Who’s right: Stephen Colbert or Oprah?

{source}<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #c0c0c0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/c1jXPhsz26g?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}Oprah’s new Belief series has a lot of people talking. People who know me know that I have maintained a love/hate relationship with Oprah for many years. She has done a lot of good in the world and helped many people. She has also done a great deal of damage to God’s word, rewriting it to mean what it never meant.

Oprah is what theologians would call a Universalist. Universalism is a theology that believes that all human beings will be saved, regardless of their religion or which God/god the person believes in. Universalism is considered a heresy because it teaches as truth a doctrine the Bible would refute.

Oprah recently appeared on the Stephen Colbert talk show to promote her new Belief series. Colbert, a devout Catholic, asked her if she had a favorite Bible verse. Oprah looked a little stunned and asked Colbert to quote his. Stephen Colbert quoted Matthew 6:27 and then proceeded to give an excellent explanation for the meaning of that verse. Oprah quoted Psalms 37:4 and offered a totally incorrect interpretation of her favorite Bible verse. Oprah has often used the phrase “personal truth” in her messages. In the case of the Colbert interview, her explanation was definitely personal truth as opposed to biblical truth.

Oprah’s new Belief series has received great reviews from many who viewed it. The cinematography is excellent and the program treats each religion with respect. The series is an excellent way to view various religions of the world and learn what each believes. Oprah spoke about the series saying:

When I set out to create ‘Belief’ I wanted to entertain, enlighten and encourage people to explore their own faith or spiritual practices more deeply. I wanted the series to be a tool to help connect people. I have always known that my calling was to share ideas through storytelling that reflects the human spirit and allow people to see themselves reflected in the stories of others.

For many years those who watched Oprah’s television show believed that she was a strong Christian. She often referred to herself that way. I would often anger people by telling them that it was important to hear her message more than her words. Oprah once claimed that there are “millions of ways” to get to God and endorsed New Age gurus like Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle. Her difficult-to-nail-down theology led Christianity Today to call her “a postmodern priestess—an icon of church-free spirituality.”  

I used to cringe as she spoke about homosexuality, marriage, and raising children. She taught an entire generation of young women to believe her “truth” rather than God’s. Oprah’s truth sounded much kinder, much more thoughtful, and much easier to accept than the Bible. Oprah wrote her own version of faith and taught others that she was right. Sadly, many people choose to believe Oprah rather than their pastors and rather than Jesus himself.

I wonder what Colbert thought while he was speaking to Oprah? I imagine he knew she had just completely misconstrued the verse from the book of Psalms. He treated Oprah with respect, but I doubt he respected her words. That is a good lesson for each of us to consider.

Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). It is incredibly important that Christians know what the Bible teaches and that we stand up for that truth. There are many people who share a faith similar to Oprah’s. Political correctness and democracy allows for everyone to believe as they wish. Christian evangelism should respect others’ beliefs with the understanding that we are also called to teach and encourage a belief that would provide people the chance to choose life eternal.

Oprah’s message has been widely believed because she has been widely respected and appreciated for the good she has done in the world. Our message will be believed for those same reasons. Each of us should be praying for the chance to share our faith—every day. Each of us should be living in such a way that we can earn the right to teach what is right.

Last week I taught the story of Philip and the Ethiopian ruler from Acts 8. The Ethiopian was in his chariot reading a passage from Isaiah when Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading (8:30)?” The Ethiopian answered saying, “How can I, unless someone guides me (v. 31)?”  

So many in our world find it easy to believe Oprah. If they trust Oprah, they are not trusting in the words of Christ and the salvation he can provide. We need to ask the same question that Philip asked. How can people understand unless we guide them? Who will God give you the chance to share a Bible verse with today? Pray for that opportunity and the chance to explain what it means. Oprah has a lot of influence, but so do you.

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