OPRAH AND THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH
By Paul Proctor
January 28, 2006
Oprah Winfrey appears to have learned something that many of today's evangelicals have not - the importance of truth, which is ironic considering their constant criticism of her strange spirituality and their own claims to have been delivered from the "father of lies."
Though pastors have been encouraged by their Purpose Driven guru, Rick Warren to do "whatever it takes," I am prayerfully hoping that this explosive incident involving Oprah will serve as a wake up call to the Church.
It seems she recommended a book, written by James Frey, to her highly acclaimed book club, that told a dramatic story of his struggle through drug and alcohol addiction. Of course, when Oprah recommends a product of any kind on her show, the sales of that item skyrocket. It was no different with Frey's book, A Million Little Pieces, which, thanks to her, sold a couple of million pieces.
But there was a problem. An investigative website called The Smoking Gun reported some rather serious factual errors in Frey's "non-fiction" paperback. The controversy and criticism grew until Oprah tearfully admitted to her January 26th audience that Frey had "betrayed millions of readers" by "lying;" but only after vigorously defending him days earlier on Larry King Live, where Frey was a guest; going so far as to call in to King's January 11th program to support Frey and reaffirm her recommendation of his book.
Oprah: "And I feel about "A Million Little Pieces" that although some of the facts have been questioned -- and people have a right to question, because we live in a country that lets you do that, that the underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me�If you're an addict whose life has been moved by this story and you feel that what James went through was able to -- to help you hold on a little bit longer, and you connected to that, that is real. That is real. And it's -- it's irrelevant discussing, you know, what -- what happened or did not happen to the police."
The mistake Oprah made was not so much recommending a book that was factually inaccurate when, at least for a time, she did not know that the author had fabricated many of the details in his story. Her mistake came later when she, according to The New York Times, implied on Larry King Live "�that the truth of the book mattered less than its story of redemption."
However, when the criticism got to be too great, she confessed on her January 26th show, where author James Frey was a guest, that she had "been duped," and remorsefully declared: "I gave the impression that the truth does not matter."
The good news is, Oprah clearly stated, on that show: "I made a mistake," going so far as to tell those viewers who had earlier called and written in chastising her for defending Frey's inaccuracies, "You are absolutely right."
There are many today, especially in the church growth movement, who have adopted this perverse morality called "pragmatism" that Oprah briefly embraced on Larry King Live; a religion of "whatever works;" where lies are acceptable if they result in a "story of redemption." But as she and many others have now painfully learned; just because a book is popular, sells millions of copies and affects its readers in some positive way, even resulting in a perceived redemption, that does not make it righteous. A lie is still a lie, regardless of the outcome.
It is no different with movies, music, television, concerts, speeches, sermons or personal experiences, emotional, spiritual or otherwise. If it is against God's Word, it is against God - period.
That's what Christian fundamentalists believe - those stubborn individuals Rick Warren recently called: "one of the big enemies of the 21st century" - people that believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith - Christians who accept God's Word as the Ultimate Authority, not something to be twisted, bent and taken out of context as needed to make it fit for the sake of some benevolent agenda.
"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." - Psalm 138:2
Unfortunately, much of the Purpose Driven junk food that is fed to Christians today is judged, not by God's Word, but rather by its perceived results. Its spiritual legitimacy is erroneously assessed by counting how many people show up, how many people support it, how many people respond positively, how many people are baptized, and how many people "get connected," thereby making the end justify the means, which ultimately leads to the harlotry of anything goes and is exactly why corporate worship at church today has become largely obscene and unscriptural; because we no longer believe God, much less obey Him, being totally focused on amassing Results and Relationships rather than preaching, teaching, learning and obeying the Word of God, whatever it costs us personally or the church collectively.
"Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied." - Proverbs 27:20
It should be noted that beneath the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, on that fateful day when we lost it all, there was perfect attendance, unanimous support, a positive response and a Divine connection that ended in death because they disobeyed the Word of God in pursuit of results.
I recently chronicled in three articles for NewsWithViews.com, many contradictions in the Ashley Smith hostage story that spawned another Oprah book club favorite entitled, Unlikely Angel; and how Rick Warren and his book, The Purpose Driven Life were being credited far and wide for miraculously enabling her to win her freedom from kidnapper, Brian Nichols; freedom from her addiction to crystal meth (which she gave to Nichols during her captivity) and freedom from a purposeless life, as defined by Pastor Warren.
Ironically, as a guest himself on Larry King Live, Rick Warren called the much reported incident "a story of two redemptions," in spite of the fact that Nichols unrepentantly pleaded "not guilty" to those multiple courtroom murders and converted to Islam upon returning to jail; not to mention Ashley stating, with Warren at her side, that she had actually been a Christian since around the age of seven.
But, because a book called The Purpose Driven Life needed to be sold and Pastor Warren needed to be perceived as successful, the truth of Ashley's ordeal became secondary to expediency; and just as Oprah awkwardly tried to justify the errors in Frey's book, since it had touched so many lives, Christians to this day defend Pastor Warren and his book, not because he is scripturally sound or accurate but simply because he has sold so many copies and "touched so many lives" with it. In other words, it worked, so it must be a God thing.
I wonder; does that same pragmatic standard apply to all the other pagan religions of the world? Do their vast numbers of "touched lives" and their pagan writings full of "purpose" and "passion" certify their legitimacy too?
It's interesting to note that Oprah had Ashley Smith and Rick Warren as guests on her show as well, recommending both of their books to her audience.
Unfortunately, telling the truth these days, even in church, is viewed by most to be mean spirited, divisive, unproductive and unloving; while hiding the Truth of God's Word is celebrated and rewarded, creating a cancerous growth called apostasy - a malignancy that quietly kills the body as it expands, not by the Power of God but by the putrescence of corrupted cells within.
The fact is, telling someone the truth, the whole truth, regardless of what it does to attendance, applause, career, self-esteem or reputation, is the most loving thing you can do; and with the Lord's strength and guidance, that is what this "enemy of the 21st century" will continue to strive for in 2006.
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." - 2nd Thessalonians 2:7-12
� 2006 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
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Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print.
E-Mail: [email protected]�
Unfortunately, telling the truth these days, even in church, is viewed by most to be mean spirited, divisive, unproductive and unloving; while hiding the Truth of God's Word is celebrated and rewarded, creating a cancerous growth called apostasy...