I saw an atheist blogger yesterday as he described how he enjoyed watching Oprah. The reason? She caused people to question their religious beliefs. Well, she certainly does that. According to Oprah and her millions of enlightened followers, as long as “your heart is right” (whatever that means), God will welcome you with open arms. Many of the atheists with whom I've interacted operate kind of like, "Well if I'm wrong, I'm sure that God is the benevolent sort and will recognise what a good person I am so it will all work out."
Neither atheists nor Oprah explain just how right / good a person’s heart has to be, or according to whose scale of rightness we must adhere. One thing they’re sure of, it isn’t Creator God’s scale of rightness that we need to pay attention to. On the other hand, it’s probably fair to say that atheists, Oprah and every last one of her followers believe that for us to reach our spiritual goal (whatever that is) our hearts must be at least as right as their hearts.
That’s why Jesus the Christ and the religion that bears His name are rejected by atheists, Oprah and her followers. After all, Jesus is the only religious leader who has or ever will proclaim with absolute clarity that none of us, not a single person on planet earth is right enough to be acceptable to God in our natural state.
I am not saying that Oprah or any given atheist is overtly evil. In fact Oprah’s enormous resources have allowed her to do tremendous good for many, many people. People would say and I’m sure that she would agree, “Her heart is right. Oprah means well. She tries to do the right thing.” No, the reason that this atheist's comments about Oprah caught my attention is that while there are relatively few professing atheists in the world (those who declare there is no God), there may be a billion or more what I call Functional Atheists - those who live as though God, as He is described in the Bible, does not exist.
Functional atheists, or practical atheists as they're called by some, believe that God’s desires for us are no more relevant for our lives than those of the guy next door.
It is my belief that Oprah has singlehandedly turned more people away from Jesus than any other spiritual leader perhaps in all of history. She has done this by assuring her followers that they are correct in what they already want to believe, i.e., Jesus is not the Way, the Truth and the Life. Millions of people trust Oprah. Virtually all American news magazines were unanimous in the opinion that Oprah’s influence elected the last American President. Because people trust Oprah, because "they believe in her," so to speak, she has been able to convince people that their personal quest for “salvation” and their individual ideas about how to deal with their sin and guilt are just as valid as any other spiritual path that humans have invented. In her own words, and in direct opposition to the teaching of Jesus, “There are many paths to God.” Now of course, for Oprah and for anyone else whose lives reflect the fact that they’ve rejected Jesus as Lord, this type of thinking is understandable. In fact it can and should be expected.
Whether it’s Thomas Jefferson who needs to justify screwing his female slaves by cutting out all descriptions of miracles in the Bible or whether it’s someone else needing to justify living common-law with h/her current person of interest, denying the authority of the Bible over one’s life is a requisite first step. Convincing others to follow along in the simple-minded belief that large numbers of like-thinkers have the power to magically turn something from wrong into right is the next step.
Of course, the idea that we’re all on the same road to God or that there are many paths to God is ludicrous. Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I Am who I say I Am, you will die in your sins.” The answer to the question, “Was He right?” is not in the same category of questions like, “What is the most pleasing thing in life?” or “How would you describe the perfect holiday?” If there is a Creator God, then the answer to the question of His existence is of the same order as the answer to the question, What is 2 + 2? The answer will either be right or it will be wrong. Period!
. If God has revealed Himself to us, as Jesus said that He has, and
. If God has provided a path of belief that is intended to lead us to Him, again as Jesus said that He has, and
. If our very salvation depends on us following the path that has been laid out for us by Creator God, as Jesus said that it does,
. Then other paths or alternate paths can only lead us away from Creator God, and not to Creator God. To know what Jesus taught and to then deliberately choose to follow Buddhism or Native Religion or anything else instead cannot and will not place you on the same path to God as Jesus directed.
We can’t logically, as many try to do, pick and choose from a combination of religions, or choose no religion, and then decide that our newly invented belief system is true, simply because we would like it to be true. Something of this nature is either true or it isn’t. If there is such as thing as truth, and Jesus said that He and His Word are the Truth, then you can’t have thousands of god’s (Hinduism) and only one God (Christianity). You can’t have Jesus as Lord (Christianity), and yourself as lord (New Age). You can’t have an eternal, personal, loving, just, merciful, patient God (Christianity) and eternal nothingness (Buddhism). You can’t have God as Creator, separate from His creation, yet intimately involved and active in His creation (Christianity) and god is the same as creation, uninvolved and passive (Native Religion / Pantheism). God cannot exist and not exist at the same time.
As C. S. Lewis pointed out, there may be many wrong answers to any given mathematical problem. And some of the wrong answers will be much closer to the right answer than some of the others. But there will always and only be one correct answer. Everything else will always and only be a wrong answer. Likewise, there are several thousand answers to the questions, What is God like? and How can we know Him? Some of those answers will be closer to correct than others in their understanding of Creator God. However, one thing is certain, there is only one right answer to both 2 + 2 = , and Is Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life? and not just any old path will lead you to either answer. Neither will having a right heart allow your instructor to say, “Oh Jenny, you have such a good heart. And I know that you mean well. That’s why, even though you think 121 is the answer to 2 + 2, I’m going to say that you’re correct. Doesn’t me giving you a gold star make you feel good? I do it because feeling good is the only thing that’s imporant.”
Jesus has said that He is the only way by which salvation may be known and He is either correct or He isn’t. Jesus of Nazareth is either telling the truth or else He is a liar of grand proportion. Either He is the One through whom your sins can be forgiven or He isn’t. No other religious leader has made the type of claims that were made by Jesus and no other religious leader has provided the confirming evidence that Jesus provided so that we may fairly and logically believe His claims. A decision must be made, and according to Jesus there are eternal consequences to how we answer His question of “Who do you say that I Am?” Jesus may be many things to many people but one thing He isn’t. Jesus is not ‘sort of important.’ If He is correct in what He taught, then what you do with Jesus is the most important decision that you will ever make. So, are you going to believe what Jesus says about Himself and salvation, or are you going to believe what Oprah says about Jesus and salvation? Either Jesus is correct or Oprah is correct. It can’t be both.
Rather than reach out their hand and accept the offer of heaven, atheists wail and moan that Jesus is sending them to hell. Rather than do what she absolutely knows Jesus taught about salvation, Oprah would rather encourage the people who’ve made her a billionaire to ignore our Creator’s instructions regarding what is required to attain salvation (hence her fame and popularity). She tells them to make up their own ideas of how to get to heaven. All the wealthiest evangelists use the same technique. Tell people what they want to hear and the money rolls in.