Oral Roberts: a Wide Swath

Oral Roberts: R.I.P 1918-2009

I graduated from Oral Roberts University so my connection with Oral Roberts is perhaps slightly more direct than most people’s. I have a little more context to understand this fairly enigmatic man, but I believe it’s what I’ve been learning in the last 5-10 years that has given me a greater appreciation for him. His methods have often put him at odds with many people, but I believe his impact for the Kingdom has been undeniable and is worth honoring.

In recent years I’ve become interested an excited to greater and lesser degrees by various movements an teachings. Here is a sampling:

  • 24/7 prayer
  • Making the supernatural a natural part of life
  • God is a good god in a good mood
  • Sowing and reaping
  • Christian education
  • Healing
  • etc.

As I look back at Oral Roberts, I see that, while the language and practice might have a different “look n’ feel”, he pioneered all of these things in a big way LONG before I ever got on the band wagon.

  • ORU has had 24/7 prayer in their Prayer Tower since well before the world-wide “prayer movement”
  • “Expect a Miracle” was a foundation slogan of Oral Roberts’ ministry. It was even printed on the basketball court in the arena at ORU! (and sometimes miracles were needed there…and sometimes they happened!)
  • “Something good is going to happen to you” was the theme song of Oral’s TV show. Expectation in God’s goodness was an integral part of what he was about
  • “Plant a seed to meet your need” was another famous Oral Roberts slogan. Sure the “prosperity gospel” muddied those waters somewhat, but Oral’s main book “The Miracle of Seed-Faith” could easily have been written by some recent teachers that I have heard and respect.
  • Right now we’re amongst “pioneers” in Christian Education in the Francophone world. Having a “Christian University” is in our vision here and is considered as the pinnacle of the vision. Oral Roberts University was preceded by MANY Bible colleges and seminaries and many Evangelical colleges and universities existed before ORU, but ORU was probably the first liberal arts university where the Holy Spirit was honored specifically and encouraged to move freely. Sometimes messy…but hey, God’s creative activity often is!
  • Hello! Healing?! Well, duh! Actually, it’s not been until recently that healing has been “redeemed” in my eyes. But one cannot deny Oral Roberts’ place in paving the way for praying for the sick and watching God move powerfully.

Many have said that the era of the “big name” ministries is coming to an end and I think that I agree with that in general. I do think, however, that there are “Paul Bunyan” types who make a way for others to follow. They don’t “walk softly”, which means their faults are also out there for all to see and if you’re cynical, you’ll have plenty of fodder to work with. They do, however, make an impact. They swing their ax and clear a path and take new territory. Many people benefit from their efforts. We don’t realize the debt we owe to so many pioneers.

Oral Roberts was such a man.

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