Monday, May 22, 2006

Pastoral Lessons from Oprah Winfrey?

I am a bit late in posting this but a couple of weeks ago USA Today ran a story entitled, “The Divine Miss Winfrey”. This is not really surprising but it was a revealing look at typical views of spirituality in our culture. What first caught my attention though were the letters to the editor a day or two later. The letters were printed under the title, What preachers can learn , and since I do not know how long the link will work I have pasted in the full text of the last letter:
Though I do not think Oprah Winfrey is the "spiritual leader for the new millennium," I am sure she is making, and will make, a significant contribution to the spiritual lives of many people who do not find what they should be getting from their churches.
Further, I anticipate a backlash from this article from preachers who are not cutting it. But instead of denouncing the premise that Oprah has a spiritual contribution to make, they should be embracing an opportunity to study what Oprah is doing that is making such a significant impact on the lives of so many people.
Perhaps Ms. Winfrey would be kind enough to offer seminars throughout the country for preachers who want to regain contact with the people they feel called to serve. If she would, I would like the opportunity to be the first to sign up.
The Rev. Brian A. Mahoney, Rockville, Md.
This is another example of the decline in the concept of what a pastor is and how the office is being shaped by the culture rather than by Scripture. “Making an impact” is a slippery category for measuring success. It tends to mean ‘drawing a crowd” and ‘getting positive reviews.” This though is not our goal. May we be deaf to the siren calls of culture and devote ourselves to the biblical tasks for us, as Eugene Peterson powerfully put it, word and sacrament.


T A Blankenship said...

AMEN, Brother.
Appreciate the article

Gordon Cloud said...

Men of God are going to have to be willing to pay the price of going against the cultural grain of expectations of the ministry.

We need a generation of pastors who are willing to re-define the characteristics of the calling in a biblical sense.

Thanks for this article.

Anonymous said...

It is true people look at anyone with a spiritual intellect as pastor's these days. The thing is the devil is doing his job by putting confusion in man. There searching everywhere for the right answers, or for someone to stand up and take charge. That's supposed to be the church. Most church's today are affraid to say the right things thinking that people will get mad and leave the church. Which is sad. You never saw Jesus hold back anything. And as christians we shouldn't either. People think Oprah is so special because she tells the truth and shows compassion on the hurting. Christians should be doing that already. Jesus said to love thy neighbor as thy self. Which is the final commandment.

Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks for stopping by PJ and I agree with much of what you said. However, I am not so sure that Oprah 'tells the truth' when it comes to matters of spiritual/biblical/theological truth.

Brett said...

Oprah teaching seminars to pastors?

That's almost as scary as...

....Hugh Hefner teaching marriage seminars

...or Pete Rose on handling finances

...or Pat Robertson teaching prophecy

...or the Chicago Cubs in the World Series (sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Tyler Ervin said...

Unfortunately, without men stepping up and going against the culture, as Gordon Cloud said, Oprah will be safely considered the new spiritual leader of the country. If we think the country is bad now, I think we have no clue.

There is a video floating around the internet in which Oprah firmly states that Jesus can't be the only way. She throws out the man on the deserted island argument and then the audience backs down. That was probably the most depressing part.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I didn't make my self clear. By no means, Am I saying that Oprah is Spiritual, Biblical, and Theogical person. She's far from it. The sad thing is that so many people look up to her. Then there she is living with a man without being married, and worshipping her money. She's bringing down the morals of this country and no one is against her. It would be amazing to see how many Christians actually watch and support her show.

Spencer Haygood said...

Thanks, Ray, for this little piece. I missed the USA Today article and the letters to the editor, but the whole thing really exemplifies the church's massive enculturation. In fact, I was just reflecting on this whole business of prophetic faithfulness in Our Time in the blog entitled "Sabbatical" at "Views from the Hill."

God's best,