(Photo: Reuters / Lucas Jackson)
A few years ago, the popular Christian recording artists Casting Crowns recorded a song in which they asked what would happen if the family of God turned to Jesus and stopped asking Oprah what to do.
Ironically, in her final show, Winfrey credited Jesus for her success.
“People often ask me, What is the secret to the success of the show?” Oprah said during the finale on Wednesday – a show that drew its highest rating in 17 years. “How have we lasted 25 years. I non-jokingly say, my team – and Jesus. Because nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me.”
Winfrey has won more than 40 Emmys. Her book club turned obscure books into bestsellers. She currently ranks second on the Forbes list of most powerful celebrities – ahead of Justin Bieber, U2, Tiger Woods and Taylor Swift. She became so influential that four of her fans created a religion called Oprahology, in which its founder, Miranda Clark, calls Winfrey an idol and goddess.
Did all of this influence really come from the God of the Bible?
“For all of you who get riled up when I mention God and you want to know which God I'm talking about, “ she said during the finale, “I'm talking about the same one you're talking about. I'm talking about the Alpha and the Omega. The omniscient. The omnipresent. The ultimate consciousness. The source, the force, the all of everything there is. The one and only, G-O-D. That's the one I'm talkin' about."
She closed her show by saying, “I won’t say goodbye, I’ll just say until we meet again.” She paused, then added, “To God be the glory.”
She wasn’t always so specific in her choice of words.
When she told her audience during a show in 2008 that there are many paths to “what you call God” an audience member challenged her. Winfrey held her ground saying, “There couldn't possibly be just one way.”
She was also taken by the concept of like attracts like, espoused in a book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, causing some to say Winfrey’s beliefs had more to do with the New Age movement than Christianity.
Yesterday, on the Washington Post “On Faith” blog, Amarnath Amarasingam – a doctoral candidate in the Laurier-Waterloo PhD in Religious Studies in Ontario, Canada, wrote a post entitled “Oprah: High Priestess of the New Age” in which he noted her comfort with the New Age movement.
“Oprah seems to be at home within the New Age movement in the United States,” he said. “The perennialist, individualistic focus on spirituality that she exemplifies arises out of seeds planted during the New Age movement ...”
Now that Winfrey’s daytime program is finished, she will turn her attention to her newly launched television network, OWN.