I remember when Miss Oprah was in Baltimore, before making it big in Chicago many years ago. And I also remember watching her television show when it was an interactive, Phil Donahue-like exchange for the 60 minutes (minus the commercial breaks) every week day.
Things have changed.
And so has Oprah.
I was browsing in the local Borders Bookstore on State Street Friday afternoon, waiting for a friend with whom I would be having dinner to show up. I was in the "Religion" section, and just perusing through all the different volumes, large and small, that captured my attention.
On the very bottom shelf of the last column of the section, was this small paperback by Marcia Nelson entitled The Gospel According to Oprah. Immediately it had my attention. So much so, that I decided to buy the book, and read through it.
I finished the book Sunday morning, right before leaving my place to attend Morning Worship at The Moody Church (www.moodychurch.org) where I am a regular congregant.
I arrived at the church building, and received a worship bulletin. Much to my surprise, Erwin Lutzer, Senior Pastor of The Moody Church was preaching the second message in a series "The Jesus Deception"--a series of sermons about the misconceptions and lies told about God's only begotten Son--and why we should be aware of these untruths.
The opening quote for his sermon was from Oprah herself: "It is a serious mistake to believe that there is only one way to God. There are many ways to God."
Pastor Lutzer wasted no time in dispelling and rebuffing Oprah's claims. And he did it all without slandering or badmouthing Miss Winfrey as a person. He even mentioned that he had read The Gospel According to Oprah.
I just about fell out of my seat! The message was truly informative, and not a political or personal diatribe against the "queen of television talk." Yet, Pastor Lutzer made no bones about Jesus Christ being the ONLY way to God the Father.
But even so, this book merits a very close reading. And particularly so by the Christian community, and those who are engaged in full-time ministry. The writer, Marcia Nelson, a self-proclaimed "woman of faith" studies Oprah for more than a year. She has made some very keen and astute observations concerning the "attraction"-factor to the whole Oprah enterprise. Here are some of the factors:
Oprah provides community.
Oprah exhibits generosity.
Oprah demands accountability.
And there are several more important characteristics that are examined in this short paperback volume.
I would encourage everyone to get the book, read it discerningly and thoroughly. And then reach your own conclusions.
Could it be that Miss Winfrey has learned lessons about "life" and "people" that the Church should be learning and employing?
I think so.