Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2010 – Vol. 15 Issue 1 – Oral Roberts Dead & Damage Done – By Rev. Robert Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
ORAL ROBERTS DEAD & DAMAGE DONE
By Rev. Robert Liichow
Another giant has fallen. One of the veritable “Generals” of Pentecostalism has assumed room temperature and now faces the judgment of the Just Judge, our Lord Jesus Christ (read Hebrews 9:27).
We all have heard the old adage “don’t speak ill of the dead” but as a good liturgical. Confessional, evangelical Lutheran I must ask “what does this adage mean?” We speak ill of the dead all the time. Seen any positive documentaries on Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, or Joe Stalin lately?
DMI rebuked Oral Roberts and exposed him as a fraud during his life and we surely do not want to see Pentecostal myths gain a foothold now that Oral is dead. Certainly DMI prayed for the family asking God to comfort them in their loss but that does not change the facts regarding Mr. Roberts SINistry of over fifty years.
Let’s begin with a statement made by Richard Roberts, Oral surviving son, I say “surviving” son because Oral’s other boy committed suicide (something few people even know.)
Richard Roberts called his father “the greatest man of God I’ve ever known.” A modern-day apostle of the healing ministry, an author, educator, evangelist, prophet, and innovator,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “He was the only man of his generation to build a worldwide ministry, an accredited university, and a medical school.”
Admittedly, most men think the world of their fathers, I know I do. It is human nature to want to make them larger-then-life especially in a memorial statement. Unfortunately Richard uttered some outright whoppers (lies, prevarications, story’s deceptions, and myths) in his comments.
The first lie about Oral (let’s not start myth making before he is even in the ground Richard!) is that he was the only man in his generation (1918-2009) to build a worldwide ministry. Oh really? Oral did not even begin to broadcast until 1954.
If Richard is correct about Oral having the only worldwide ministry in his generation how does he explain?
Dr. Daisy Washburn Osborn, they established their headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1949. Together they proclaimed the Gospel to millions of unreached people in over 80 nations for well over half a century of world-changing missionary-evangelism, preaching daily to multitudes from 20,000 to 300,000 people with God confirming his word by many astounding miracles.
Roberts without a doubt cashed in BIG TIME on the post World War II so called “healing revival.” Although Oral was to become the biggest and one of the longest surviving members of those halcyon days of casting demons into jars, putting up huge tents and raking in the millions he still was not the first nor the innovator that Richard wants people to believe.
William Branham is usually cited as the founder of the post WWII healing revival. Branham, a man whose life I have studied in-depth began his healing revivals as early as 1941 was well known for his international ministry. Sadly Branham was a heretic and false prophet and today there are over 123,000 web sites DEVOTED to this man’s false teachings, false prophecies and failed visions. Branham is vastly more popular today, over thirty (30) years after his death in 1965 when he was killed by a drunk driver. What’s my point? My point is, just because a false leader dies does not mean that their influence is over at the time of their transition from time to eternity. Branham’s errors continue to mislead multitudes and Robert’s errors and legacy may also mushroom and mislead even more people after his death than he influenced in his lifetime here on earth.
Roberts Was No “Saint”
Please allow me to clarify the above comment; DMI is not stating that Mr. Roberts did not go to heaven or that he was not a saint in the generally understood use of the term by evangelical Christians. What is meant ins that Oral Roberts was no genuine super-saint or highly anointed healer according to charismatic lingo and his own press. Although Oral is known for his alleged healing ministry his main emphasis was financial prosperity:
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 they soul prospereth.” He had not heard this verse before and neither had his schoolteacher wife Evelyn, though both were the offspring of preachers. Roberts decided immediately that it was all right to be rich. The next day he brought a Buick and God appeared, he said, telling him to heal people. Roberts then added this aspect to his tent revival meetings and a month later in Enid, Oklahoma, he cured, he said, a woman the use of whose hand had been impaired for 38 years.
The above reporter used an interesting phrase when he said Oral “devoted himself to money.” Dr. H. Wayne House, a personal friend and mentor told my wife and I that he personally heard Oral Roberts telling the teachers of ORU in a meeting that He, Oral, and I quote, “I love money, money, money, money.”
That comment also mirrors Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street when he shouted “greed is good.” Oral is reported to have said that God told him to avoid three things if he wanted his healing ministry to succeed. Oral was supposedly commanded to — (1) touch not the gold; (2) touch not the glory and (3) touch not the girls.
Now one would imagine that if Almighty God, the Ancient of Days, Might Jah who rides on the clouds — audibly spoke to you, and you knew it was indeed God, then one would imagine obedience would follow His directives, right?
Obviously, Oral failed the Lord’s test, this we know from the observable facts of his life. Oral failed regarding the “gold.” If anyone hammered the false doctrine that God wants all of His children RICH it was initially Mr. Roberts. He died a multi-millionaire in his own right with a ministry machine worth tens of millions, to own a copy of his mailing list alone is the stuff lesser televangelists and Gospel pimps dream about. No Oral died stinking filthy rich and he did so at the expense of the poor, widows, and people on fixed incomes (plus one very wealthy dog track owner—The 79-year-old entrepreneur wrote a $1.3 million check to get Roberts down from his prayer tower and finance Roberts’ medical scholarships. He’ll deliver the check today at a country club luncheon with Richard Roberts, whose father appears to be saved by the sizable donation).”
Oral equally failed when it came to touching the “glory.” In Pentecostal thought touching the glory of God is to take credit for something that God did. Everything Oral touched he named after himself! [As an aside beware anyone who names the ministry after themselves]. God’s direction for a school became “Oral Roberts University.” Even his overall outreach was called “Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.” It might have been acceptable to name something after Oral once he was dead, but he had the audacity to name things after himself while he was still in our midst. Talk about touching the glory…tisk, tisk, tisk, Oral!!
As far as we know Oral was faithful to his wife of many years and I do not doubt this. However two misses out of three is abysmal! Perhaps this explains why Oral Roberts could never prove to everyone’s satisfaction that God had used him to heal anyone at all. Roberts, like all the fake-healers would simply point to the individual claiming healing and say “ask them.”
I don’t try to prove [that] multiplied thousands [are being healed]. I just say, “There’s the person. Let him tell you” [This is enough] to me and the person…I can’t prove that any person who ever came to me was healed, that is I can’t prove it to the satisfaction of everyone.
Just because a person feels good after the “anointed” evangelist prays over them does not mean they have been healed. My mother-in-law was prayed for by Benny Hinn personally. Immediately after prayer she declared she was healed, based on how she felt. Within 12 hours her “healed” condition had returned. To her dying day she believed she was really healed by Benny, but lost her healing due to her own lack of spiritual fortitude! What a shame and what a burden to live under. How many multitudes also “lost” their healing shortly after Oral Roberts left town with their best seed-faith offering.
Rest assured, not many if any people “lost” any healing they received at the hands of Oral. Let’s do the math: Oral was laying hands on the sick from say approximately 1948 thru 2008 about sixty (60) years. Out of all those multitudes of people over the years statistically one would imagine that there would be quite a catalog of independently verified physical healings and miracles….but there are not. Just a 5% success rate would have given Roberts 50,000 verified miraculous testimonies; a mere 2.5? Would be 25,000 stories to use to bilk the non-healed seekers! The truth of the matter is that Oral Roberts was a fake-healer. People simply did not get healed at his crusades as he said they did. He lied, either intentionally or unintentionally, he did not speak truthfully about miracles and healings regarding his own work.
Oral a Grandiose Failure
Virtually everything Oral did regarding his ministry machine was done under the egis of the “Lord” telling him to bring to pass whatever his vision was. The “Lord” told him to build a university and so Oral made it so (with the help of millions of donated dollars). Unlike other Christian colleges Oral Roberts University (ORU) and campus was going to be a paradise on earth of holy living college kids. From there the Lord directed Roberts to build a law school and later on most spectacular of all is when God announced that Oral was to build for Him a hospital!
“He said to me: ‘Son, you cannot put the vision I have given you into a place where My full healing power is not freely accepted. It must be in a place defeated by lack of faith in My miraculous power. You must build a new and different medical center for Me. The healing steams of prayer and medicine must merge through what I will have you build…”There rising before me were the details of the buildings. Immediately I was led to read the two chapters in the Bible, Revelation 21,22. There I saw the City of God, the New Jerusalem, with its River of Life and its broad avenues. ….”I saw the City of god as a reflection of God himself bringing healing and health to those who entered there. Suddenly God gave me a new name for the Health Care and Research Center I am to build in His name. “You shall call it the City of Faith.’ I thought my heart would burst with joy. The City of Faith. What a name! I knew God could give a name like that to the Health Care and Research Center He wanted to build.” (p.333) By late 1984 Oral’s City of Faith projected figure of 777 operational beds seemed a remote goal (p.391). “In a dramatic announcement in July 1984, he reported that Jesus had once again visited him and an ‘angel of the Lord’ had been placed at his disposal. Oral ‘dispatched’ the angel to bring the ‘poor, needy and the sick’ to the City of Faith, opening the hospital to indigent patients. In the fall of 1984, the occupancy rate at the hospital seemed to be rising” (p.391). [The rise in the rate of occupancy at the City of Faith was only temporary.]
Before taking one step further does it strike anyone as strange that The Ancient of Days would first give a man a divine capacity to heal the sick and then after praying for a few million folks tell the man that now He wants him to build a hospital for Him? Isn’t it easier and cheaper to have Oral continue to heal folks as opposed to them having to go to a doctor, spend serious money and time getting medically treated? With Oral, no matter what your problem is, blammo a healing hand on you and *PRESTO* away goes your problem, easy-peasy and all for the cost of a donation in to the KFC bucket!!
The fact that Roberts could raise the millions to build the “City of Faith” is testimony to the man’s shear charisma (and I ain’t speaking of the Holy Spirit here) and ability to talk people out of their money.
Most people know the story of how God appeared to Oral in the form of a 900 foot Jesus. This apparition told Oral to build the City of Faith and He, God, would reveal to Oral the medical cure for cancer. “In the letter, Roberts told his partners, ‘I felt an overwhelming holy presence all around me. When I opened my eyes, there He stood…some 900 feet tall, looking at me; His eyes…Oh! His eyes! He stood a full 300 feet taller than the 600 foot tall City of Faith.’ Well that appeal letter tugged at the heart and purse strings of the devoted and the City of Faith Hospital and Doctor’s College came into being.
Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain — In 1989, only eight years after it opened, the City of Faith was $25 million in debt and Roberts closed the hospital (the last patient left on 16 October). No medical cure for cancer and now no school. Did Oral Roberts ever admit that he was wrong? NO. Did anyone charismatic leader call Oral to account for his statements and actions? NO. The City of faith is bankrupt today and the Law School is also closed, along with the medical school. The undergraduate and graduate school of ORU are still limping along but the university has been undergoing severe financial problems over the last several years. Without Oral to pull in the serious money the school will eventually close.
What can be said about his legacy? Sadly, I cannot find too many good things to say regarding Mr. Robert’s SINistry. He popularized the false concept of “seed-faith.” An entire edition could be devoted to this CONcept which due to Roberts, has inundated almost every corner of the Church. It is the false teaching of giving to get which Roberts tries to valiantly defend in several of his books.
Remember the “Holy Laughter” revival brought to us by Rodney Howard Brown, the Holy Ghost bartender? Due to Richard and Oral bring Rodney from a low wattage church to Tulsa from there this latest non-charismatic gift went global. From Tulsa RHB took off and the rest is Pentecostal history, again due much in part to Roberts.
Lastly, Oral is known by many as this generation’s pioneer of so-called televised “healing evangelism.” Even though the bible denotes no such ministry Pentecostals have created a specific breed of evangelist, the healing type. Again, the problem here is that he cannot demonstrate, nor are multitudes lining up to verify they have received healing via Mr. Roberts. Because of his television success Roberts breed another generation of hucksters to follow in his wake. We can thank Oral Roberts for helping promote the SINistries of people like Kenneth (Oral’s former pilot) & Gloria Copeland, Fred Price, Carleton Pierson (now a universalist heretic) and many others.
So he has a legacy of twisting the Scriptures and thus biblically deceiving multitudes especially in the area of financial prosperity and physical healing. He has a legacy of empty buildings in Tulsa, all of which scream out in derision “another religious flake” to the Church’s shame. Oral leaves a legacy of helping to spread a mass delusion flowing under the guise of holy laughter and spiritual drunkenness which has globally infected multitudes who’ve been led into deeper delusions.
Did Roberts do any good? DMI would not say that some people probably did come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ at some of his meetings and possibly even via the television. God uses the foolishness of preaching (see 1 Cor. 1:21) to draw those who will believe. Without doubt God certainly uses preachers who from time to time act foolishly; He certainly still uses me in spite of myself. Many students have graduated from ORU with a fairly good Bible-based undergraduate education. While the Medical & Law schools were functioning they both managed to matriculate some fine students. Dr. Wayne House earned his Law degree at ORU’s Law School; he reported having very fine teachers.
While the above works are certainly laudable they do not exculpate Roberts regarding the spiritual damage that he is responsible for. What can be done? To begin with his son, Richard, could pull all of the books, tapes, videos and dvd’s by his father on divine healing, financial prosperity, seed-faith, etc. and apologize to the Body of Christ for his father’s error’s. Obviously, this will never happen in our lives.
What you and I can do is not allow our Pentecostal and sign-gift friends and family to believe that Mr. Roberts was a great healer and prophet to his generation when the facts prove he was anything but those things. ♦
Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow
1. Obtained from http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2009/December/Oral-Roberts-Hospitialized-After-Fall/ underlining added for emphasis.
2. Schneider, Keith (December 15,2009). “Oral Roberts, Fiery Preacher, Dies at 91”. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/us/16roberts.html
3. Obtained from http://www.osborn.org/site/sections/12 on 01-08-10. Bold type added for emphasis.
4. Anderson, A., An Introduction to Pentecostalism (Cambridge University Press, 2004) p. 58
5. Obtained from At Totten’s Ford, Believers News, April 1998 this is a PDF article.
6. Head-On Collision Kills 1, Injures 6, Friona Stare, December 1965
7. Obtained from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2w009/dec/15/oral-roberts-obituary on 01-08-10.
8. Obtained from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/P2-3816636.html on 01-08-10
9. Randi, James. The Faith Healers, Prometheus Books, 1987, p. 193, underlining added.
10. Obtained from http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tulsa-3039/Oral-Roberts-University.htm on 01-08-10
11. Obtained from http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?articleid=20080326_222_67873 on -1-08-10
12. Just because the Law and Medical School went defunct is not to imply that the teachers or professors were substandard. The faculty from all I have learned were (and are) fine, godly men and women.