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Pentecostal evangelist Oral Roberts died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia. He was 91. Roberts was one of the nation's first television evangelists, author of more than 100 books, and founder of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. Christianity Today spoke with the president of the university, Mark Rutland, about Roberts's life and legacy.
What will we look back and remember about Oral Roberts?
His legacy will be on two different levels. One is the physical aspect. Oral Roberts University is a healthy, strong, comprehensive university that's going forward and will continue to prosper. Leaving a university that you carved out of the prairie is a pretty big legacy. One of his other legacies will be a spiritual or theological legacy. Oral Roberts kind of transcended his own roots. He was a prairie Pentecostal who began in the healing ministry at tent revivals. He was part of the wave of healing ministries in the mid-20th century. While some of those people thought medicine was the opposite of faith, Oral Roberts took a more holistic look at life. One of the great aspects of his legacy is a broad view of spiritual life. He really was one of the prominent lights of the 20th century. Oral Roberts and Billy Graham were the two preeminent luminaries of the 20th century.
Is there anyone who could take his place?
I don't think people take somebody's place like that. I don't think there's a swap label where another steps in. I think God raises up unique ministries at unique times. I believe Oral Roberts was a truly unique instrument. I don't really see anyone slipping on Oral Roberts's coat.
Jack Hayford said, "If God had not … raised up the ministry of Oral Roberts, the entire charismatic movement might not have occurred." Would you agree with that assessment?
He was certainly a great instrument to encourage Pentecostals and charismatics. He never allowed himself to be trapped in denominationalism or in Pentecoslism or any of those "-isms." He was a person that seemed to ...