Saturday, February 4, 2023

Three Themes that Identified the Jesus Movement

 As I recall there were at least these 3 major themes of the revival called the Jesus Revolution or Movement.

  • Evangelism.  Although most revivals are an awakening of the church, this one was more about reaching the unchurched with the Gospel - the Good News that Jesus came to die and pardon those who receive Him as Savior, giving them the gift of eternal life.  True, it greatly impacted believers. But by and large it swept over Orange County, CA, the West Coast and across America as an evangelistic movement.  

And it was pretty simple actually. Young people who heard that God loved them and accepted His love through Jesus simply shared it with their friends and anyone who would listen. The baptisms of new believers at Corona Del Mar by Calvary Chapel illustrate that evangelistic emphasis.  Thousands, just in that region of Southern California were professing faith in Christ. My guesstimate is that 25% of the student body at my high school were born again believers, and most of them new in their faith.*

  • A second theme that arose was in music that declared their faith.  Most of the new converts to Jesus had little or no church background, so the old hymns were mostly unknown to them.  So from their cultural context new songs were being written.  Bands and musicians now Christian weren't putting down their guitars and drums, but now writing songs that declared their faith using their music and instruments.  To this mid-teen boy it was so refreshing!  
Let me quote from just a couple of those composers in the very early days...well before something called CCM came to be.  "Sing unto the heavens with a brand new song" (if I'm not mistaken that's pretty much a quote from the Bible). And a piercing question from another, "Why should the devil have all the good music?".  
  • The third theme would have been a fascination with the end times.  And I would say it was a healthy fascination.  The Jesus Freaks not only heard that Jesus had come to save them, they were also hearing that He was coming back for them.  And that was exciting Good News.  Their conversation was abuzz with words like "rapture", "2nd coming", "tribulation" and "anti-christ".  
As I recall Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel - ground zero in SoCal for the movement - preached long during these days on the return of Christ.  Books like Hal Lindsey's The Late, Great Planet Earth and Salem Kirban's 666 flew off the shelves. Larry Norman (whom I consider the father of Jesus Music) had a haunting song that lamented, "I wish we'd all been ready".

Evangelism and a fascination with Christ's return put the Jesus People in the company with other evangelicals - even fundamentalist Christians.  If it were just those two I suspect the evangelical/fundamentalist churches might have more easily supported the revival.  But, the music! There was a dividing line that some, even today 50+ years later refuse to accept or cross.  

More on these themes coming.  And if you have an recollection of those days, feel free to comment here.  If you're simply a troll or a negative Nancy, just know that Jesus loves you!

Listen to Chuck Girard's song "Full Immersion Baptism By the Sea".

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