This always bothered me about Dr. Oz, but it wasn't until recently that I came to understand why this renowned heart surgeon is dabbling in the unscientific world of alternative medicine.
My awakening came about while reading a press release the other day from a Christian organization known as Christian Investigator. The release is calling attention to a new association between Dr. Oz, California mega-pastor Rick Warren, and two other doctors who promote the New Age. According to Warren's website, his church is aligning itself with these men to host a 52-week course to lose weight and become healthier.
"It is troubling for a top pastor in the United States to promote false teachers," says Christian Investigator President Steve McConkey. "We are living at an all-time low spiritually in the United States with weak leaders. We need to teach basic Bible principles without legalism."
In case you're tempted to think McConkey is making a big deal out of nothing, consider the backgrounds of these "false teachers."
Dr. Daniel Amen teaches tantric sex, which is a Hindu mystical approach to sex, along with Eastern meditation. Dr. Mark Hyman is a promoter of meditation based on Buddhist principles.
And then there's Oprah's pal, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Although most people are not aware of this, Dr. Oz and his wife are followers of Emmanuel Swedenborg, a cult leader who died in 1772. Swedenborg was a Swedish Protestant fundamentalist who turned to spiritualism later in his life and became a famous trance medium. He claims to have turned to the occult after receiving a vision of Jesus in which the Lord asked him to abandon his profession as a scientist and devote himself to theology.
Swedenborg believed every verse in the Bible was God inspired, but these "visions," which were more like out-of-body experiences, began to lead him to deviate from the Truth.
For instance, Swedenborg teaches that God forgives everyone and is more concerned with how we live than what we believe. Jesus didn't save us by dying on the cross, but by overcoming evil and glorifying his human body. Angels are not superior beings created by God, but deceased people who have gone to heaven. Satan is not a fallen angel, but all of the people in hell working as a unit.
The author of many books, Swedenborg claims to have visited heaven, hell, five known planets and five planets outside our solar system. (I'm not making this up.) According to a biography of Swedenborg written by Martin Gardner for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, he claims to have spoken to inhabitants of these planets during his out-of-body travels and documented these trips in his book, Life On Other Worlds.
"Swedenborg’s first visit was to Mercury," Gardner writes. "Its spirits were able to invade his brain, searching for facts and knowledge but having no interest in ideas or opinions. The most notable spirit he meets is none other than Aristotle. We are told he was a wise man in contrast to his many 'foolish' Earth followers."
Believe it or not, this fantastical "religion" has about 50,000 members worldwide - and Dr. Oz's wife just happens to be one of them.
He was introduced to Swedenborgianism when he met Lisa Lemole, a Reiki Master and the daughter of Gerald M. Lemole, M.D., one of the physicians who served on the team that performed the first heart transplant in America.
"When Lisa and I got married,” Oz writes in his book, Spirituality and Health, “there was no ’til death do us part in the ceremony” because Swedenborgians believe marriages are intended to last into eternity.
Oz not only bought into Swedenborgianism, but she also introduced him to Reiki and other forms of alternative medicine. This led to Oz being widely criticized at one time by his fellow doctors for using Reiki in the operating room (I wonder if his patients were aware of this).
He also endorses acupuncture and homeopathy, both of which have no scientific backing.
It appears that this renowned cardiac physician has joined the ranks of other "Hollywood" stars who have embraced the New Age, such as Oprah, Madonna, Deepak Chopra, Shirley MacLaine, etc., even though he is a highly educated man. A graduate of Harvard as well as a difficult double-degree program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine and the Wharton business school, he went on to train in Paris under a renowned mitral valve surgeon. He eventually went to work at the Columbia-Presbyterian Center of New York Presbyterian where he developed a minimally invasive mitral valve repair device, which earned him the first of four patents with the University.
One can only speculate why he has chosen to wander into these unproven areas and believe in them enough to encourage his followers to practice them.
I find myself in total agreement with Gardner who writes: "Oz is a fine cardiac surgeon. Unlike the Wizard of Oz, he is not a humbug, but one should be wary of his far-out medical advice."