Christian leaders such as Dr. John MacArthur have made statements about the passing of Oral Roberts. You can read MacArthur’s statement by clicking here. Here is a little portion of MacArthur’s statement regarding Oral Roberts and his legacy:
Tragically, the Seed-Faith message usurped and utterly replaced whatever gospel content there ever may have been in Oral Roberts’ preaching. In all the many times I saw him on television I never once heard him preach the gospel. His message–every time–was about Seed-Faith. The reason for that is obvious: the message of the cross–an atoning sacrifice for sins wrought through Jesus’ sufferings–frankly doesn’t mesh very well with the notion that God guarantees health, wealth, and prosperity to the righteous. Our fellowship in Jesus’ sufferings (Philippians 3:10), and our duty to follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:20-23), are likewise antithetical to the core principles of prosperity doctrine. The prosperity message is a different gospel (cf. Galatians 1:8-9).
One leading charismatic figure this week stated that without Oral Roberts’ influence, “the entire charismatic movement might not have occurred.” That may well be true. For that very reason, Roberts’ legacy needs to be evaluated soberly, honestly, and carefully, under the stark light of Scripture. Was the message he proclaimed the unadulterated gospel? Though he eschewed the label, Roberts made his main reputation on television in the 1950s as a faith-healer, and he even claimed to have raised multiple people from the dead. Were those “miracles” real and verifiable? Did his best-known and most staggering “prophecies” prove to be true? Was he himself a credible man?
The answer to all those questions is an unambiguous no. Oral Roberts’ influence is not something Bible-believing Christians should celebrate. Virtually every abberant idea the Pentecostal and charismatic movements spawned after 1950 can be traced in one way or another to Oral Roberts’ influence. (What the CT blog fails to mention is that Kenneth Hagin and Oral Roberts often ministered together and affirmed one another’s ministries. Furthermore, the heir to Hagin’s standing as chief of the word-faith preachers is Kenneth Copeland, who went into television ministry after working as chauffeur and pilot to Oral Roberts. So even though it would not be quite accurate to portray Oral Roberts as an aggressive proponent of word-faith doctrines, he acted as more of an ally than an opponent to the movement. We might say his relationship with that movement was reminiscent of a benign grandfather who refused to correct an out-of-control grandchild.)
One thing all the obituaries agree on is that Oral Roberts paved the way for all the charismatic televangelists and faith-healers who dominate religious television today. He did more than anyone in the early Pentecostal movement to influence mainstream evangelicalism. He parlayed his television ministry into a vast empire that has left a deep mark on the church worldwide. In many places today, including some of the world’s most illiterate and poverty-stricken regions, Oral Roberts’ Seed-Faith concept is actually better known than the doctrine of justification by faith. The message of prosperity is now the message multitudes think of when they hear the word “gospel.” Countless confused people worldwide think of the gospel as a message about earthly, temporal, and material riches rather than the infinitely greater blessings of forgiveness from sin and the eternal blessing of the believer’s spiritual union with Christ.
All of those are reasons to lament rather than celebrate Oral Roberts’ fame and influence. My prayer is that future generations will see the folly of those doctrines, renounce and turn away from them, and cling tightly to the sure word of God and the glorious, eternal promises of the true gospel.
MacArthur evaluated the toll Oral Roberts’ influence had on the gospel worldwide, and it wasn’t a pretty one. Looking at it from that perspective, we can only conclude that Oral Roberts taught another gospel and is thereby accursed (Galatians 1:8-9). The Reverend Billy Graham, on the other hand, did no such thing. This is the statement he made:
Oral Roberts was a man of God and a great friend in ministry. I loved him as a brother. We had many quiet conversations over the years. I invited Oral to speak at one of our early international conferences on evangelism held in Berlin in the 1960s. … Just three weeks ago, I was privileged to talk to Oral over the telephone. During the short conversation, he said to me that he was near the end of his life’s journey. I look forward to the day that I will see Oral and Evelyn Roberts again in heaven–our eternal home. (Online Source)
We expect Biblical leaders to be, well, Biblical. Graham’s refusal to examine Roberts in the light of Scripture goes to further show that Mr. Graham doesn’t exercise Biblical discernment, and that the gospel is being held in low esteem by himself and his ministry, whether it’s done knowingly or not. Many of the discerning already know this because of his ecumenism, and his embrace of people like Robert Schuller. Still, there are many who regard Billy Graham as a powerful messenger of the gospel. But, the message of the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, which Roberts perverted for years. To gauge a teacher’s level of discernment and love of truth, weigh the words they speak and consider their treatment of the gospel. MacArthur examined Roberts based upon his treatment of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Billy Graham doesn’t. Juxtapose their statements and compare.
The difference is amazing.