Oral Roberts, the internationally known television evangelist and faith healer who founded Oral Roberts University, died today in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 91. A public memorial service in Tulsa is pending and there will be a private family interment
ORU President Mark Rutland immediately expressed his sympathies. Roberts was last in Tulsa for the inauguration of Rutland who succeeded Richard Roberts as ORU’s president.
“The Oral Roberts University family was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of our dear Chancellor, Oral Roberts,” Rutland said in a statement. “Chancellor Roberts was one of the brilliant spiritual lights of the 20th century and a giant of the Christian
faith. At the core of his legacy is a great university that bears his name. Like millions worldwide, I am mourning his passing and am grateful for his visionary life and
As news spread Tuesday, condolences came in from religious and political leaders. Pat Robertson in a statement said: “I am grieved at the passing of my dear friend, Oral Roberts. He was a pioneer in healing evangelism and in Christian education. He inspired a generation of young people to follow his lead in the charismatic ministry. We were friends for over 50 years and I will miss him. My sympathies to those children who
Delusions of miracles
Roberts’ life was fashioned by what he described as a call to take “God’s healing power”to his generation, and every major effort he undertook was to that end.
Roberts once said, “I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today from where I started
without God’s power.
Crowds of more than 15,000 would spill outside his huge circus tent. A prominent feature of these emotion-packed crusades was the “healing line” a miracle pushing show for the credulous, the gullible and the emotional unstable.
He once said he felt “the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in me so fiercely that some
nights, I just walk the floor.
Roberts, along with the Rev. Billy Graham, was a pioneer in radio and television
To finance his move into television, Roberts introduced the “Blessing Pact.” He told his
followers they should give to God like a seed they plant and that they could expect to receive blessings from God in return. He promised that if at the end of one year, God
had not blessed them, Roberts would refund their money.
In 1961, Roberts said he had received a message from God to build a university, to
“raise up your students to hear my voice. … Their work will exceed yours, and in this
I am well pleased.”
In 1965, 300 freshmen began classes at Oral Roberts University. Billy Graham gave the
dedicatory address in 1967.
At the heart of the campus to “emphasize the importance of prayer” is the Prayer Tower,
in the shape of a modernized cross.
The university was founded on the concept of “education for the whole person” and aimed
at “excellence in spirit, mind, and body.”
Roberts served as the university’s first president, from its founding until 1993, when his son Richard Roberts, also a healing evangelist, became its second president. The elder Roberts remained on as chancellor until his death.
At one time, ORU had a dental school, law school and medical school. All were closed due
to financial problems.
City of Faith
In 1977, Roberts told his partners that God had told him to build a medical complex that
would merge “the healing streams of prayer and medicine.” Construction of the $150 million City of Faith complex began in 1978.
Although Roberts had encountered controversy before, this project stirred intense debate
and proved to be one of the biggest financial burdens on his ministry. During the construction, when donations were down, Roberts said he saw a vision of a 900-foot-tall Jesus lifting up the City of Faith complex and saying, “I told you that I would speak to your partners and through them, I would build it!”
A $25 million debt forced the closing of the City of Faith and its medical school in
Family and survivors
Roberts was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn, a daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca
Ann and Marshall Nash; a son, Ronald David Roberts; a grandchild, Richard Oral Roberts;
his mother and father; two sisters, Velma Roberts and Jewel Faust; and two brothers,
Elmer and Vaden Roberts.
He is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Lindsay Roberts; a daughter and
son-in-law, Roberta and Ronald Potts, all of Tulsa; as well as 12 grandchildren and