The Spirituality of Oprah

Without question, the most influential practical mystic today is talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Her predominantly female audience, numbering in the tens of millions, looks to her as the source of spiritual inspiration–even more so than church, in many cases.

I realize speaking critically of someone as warm and caring as Oprah might stir angry emotions in many of her viewers. Nonetheless, please keep in mind that with Oprah, as with the others I have written about, her obvious good qualities are not the issue here. While I might admire Oprah as a person, I am gravely concerned about what she promotes.

Somewhere during her career, Oprah read a book titled Discover The Power Within You by Unity minister Eric Butterworth. In line with Unity teaching, the book expounded on the Divinity of Man as perceived through mystical practice. Oprah embraced these views so earnestly that she advocated:

This book changed my perspective on life and religion. Eric Butterworth teaches that God isn’t “up there.” He exists inside each one of us, and it’s up to us to seek the divine within.1

Her talk show has launched many New Age authors into national super-stardom–authors such as Marianne Williamson, Sarah Ban Breathnach, Iyanla Vanzant, and Cheryl Richardson.

One such author propelled into prominence by Oprah, with regard to New Age teaching, is Gary Zukav. Zukav became a regular guest on the Oprah show following his first appearance in October of 1998. Afterwards, his book titled The Seat of the Soul became a constant fixture at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for an astounding two years!

The Seat of the Soul, pure and simple, is a spiritual primer or manual for New Age thought. It has gained such popularity even though it lacks the elements that have traditionally attracted a wide readership (i.e., novels, biography, scandal, health, etc.). The book’s basic message is, “Dwell in the company of your nonphysical Teachers and guides [spirit guides].”2

The Seat of the Soul has struck a resonant chord with an enormous number of people. The notion of “nonphysical guides and teachers”3 is now considered perfectly acceptable by a vast number in the reading public. When such a book is embraced by so many for so long it means the New Age is already here. Clearly, our society is not heading toward the cliff concerning New Age spirituality–we are already over it!

Oprah’s 2005 book, Live Your Best Life, highlights various areas of her philosophies. In the chapter on spirituality there is a story about Spiritual Energy. In it, there is a positive reference to a Reiki master who supports Oprah’s view that “we [humanity] are all interrelated.” This underlies Winfrey’s spirituality, that ALL IS ONE. Despite her charming personal manner, there is little doubt her viewers and readers are still being fed a consistent diet of New Age spirituality. (From, 2nd ed. by Ray Yungen, pp. 102-104.)

Notes:

1. Oprah Winfrey cited in Eric Butterworth’s, Discover the Power Within You (San Francisco, CA: Harper Row), front cover.

2. Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1990, Fireside Edition), p. 239.

3. Oprah Winfrey, Live Your Best Life (Des Moines, IA: Oxmoor House, first edition, September 2005), p. 105.

by Ray Yungen

“Oprah and Friends” to teach course on New Age Christ by Warren Smith

Lighthouse Trails Research Project Note: Warren Smith is a former New Age follower. It was his book “Deceived On Purpose” that first alerted the church to the New Age implications of The Purpose Driven Life. We are posting the following article because Oprah Winfrey has become a major influencer in the lives of millions of women. Her recent promotion of New Ager Eckhart Tolle’s January release, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” has turned the book into a best seller in just weeks. In the meantime, Oprah’s year-long promotion of A Course in Miracles is leading countless women into the arms of a New Age religion and a false god. This is no minor thing that is taking place. The New Age has come out of the closet in full force, and most Christians don’t even realize they are stepping to its tune through contemplative, emerging, and Purpose Driven spirituality.

Oprah Winfrey will be letting out all the stops on her XM Satellite Radio program this coming year. Beginning January 1, 2008, “Oprah & Friends” will offer a year-long course on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.1 A lesson a day throughout the year will completely cover the 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles “Workbook.”

For example, Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that “God is in everything I see.”2 Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.”3 Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and believe “My salvation comes from me.”4

By the end of the year, “Oprah & Friends” listeners will have completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset–a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. A Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink everything they believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: “This is a course in mind training”5 and is dedicated to “thought reversal.”6

Teaching A Course in Miracles will be Oprah’s longtime friend and special XM Satellite Radio reporter Marianne Williamson–who also happens to be one of today’s premier New Age leaders. She and Conversations with God author Neale Donald Walsch co-founded the American Renaissance Alliance in 1997, that later became the Global Renaissance Alliance of New Age leaders, that changed its name again in 2005 to the Peace Alliance. This Peace Alliance seeks to usher in an era of global peace founded on the principles of a New Age/New Spirituality that they are now referring to as a “civil rights movement for the soul.”7 They all agree that the principles of this New Age/New Spirituality are clearly articulated in A Course in Miracles–which is fast becoming the New Age Bible. So what is A Course in Miracles and what does it teach?

A Course in Miracles is allegedly “new revelation” from “Jesus” to help humanity work through these troubled times. This “Jesus”–who bears no doctrinal resemblance to the Bible’s Jesus Christ–began delivering his channeled teachings in 1965 to a Columbia University Professor of Medical Psychology by the name of Helen Schucman.

One day Schucman heard an “inner voice” stating, “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.”8 For seven years she diligently took spiritual dictation from this inner voice that described himself as “Jesus.” A Course in Miracles was quietly published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace. For many years “the Course” was an underground cult classic for New Age seekers who studied “the Course” individually, with friends, or in small study groups.

As a former New Age follower and devoted student of A Course in Miracles, I eventually discovered that the Course in Miracles was–in reality–the truth of the Bible turned upside down. Not having a true understanding of the Bible at the time of my involvement, I was led to believe that A Course in Miracles was “a gift from God” to help everyone understand the “real” meaning of the Bible and to help bring peace to the world. Little did I know that the New Age “Christ” and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles were everything the real Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for. In Matthew 24 Jesus warned about false teachers, false teachings and the false “Christs” who would pretend to be Him.

When I left the New Age “Christ” to follow the Bible’s Jesus Christ, I had come to understand that the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles was a false “Christ,” and that his Course in Miracles was dangerously deceptive. Here are some quotes from the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles:

“There is no sin. . . ” 9 [See note]

A “slain Christ has no meaning.”10

“The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey.'”11

“Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.'”12

“The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol… It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray.”13

“God is in everything I see.”14

“The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”15

“The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.”16

“The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.”17

Most Christians recognize that these teachings are the opposite of what the Bible teaches. In the Bible, Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross of Calvary was hardly a “useless journey.” His triumph on the cross provides salvation to all those who confess their sin, accept Him and follow Him as their Lord and Saviour. His victory on the cross rings throughout the New Testament. It has been gloriously sung about in beloved hymns through the ages and is at the heart of our Christian testimony.

I found the Jesus of the Bible to be wholly believable as He taught God’s truth and warned about the spiritual deception that would come in His name. The “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles reveals himself to be an imposter when he blasphemes the true Jesus Christ by saying that a “slain Christ has no meaning” and that we are all “God” and that we are all “Christ.” It was by reading the Bible’s true teachings of Jesus Christ that I came to understand how deceived I had been by A Course in Miracles and my other New Age teachings.

I was introduced to A Course in Miracles by Dr. Gerald Jampolsky’s book Love is Letting Go of Fear. Jampolsky declared in his easy-to-read book how the teachings of A Course in Miracles had changed his life. As an ambassador for A Course in Miracles over the years, Jampolsky has been featured not only in New Age circles but at least twice on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power. While Schuller introduced Jampolsky and his “fabulous”18 Course in Miracles-based books to his worldwide television audience, it was Marianne Williamson’s appearance on a 1992 Oprah Winfrey Show that really shook the rafters.

On that program, Oprah enthusiastically endorsed Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. Oprah told her television audience that Williamson’s book about A Course in Miracles was one of her favorite books, and that she had already bought a thousand copies and would be handing them out to everyone in her studio audience. Oprah’s endorsement skyrocketed Williamson’s book about A Course in Miracles to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Ironically, all of this was happening after I had left the Course and the New Age. In fact, I was doing the final editing on my book The Light That Was Dark that warned about the dangers of the New Age–and in particular A Course in Miracles.

After being introduced to the world on Oprah, Marianne Williamson has continued to grow in popularity and, as previously mentioned, has become one of today’s foremost New Age leaders. Williamson credits Winfrey for bringing her book about A Course in Miracles before the world: “For that, my deepest thanks to Oprah Winfrey. Her enthusiasm and generosity have given the book, and me, an audience we would never otherwise have had.”19 In her 2004 book, The Gift of Change, Williamson wrote:

Twenty years ago, I saw the guidance of the Course as key to changing one’s personal life; today, I see its guidance as key to changing the world. More than anything else, I see how deeply the two are connected.20

Thus the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles are about to be taught by Marianne Williamson to millions of listeners on Oprah’s XM Satellite Radio program. Listeners are encouraged to buy A Course in Miracles for the year-long course. An audio version of A Course in Miracles recited by Richard (John Boy Walton) Thomas is also available on compact disc.

Popular author Wayne Dyer told his PBS television audience that the “brilliant writing” of A Course in Miracles would produce more peace in the world.21 Williamson’s New Age colleague, Neale Donald Walsch, said his “God” stated that “the era of the Single Saviour is over”22 and that he (“God”) was responsible for authoring the teachings of A Course in Miracles.23

Meanwhile, Gerald Jampolsky’s Course in Miracles-based book, Forgiveness, continues to be sold in Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral bookstore as Schuller prepares to host a January 17-19, 2008, “Rethink Conference” at his Crystal Cathedral.24

At this critical time in the history of the world, the New Gospel/New Spirituality is coming right at the world and the church with its New Age teachings and its New Age Peace Plan. But this New Age Peace Plan has at its deceptive core the bottom-line teaching from A Course in Miracles that “we are all one” because God is “in” everyone and everything. But the Bible is clear that we are not God (Ezekiel 28:2; Hosea 11:9). And per Galatians 3:26-28, our only oneness is in Jesus Christ–not in ourselves as “God” and “Christ.” What Oprah and Marianne Williamson and the world will learn one day is that humanity’s only real and lasting peace is with the true Jesus Christ who is described and quoted in the Holy Bible (Romans 5:1).

Oprah Winfrey’s misplaced faith in Marianne Williamson and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles is a sure sign of the times. But an even surer sign of the times is that most Christians are not taking heed to what is happening in the world and in the church. We are not contending for the faith as the Bible admonishes us to do (Jude 3).

It is time for all of our Purpose-Driven and Emerging church pastors to address the real issue of the day. Our true Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is being reinvented, redefined, and blasphemed right in front of our eyes and hardly anyone seems to notice or care. If we want the world to know who Jesus Christ is, we need to also warn them about who He is not. There is a false New Age “Christ” making huge inroads into the world and into the church. The Apostle Paul said that “it is a shame” we have to even talk about these things, but talk about them we must (Ephesians 5:12-16).

If people want to follow Oprah Winfrey and the New Age “Christ” of A Course in Miracles they certainly have that right. But let them be warned that the New Age “Christ” they are following is not the same Jesus Christ who is so clearly and authoritatively presented in the pages of the Bible.

Endnotes:

1. http://marianne.com/book/index/htm

2. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Glen Ellen, California: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975), (Workbook), p. 45.

3. Ibid., p. 102.

4. Ibid., p. 119.

5. Ibid., (Text), p. 16.

6. Ibid., (Preface), p. ix.

7. Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge (New York: Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, 2004), pp. 262-263.

8. Robert Skutch, Journey Without Distance: The Story behind “A Course in Miracles” (Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts, 1984), p. 54.

9. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume, (Workbook), p. 183.

10. Ibid., (Text), p. 425.

11. Ibid., p. 52.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid., (Teachers Manual), p. 58.

14. Ibid., (Workbook), p. 45.

15. Ibid., (Text), p. 147.

16. Ibid., p. 125.

17. Ibid., p. 237.

18. http://www.hourofpower.org/interviews/interviews_detail.cfm?ArticleID=3079

19. Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles A Course in Miracles (New York: Harper Perennial, 1996), p. ix.

20. Marianne Williamson, The Gift Of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), p. 5.

21. Wayne Dyer, “There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem,” Public Broadcasting System broadcast in 2001.

22. Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God (New York: Atria Books, 2002), p. 157.

23. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue, Book 1 (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1996), p. 90.

24. http://www.rethinkconference.com

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