The False Gospel of Oprah and Her Friends/Program 1

By: Dr. Erwin Lutzer; ©2009
Dr. Lutzer describes a popular trend of people seeking spiritual enlightenment as “a form of spirituality divorced from biblical truth.” Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5. What do these verses say about “godliness” or spirituality that is separate from Christ?



Oprah Winfrey is one of the most popular television personalities in America. She has founded a media empire, publishes two monthly magazines, gives money for many philanthropic causes, and is considered by many as the most influential woman in the world. USA Today says, “Over the past year Oprah has emerged as a spiritual leader for the new millennium.” Thanks to her influence, Oprah’s friends promoting the new spirituality such as Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, and Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love, have all become best-selling authors. Because of these and other New Age teachers Oprah promotes to her 40 million viewers each week, some claim she has done more to spread New Age spirituality than any other person on planet Earth. Oprah describes herself as a freethinking Christian who turned against the traditional teachings of Christianity. And now she appears to believe the new spiritual principles that she promotes. On our program today, you will hear from one of the most well known and highly respected Christian theologians in America, Dr. Erwin Lutzer. He says it’s time to help faithful Christians separate the truth from the lies found in the new spirituality being presented, so that regardless of who emerges as the next Oprah-approved spiritual teacher people won’t be misled.

Dr. Erwin Lutzer: Maybe there are those who say, “I’m not into watching Oprah Winfrey, so all of this is irrelevant.” No, my friend, it isn’t irrelevant. And the reason is because your children, perhaps your grandchildren, your relatives, they are reading this kind of literature; they are watching Oprah. And therefore, what we need to do is to understand we’re speaking about a cosmic battle that is engulfing America, and really the whole world. And we’d better understand what’s at stake.

In his new book, Oprah, Miracles and the New Earth, Dr. Lutzer explains how Oprah and her friends have redefined God, morality, death, heaven, and conversion; while misrepresenting Jesus and totally changing who He claimed to be. Join us on this special edition of the John Ankerberg show as we investigate The False Gospel of Oprah and Her Friends.

Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. Today we’re going to do a critique of Oprah Winfrey and her friends. Erwin Lutzer, my guest today, has written a book, Oprah, Miracles, and the New Earth, that you’re going to hear about in a moment. Erwin Lutzer is a best-selling author; he is a renowned theologian; he is the senior pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, IL; and he’s written over 20 books, best-selling books. And, Erwin, today we’re going to talk about some of the things that you’ve put in the book, namely, you’ve said that Americans – you’ve been in Europe, you’ve been in Canada – and you say people are searching for spirituality. And there is a whole movement going on that says, “Hey, you can have spirituality, you can have an experience.” What is this new spirituality?
Dr Erwin Lutzer: Yes, you’re absolutely right, about 100 million Americans don’t claim any specific religion or they may not belong to a temple or a church. And obviously, you and I believe it’s because God created us this way: we are seeking for something beyond ourselves. So, what people really want to do today when they speak about spirituality is, it is spirituality divorced from doctrines; it is spirituality divorced from the concept of sin; it is some way that I can plug into a universe that is greater than I am to satisfy the longing of my heart.
Ankerberg: Alright, we’re talking to Christians, and we have a lot of non-Christians that are watching, but primarily today we want to warn Christians. And so we want to talk about this from what’s happening in the background; the big picture; the cosmic battle that is going on. And you have a very interesting little section where you said, suppose that you were Satan: in light of the information we were given or we have been given in God’s Word, how would Satan think about attacking our world today?
Lutzer: Well, one of the things that Satan obviously likes to do is to duplicate what God does. John, there may be people who are listening right now who say, “Well, what’s wrong with spirituality?” We in Christian circles talk about a person who is very spiritual and we mean that positively. So what we’re speaking about here is a form of spirituality that is divorced from biblical truth. Now, if you were the devil, how would you do it? Well, first of all, what you would do is to give people some hook; you would give them some reason to believe what you’re going to sell. And maybe that is tied to a new age technique, it may be tied to testimonies that people have about how their lives have been changed as a result of connecting to the higher powers. In some way, what you need to do is to help people to try to understand that they are going to benefit from this.
But, behind the hook you are going to conceal something very, very deadly. Just think of it this way; if you want to catch mice, you use traps; if you want to catch fish, you use worms. So what Satan does is, he uses these traps, but behind the trap is the trapper. And if he can duplicate spiritual experience – later on in these programs, we’re going to talk about issues such as the new birth. Jesus said, you must be born again; wouldn’t you know it, the new spirituality has a transformation of consciousness. It is the answer, the opposite of course, to Jesus Christ speaking about being born again.
The reason this is important is that there are some Christians who are buying these books that we’re going to talk about, who actually believe it’s going to help them in their Christian walk. We are having this program, John, for the woman I met who believed, for example, that Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth would help her in her walk with God. And we are going to be giving principles of discernment in such a way that even though there may be a new guru, or a new teacher, along the way, people will be able to look for those tell-tale signs that help them to understand that this is a path to deception.
Ankerberg: Alright. Why should we be interested in Oprah Winfrey and what she believes about God?
Lutzer: Well, first of all, to Oprah’s credit, she has done a lot of good. She has funded schools in Africa; she’s helped a lot of the poor people; she has been very generous in giving away her money. So we need to acknowledge that. We also need to acknowledge that she doesn’t hold herself up to be a pastor as such; she doesn’t claim to be a reverend. But here’s why it is important: with an audience of 20 or 30 million people every single day watching her, she has been talking much about spirituality, and especially promoting some guests that we’re going to be talking about on these programs. And those guests have written books that are selling multiplied millions, greatly impacting the culture. And these teachings, permeating society, what we need to do is expose them.
Now, there are many people who are watching who say, “Well, I don’t know who these guests are,” or maybe there are those who say, “I’m not into watching Oprah Winfrey, so all of this is irrelevant.” No, my friend, it isn’t irrelevant. And the reason is because your children, perhaps your grandchildren, your relatives, they are reading this kind of literature; they are watching Oprah. And therefore, what we need to do is to understand we are speaking about a cosmic battle that is engulfing America, and really the whole world. And we had better understand what’s at stake.
Ankerberg: Alright, what do you make of Oprah describing herself as a Christian?
Lutzer: Well, that’s a very interesting remark. You know, she calls herself a free-thinking Christian. Now imagine this, she’s in church, the pastor is preaching and he’s speaking about the attributes of God. And finally he says that God says, “I am a jealous God.” Now, Oprah on her show said, “I couldn’t believe that God would be jealous. Why would He be jealous of me?” So, clearly she misunderstood that passage of scripture. But after that, she was turned off and she began to search other ways of spirituality, trying to harmonize it with Christianity. As we shall notice later, for her, Jesus Christ is the one way to God among many. And so what she’s done is she has plunged into this whole area of spirituality.
And by the way, while we’re at it, I should point out that that passage of scripture, that God says, “I am a jealous God,” I can assure you, He’s not jealous of us. What the text really means is that because God is the greatest of all beings, and has the highest value, of course God deserves glory. And He is jealous in the sense that if we give our affections and our loyalty and our worship to idols, or to anything else, in that sense He is jealous, and He has every right to be, as Creator, and as the supreme one of the universe.
Ankerberg: Yeah. Somebody has introduced her on television in a broadcast and said, “Have you heard about the largest church in the world?” And has gone on to say that Oprah Winfrey is the new high priestess of this church. But the fact is when they were talking about this church’s teachings, they started out by saying, “the church requires no belief; heaven is not a location; the man on the cross is just a archetypal image,” things like this. So that if Oprah was sitting in church with some of our listeners and if the pastor said, “and y’all know that Jesus said, He’s the only way to heaven, He’s the only means of salvation that God has provided,” she would object. Why would she object, Erwin?
Lutzer: Well, what she would say is that this is absolutely too narrow. I was listening to a segment of one of her show recently where she says Jesus Christ cannot be the only way to God. Now, I need to say to our listeners, it is absolutely essential you listen to this series of broadcasts, because we are going to be answering that question and answering it in such a way that if you’re having a conversation with a neighbor and they say that, we are going to teach you how to answer the question. But as a result of that, you see, what she is really trying to say is that we should broaden the whole business of spirituality: there are many ways to God.
Ankerberg: Now, Oprah has had many guests and she does,… we’re just picking out four, but the reason that we’re picking out these four is she’s had these people on multiple times, and she has promoted their books. And their books, as a result of her influence, have all become not just best-sellers, but I mean have sold millions of copies of books, alright. One of them is a fellow by the name of Eckhart Tolle and he’s got a book, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. Who is this person and what is this book about?
Lutzer: Eckhart Tolle comes from Germany. And at the age of 15, already as a young person, he was contemplating suicide, because life seemed to be so meaningless to him. But at the age of 29,… by the way, as a teenager, he was introduced to some occult literature, some mystical books. At the age of 29 he has a conversion experience. And we’re going to talk about conversion later, but let me just simply introduce it by saying he began to realize that there was two of him, so to speak. On the one hand he had his thoughts, which were the problem, his ego. But he began to discover that if he went within himself – he says it was as if he was being sucked into a dark hole – as he went within himself, he discovered that there was this parallel universe where there was peace and happiness and all of these other things he was seeking for. So that’s his conversion experience. And as a result of that, he began to write, he began to teach. Oprah gets a hold of him, and she says now that he is her guru. And she has those “Ah-ha moments – finally I understand.” And so Eckhart Tolle is one of the ones that we’re going to be dealing with on this program. Very, very important. And once we understand what he is teaching, it’s going to help us also to understand the other guests.
Ankerberg: Yeah. I liked your illustration, he was talking about he heard a voice, by the way, when he was searching for this other reality. And you’ve got this illustration, it’s like watching Channel 5 on your TV set and all of the sudden you’re seeing one program over there, one reality, on you turn over to Channel 10 and the fact is you see another program, another reality. He’s saying, you know, every one of us, we’re stuck over here on Channel 5, and what we need to do is we need to find this other channel; because if you do, there’s a whole new program, there’s a whole new consciousness. And in the process, that conversion experience that we’re going to talk about, he heard this voice, and that voice said, “Let go of all of this stuff and this is what you need.”
Lutzer: And also resist nothing.
Ankerberg: Resist nothing.
Lutzer: In other words, passivity. And later on, we’re going to be talking about how that for him, good and evil are illusionary. In other words, it’s much like Hinduism, where you are going into yourself. And remember that when you discover this consciousness you discover God. God is the essence of your consciousness. And we’re going to talk about the conception of God in the next program.
Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break. When we come back,… but before we take the break, I want to share what Oprah said about Eckhart Tolle, okay, we want to put this up on the screen. She said, “Being able to share Eckhart Tolle’s material with you is a gift and a part of the fulfillment of my life’s purpose. It was an awakening for me [so she experienced this], and I want that for you, too.” So, this is why we’re talking about it. We’re critiquing, not just Eckhart Tolle, but a whole host of guests that have had similar experiences, have a similar worldview that is directly contradicted by what God is saying in the Bible. Regardless of the words that they are using about Jesus and God and all of this kind of stuff, they don’t mean the same thing. And that is what we’re trying to unscramble for people that are listening. We’re going to take a break and when we come back, we’re going to look at the second book, which is, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. If you’ve been to the bookstore, you’ve seen this, it’s in all the bookstores, another best-seller and a guest on Oprah’s program. Stick with us, we’ll talk about this when we come right back.

Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking about Oprah Winfrey and her friends. We’re critiquing some of the information she is presenting about God and spiritual things. And we’re critiquing some of the friends, the guests, that she has on her program. Because of her great influence, when she promotes some of these people and their books, their books become best-sellers. What’s in those books? One of the books is The Secret, by a guest by the name of Rhonda Byrne. And what we have here, Erwin, is we have another guest that is talking about this new spirituality and she’s talking about the “Law of Attraction.” Tell me a little bit about her.
Lutzer: Well, Rhonda Byrne was Australian-born, and she went through a very difficult period in her life. And she also had a form of conversion experience, and as a result, she uncovered the great secret. The great secret is the Law of Attraction. That is to say everything that happens in my life, I attract. And, in fact, she says that if you’re struggling with being overweight, it is not because of what you eat, it’s because of your thoughts. She says the universe is like a catalog. It is just like a catalog waiting for you to order, and whatever you think is going to come to you. It’s hard to talk about this without smiling, because this is really a great exercise in self-worship. Would it be okay if I just read a quote or two?
Ankerberg: Sure.
Lutzer: Just so that people begin to understand. She says, “You are God in a physical body.” I need to pause here and to tell our audience that this underlies all of this new-age thinking: that we actually are God. It is the oldest lie that goes right back to the book of Genesis. “You are God in a physical body; you are spirit in the flesh; you are eternal life expressing itself as you. You are a cosmic being; you are all-powerful; you are all wisdom.” And now, listen to this, “The earth turns on its orbit for you; the oceans ebb and flow for you; the birds sing for you; the sun rises and sets for you; the stars come out for you. None of it can exist without you. No matter who you thought you were, now you know the truth of who you really are. You are the master of the universe. You are the heir of the kingdom.”
One time, I was on a talk show and someone said, “I have a friend who is reading Rhonda Byrne’s book entitled The Secret. Can you give me any scripture to contradict it?” I had to laugh, because I said, “Every chapter in the Bible contradicts it!” What we really have here is narcissism gone wild, narcissism on steroids. What you have is, self-worship. Man takes the place of God, “I am God.” Just like Satan said in the Garden of Eden, “You shall be like God.” And that’s really the heart of the kind of spirituality we’re speaking about.
Ankerberg: Yeah, people have to realize that when she says, “you’re the master of the universe,” that she’s talking about the person, when you get up in the morning and you brush your teeth and look in the mirror, when you see that person, that’s the master of the universe. That’s who the birds are singing for, that’s why everything is happening that is going on, and you control it by the law of attraction, which we’re going to talk about more. But let’s move on to a couple of her other guests. You’ve got Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love. And she basically is touting A Course in Miracles, which Oprah also is touting. In fact, she is on XM radio teaching this class, promoted by Oprah. Now, what in the world is in this book, which is a great sounding title, A Return to Love? I mean, what’s the matter with that?
Lutzer: This is very important, I hope that everyone who is listening listens with great care and understanding at this point, because we’re talking about something huge. We’re talking about a deception of mega proportions. There was a woman by the name of Helen Schucman, who wrote a book entitled A Course in Miracles. A Course in Miracles is a long, ponderous book. I’ve spent hours in it. And it is thoroughly blasphemous. It was written by automatic writing: a spirit came along and just told her what to write and it bypassed her consciousness, as such. This is very popular in occult circle. So what you have is A Course in Miracles that belittles the atonement, that belittles Christ. It is a terrible book, demonic book really. Now, Marianne Williamson – Helen Schucman, by the way, is deceased – Marianne Williamson comes along and studies the book, and I believe, gives seminars on it. And she writes a book entitled A Return to Love, which is a very popular exposition of the ideas that are found in A Course in Miracles. So, it’s Marianne Williamson who’s been on Oprah’s show; it is Marianne Williamson whom Oprah promotes. And that’s why the book A Return to Love, is so critical, because it also is flying off the shelves as people who are promoted by Oprah continue to gain notoriety.
Ankerberg: Erwin, let me share with the folks a little bit of what Marianne Williamson is teaching, not only in her book, but in Helen Schucman’s course that she’s presenting on the radio, that is backed by Oprah’s influence. These are some of the statements that Christians need to wake up to and listen to. She’s teaching, “My mind is part of God’s, I am very holy. There’s nothing my holiness cannot do. I am the light of the world. Salvation comes from oneself [not from Jesus]. Salvation of the world depends on me. I am the holy son of God Himself.” Now, what is wrong? This is directly contradictory to what the Bible is teaching that Christians hold dear. What else hits your mind?
Lutzer: Well, first of all, let me say this underlines the fact that those who are listening today have to listen next time, because we’re going to look at these statements in more detail. For today all that we can say is that nothing could be further from the truth of the gospel. You see, what underlies these teachings is: there is no sin and therefore, there is no redemption. And today, John, there could be somebody out there who’s struggling with the issue of sin. You know that you are a sinner. Well, you know, sinners need a Savior, and that’s one thing the new age teaching does not have. And we’re so glad to be able to say that Jesus died on the cross for sinners, and that His death was a sacrifice, so that if we believe on Him, we are saved, we are reconciled to God. Because down deep in our hearts we know we are not very holy, and in fact, we are very sinful. So if you’re listening today, my dear friend, and you know that you’re a sinner, the hope is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the New Testament. And you can believe on Him, be forgiven and be saved.
Ankerberg: Next week, Erwin, we’re going to continue this and we’re going to look at Oprah and her friends that she has on her TV program and the books that they are promoting. And we’re going to talk about how they are all redefining God. They have a completely different God than the God of the Bible. They are into idolatry. And we’re going to explain that all next week. I hope that you’ll join us.


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