Oral Roberts launched the “Prosperity Gospel”

Oral Roberts helped to launch what has become known as the “Prosperity Gospel,” a belief that if you have enough faith you will become rich and healthy. In Slate.com, Hanna Rosin points out some of the more obvious inconsistencies with this theology, using Roberts’ life as a case in point.

Oral Roberts and His Green Buick

He launched one of America’s few homegrown theologies, the prosperity gospel.

By Hanna Rosin in Slate.com

“One of the great ironies of Oral Roberts’ life was that he could not heal his own broken hip. He spent his glory years in the 1970s and ’80s performing healing miracles on other people, in giant tent revivals and then later on Christian television. He once claimed a mother had tossed a stiff, dead baby into his hands at a revival in Fresno, Calif., and, thanks to the “fire” in his right hand, the baby breathed again. Yet he spent the last years of his own life hiding out in his mansion in Newport Beach, Calif., slowed down by two heart attacks, shamed by the many financial scandals at Oral Roberts University. God called him home, as he would have said, by way of the pedestrian old-age disease pneumonia.

Roberts was one of the founders of the prosperity gospel, the notion that God blesses faithful believers with riches and good health. This theology has lately been proliferating in American megachurches . . . Of the nation’s 12 largest churches, three are prosperity—Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, which dwarfs all the other megachurches; Tommy Barnett’s, in Phoenix; and T.D. Jakes’, in Dallas. Osteen’s latest book would not be on the New York Times best-seller list like his others if Roberts had not made it acceptable to believe that God blesses believers with very concrete material gifts—cash, a bigger house, or in Roberts’ case, a shiny green Buick.”

One wonders if his belief in this “gospel” was shaken later in his life.

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