Thursday, February 19, 2009

Meanwhile, At Oral Roberts

There are huge problems with the so-called prosperity message in the Christian church. The teaching is essentially unbalanced and can lead to a self-serving greed among those who follow its precepts. In addition, leadership within the prosperity movement are prone to financial problems themselves. The idea behind prosperity teaching is that God will bless the faithful with wealth. That means that a lack of money must mean that someone is not being faithful.

This teaching has been the undoing of many ministers (see my last entry). There is one institution, however, that seems to be making great strides toward fixing its problems.

Oral Roberts University has been through the ringer. About a year ago there were multiple accusations floating around the Tulsa, Oklahoma campus. Terminated professors accused the president, Founder Oral Roberts' son, Richard, of stealing from the school. They further claimed they were fired for making the accusations. Roberts denied any wrongdoing, but was unable to explain away many extravagant personal expenditures. He was eventually released from the school.

Mart Green has become a savior for the struggling school. Green's family owns the Mardel chain of Christian stores and Hobby Lobby stores. The family has agreed to provide funds for ORU to get out of debt and right it's ship, in exchange for control of the Board of Directors. The process came at just the right time. May Green, who will be serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees, be successful in fixing the problems in what once was, and should be again, a great institution of higher learning for Christians.

ORU has now made another excellent step toward recovery. Recently the university named Mark Rutland as its new president. He will be filling the office once held by Richard Roberts.

Rutland is a perfect candidate for this position. He began his ministry as a United Methodist pastor and evangelist. Later he served as pastor of Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta, Georgia. He served several years as pastor of Calvary Assembly of God in Orlando, Florida. During his tenure as pastor the church's debt was reduced significantly and attendance increased dramatically. Most recently, Rutland has served as president of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. Nothing but good has come about during his time there.

There is a long way to go in the healing of ORU, but Mark Rutland is a good step to take in that process. Rutland could, and should, serve as an example for other prominent religious leaders. Integrity of heart and life is what is needed.

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