The Jesus Revolution

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So just a quick note to say that Nancy and I had the opportunity to go see The Jesus Revolution last night. Man, what a time capsule that was.

The movie was well done, and we appreciated many things about it. They really captured the excitement and the good weirdness of that excitement, and they did it without glossing over some of the gnarly problems running in the background. At the same time, they didn’t put those problems on a microscopic slide for us—they just included them as part of the story that was. And we can testify, as folks who lived through that time, that “yeah, that was it.” It was kind of trippy going to a movie that hit you like a fifty-year high school reunion. “There’s that tract we used to have in our bookstores.” “There’s Love Song, whose records we used to have in our vinyl record bins.” “There’s that ‘one way’ finger sign.”

We thought Joel Courtney did a fantastic job, along with all the other actors. The movie was really well done, and it is not surprising to us that it outperformed all the box office expectations.

I have long been convinced that there was a genuine spiritual awakening in the seventies, big enough to attract attention, but disorganized enough to go rapidly in all kinds of directions. Many Christians of my generation came to saving faith during that time, and it was all connected in some way to this movement.

But the different directions need to be remembered as well. Chuck Smith, one of the main characters in the movie, was always steadfast in his hostility to Calvinism, for example. But a bunch of us were foreordained to go in that direction anyway. Oh well.

The Jesus movement erupted in California, but rapidly spread across the country. It probably hit its high water mark in California by 1973, but there were massive ramifications elsewhere in the country in the years that followed that. Christ Church was established in 1975, and we were very much a part of that cultural moment. I remember that during that era, we used to hold noon Bible studies on the University of Idaho campus, every day, and they were “standing room only” sorts of events—with 40, 50, or 60 people in attendance. The spiritual hunger of that time was ravenous.

Our need in this moment is more desperate, and our decadence is deeper, but this movie is a good reminder of how a sovereign God can work with the most unlikely materials.