Oprah Winfrey Confesses Christ During NYC 'Lifeclass' Tour?
- (Photo: OWN)
Oprah Winfrey, appearing in New York City during the Monday broadcast of her "Lifeclass," professed to being a Christian twice during her introduction, which one publication took as evidence of her confession in Christ. The Black Christian News Network suggested that Winfrey was a "secret follower" of Jesus and those critical of Winfrey's confession were akin to Pharisees.
In what appears to be an opinion piece on Winfrey's Monday night confession, BCNN writes that Winfrey has made her Christian faith clear to her millions of fans and "before the entire world for the glory of God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Winfrey, during "Oprah's Lifeclass: The Tour" broadcast from New York City's Radio City Music Hall, greeted the audience in the packed auditorium and informed them that the lifeclass theme would be "Spiritual Solutions" as taught by New Age figure Deepak Chopra.
"I am not talking about religion," she emphasized. "I am a Christian, that is my faith. I'm not asking you to be a Christian. If you want to be one I can show you how. But it is not required. I have respect for all faiths.All faiths. But what I'm talking about is not faith or religion. I'm talking about spirituality."
She added, "My definition [of spirituality] is living your life with an open heart, through love... allowing yourself to align with the values of tolerance, acceptance, of harmony, of cooperation and reverence for life.
"There is a force energy consciousness divine thread, I believe, that connects spiritually to all of us, to something greater than ourselves.
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"If you are living in the space of an open heart, you have a blessed life. I believe, that there is no life without a spiritual life...because we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. So are you ready to open your heart?"
Winfrey then asked the audience, which included viewers of the live online broadcast, if they were ready "to allow abundance and blessings" presumably into their lives.
She also commented on what has made her successful, and shared a favorite Bible passage.
"My favorite Bible verse – because I am Christian – is Acts..something... it says [in Acts 17:28] 'in God I live and move and have my being.' And you want to know why I'm so successful? Because I knew that at four-years-old," Winfrey told her audience.
"I wouldn't be who I am today without a spiritual consciousness, without spiritual values and ultimately without spiritual love," she added.
The lifeclass on "Spiritual Solutions" also featured a series of New Age teachers, including Chopra, Elizabeth Lesser, Eckhart Tolle and others, sharing their definitions of "spirituality."
In its op-ed on Winfrey's confession, BCCN cautioned those who would be critical of the media mogul having "different people of different faiths on her show and so forth."
"But before you Pharisees say all of that, please understand that OWN is not a Christian network. It is a network for all people. OWN is Oprah's business, and we as Christians know what that is like when you're doing business in a secular world. So Oprah's business side is going to be different, but it does not take anything away from her faith in Christ."
The article adds: "Before you criticize her about why she didn't come out as a Christian sooner, just remember that Jesus had His public disciples, the Peters, Jameses, and Johns, but he also had his secret disciples, the Nicodemuses and Joseph of Arimatheas."
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were, according to the Bible's Gospel accounts, religious leaders who believed that Jesus was the Son of God, but feared making it known to other religious leaders, who denied Jesus' divinity. However, the Gospels also reveal that these two "secret disciples" were the ones who received Jesus' body after his crucifixion and buried him.
The first person to comment on BCNN's report was Christian minister and Internet evangelist Bill Keller, who found the suggestion that Winfrey had confessed to be a Christian questionable.
"I guess after losing 140 million she needed to take a different strategy," wrote Keller, whose ministry is found at Liveprayer.com. The minister was apparently referencing Winfrey's public acknowledgment earlier this month that making and keeping OWN profitable has been a challenge.
"When she renounces all of the New Age garbage she sold and made MILLIONS on for the past 10 yrs...when she calls homosexuality what God calls [it]...a SIN AND ABOMINATION...when she denounces the legalized killing of babies...let me know...otherwise...just hype to help her failing empire," he added.
Despite Winfrey's confession on several occasions to being a Christian, observers claim she actually professes a form of pantheism, the teaching that God is everything and everyone, an abstract force rather than a personal Being.
"When Oprah and others refer to God, it is an impersonal force," according to McDowell. "And I think one way that comes out is that they will say, 'Look within you and find yourself from within. Find that God-consciousness. That is God," Christian apologist Josh McDowell has said. McDowell and Dave Sterrett co-authored a book in 2010 titled "O" God: A Dialogue on Truth and Oprah's Spirituality.
"The Christian God is a personal creator God [in] which all truth resides, who is totally outside of ourselves and outside of our universe," McDowell added.
Winfrey has been exploring different faiths during her recently-launched "Oprah's Next Chapter" series, visiting with a Hasidic Jewish family, New Age thinkers and spiritual figures, as well with Christian leaders, such as Bishop T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church.
In a December appearance on "The Dr. Oz" show, Winfrey commented on the direction of the "Next Chapter" series, revealing that at this particular season of her life, she was focusing more on drawing close to "that which is God."
"I think being connected to that which is greater than yourself, for me, at this particular time in my life, is the most important thing," the 58-year-old said.
In commenting on Winfrey's Monday night "Lifeclass" discussion, BCNN credits Christians like Stedman Graham, Tyler Perry, Bishop Jakes for "wisely [encouraging] her and [coaching] her on how to make her public profession of faith in Christ before the world. We believe that Oprah's true 'next chapter' is to finish her life leading millions to the Christ that saved her."
Perry and Gingrich Endorse Romney; Santorum Still on the Fence
Advisers Reveal Former Pennsylvania Senator to Meet Romney Next Week
Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, is yet to clinch all the 1,144 delegates he needs to officially be declared the winner of the race, and all but one of his previous campaign rivals have given him their support – with Rick Santorum being the only apparent holdout.
It was revealed Wednesday that both Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who dropped out of the Republican presidential race in January, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, have decided to endorse Romney.
"So today I join the many conservative Republicans across the nation in endorsing Mitt Romney for president and pledge to him, my constituents and the Republican Party that I will continue to work hard to help defeat President (Barack) Obama," Perry said, according to Reuters. Perry had initially endorsed Gingrich when he dropped out of the race.
Gingrich , who is still technically in the race, made it quite clear yesterday that he will be suspending his campaign next week.
According to Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond, on Wednesday morning, the former House Speaker spoke to Romney by phone and shared that he will endorse him for the presidency, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"I think you have to at some point be honest with what's happening in the real world, as opposed to what you'd like to have happened," Gingrich said after Romney swept big victories in five Northeastern states on Tuesday. "Gov. Romney had a very good day yesterday. He got 67 [percent] in one state, and he got 63 in other, 62 in another. Now you have to give him some credit, I mean this guy's worked six years, put together a big machine, and has put together a serious campaign."
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While the Republican Party largely seems to be uniting behind their presumptive nominee to face President Obama in the general election in November, arguably Romney's biggest rival, Rick Santorum, who suspended his campaign two weeks ago, remains on the fence on whether he will endorse the former Massachusetts governor or not.
The former Pennsylvania senator has avoided using the word "endorsement" or confirming comments suggesting he would endorse Romney, but according to ABC News, two senior advisers of Santorum's campaign have said that he will be meeting with Romney on May 4. They added that it is "possible" Santorum will make an official endorsement.
In a Tuesday interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Santorum admitted that Romney would be the GOP candidate to face Obama, and he expressed his commitment to his party – but when asked if his remarks were an endorsement of Romney, Santorum simply said, "You can call it whatever you want."
Santorum promoted his campaign as a social conservative and spoke openly on issues such as abortion and homosexual marriage, and often criticized Romney for not expressing a firm stance on such points. The former Pennsylvania senator appealed largely to evangelicals and conservative Christians, and had gained the backing of many pastors and church leaders across the country. In the end, however, he was unable to compete with Romney's broader appeal.
Iowa voters received last week a late letter seeking contributions to Santorum's campaign, in which he warned that conservatives will be "crippled" if Romney wins. In the letter, Santorum said, "It truly frightens me to think what'll happen if Mitt Romney is the nominee."
Still, his wife, Karen Santorum, said during the CNN interview that they are "working through" and "talking about" formally endorsing Romney, although whether or when that will happen remains to be seen.
Romney's remaining rival, Congressman Ron Paul, has said that he intends to remain in the race even if the former Massachusetts governor nabs the GOP nomination. The highest number of votes Paul attracted in this week's Northeastern primaries was 23.9 percent in Rhode Island, where Romney got 63.2 percent of votes.
"We're in the third lap of a mile race. Who knows? Maybe someone will stumble. You can never tell. If tomorrow Romney had the absolute number, I would continue in a modified way," Rep. Paul said Monday on CNBC.
Connecticut Death Penalty Abolished; Gov. Calls Repeal 'Historic Moment'
Connecticut officially became the fifth state in the past five years to abolish the death penalty after Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed the bill Wednesday at a private ceremony.
Earlier this month the state's Senate voted 20-16 in favor of removing capital punishment and making life imprisonment the maximum possible sentence for convicts – in the U.S., 16 other states in total have abolished the death penalty.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Malloy said he called the bill a "historic moment" for the state, and that it was a time "for sober reflection, not celebration." The ceremony was attended by lawmakers, members of clergy and the families of victims, The Associated Press reported.
The 11 inmates currently on death row in Connecticut will not be affected, however, and their sentences will be carried out as planned.
"This takes the momentum for repeal up a notch. We have another state saying, 'we've tried this experiment and the death penalty has failed,'" expressed Shari Silberstein, Executive Director of Equal Justice USA (EJUSA), a national organization that supports repeal of the death penalty.
"The death penalty is clearly on its way out. From East to West, states find the same flaws with the death penalty. It makes mistakes, is ineffective and unfairly applied, and it fails to meet the needs of the people whose loved ones are murdered," she added.
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Those opposed to the bill, however, like State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, have argued that the death penalty is still needed and that fears of executing innocent people are overblown.
"In theory would anybody want to vote for something that could possibly lead to the execution of an innocent person? Absolutely not,'' McKinney offered before the Senate vote in April. "But we're not dealing in theory. We're dealing in the facts that we have, not in Illinois, not in Texas and not in Florida, but here in Connecticut, it's not in dispute. There is no evidence that anyone currently on death row is innocent."
Chuck Smith to Undergo Tests for Lung Cancer Surgery
- (Photo: Calvary Chapel Chino Hills/Steve Hurlbert)
Doctors recommended surgery for Calvary Chapel movement founder Chuck Smith, whose cancerous tumor in his lungs has been reduced in size but is still a health factor after he underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
Smith, 84, who is the pastor of Calvary Church in Costa Mesa, will need more tests to determine if the surgery will be safe, his daughter Janette announced Wednesday. Her update was posted on a "Praying For Chuck Smith" Facebook group page that has more than 8,100 members.
"Yesterday, I went to my dad's appointment with the surgeon," Janette posted on the page. "He gave us the good news that the cancer is now confined to a much smaller tumor and it has disappeared from the lymph areas where it had spread. PTL!
"The doctor would like to remove the middle lobe of Dad's right lung, to remove all the cancer that is left, down to the last cell. However, Dad needs a few more tests to see if surgery is safe right now. If not, then there are other good options that we will pursue. Your continued prayers for God's perfect will in each step of this journey mean so much to us. We are eternally grateful – yes, literally!"
On New Year's Day during Sunday services, Smith stunned his congregation when he announced that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. In December 2009, Smith was hospitalized for having minor strokes and released several days later.
Despite the cancer diagnosis, Smith has been maintaining a busy schedule while preaching Sunday services, teaching at midweek Bible studies, and answering questions during his afternoon radio show "Pastor's Perspective."
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Richard McIntosh, who manages the KWVE 107.9 radio station for Calvary Chapel, told The Christian Post late Wednesday that he sees Smith every Monday through Thursday at the station's office and "he is doing very well having completed the chemo and radiation treatments."
If doctors give approval after testing, Smith's surgery to remove the tumor will more than likely occur within two weeks, a family friend and pastor posted on Facebook Wednesday.
Harvest Ministries Pastor Greg Laurie interviewed Smith five days after his announcement in January during a live webcast. The two were seated at a desk facing the crowd of nearly 2,000 in attendance at Harvest Orange County. Laurie asked Smith, who was a key figure during the nation's "Jesus people" era that began more than 40 years ago, if he was afraid of anything.
As he stared back at Laurie with his well-known grin, pausing briefly, Smith answered, "Not really."
To which Laurie replied, "You are unlike any man I know."
Christian Ministry Reaching Japan's Private, Secular Society Through Internet
Jesus.net Japan, an Internet-based evangelism ministry with an arm in the U.S., will be observing Internet Evangelism Day on April 29, which is set to draw attention to the ever-expanding role the web plays in today's world.
Japan has historically been known as a private society that has been reluctant to talk much about faith. Although the most recent poll on religious beliefs in the Pacific nation shows that Christianity is on the rise, it remains a nation with one of the smallest Christian percentages in the world – in a 2006 Gallup Poll, only six percent of the population said it was Christian.
"The Japanese do not talk about religion very easily, they are mostly private people. But a very large part of the population goes online to seek answers about questions they would not ask in person," shared Christian Zebley, Spokesperson for Jesus.net Japan, in an interview with The Christian Post.
Jesus.net Japan is seeing a new opportunity to reach Japanese society – through the Internet. Japan is one of the most progressive nations in the world when it comes to technology, and many people turn to online communication to address many of their spiritual needs and questions in life.
Jesus.net Japan is part of a worldwide movement of more than 40 national and international ministries. Its vision is to expose millions people to the Bible, through interactive websites, and share with them the good news of Jesus Christ.
Reaching out to them through the Internet and sharing the Good News of the Gospel is more important now than ever, Zebley explained to CP.
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"The absolute best way to start reaching out to Japan's people is through private evangelism – we need to reach out to them through the Internet, and let them know who God is, what is His plan for salvation, and how they can become Christian," he said.
Japanese society has been greatly affected by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake that killed about 16,000 people, and it has led to a lot of soul searching – even if that outlet has been more so online.
"The disasters last year and the expanding economic growth here have people wondering what life is about more than ever before," Zebley said.
"We want to give people an opportunity to get answers and hope and reach them where they spend a lot of time – on the Internet – and connect them with other people who have been touched by the light of Christ," he added. "Changes are not going to happen overnight," the spokesman continued. "There will not be a sudden movement of conversions where the majority of the country will turn Christian. There is a long way to go."
"One of the primary goals of evangelism is to meet people where they are and introduce them to Jesus," added Andy Game, Jesus.net Japan's director, in a press release statement. "The Japanese are huge consumers of digital technology. If we want them to know that they matter to Jesus, we need to meet them where they live. Much of that is online."
Internet Evangelism Day is observed on the fourth Sunday in April, which is also the culmination of Digital Outreach Month.