Q+A: Mark Rutland on Oral Roberts's Legacy
How did he make Oral Roberts University different from other Christian universities?
At the core of its DNA is an emphasis on the Holy Spirit's present tense action and power. It continues to be the preeminent charismatic university in the United States. The emphasis is not just on evangelicalism in a broad sense, though it is that and evangelicals attend. It's a university that embraces and celebrates and lives in the Holy Spirit, present tense, in and among us in the operation of the gifts, and in responding to God's direction in the world. It is also a university that takes a holistic view: body, mind, and spirit. How do you steward your resources, your body, your mind for the kingdom?
How did he influence other charismatic/Pentecostal leaders who came after him?
Oral was a trailblazer. He was a frontiersman. People followed him into a lot of things. His use of media was very forward thinking. There are a lot of ministries today that find their emphasis and insights in how to do ministry from Oral Roberts. He was the father of many ministries, either literally in some sense that they modeled after him, or at least in thought. He was the pioneer of spirit-filled ministries in many ways. His creative use of whatever instrument was there; he refused to be trapped. He was not frightened by technology, and he wasn't put off by media. He never saw the charismatic and Pentecostal movement as fitting into a slot somewhere. He saw it as being broad based, broad thinking, and broad visionary.
Where do you see the movement headed?
There will be a huge event on our campus called Empowered21, from April 8—10, about empowerment for the 21st century. The central question will be, Where is the spirit-filled movement headed? How is it going to express itself? What is it going to be called? The great heritage of people like Oral Roberts and others will inform the future of the movement and its destiny. Oral would have been one of the very first people to say, "They don't have to talk like we talk, they don't have to use the same methods we use, they don't have to sound like we sound." He would be the first person endorsing new ways, new terminologies to express unchangeable truths: The upper room experience is for Christians today, and out of the upper room will go into every man's world. He was a great man, a great visionary, and in many ways, a giant.
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Roger Olson also wrote on "God's Man in Tulsa: The Life and Ministry of the Original Televangelist."
Previous articles on Oral Roberts and Oral Roberts University include:
Healing ORU | $70 million and Mart Green's business acumen are repairing a scandal-scarred school. (September 3, 2009)
Fund Raising: Did Oral Roberts Go Too Far? | The television evangelist links receiving $8 million to the extension of his early life. (February 20, 1987)
Obituaries in other publications include:
Oral Roberts dies | The Rev. Oral Roberts, the internationally known television evangelist and faith healer who founded Oral Roberts University, died today in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 91. (The Tulsa World)
Evangelist, university founder Oral Roberts dies at 91 | Oral Roberts, the entrepreneurial evangelist known to millions by catchphrases such as "expect a miracle," and by the Oklahoma university bearing his name, died Tuesday at age 91. (USA Today)
Oral Roberts, Charismatic Pentecostal Evangelist, Dies at 91 | At the height of his influence, Mr. Roberts sat at the head of a religious, educational and communications enterprise based in Tulsa, Okla., that managed a university, conducted healing "crusades" on five continents, preached the gospel on prime-time national television and published dozens of books and magazines. (The New York Times)