When spiritual advisor turned television personality thinks of her friend and media tycoon Oprah Winfrey, she sees a biblical representation of love.
"I remember the first time I was on the Oprah Winfrey show, I quoted Corinthians. And to me that is who and what Oprah Winfrey is," Iyanla Vanzant said on OWN Network's "Where Are They Now" special. "A human personification of love."
They went on to list some of Winfrey's qualities that line up with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
"She is generous, I know Stedman won't agree with me but she is kind," Vanzant says with a laugh, about Winfrey's longtime partner Stedman Graham. "She keeps no record of wrongs. I know this woman has not been treated well."
Winfrey has been vocal about being abused, raped and mistreated in the past.
"You will have to learn that the wounds of your past — rape, molestation, whippings for 'stepping out of place,' and not being allowed to show anger or cry afterward — damaged your self-esteem," the head of OWN wrote in a letter to her teenage self. "Yet through it all, you've held on to a belief in God and God's belief in you. That will be your single greatest gift: knowing there is a power greater than yourself and trusting that Force to guide you."
The life coach, who hosts shows like "Iyanla Fix My Life" on the OWN network, insists that despite Winfrey's level of fame she has a quality of humility.
"People don't see it and know it, but I feel it in my spirit: a level of meekness about Oprah Winfrey," Vanzant said. "You don't see it because you see her big, strong television personality, but there's a level of humility and meekness in her."
While Vanzant praised Oprah as a paragon of the famous Bible passage on love, some evangelical leaders have warned Christians to be careful of Winfrey's spiritual teachings. Well-known Christian apologists Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett wrote the book "O" God: A Dialogue on Truth and Oprah's Spirituality where they warned Christians that while Oprah is persuasive and does a lot of good, the talk show queen and the spiritual teachers she promote teach pantheism – God is all and all is God – and there are mutliple paths to reach God. She also advocates for pursuing one's inner desires instead fo restraining oneself if the act is said to be a sin in the Bible.
"Here is where you got to be careful," said McDowell at McLean Bible Church in 2010. "Not only Oprah but others use Christian or religious terminologies that Christians would accept as Christian."
The apologists warned that Oprah may use the Bible's language and Christian traditions but she mixes those with other traditions to "create a hodgepodge of personalized faith."
Winfrey had previously said her favorite Bible verse is Philippians 3:14.
"The trajectory of your life changed the day you answered the call from Chris Clark, the news director at WLAC-TV," Winfrey wrote in the letter to herself featured in a 2012 issue of her OWN magazine. "Your response was ignited by the words of your then-favorite Bible verse, Philippians 3:14. 'I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.'"