Skip to comments.EVANGELIST PREACHER WHO WORSHIPED MONEY
Posted on 01/12/2010 5:40:21 AM PST by urroner
Oral Roberts: MANY OF Americas televangelists have had more than their fair share of scandals involving sex, fraud and extremist politics. But Oral Roberts, who has died aged 91 of complications from pneumonia, always devoted himself to money and, occasionally, God. He even justified his love of wealth with a biblical source.
At the age of 29, he was a struggling part-time preacher with church pastorates in Oklahoma, and his college studies had not brought him a degree.
He told the story of how he picked up his Bible and it fell open at the Third Epistle of John. His eye caught verse two, which read: I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
He had not heard this verse before and neither had his schoolteacher wife Evelyn, although both were the offspring of preachers. Roberts decided immediately that it was all right to be rich.
The next day he bought a Buick and God appeared, he said, telling him to heal people. Roberts then added this aspect to his tent revival meetings. A month later in Enid, Oklahoma, he cured, he claimed, a woman the use of whose hand had been impaired for 38 years.
After leaving the Pentecostal Holiness church to become leader of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, he was on his way to becoming the richest US evangelist. With his pioneering exploitation of radio and from 1954 television, he headed a broadcasting empire that transformed religion in America.
He also ran mailshot campaigns promising prosperity in return for financial expressions of faith in God: his message of health and wealth held enormous appeal for poor Americans.
At its height in the early 1980s, Roberts was chief of a $120 million a year business employing 2,300 people and controlling Oral Roberts University (ORU) which opened in 1965 a medical school and hospital and buildings on 50 acres south of Tulsa, Oklahoma, valued at $500 million.
Students at ORU, whose members were forbidden to drink, smoke or have sex before marriage, went on to reach 5,400.
Robertss broadcasts went to hundreds of radio and television stations, his appeals for money continued non-stop, while sales of his 120 books and hundreds of audio and video cassettes boosted the cashflow. In 1987, he created headlines by saying that unless he got another $4.5 million for his hospital in a few weeks, God will call me home.
He retired to his 10-storey prayer tower on campus and emerged on the deadline to declare that he had raised the sum. As usual, there was only his word for it.
Over the years there were various exposés of fraudulent healing practices and in 1989, he had to close his uneconomical City of Faith hospital. He even sold his holiday homes in Palm Springs and Beverly Hills, California, and three of his Mercedes cars, but continued to wear his Italian silk suits, diamond rings and gold bracelets airbrushed out by his staff on publicity pictures.
In his last years, he retrenched the Roberts ministry, but was never engulfed in the scandals that brought down some of his peers, even though on several occasions people died at his healing prayer sessions.
He was ranked second only to Billy Graham in the hierarchy of US evangelists and was still referred to as Dr Roberts, despite having only honorary degrees.
Born into rural poverty in a log cabin near Ada, southeast of Oklahoma City, he nearly died of tuberculosis when he was 17. His family had joined the Pentecostal Holiness church and he credited God with his recovery after attending a revival meeting.
That launched his religious career, although one local newspaper sceptic wrote that Roberts treated religion the way that Tulsans went into oil: to make money.
At 18, he began preaching for the Pentecostal Holiness church.
Two years later he married Evelyn, who died in May 2005, aged 88. They had two sons and two daughters. His elder son, Ronald, shot himself dead in 1982, and his daughter Rebecca and her husband Marshall Nash died in an air crash in 1977, leaving $10 million, their proceeds from the Roberts empire. In the 1990s he had two heart attacks, and in 2006 he broke a hip.
Robertss daughter Roberta and his son Richard, who followed him as president of ORU until 2007, when he was forced to take leave of absence following allegations that he had used university funds for personal purposes, survive him.
“EVANGELIST PREACHER WHO WORSHIPED MONEY”
When I saw the headline I thought it would be about Reverend Ike. Hadn’t read about him in years.
After all, that’s why God gave man the Priesthood; to sell to the highest bidder, right? < /sarcasm>
A 29-year-old preacher that had "never heard the verse before"? Well, I suppose that's reasonable... Third John is an awfully long book, after all.
Waiting for the turnabout-is-fair-play articles on Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson; various wealthy rabbis including the one arranging kidney donations for money; and the rich Muslim imams who make big bucks while sending everyone but themselves off to jihad....
I worked with a man whose sister donated heavily to his “ministry” including the ORU hospital. When diagnosed with cancer she went there with a dying wish to see Oral Roberts in person. That wish went unfulfilled.
OK, let’s compare Oral Roberts to the Rev Al Sharpton, or the Rev Jesse Jackson or the Rev Msgr Geno Baroni, or the Rev Msgr John Egan or the Rev ......
OR, let’s compare him to others with expensive tastes ... Hollywood stars, athletes, officers of Fannie/Freddie.
OR, let’s compare him to others who accepted money from others. Donations to Roberts were voluntary. Donantions to politicians were involuntary.
On balance, Oral Roberts was a positive force in society. On balance, his life benefitted others more than it hurt them. Yes, he had many flaws.
And I didn’t buy his theology or worship style. But that’s no reason to trash him.
Oral Roberts was a wonderful man of God. The writer of this article on him doesn’t know the first or last thing about Christianity but he’s going to proclaim the final word on Oral Roberts? The writer is either a bitter atheist or a self-righteous, self-absorbed jerk who doesn’t know the Lord or anything about God’s love and grace. He obviously took pleasure in telling the misfortunes of the Roberts’ family. I loved Oral Roberts, and he prayed and preached for many years, encouraging people and having a positive influence on this country. He used to minister to people in the 1950s, and there were many miracles in his services. Most of the people he helped have probably gone on to be with the Lord, it was so long ago. I look forward to speaking to him someday in Heaven.
Pack a sandwich. It’s gonna’ be a long wait.
And what positive things have you done for people or society, despite your human imperfections?
Per your stats, he headed a $120 million empire at one point, with 2300 employees. Sounds like a positive to me, all those working people. BTW 120000000/2300 is $52,173.91/employee to pay them, business costs, taxes, etc. Doesn’t sound too egregious to me, but then I’m not jealous.
Also, I have a fine dentist friend, a wonderful man who has often fixed my teeth and my family’s teeth as well. He received an excellent education at Oral Roberts University.
While we should never worship any man (beside Jesus) nor blindly follow one, we would be well advised to do our best to follow the Lord Oral Roberts served, though, obviously, we will have our own struggles in doing so.
I take it ... That the verse never meant something to him before. I’ve read the Bible then read again and find something new for me.
pretty brutal headline...God rest his soul.
My father was a Methodist preacher who worked with disabled people. He confronted Oral Roberts in the 60’s about his healing practices, particularly healing deaf people. Dad struggled with a number of deaf parishoners who were sending Roberts money in order to be healed. Finally, Dad confronted Roberts and demanded that he hold a healing service for these deaf parishoners. Roberts refused.
After Dad died Roberts was accepted with full credentials as an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church. True to form the Methodist Bishops who engineered this blasphemy were more interested in Robert’s institutional prowess than his theology or ministerial practices.
“The awakening began in the spring of 1947 when, discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm in his congregation in Enid, Okla., Roberts prayed desperately for help. He says the Lord responded first by leading him to a passage in III John 2: `I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.’
That was my first thought. After all...3rd John has lots of chapters...
But...God forbid we ask students to live a moral, biblical life.
But one that tends to get overlooked in favor of Romans, Corinthians, Hebrews etc.
Anyway, its just a generic expression of goodwill.
There is plenty of reason to expose and criticize Roberts. He twisted the Scriptures, fleeced old ladies, preached and practiced covetousness, taught all sorts or heresies and brought shame to the name Jesus Christ and to His Church.
Christians need to emphatically separate themselves from charlatans such as Roberts. Failing to do so allows Christianity, the Gospel and Jesus Christ Himself, to be misrepresented and blasphemed.
Chritians should be so united against these types of heretics and charlatans that even unbelievers would look at someone like Roberts and immediately say, “He’s not a real Christian preacher, real Christians don’t act like he does or teach or believe the things he does.”
Absolutely! Living word and all that...