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.
"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."