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HOME CALL ---- The Death Of Oral Roberts --December 15, 2009.

NewsNote: The Death of Oral Roberts
Albert Mohler
Author, Speaker, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The death of Oral Roberts marks a significant milestone in the history of American Christianity. His life, spanning from 1918 to 2009, represents 91 years and almost a century of American religious history.
Granville Oral Roberts was born into the home of a preacher and he married the daughter of a preacher. Soon after reaching adulthood he entered the ministry himself, holding tent meetings in the style of the evangelists of his day. Roberts began as a traditional holiness preacher, but he would later transform his ministry into a worldwide enterprise utilizing electronic media and extending a global reach through television and an institutional empire that would include the university named for him.


Granville Oral Roberts (January 24, 1918 – December 15, 2009) was an American Pentecostal televangelist and a Christian charismatic. He was the founder of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts University.
During his ministry that exceeded six decades, reaching millions of people around the world, he became embroiled in controversies and criticism from both Christians and non-Christians alike, particularly around the personal wealth that he accumulated from donations. His healing ministry and bringing American Pentecostalism into the mainstream had the most impact, but he also pioneered TV evangelism and laid the foundations of the prosperity gospel and abundant life. In conservative Protestant culture, his ministry had a worldwide impact second only to Billy Grahm. Early life

Roberts was born in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, the fifth and youngest child of the Reverend Ellis Melvin Roberts and Claudia Priscilla Irwin (d. 1974). According to an interview on Larry King Live, Irwin was of Cherokee descent. Roberts was a card-carrying member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Roberts began life in poverty and nearly died of tuberculosis at age 17. After finishing high school, Roberts studied for two years each at Oklahoma Baptist University and Phillips University. In 1938 he married a preacher's daughter, Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock.
Roberts became a traveling faith healer after ending his college studies without a degree. According to a TIME Magazine profile of 1972, Roberts originally made a name for himself with a large mobile tent "that sat 3,000 on metal folding chairs" where "he shouted at petitioners who did not respond to his healing.
Ministry and university

Roberts was a pioneer televangelist (he began broadcasting his revivals by television in 1954) and attracted a vast viewership. Today, a daily program, "The Place for Miracles", continues to be viewed by millions around the world, on numerous stations and satellites, as well as on the Internet.
1947 came as a turning point. Up until that time Roberts had struggled as a part-time preacher in Oklahoma. But at the age of 29 he picked up his bible and it fell open at the Third Epistle of John where verse two read: "I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." 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 the sick.
Roberts resigned his pastoral ministry with the Pentecostal Holiness Church to found Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association (OREA). He conducted evangelistic and faith healing crusades across America and around the world. Thousands of sick people would wait in line to stand before Oral Roberts so he could pray for them. He appeared as a guest speaker for hundreds of national and international meetings and conventions. Through the years, he conducted more than 300 crusades on six continents, and personally laid hands in prayer on more than 2 million people, even though on several occasions people died at his healing prayer sessions. He also ran direct mail campaigns of seed-faith, which appealed to poor Americans, often from ethnic minorities. At its peak in the early 1980s, Roberts was the leader of a $120 million-a-year organization employing 2,300 people. This spanned not only a university but also a medical school and hospital as well as buildings on 50 acres south of Tulsa valued at $500 million. Another part of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, the Abundant Life Prayer Group, was founded in 1958.

In 1963 he founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, stating he was obeying a command from God. The university was chartered during 1963 and received its first students in 1965. Students were required to sign an honor code pledging not to drink, smoke, or engage in premarital sexual activities. The Prayer Tower, opened in 1967, is located at the center of the campus.
Roberts had a vast impact on the Protestant community. His divine healing ministry called for prayer to heal the whole person — body, mind and spirit. Many labeled him a faith healer, but he rejected this with the comment: "God heals — I don't." He played a major role in bringing American Pentecostal Christianity into the mainstream. From 1968 through 1987, Roberts was a member of the United Methodist Church’s ministry. Even though Roberts is often associated with the prosperity gospel and the faith movement because of his close doctrinal and personal ties with Word-Faith teachers, his abundant life teachings do not fully identify him with that movement.
In 1977, Roberts claimed to have had a vision from a 900-foot-tall Jesus who told him to build City of Faith Medical and Research Center, and the hospital would be a success. In 1980, Roberts said he had a vision which encouraged him to continue the construction of his City of Faith Medical and Research Center in Oklahoma, which opened in 1981. At the time, it was among the largest health facilities of its kind in the world and was intended to merge prayer and medicine in the healing process. The City of Faith operated for only eight years before closing in late 1989. The Orthopedic Hospital of Oklahoma still operates on its premises. In 1983 Roberts said Jesus had appeared to him in person and commissioned him to find a cure for cancer.
Roberts' fundraising was controversial. In January 1987, during a fundraising drive, Roberts announced to a television audience that unless he raised $8 million by that March, God would "call him home." Some were fearful that he was referring to suicide, given the impassioned pleas and tears that accompanied his statement. He raised $9.1 million. Later that year, he announced that God had raised the dead through Roberts' ministry. Some of Roberts' fundraising letters were written by Gene Ewing, who heads a business writing donation letters for other evangelicals such as Don Stewart and Robert Tilton.
Roberts maintained his love of good things and one obituary claimed that even when times become hard, "he continued to wear his Italian silk suits, diamond rings and gold bracelets – airbrushed out by his staff on publicity pictures".

He stirred up controversy when Time reported in 1987 that his son Richard Roberts claimed that he had seen his father raise a child from the dead. That year, the Bloom County comic strip recast its character Bill the Cat as a satirized televangelist, "Fundamentally Oral Bill." In 1987 Time stated that he was "re-emphasizing faith healing and [is] reaching for his old-time constituency." However, his income continued to decrease (from $88 million in 1980 to $55 million in 1986, according to the Tulsa Tribune) and his largely vacant City of Faith Medical Center continued to lose money.
Harry McNevin said that in 1988 the ORU Board of Regents "rubber-stamped" the "use of millions in endowment money to buy a Beverly Hills property so that Oral Roberts could have a West Coast office and house". In addition, he said a country club membership was purchased for the Roberts' home. The lavish expenses led to McNevin's resignation from the Board.
Wikinews has related news: Former Oral Roberts University Regent member speaks out
Scandals persisted through the 1980s as fraudulent healing practices were exposed. His organizations were also affected by scandals involving other televangelists and the City of Faith hospital was forced to close in 1989 after losing money. Roberts was forced to respond with the sale of his holiday homes in Palm Springs and Beverly Hills as well as three of his Mercedes cars.
Richard Roberts resigned from the presidency of ORU on November 23, 2007 after being named as a defendant in a lawsuit alleging improper use of university funds for political and personal purposes, and improper use of university resources. The university was given a donation of $8 million by entrepreneur Mart Green, and although the lawsuit is still in process, the school has submitted to an outside audit, and with a good report will be given an additional $62 million by Green. Oral Roberts announced he would return to once again help fulfill his administrative role along with Billy Joe Daugherty, who was named as the executive regent to assume administrative responsibilities of the Office of the President by the ORU Board of Regents.
Even though Roberts' lifestyle, unorthodox fund-raising techniques, and the expanse of his organizations raised criticism and controversy, there was no credible evidence of malfeasance while he was in charge,[4] he did not have sex-and-money scandals like some other televangelists, and he was not named among the six prosperity teachers in the financial investigations launched by U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) in 2007. In 2009, the Oklahoma Senate adopted a resolution honoring the life of Oral Roberts, and he accepted this honor at the age of 91, seven months before his death.
Personal life

Roberts was married to Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock (April 22, 1917 - May 4, 2005) from December 25, 1938 until her death from pneumonia in a Southern California hospital at the age of 88. Their daughter Rebecca Nash died in an airplane crash on February 11, 1977 with her husband, businessman Marshall Nash. Their elder son Ronald committed suicide by shooting himself in June 1982, five months after receiving a court order to undergo counseling at a drug treatment center. The other two Roberts children are still living — son Richard, a well-known evangelist and former president of Oral Roberts University (ORU), and daughter Roberta Potts, an attorney.
Oral Roberts died on December 15, 2009 at the age of 91. He had been "semi-retired" and living in Newport Beach, California.
According to a 1987 article in the New York Review of Books by Martin Gardner, the "most accurate and best documented biography is Oral Roberts: An American Life, an objective study by David Harrell Jr., a historian at Auburn University. Two out-of-print books take a more critical stance: James Morris' The Preachers (St. Martin's Press, 1973) and Jerry Sholes' Give Me That Prime-Time Religion (Hawthorn, 1979).

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