Oprah says God behind success of show
Oprah Winfrey, seen in this file photo, told her audience in her final show that God had led her life, even when she didn't realize it.
May 25th, 2011
07:13 PM ET

Oprah says God behind success of show

By Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN) - Oprah Winfrey closed her sentimental final show with the words, "I won’t say goodbye, I’ll just say until we meet again."

Then, after a subtle pause, she added, "To God be the glory.”

With her work done, she walked through the audience and left the set of her talk show. During the show's 25-year run, she interviewed more than 30,000 people and won more than 40 Emmys. The credits rolled as she walked the hallways of the Harpo complex, saying goodbye to her staff.

She has been one of the most influential people in America, if not the world. Commentators looked at the power she held over her audience, and some people even likened her viewers to members of a cult.

Winfrey professed her faith and her belief in God, but over the course of the show, some observers saw her more as a spiritual person than a Christian.

In her last show, Winfrey took several minutes to speak to her belief that God - and her staff - were behind the show's success.

"People often ask me what is the secret to the success of the show," she said. "How have we lasted 25 years. I non-jokingly say, my team - and Jesus."

It was a remark that drew applause from the studio audience but also may make Christian commentators take notice.

Kathryn Lofton, who has watched more than 2,500 episodes of the show, said she had recorded the finale and would watch it later tonight. But her friends were texting her about the episode.

Lofton, a professor of U.S. religious history at Yale University and the author of "Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon," was intrigued that Winfrey had mentioned Jesus, since she had used his name sparingly on air.

"Early on (in her career) she was more comfortable in saying that but over time began to use this more universal language of 'spirit,'" said Lofton, who wrote about Oprah's final show for CNN's Belief Blog.

Lofton says Winfrey wants to be viewed as someone who "translates and understands herself as a Christian woman" but reflects a modern attitude about religion and religious institutions.

And that has angered a few folks.

In 2008, Winfrey endorsed the book "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose," helping it sell more than 3.5 million copies after the talk-show host selected it for her book club. Winfrey and the book's author, Eckhart Tolle, took part in a webinar in which she angered some Christians by saying that Jesus didn't come to die on the cross.

"It really was about him coming to show us how to do it, how to be, to show us the Christ-consciousness that he had and that that consciousness abides with all of us," she told the audience.

One viewer even asked the question on the Oprah.com message boards: Is Oprah a Christian?

Pistis07 wrote: "I was surprised because I had always thought she was a Christian but after flicking through her website and watching clips of more shows where she seems to be promoting a type of New Age religion and books from 'New Age spiritualists,' I really doubt that she is a Christian in the way Jesus explained and most Christians understand. Or perhaps she's just confused about the nature of God."

It was an issue her critics seized on. They said she wasn't promoting the God of the Bible but instead was indoctrinating her audience into a New Age spiritualism.

Authors Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett say as much in their book, "'O' God: A Dialogue on Truth and Oprah's Spirituality." Sterrett told Crosswalk.com in October 2009 that Winfrey "reflects the common American practice of choosing whatever beliefs seem most attractive and leaving the rest."

Her message in the final years of her show was that the truth of life was within the individual, several commentators have said.

"Christians aren't people who have gotten in touch with their inner selves, but those who actually have Christ living inside of them through the Holy Spirit," McDowell told Crosswalk.

What Winfrey tried to get across is her belief that there wasn't just one right way to be connected to God, Lofton argues.

"The only right way is the way that she herself articulates and embodies, which is multiplicity," she said. "You can be many things. There are many paths to God, she says. It's that multiplicity which very much marks contemporary religious life."

Winfrey wanted to make sure that everyone knew she wasn't being ambiguous about her faith. In her final show, she spoke of how God has always been there, a voice whispering. And that her faith, while it might seem different than the one taught in religious institutions, was at its roots the same: It all centers on one thing.

"Nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me," she said. "For all of you who get riled up when I mention God and you want to know which God I'm talking about, I'm talking about the same one you're talking about. I'm talking about the Alpha and the Omega. The omniscient. The omnipresent. The ultimate consciousness. The source, the force, the all of everything there is. The one and only, G-O-D. That's the one I'm talkin' about."

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • God • Jesus • TV

soundoff (675 Responses)
  1. Bob KC

    Please just answer this very simple question:
    If there is no other Savior besides Jehovah (Isaiah 43:11), why does the New Testament teach that Christ is the only Savior?
    With all due respect please don't talk around the question.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Justin Prestijus

      @Bob KC.....Jesus/Jehova my brother......IS the Savior...its not hard, its NOT confusing...he is "the way, the truth, & the life, & no man cometh to the father but by me".......Jesus said that!!.....:)

      May 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Blue

      Jehovah and Jesus are the same God!

      May 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • maggie

      because without Jesus ransom sacrifice they would be no resurrection.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  2. vera

    The Gospel states ....."if you deny me in front of men....I will deny you before my father in heaven". This is what Oprah did. Oprah and her friends are New Age Gurus...I am glad she is of the air and I hope now she has time to open the Bible and read it. I do not know what kind of God she is worshipping but this is not the Jesus of the Bible.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  3. Lincoln Place

    giant gagging sound...

    May 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  4. maggie

    All of you who claim to know your bible well, What is the theme of the bible?

    May 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Justin Prestijus

      @maggie.....to answer your question ..........Simply Love...:)

      May 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • vel

      Absolute obedience to God no matter what. Just do what God says no matter how awful and you won't be tortured eternally.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • vel

      The bible is love? okay, show me how that can be when God can't even stand up to the definition of love the bible has in it. God fails on every count. Is this another instance of do as I say, not as I do?

      May 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • vera

      What is the theme of the bible? ....JESUS...

      You sound like you belong to the "church of Oprah"

      May 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Blue

      The theme of the Bible is God created humans. Humans rebelled against God. God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son to die for the sins of the world, and that all who believe in Jesus's sacrifice will be saved. That is the ultimate love.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • I Don't Get It

      Justin Prestijus,

      The Bible = Simply Love? Are you reading the whole Bible... or some children's version with all of the meanness, atrocities and horror attributed to this "God" cut out or glossed over?

      May 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • ScottK

      The theme of the bible is "redemption". From the very begining it starts with sin entering into mankind and immediately God makes the first prophecy about the seed of man being bitten in the heal and the serpent being bruised in the head which starts the whole concept of mankinds redemption. Everything from then is about it from Abraham's attempted sacrafice, the passing over by the angel of death in Egypt and the killing of the firstborn sons, the sacrafices of animals to the inevitable fullfilment of those prophecies with Christ's birth and execution, paying the price for all mankinds sins.

      That still doesn't make any of it true.

      May 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  5. Lesley Clary Hamer

    Oprah just preached one of the most powerful sermons I've EVER heard during her final show yesterday! As a Christian woman who has loved Oprah for 25 years, I was happy to hear her profess her faith so boldly. I'll admit, after reading "The New Earth" and hearing some of O's comments I was confused about her understanding of Christ. She...like ALL of us...is a work in progress. What I love about Oprah is that she allows viewers to join along side as she explores life's great mysteries. She just proclaimed Jesus as the force behind her success to MILLIONS of viewers! She used her platform for the ultimate purpose: to go and make disciples of all! Well done Oprah...God's good and faithful servant. May He continue to richly bless you for the rest of your days!

    May 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • DONNA Boldin

      Oprah is just a very unique person I am honored that God has let me live in this era of this very special
      humanbeing. God let me live through a massive brain stroke, the death of my father from lungcancer, The first
      African American president of the United STATES of America and the massive destruction of tornadoes in the SOUTH . To sum it all up the rainbows of tomorrow are brighter because of Oprah. What a honor
      Sincerely Donna Boldin

      May 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  6. vel

    NIce to see that God has time to make women fat and famous and ignores the poor and the dying. Also nice to see the usual TrueChristians on this board who are always ready to declare their version of Christianity better than everyone elses, and with no more evidence than their loud mouths.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Justin Prestijus

      @vel......i just want to proclaim that I Love You!!!!!!!.....& also wish to exclaim that we are ONLY stating Gods word(Bible), NOT our OWN individual beliefs!!.....:)

      May 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Blue

      JESUS said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME." We're not saying it, He said it, and I believe it.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  7. dirtyharry1971

    Oprah is off the air folks, she is "past" tense, time to move on as there is nothing else to see as she was a one trick pony who i think God did everyone a favor and pulled the plug on her and spared us more pain!! Time to talk about something else

    May 26, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  8. bush limbush

    So Oprah believes that god cares if she has a talk show??? Is this the same imaginary god that cares of a football player scores a touchdown?

    May 26, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Blue

      God cares about everything that happens to His people. If you believe, He will be with you through thick and thin. Fact.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  9. Anne

    If you haters would stop judging people according to YOUR beliefs and what youTHINK God wants, you would not need to put someone else down to elevate yourselves.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • ScottK

      So you would make no snide comment if Oprah had instead said "To Stawberry Shortcake be the glory.”?

      May 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  10. Justin Prestijus

    Man is certainly NOT God, but like Heath said above, it IS A CHRISTIANS responsibility to educate the Lost!!!....People are so quick to say "Only God can Judge me"....or "Dont judge me"....how then can they be won for the kingdom????....i tell you, by Living our lives before them & showing them TRUE Godly Love & compassion!!....Sure, some ppl who claim they are "Christian" are very quick to Beat you over the head with a Bible, but let God deal with them....those who are true to the Faith are REQUIRED to share the Gospel......My sister we have to ask ourselves, "Are we going to church for a Man or for God??".....

    May 26, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • streetcar01

      I go to church to sleep.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  11. maggie


    If you do not believe in the bible or Jesus or God, why are you in this coversation? Why do you care?

    May 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • vel

      Why? Becaue it's hypocritical to claim that some magical god helps you get a tv show and millions of dollars when this god supposedly is also merciful and cares about the sick and dying. We get to see how Christians make up their own god according to their personal hates and desires , underlining the fact that there is no god at all.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • LinCA

      Because this garbage is being used to push science out of the classroom, to restrict access to healthcare, to discriminate against certain groups in the community. It is forced on everyone by making the pledge a prayer and by putting this nonsense on the currency.

      Don't get me wrong. You have every right to believe whatever you want. That is your problem. Don't make it mine.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • streetcar01

      And then, some of you get elected to high office or find your way into influential positions and bring your "beliefs" with you, making decisions that effect me.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  12. Suzzy

    I love Oprah and I wish her the best. If you loved what Oprah stood for then check out. http://www.girlvent.com. Its where women can share their thoughts/stories freely.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  13. blake

    Please don't pull Jesus into this. There is nothing Christian about you. You are New Age to the core. And it is all about Oprah.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  14. DaJSUDiva

    @Justin Prestijus
    I am not offended. I have been raised on the Bible since my existance, my Grandmother made sure we knew the Book... again I am not referring to some Christian who know the true essence of his words, and maybe I should have expresses. However, you do have people who interpret the Bible certian scriptures and misconstrue it's true meaning. I am very familiar with John 14:6 again was raised in the church and the Bible is a staple for me. Some not all will read scriptures in their own way, to make it fit their perception, not saying all.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • JT

      I feel sorry for you to be so indoctrinated into the Christian cult since birth. That must just be horrible.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • LinCA

      DaJSUDiva said: "Some not all will read scriptures in their own way, to make it fit their perception, not saying all."

      ALL christians who claim to live by the bible interpret it to fit their preconceived notions. They ALL pick and choose the parts that they like and disregard the parts that they don't. They have to. It is done out of necessity, because if you look at the bible critically, and evaluate all its inconsistencies and outright contradictions, you have no choice but to become an atheist.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Justin Prestijus

      ...i agree my sister, some preach Christ of Love, others out of contention, hoping to add affliction to my bonds. Then let us both stand in the gap & simply do the will of the Lord.......together on ONE accord!!!!!...:)

      May 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  15. Jim456

    I dont even know this woman. Let her go where ever she came from, or whatever

    May 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  16. J

    Oprah sucks.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  17. John

    All of you posting all this god nonsense are talking out your you knows. It's amazing that people think they know what "god" is thinking or doing. And it' downright bizarre that this woman thinks she also knows the motives of "god". From what I understand of the christian religion, NO ONE knows the motives of "god".

    May 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Justin Prestijus

      @John......Brother you have let Satan confuse you, How can you argue the existance of God, what he says, what he does if YOU yourself do NOT read HIS Word???.....Ever wonder why they call the Bible, GODS word????...hhmmmm because he said it !!!!....dont be a silly billy!!!...lol...:)

      May 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Blue

      Hey John. God gave us the Bible so that we would know His thoughts and His motives. It's all spelled out in black and white if you take the time to give it a read through from front to back.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  18. John

    Too freakin' funny. God did it. What idiocy.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Justin Prestijus

      @John.....the only "lack of intelligence" a person can possess, is one who does NOT know the truth!!...:)

      May 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  19. MikeM

    Shoot...I forgot to thank her for helping Odumbo get elected. Thanks alot.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  20. OprahTheLier

    Oprah NEVER shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ with her fans. In fact, Oprah denied Jesus in front of millions of viewers. The Word of God plainly teaches that the ONLY Way to salvation is by Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Oprah denies this Truth.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • HUH?

      There is no proof outside of the bible Jesus existed. The story in the Bible was taken from other pagan religions of that time period.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • veraa

      Thank you for sharing the truth. She denied Jesus on her shows. She is a liar.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Meiewe

      @HUH? – You made me say Huh! You need to take a couple of classes in religion. You will discover that THREE (3), count them, three major world religions agree on the existance of Jesus: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. They each have their own perspective, yet, He existed. That is why light travels faster than sound, so you can look wise until you open your mouth.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • shamgar50

      Meiewe, Sorry, but THERE IS NO PROOF. Not a single solitary shred.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Meiewe

      @shamgar50 - Well, your statement must be true, because you said it is. However, I offered you THREE major world religions that have historical and scriptural proof of Jesus' existence. You just don't want to have to go do some research. To bad...to be educated, sometimes you need to actually put a crease in the spine of the book on the shelf. Come back after your meds have kicked in.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Blue

      @HUH. There IS plenty of proof that Jesus existed outside of the Bible. Read the historian Josephus for just one - heck, he even spoke about the resurrection. And he was Jewish, not a Christian. Don't believe the lies but examine for yourself.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.