Oral Roberts University is reeling from the mess made by President Richard Roberts [son of Oral] who resigned this past weekend. It's interesting that the President was done in by his own faculty and staff who could no longer ignore his misuse of school resources. It was a big step for these people to stand up to Roberts, especially considering his name, as well as his role as a spiritual leader. Throughout the past years of American evangelical scandal [especially those within the Pentecostal realm] you would usually see these leaders protected by his underlings. Perhaps the Ted Haggard situation taught people that institutions could survive these scandals if they were handled quickly and truthfully.
The real reason I note this situation is an interesting quote in this article concerning the way the ORU situation was handled by those within. To me it says a lot about the current state of American Christianity:
"'There was a time when the wagons would circle and we'd protect our own,' said the Rev. Carlton Pearson, a former member of the ORU board of regents who is now a United Church of Christ minister. 'But we don't know what our own is anymore. People are asking questions and questioning answers, and we're not used to it.'"
I guess it's true: we don't know what 'our own' is anymore. So maybe this reinforces the idea that we have entered an age where it no longer matters what your family lineage is, or what kind of title you wear, or what denominational name is attached to your church as those are no longer acceptable litmus tests for one's beliefs. We can no longer place our trust in the words themselves. 'Christian' is now an incredibly broad term that a few billion people claim, let alone all the other ones that have now become indecipherable [and I'm not convinced that substituting "Christ follower" for "Christian" really makes any difference]. This is one of the many reasons I abhor vision statements: just because I name it doesn't make it true.
In the end, it comes down to what you embody as an individual or an organization; i.e, you are what you are. Words will only get you so far.