concern stems from Winfrey's recent embrace of Eckhart Tolle's “A New Earth” as the first spiritual book she included in her hugely popular book club. In the July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, she said the book's advice on “putting the ego in check” had a “profound impact” on her.

“Spirit to me is the essence of who we are,” she said. “That essence doesn't require any particular belief. It just is.”

Editor's note: Author Rabey mentioned in this story also sometimes writes for the Religion News Service.

Some evangelical Christians have voiced alarm that Oprah Winfrey is introducing the 46 million viewers who watch her each week to nontraditional spirituality they don't condone.

In May, two dozen Christian newspapers pooled their resources to publish an article titled “Oprah's ‘gospel'” that prompted more letters to the editor than any story some of the individual papers had ever published.

In a first-of-its-kind venture, the evangelical newspapers hired Colorado writer and editor Steve Rabey to write the story.

“For some Christians who have considered themselves part of Oprah's electronic family, her sins against evangelical orthodoxy have increased in number and seriousness,” Rabey said.

In recent months, Southern Baptist newspaper editors also have written editorials declaring, “It's time for Christians to ‘just say no' to the big ‘O'” and calling her a source of “foolish twitter and twaddle.” And Charisma, a prominent charismatic and Pentecostal magazine, ran a story in its July issue with the headline “Oprah's Strange New Gospel.”

Lamar Keener, publisher of the Christian Examiner regional newspapers in California, came up with the idea to work with a dozen “mom and pop” publishers to address Winfrey's theology.

“Our point is we want our readers to be aware that what she is teaching does not represent traditional, historical Christianity, according to the Scriptures,” said Keener, who also is president of the Evangelical Press Association.

Twenty-three monthly papers from across the country and Canada published the story.

Keener was inspired after viewing a video titled “The Church of Oprah Exposed,” which has had more than 7.2million hits on YouTube.

“It's taking actual clips off programs,” Keener said. “That's what got my attention.”

One of Winfrey's quotes highlighted in the story is her belief that “there couldn't possibly be just one way” to God.

“One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way to live,” Winfrey said.

A spokesman for Winfrey's Harpo Productions said the celebrity is a Christian.

“Oprah was raised Baptist and has stated many, many times that she is a Christian and that she believes in only one God,” said the spokesman, who asked not to be named. “She has also said, ‘I'm a free-thinking Christian who believes in my way, but I don't believe it's the only way, with 6 billion people on the planet.'”

The spokesman noted Winfrey is hardly alone; 70 percent of Americans said “many religions can lead to eternal life” in a recent survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Part of the evangelicals' concern stems from Winfrey's recent embrace of Eckhart Tolle's “A New Earth” as the first spiritual book she included in her hugely popular book club. In the July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, she said the book's advice on “putting the ego in check” had a “profound impact” on her.

“Spirit to me is the essence of who we are,” she said. “That essence doesn't require any particular belief. It just is.”

Editor's note: Author Rabey mentioned in this story also sometimes writes for the Religion News Service.

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