We continue to follow the ongoing saga of the Oral Roberts University lawsuit. As we’ve stated before, our former church, Living Word (a pseudonym), has some close ties to this ministry. Oral Roberts’ cornerstone “Seed Faith” teaching – where you demonstrate your faith by donating a “seed” of money to his ministry – was something that Pastor Smith (a pseudonym for our former pastor) had adopted as his very own. Each Sunday, Pastor Smith would pray over the offering by telling his congregation to “lift your seed to heaven.” Obediently, all of us would hold up our offering envelopes.
In our newly suspicious mindset these days, we can’t help but wonder if there was a secondary purpose to having the people lift their offering envelopes high in the air. It now strikes us that this was an awfully good way for the Smith family, from their perches on the stage high above the congregation, to be able to see at a glance who was giving and who wasn’t.
After Smith’s prayer, we’d all troop forward to bring our offering to the ushers holding buckets at the front of the auditorium. Again, considering how Jesus told us NOT to be public in our giving, Living Word’s offering parades seem unscriptural. But the “Seed Faith” message was such a given at Living Word Church that nobody ever seemed to think twice when we were told to “bring our seed to the altar.”
Anyhow, that’s just one way Pastor Smith and Living Word were affected by Oral Roberts. There were lots of other close ties between the ministry, and many Living Word kids attended ORU. So we continue to follow this story, because if Oral Roberts and the university that bears his name have problems, it has ramifications for all of Charismania.
The most fascinating aspect of the local newspaper’s coverage of this story has got to be the comments that people post at the end of each article. Most stories have generated hundreds of comments. It’s interesting to watch the banter – often quite passionate – between people whose lives have been touched by the university or the ministry or both.
Occasionally, we’ve even weighed in. Today we left a comment in response to a gentleman who has posted several times that the only reason people keep following the ORU story is because they “hate” Charismatics and Pentecostals. Here is what we wrote:
To Jeff, Tulsa (Comment #23):
I think you’re underestimating your charismatic brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re not following this story because we “hate” all things charismatic. To the contrary – many of us here are grieved that the BIBLICAL aspects of charismatic Christianity (such as the continuing gifts of the Spirit for today) have become all twisted up with the false theology of the “Word/Faith” doctrines.
These doctrines are what has created this ORU story. They spawned the alleged behavior of RR and LR, because if you really think that you’re always “walking in favor,” you begin to believe that normal rules don’t apply to you. You also believe that you deserve the best of everything. It makes perfect sense, using Word/Faith theology, that you’d think you could fudge on things like using the private jet for your own family vacations, or buying outrageous amounts of clothing and billing them to the ministry. You’re just “God’s kids,” and because you’re walking in favor, you don’t have to follow the rules. You deserve the best.
I would have been right there with you a couple of years ago, but if you open your mind and study the Scriptures IN CONTEXT, you’ll find that God in His sovereignty simply HAS to be bigger than what the “Name It and Claim It” people would have you believe. The fact that so many of these teachers continue to fall through financial or moral lapses is just the logical outcome of their faulty theology.
Tell us what you think. Do you agree with our assessment?