So, the news announces that yesterday the pioneering faith-healer and televangelist and prosperity-gospel preacher, Oral Roberts, dies at the age of 91. I’m still kicking myself that as soon as I read Al Mohler’s interesting blogpost on Roberts yesterday, I should have set my DVR to record TBN’s Praise the Lord program, to catch whatever eulogizing and retrospectives were going on during the day of the announcement of his death. In my childhood, my father watched Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart (and Garner Ted Armstrong) rather than go to church and risk exposure to hypocrites at church (I suppose heretics on TV are less risky than the immature orthodox). Yet, being raised to respect Christ (which he tries to do in his own little ways), he does read his Bible and keep an eye on some Christian television.
Anyway, here’s hoping that with the passing of a pioneer like Oral Roberts (here’s his Wiki entry, if you’re interested), that something good will happen to the movement as a whole with a younger generation at the helm. I know that apart from the gracious intervention of God, this is a pipe dream, but, hey, look how the Worldwide Church of God turned out. There is precedent! But as the apostle James writes, “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).
For those who’d like to learn a little about the origin and teachings of the Word of Faith movement, you should read A Different Gospel, Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century, and these Wikipedia articles: “Word of Faith,” and “New Thought.”
I am interested to see how our Father will treat those who undoubtedly know and probably believe the Gospel, yet practice the kind of theology that cannot at all be considered Biblical.
We can only praise God for his GRACE which saves us – even though our practices may be in “left field.” I trust Oral Roberts is in Heaven and not separated from God forever. Surely, either way, he now knows the Truth.
This side of Christ’s return and judgment, we can only recognize that IF Oral Roberts had a genuine saving faith yet preached the errors he preached and was never confronted with the truth regarding these matters of positive confession, a give-to-get(and allegedly “-to-give”) prosperity gospel, and some of the egregious heresies the Word of Faith movement makes about the nature of Christ and his work on the cross, then we could perhaps rest on the assurance of God’s grace toward him; however, I’m persuaded that it’s much more likely that a man of his stature was repeatedly confronted with the truth of Scripture and that he stubbornly opposed that truth in favor of the errors (and even heresies) of the Word of Faith movement, and this persuasion gives me fewer reasons to expect the best in his case.
Having said that, I hasten to add that I hope we learn better of him on the day of judgment. Although I conclude that he probably was not genuinely in the faith, that does not mean I relish the prospect of his condemnation.