Oral Roberts, the charismatic Pentecostal, controversial faith healer, and groundbreaking televangelist, died Tuesday (Dec. 15) from pneumonia complications at the age of 91. Roberts, who began his ministry in the 1940s and first broadcast his revivals in 1955, is perhaps best known for his notorious on-air plea in 1987. In a tearful performance, Roberts told viewers God had threatened to “call him home” unless they came up with $8 million for his medical missionary program. Though Roberts received plenty of ridicule from the media – especially after saying God had given him an extension when they did not meet the first deadline – he eventually raised $9.1 million. Later that year, the media likewise disparaged Roberts when he claimed to have raised the dead.
At the pinnacle of his career, Roberts drew thousands to his tent revivals and an estimated 3 million more watched his weekly television show. According to Roberts, God commanded him to found Oral Roberts University, which he did in 1963. More than a decade later, Roberts stated that a 900-foot tall Jesus ordered him to find the cure for cancer by constructing the City of Faith Medical Research Center. The university, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has since become the largest Charismatic Christian seminary in the world. The hospital was a financial disaster and is now rented out as office space. Roberts is the author of a number of books, including Oral Roberts’ life story, as told by himself (1952). To read more, click here and here.
Ethics and Religion
By G. Scott Davis , University of Richmond
(Vol. 3, October 2008)
Theology in its Spatial Turn: Space, Place and Built Environments Challenging and Changing the Images of God
By Sigurd Bergmann , Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
(Vol. 2, April 2007)