The False Gospel of Oprah and Her Friends/Program 3

By: Dr. Erwin Lutzer; ©2009
An evaluation of some of the specific details highlighted by Oprah’s guests on this all-important issue of conversion. As we do, we’ll reaffirm what the Bible teaches.



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.

Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. My guest today is Dr. Erwin Lutzer. He’s a renowned theologian and an award-winning author of more than 20 books; and he’s senior pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, IL. And he is writing about Oprah Winfrey and her friends. He’s giving a critique of their teachings. It’s not just the four or five friends that we’re talking about and Oprah herself, but many of the guests that she has on the program and the books that they are writing. What he is saying is that Oprah Winfrey, who calls herself a free-thinking Christian, doesn’t hold to any specific doctrines, but what she’s promoting, Erwin believes, are some of the same lies that go all the way back to the lips of the serpent in the Garden of Eden when he spoke to Adam and Eve. And one of those lies was that he wanted them to have an experience; he wanted to have their eyes open; he wanted to have them a conversion to his side of the tracks. And the friends of Oprah, and Oprah herself, are talking about, not the conversion that we have in the Bible and talking about Jesus saying you’ve got to be born again, but they’re talking about an experience that you really have, that gives you a whole new worldview. Talk about the lies that are back in the Garden of Eden.
Lutzer: Well, for example, Satan said, “you shall be like God,” and we covered that last time as we talked about the redefinition of God. And then, of course, you have, “Indeed, your eyes shall be opened.” This is spiritual enlightenment. And you know, there was a certain amount of truth in what the serpent said, because their eyes were opened. And by the way, they did know good and evil, but in a very hurtful way. And the devastation of sin across the world, of course, is well known.
But, today as we’re talking about this conversion, the best way that I can explain it is, let’s suppose that you are watching television and you are on Channel 5. And then you use a zapper and you go to Channel 9. There’s a whole dimension there that people are experiencing within their consciousness. They don’t have to deal with sin, they don’t have to deal with a God who’s going to judge them, but they can connect to the power of the universe. Eckhart Tolle says that when he was converted at the age of 29, converted to this form of religion, it was as if he was being sucked into a dark hole. And there the thought came to him, “Judge nothing; resist nothing.” In other words…And it’s very important to believe nothing, I might add, because the moment you begin to believe propositions, then you are outside of the truth. All that you should do is to feel. So what happens is people have this experience, they go into this parallel universe and they connect and they find spirit beings. They find guides who are going to help them and, supposedly, they even find some peace. It’s not very long lived, but they have these kinds of experiences.
Now, John, just think of Satan for a moment. I call his conversion experience his most dazzling deception, because it was even C. S. Lewis who said, imagine the delight that is given to Satan when people are in contact with him and they think they are in contact with the living God. This is Satan’s brightest moment. Jesus said on the one hand that we have to be born again and, of course, that experience is entirely different. So Satan, wanting to duplicate spiritual experience, says, “I have my way of conversion, as well.”
Last time when we were talking about the book A Course in Miracles, the various lessons, 191 says, and I commented on it, 191 says, “I am the holy son of God Himself.” And when you keep repeating that, darkness is going to leave your soul and light is going to shine. Very blasphemous, but that is satanic religion.
Ankerberg: Let’s give a specific example. Here you have one of Oprah’s most popular guests, Eckhart Tolle, his book, A New Earth. Now look at what the title says, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. What he’s saying is people are not into the real reality, they’re living over in the illusion, okay. They need to switch channels and get over there, and you need to have this conversion.
And that is the problem. People are getting real experiences, different kinds of experiences, if you want, and these teachers are saying, “Go for it, get into it.” And it’s very hard, once a person has one of these false experiences, which seems real to them, to persuade them that it’s not a true experience.
Lutzer: John, I need to tell you this story. One day I was on a plane, riding with a woman whose name was Shirley. It was not Shirley Maclaine, but her name was Shirley. And she was into re-incarnation. And she said, “I can prove re-incarnation.” And I said, “How can you do that?” She said, “I have in my mind images of a home in Vermont, even though I’ve never visited this home.” And she said “The only way I could possibly have that is, I know that I lived in this home in the 1800s.” Now, I’m sitting right next to her, so I looked at her in the eye and I said, “Do you mind if I were to give you a biblical interpretation of your experience?” And she said, “Oh, no.” I said, “You need to understand that there is no such thing as transmigration of spirits, but there is transmigration of demons.” I said, “The reason that you know what is in that home in Vermont is because you’re into evil spirits and one of those spirits communicated with you as to what that house is like.”
And now, we are sitting together, and she looked at me very indignantly and she said, “I have nothing to do with evil spirits. I receive only good one.” And I said, “Well, how do you tell the difference?” And she said, “I receive only those spirits that come to me that are clothed in light.” And I said to her, “I have a verse of scripture for you, 2 Corinthians 11, ‘Even Satan’s ministers come as angels of light.’” That’s why when you read this new age literature, it is filled with references to light, enlightenment, enlightened understanding. The book A Course in Miracles says, “I am the light of the world.” And so, that’s the extent to which Satan is willing to deceive people is to even come as angels of light. And listen carefully: he is willing to give people as many positive reinforcements as he possibly can, as long as he has them hooked. He will even give them peace. He will even do a miracle, if only they stay on his side of the ledger.
Ankerberg: Yeah, Tolle wrote his book to awaken people, to experience this shift in consciousness, to go from Channel 5 to Channel 7 or 10, to find this other reality. And Satan, through his demons, will give that experience. Now, let’s talk about the cosmic forces that are in play according to the Bible, so people understand what’s happening.
Lutzer: Well, the Bible says that we’re not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities and against powers. And if we begin to understand that the atmosphere is filled with spirits, now it may be filled also with God’s angels, but it is filled with demonic spirits, deceiving spirits, as the apostle Paul so brilliantly and accurately said in the book of Timothy. And people then plug into these guides, and they think that they have found reality when in point of fact, they are being misled. And, you know, why is it that they want this so badly? We’ve said this on previous programs: it’s because they don’t want to deal with sin. They don’t want to deal with this. Winston Churchill said something that was very, very brilliant – many things I’m sure – but this is what he said, “The desire to believe something is often more powerful than rational arguments.” And that’s true. People want to have an experience of God, without it being a God of judgment. People want to receive Christ. Marianne Williamson says receiving Christ means that I accept the beauty of who I am. People want to a salvation without a cross. Do I have time, John, to quote the Course in Miracles?
Ankerberg: Sure.
Lutzer: This is astounding. Now remember, the Course in Miracles was written by Helen Schucman, who is deceased, though it’s promoted on the Oprah Winfrey program through Marianne Williamson. And she wrote by automatic writing. Automatic writing is when a spirit comes and dictates what you are to say. So this is a thoroughly demonic book. In it she says the most pathetic error you can make is to cling to the old rugged cross. Now, think about that. Many of our listeners today probably remember The Old Rugged Cross is a beloved hymn to all of us as Christians. How would she as an atheistic Jew know about the song The Old Rugged Cross? The answer is she didn’t have to; because I’m quite sure that what happened is the spirit that was dictating those words, he knew about the song The Old Rugged Cross and he absolutely hated it. And because of that, he said that blasphemous remark about the cross of Jesus Christ. And so what you have here is salvation without a cross; without the need for any atonement, any blood atonement; without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. After all, my salvation comes from myself, we read. Can you think of anything more demonic?
Ankerberg: Yeah, unbelievable. We’re going to talk more about this and we’re also going to hit this question that when Christians bring up the fact this is what the Bible says, that Eckhart Tolle and even Oprah, herself, and some of her other friends say, “You know what, truth can’t be found in thought, doctrines or narratives, alright. And when you Christians go to that and when you hold onto these thoughts and doctrines, that’s not where the truth is at. In fact, you’ve got to get rid of that.” Why? We’ll talk about it when we come back. You won’t believe this.

Ankerberg: We’re back. We’re talking with my guest, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, who has written a new book about Oprah and her friends, critiquing some of the religious things that they are saying on her program. They have redefined God, they’ve redefined sin, they’ve redefined conversion, as we’re talking about today. And one of the rejoinders that comes back, Erwin, is this: that they would say, and this is Eckhart Tolle saying, “Truth cannot be found in thoughts and doctrines. You know, you’re going in the wrong direction when you think you can find the truth in actual thought and doctrine.”
Lutzer: Well, of course the obvious answer is this: Is that a true statement, Eckhart Tolle, that truth cannot be found?
Ankerberg: Yeah. You’ve got to use your mind….
Lutzer: You’ve apparently found some truth somewhere. Obviously, they are self contradictory. You see, what he wants to say is, truth can’t be found in doctrines and narratives and so forth, but nonetheless, he writes a book which supposedly, supposedly, is filled with truth, right? In other words, he wouldn’t want to say that his book was a pack of lies. So it is self contradictory. It’s like, you know, the old spider trying to build his web on the moving hands of a clock.
Ankerberg: Yeah. That’s ridiculous, Erwin. And what we want to jump to next here is the fact is in the last segment, we talked about Helen Schucman talking about and actually going against the cross of Jesus Christ, and the spirit gave her information that would be blasphemous. Okay, and it’s in their books, it’s in all of their books. Satan hates the cross. And, in fact, they have a lot to say about Jesus Christ. Marianne Williamson in her book talks about accepting Christ, but she gives it a new twist. What’s the twist?
Lutzer: Well, the twist is that when you accept Christ, it means accepting the beauty of who I already am. So, everything is self-focused, everything is self-worship.
Ankerberg: Yeah, and then the next question is, can you have salvation without Jesus? And A Course in Miracles tells you the name of Jesus is only a symbol, okay. And it’s a symbol that is safely used, listen to this, as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray.
In fact, Oprah, herself, was talking about Jesus one day. They had a panel discussion going and one of the friends on the panel asked Oprah this question, “How do you please God?” Let me put the quote up on the screen then I want you to comment. “There are many ways and many paths to what you call God. And her path might be something else when she gets there, and she might call it the light. But her lovingness and her kindness and her generosity brings her. If it brings her to the same point that it brings you, it doesn’t matter if she calls it God along the way, or not.” Okay? So she’s saying, first of all, Erwin, there are many paths to God, not just Jesus.
Lutzer: Yes. And of course let’s analyze that statement a little bit more. And then later on she says, “Is God interested in your hearts or is He interested in whether or not you call His Son Jesus?” So, let’s talk about this, because this in a sense is the nub of what it’s all about. The simple fact is that when Oprah talks about my lovingkindness and my wonderful heart, it is not possible, biblically, for you to have a clean heart, apart from God giving it to you and apart from God cleansing your heart. And all of the goodness that human beings do, what Oprah was referring to – how my lovingkindness will get me to God – the Bible is very clear that everything that we do is tainted with sin. And my lovingkindness cannot save me. As a matter of fact, what we discover is this: that unless God does it, it won’t be done.
Let me give you an example. Let us suppose that you have a well with dirty water. It is filthy. And you go down into that well and you use the dirty water to cleanse the dirty well. Will it get clean? No. And in the very same way, we can’t look within our hearts and say that my lovingkindness is going to somehow cleanse me from the sins that I’ve committed, from my selfishness, from my self-protection and all of the things that Jesus said reside in the human heart. Bottom line, self salvation does not work for sinners.
One day I received a phone call from a woman who was talking about her own struggle with sin. And we were leading her to saving faith in Jesus Christ. She made a wonderful statement. She said, “I cannot cleanse my own heart.” She said, “I cannot take steel wool to my heart and scrub it.” I love that. And the answer is, no, you can’t. And my lovingkindness can’t do it, nor can yours. What we need is for God to cleanse our hearts. The Bible says in the book of Ephesians, and also in the book of Hebrews, it says that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin. And then it says that the blood of Christ can purge our consciences, and can cleanse us. Jesus offers not only forgiveness, but also cleansing from all unrighteousness. What a wonderful gift.
Now, the reason that Jesus is the only way to God and there are no other rivals, is because no other religion has a Savior. Other religions have gurus and prophets: live this way, here’s the Twelve-Fold Path, here’s the Four-Fold Path. But the problem is, they don’t have anyone who can actually save us. Islam does not have a savior: it has a prophet, it does not have a savior. What we need, because we are sinners, is somebody who has the qualifications of being fully human and fully divine at the same time, so that He is able to bring us into God’s presence and declare us as righteous as God. Now, if sin is nothing more than eating chocolate, if sin does not exist, then maybe there can be other paths to God. But the moment you mention sin, and the moment you mention the holiness of God, only Jesus qualifies. There is nobody else out there who has the qualifications to be a savior. And that’s why we have the privilege of commending Him to people and encouraging people to believe on Him and actually be forgiven, be saved and be cleansed. There is no other way.
Ankerberg: Only God’s Son, Jesus, has the power to enter deep within our psyche and cleanse us from within. And those of us that are Christians, there was a day, Erwin, when I felt horrible that I was a sinner. I felt terrible and I felt terrified to think about standing before God. And I can remember praying and inviting Christ to be my sin-bearer, to save me, to forgive me and cleanse me. And I can remember it was almost like liquid joy. It was great peace. It was looking sin square in the face and realizing that Jesus Christ paid for every one of my sins completely. And if it was okay with God, then I said, I can accept that I am forgiven. And we can testify, Erwin, that Jesus Christ actually does give that experience and that peace and that cleansing to sinners like us.
Lutzer: That’s wonderful. It happened to me when I was 14 years old. I was brought up on a farm, hadn’t committed many sins at all in comparison to a lot of my friends. But I was so overwhelmed by my guilt and sin that my parents explained how I had to believe on Jesus and trust Him by faith. And I’ll tell you, John, once you know that that burden is off of you, once you know that you haven’t cleansed your own heart by any stretch of the imagination, it’s God who does it, what a sense of freedom comes to those who believe on Jesus.
And that’s why I’d like to say to you today, you’ve been watching this program, we’ve been throwing out many different ideas. Maybe you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior. And I believe that God has brought you to this moment. It is not by accident that you are watching today. I believe that you have watched by divine appointment. And you perhaps have looked around trying to find reality, trying to deal with a past that continues to haunt you. Today, Jesus offers Himself. He says, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest.” He says, “Come unto Me because I am the bread of life.” “He who believes on Me shall never hunger, and shall never thirst.” Right where you are you trust Him as your Savior, as your sin-bearer, and you’ll be brought into God’s presence all because of His mercy, all because of His grace. Bottom line, we bring nothing to the table except our great need, and that’s our contribution. God does it all when we trust His beloved Son.
Ankerberg: Great word. Next week we’re going to continue critiquing Oprah and her friends, and the things that the new spirituality is teaching. And one of the things that they teach is mind-blowing: that you don’t have to fear death. Why? Because they redefine death: death is really an illusion and there’s no reason to fear it, and some other things that we’re going to talk about. This is one of the greatest hoaxes that you will ever see. Join us next week and we’ll explain it all to you.


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