This past week Oral Roberts University celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was a wonderful celebration full of chapels, banquets, reunions and launching of new initiatives for the University. One celebration I thought was particularly meaningful was the “Lifetime Global Achievement Awards” given out to individuals who had made a significant impact on the history of ORU and have lived out the University’s mission of taking the healing gospel into every person’s world. The individuals honored had shown “outstanding excellence or deep impact” in the areas of intellectual advancement, spiritual vibrancy, physical discipline, social adeptness, professional excellence, global focus, and university support and healing initiative.
The list of honorees listed in Commemorative Edition of Excellence Magazine included University legends such as the Cardone Family, Ralph Fagan, Carl Hamilton and even “Miss Pansey” Wallace who served in the dining hall for 40 years. Ministers and pastors such as Terry Law, Myles Monroe, Larry Stockstill and Billy Joe & Sharon Daughtery received awards. Athletic legends such as Bernis Duke, Madeline Manning Mims, Andretti Bain, and Ken Tricky were also recognized. Doctors, singers, entertainers, authors, politicians and business men were also honored. Some of the honorees where recognized posthhumously. I was particularly happy to see that several of my friends I admire such as Missionary to Kenya, Dr. Bill Kuert and Author Clifton Taulbert were honored as well.
In total, 50 outstanding recipients of this Global Achievement Award were chosen. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to select these 50 individuals out of the thousands of alumni and faculty that they could have chosen for this honor. I have no complaints with anyone on this list. It is a fine list that represents Oral Roberts University well. I would just like to offer an addendum to this list. A 51st candidate for the Global Achievement Award: Dr. Howard M. Ervin.
No one exemplifies the characteristics of “intellectual advancement, spiritual vibrancy, professional excellence” or has “significantly impacted the history of Oral Roberts University and the world” more than Dr. Howard M. Ervin.
Howard Ervin, ThD served on the faculty of ORU as professor of Old Testament and Pneumatology from 1966-2006. He was first introduced to ORU in 1964 when he was invited by Oral Roberts to speak at Oral Roberts Partner Seminars on the Holy Spirit. Oral was impressed with Ervin’s academic credentials (being a ThD from Princeton) and his testimony of being filled with the Spirit as a Baptist Pastor. In 1966, Dr. R. O. Corvin asked Ervin to join the founding faculty of the school of theology. Over the next several decades, Ervin led thousands of people into the baptism in the Holy Spirit through Oral Robert’s Partners Seminars and Full Gospel Businessman meetings. At these seminars, Oral would get them saved and Ervin would bring them into the baptism in the Spirit. Oral Roberts looked to Howard Ervin to provide him with the biblical theological underpinning he needed for his message of healing and Spirit empowerment.
After R. O. Corvin left ORU, Howard Ervin stepped in and served as the chair and help build the department of Theology from 1969-1978. He also served with Dr. James Buskirk (also a Global Achievement recipient) in founding the graduate school of theology in 1976. He taught his course on Pnuematology (the theology of the Holy Spirit) every year of his 40 years at ORU. He was the anchor of the theology department. He recieved numerous outstanding faculty awards and was awared professor emeritus of the School of Theology in 2007.
Howard Ervin was a leading scholar of the Pentecostal theology of Holy Spirit in the academic world. In 1968, Ervin wrote the first academic, exegetical and theological defense of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with his work These Are Not Druken As Ye Suppose. In 1984, Ervin wrote a highly popular scholarly rebuttal to Evangelical scholar James Dunn’s polemic against Pentecostalism called Conversion, Initiation, and Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This work became a popular apologetic for Pentecostal scholars for the next two decades. In 1987, Ervin revised and republished his previous work on the Holy Spirit with the new title Spirt-Baptism: A Biblical Investigation. In 2002, Ervin published his final book called Healing: Sign of the Kingdom. With six books published on Pneumatology over a span of 34 years, Ervin is the most published member in the history of ORU’s theological faculty.
Howard Ervin had a significant impact on the Charismatic Renewal in 1960’s-1970’s. Ervin regularly spoke in Charismatic Catholic conferences on the Holy Spirit. He was instrumental in many people from mainline churches coming into the Charismatic Renewal. From 1979-1987, Ervin was a participant in the Roman Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogues. Ervin had the ability to cross demoninational and liturgical lines to bring people into the fullness of the Spirit. Ervin was convinced that “The Spirit’s number one agenda is the healing of the Church.” Ervin believed that the Charismatic Renewal was the vehicle God wanted to use to bring unity to the Church.
As I look at the many wonderful people who occupy list of Lifetime Global Achievement recipients, I believe Howard M. Ervin is certainly worthy to be counted with this company. He had a significat impact on Oral Roberts. He had a significant impact on Oral Roberts University. He had a significant impact on Pentecostal and Charismatic scholarship. He had a significant impact bringing the message of healing and Spirit-empowerment to many denominations. And as far as I know, he is the only person who has had a biography published about his life and impact on Oral Roberts University and the Pentecostal and Charismatic community.
In the past 50 years, many students, alumni and faculty have made a significant impact on ORU’s history. Howard Ervin exemplifies everything that ORU has stood for these past 50 years. He was an outstanding academic, he trained countless ministers to go to “every man’s world,” he had a global impact on the body of Christ, and he advanced the message of Spirit-empowered life to thousands. Though his name didn’t make the list, I believe that Howard M. Ervin is certainly worthy of an ORU 50th Anniversary Lifetime Global Achievement Award.
Read more on the Life and Legacy of Howard M. Ervin
Daniel D. Isgrigg is a graduate of Oral Roberts Unviersity (B.A. 00, M.A. 07) and the author of the theological tribute to Howard M. Ervin called Pilgrimage Into Pentecost (2008).