Thursday, February 26, 2009

Who wants some Oprah-Ohs?

This past Sunday, we discussed Oprah Winfrey and her incredible influence over the spiritual lives of many Americans.

The concern about Oprah is that, despite her biblical namesake and baptist upbringing, she has embraced eastern philosophy and pantheism in her later life. Although she rarely espouses these philosophies herself, she frequently endorses and publicizes those who do. Those she endorses often enjoy tremendous success:

In my view, the most dangerous thing about Oprah's spiritual "self-help" kick is that neither she, nor her guests (like Eckhart Tolle), are forthcoming about the underlying theology of their ideas. In this respect, they are wolves that do not come dressed as wolves. As Ravi Zacharias might describe it, they are "foreign birds with a local walk."

Bear in mind, I am not trying to attack Oprah as a person or deny that she has done many wonderful things for people in need. However, I do believe she is being cavalier with the well-being of her loyal viewers. From the way that she jumps back and forth between philosophies and theologies, I suspect that she is hungry for truth and seeking answers (perhaps she and Angelina Jole should get together and go bowling sometime) but she is dragging her viewers along as she samples faiths from around the world. Dangerous, to say the least...

Oprah needs our prayers--just as anyone with her level of influence needs our prayers. Let's pray that she finds what she truly is seeking. Only the Lord can fill the God-shaped hole in her heart...

If you want to read more about the Oprah phenomenon, check out Christianity Today and Stand To Reason.

Casting Crowns: "What if His people prayed ... What if the family turned to Jesus, and quit asking Oprah what to do?"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jan. 25 Class Notes - Can't Get to Heaven on Roller Skates

Pew Forum On Religion & Public Life / U.S. Religious Landscape Survey
May 8 – August 13, 2007
N=35,556 (# of people sampled)

These survey results contain responses from people with very different beliefs and presumably with different worldviews [link to previous discussion on worldview]. Most pertinent to us, are the figures on protestant Christians. I’m not sure exactly how they defined “Evangelical Christian” and “Mainline Protestant Christian” and I don’t know exactly where we would fall by those unknown definitions. In fact, it is hard to find any consensus definition for “Evangelical Christian”. I think we can all handle the term evangelical as an adjective, as in the dictionary definition of “pertaining to or in keeping with the gospel and its teachings”, but as a separate denomination?

Wikipedia gives us the following -- Evangelicalism: Most adherents consider its key characteristics to be: a belief in the need for personal conversion (or being "born again"); some expression of the gospel in effort; a high regard for Biblical authority; and an emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Regardless of how you define Evangelicalism and Mainline Protestant Christianity, the results of the Pew survey are interesting…

Which comes closest to your view of God? God is a person with whom people can have a
relationship or God is an impersonal force?

Survey Results:

“Mainline Protestant”:
Personal – 62%
Impersonal force – 26%
Other/Both/Neither – 4%
Don’t know – 4%


Bible: II Corinthians 6:14-18

Do you believe in life after death?
John 3:16

Do you think there is a heaven, where people who have led good lives are eternally
II Corinthians 5:1

Do you think there is a hell, where people who have led bad lives and die without being
sorry are eternally punished?
2 Peter 2:4-9
Matthew 5:21-22

My religion is the one, true faith leading to eternal life,
Many religions can lead to eternal life
John 6:35 & 14:6

Jan. 18 Class Notes - What Would Jesus Think?

The primary reason that people do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus. Behavior stems from what we think - our attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions.

Worldview”: That set of central moral beliefs about right & wrong, good & evil, worthy & unworthy, etc… used by an individual person to guide his or her decision making

“Biblical Worldview”: Believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

As Christians, we all profess to follow Jesus, and we should therefore be striving to live like him in every aspect of our lives. However, most of us do not think like Jesus—that is, our worldview is not based on Christ, but on our own definitions of right and wrong, or (worse yet) a societal or media-based definition. If you stop and examine your decision-making process sometime, you may be surprised to see that you think more like a secular humanist or existentialist than like Jesus.

For more on the idea of living with a biblical worldview, check out the Truth Project, a current effort by Focus on the Family