When Will Oprah Free Her Slaves?

By Wayne Jackson

Oprah Winfrey is one of the wealthiest women in America. She is worth millions of dollars. She has a popular day-time television show. She produces movies. She’s a “mover and shaker” in the entertainment industry. She has to be an intelligent woman to have accomplished as much as she has—which just goes to prove the point that a person can be astute in one area, while being goofy in another.

Oprah has just released a new movie called Beloved, which deals with the slavery of the pre-Civil War era. The TV queen plays a role in the movie, and, from all accounts, she must have immersed herself in her part, because now she is claiming that the “spirits” of those slaves have been getting “in touch” with her.

TIME magazine recently reported that Oprah says she hears the voices of the slaves. (When some folks talk about hearing voices, they are admitted for psychiatric evaluation!) Oprah claims she has become acquainted with these slaves personally; she even knows them by name. She talks with them and—get this—“calls them at will to guide her in her work.”

When I read this, several thoughts came to mind. First, when is “Missy Oprah,” going to release her slaves? If I recall correctly, that’s what the Emancipation Proclamation was supposed to have accomplished. Calling someone “at will” to do your bidding, sounds a lot like servitude to me.

Second, what would a slave, who lived more than a century ago, possibly know about how to advise Oprah in the daily affairs of her entertainment enterprises? This is hilarious, and yet numerous people, in wide-eyed amazement, believe precisely what the TV mogul says regarding the matter. It’s really incredible. It reveals how void of spiritual knowledge Oprah actually is, and how gullible many Americans are.

According to the Scriptures, attempts to communicate with the dead are:

Pagan

The prophet Isaiah, in chastising those who were enticed by the practices of paganism, admonished: “When they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19, NASB). Heathen people have always attempted to communicate with the dead. Among the Assyrians and Babylonians it was even customary for relatives to provide food and drink at the graves of their departed loved ones.

A Work of the Flesh

In Galatians 5:19ff, “works of the flesh” are condemned. One of these is “sorcery.” Among the things embraced by this term is the “pretended communication with invisible malignant powers” (MacKnight 1954, 301). Ancient sorcery and modern “spiritism” have much in common.

Futile

The dead cannot advise the living concerning earthly activities because, as the biblical record notes: “[T]he dead know not anything . . . under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6). When one dies, he is cut off from all scenes of earthly activity. Not even the great saints of antiquity are cognizant of our present plight—“Abraham knows us not” (cf. Isaiah 63:16). The rich man of Luke 16 certainly was not able to contact his earthly brothers. Otherwise, he would not have petitioned “father Abraham” to send Lazarus to them—a request, incidentally, which was refused (Luke 16:27ff).

It is a grievous tragedy that many, like Oprah Winfrey, and those mesmerized by her, are enmeshed in antiquated superstition. But when people turn away from the Bible as the source of supernatural information, experience demonstrates they do not believe simply in nothing; they believe in anything!

Sources/Footnotes
  • MacKnight, James. 1954. Apostolical Epistles. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate.
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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.