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#26 Oprah and the Problem with America’s Views of Death

Death is misunderstood by most Americans and there are fewer greater influences that shape our culture’s thinking on death than Oprah Winfrey.

In this episode of “Now is the Time” I identify the problems with Oprah’s views on death and the afterlife and I discuss how that affects your understanding of the resurrection.

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Below are three videos that include the thoughts of some of Oprah Winfrey’s most trusted “spiritual guides”.  Each one represents a slightly different view on the soul after death.

Pantheism

The soul continues on as part of everything.

Spiritism

The soul continues on individually in the spirit realm.

Hinduism/Buddhism

The soul finds a new form.

The Bible presents a different picture of death!

Man was not designed to die thus death is unnatural

Gen 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

All death is the result of sin

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Death is a merciful act of God

Gen 6:3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Death is final and is followed by judgment

Heb 9:27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.

Death is conquered by Jesus alone

1 Cor 15:55-57
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Question: What misconceptions about death have you noticed in the culture around you?

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I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children! My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

  • Wise perspective on death, Caleb. The world looks at this world like this is it, when we know that this is just the beginning, a blink of an eye, a breath and then eternity.

    I find it peculiar and odd for people that believe they are deep thinkers and they are the ones that claim that if they are good enough and act good toward others, they’ll get to heaven. I ask them since they have the authority to be able to judge what’s good enough, then they must be a god, and if they are they should be able to speak themselves into immortality. And if they can’t they should consider the Truth of God’s word…

    • Floyd, I also found that these “spiritual teachers” who Oprah looks up to seem to speak authoritatively about death and the soul, yet where are they getting this from? For the most part it seems to be their own observations, they’re certainly not going back to the inspired Word of God.

    • You’re awesome, Floyd. Great logic.

  • Actually, the most confused messages about death I find are from Christians. Too many of them don’t read their Bible, and so don’t understand what happens when we die. You hear pastors in a single funeral waffle between “he’s sleeping in the grave” to “he’s in a better place” to “he’ll rise again on judgement day”. Well, which is it? Is he sleeping, or conscious, or what?

    This whole Greek teaching of an immortal soul that has invaded Christian Theology is messing with a lot of beliefs inside the Church as well as outside. It confuses the issue and brings along some very odd doctrines in order to rationalize those beliefs. They will use the Rich Man and Lazarus parable, which wasn’t about the afterlife, to justify concepts of hell and heaven, but ignore the rest of the Bible that contradicts this one story.

    I think we in Christianity need to get our story straight first, before we expect the secular world and media to figure out what they believe.

    • Scripture does use the terminology “sleeping” on several occasions to describe the body of someone who has died. 1 cor 15:51 and 1 Thes 4:14. Jesus also talked about heaven very often in his teachings, not just about Lazarus. The Epistles also talk about heaven as a real place. It’s important to look at how the terminology is used in each context.

      • No argument there, heaven is a real place. But the idea that the soul is immortal prior to judgment day is unbiblical.

  • Hope to listen to this videos soon.
    Happy Resurrection Day!

    • Thank you TC! Pray for me. I’m working on my sermon right now!

  • Renee’ Flory

    I’ve noticed too that if someone dies what we’d consider consider a ‘heroic’ death (for example, in the Twin towers, either as victims or firefighters) they they are immediately in heaven, in a better place” or eternally memorialized. It has become something holy. There is no questioning of their relationship with or two Jesus. All of the sudden, even even in the church, the Gospel message and response to that message is completely out of the question. The question of the possibility of hell doesn’t even enter in.

    • Yes, those are tricky situations because you want to honor their death and sacrifice, yet that doesn’t guarantee a place in heaven or say anything about their relationship with God.