On February 10, 2014, CBS commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first Ed Sullivan appearance with a commemorative special, featuring a duet between Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
On March 7, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma, AL, was commemorated with a reenactment of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Former president George W. Bush and current president Barack Obama participated.
A local student organization in Los Angeles commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Watts riots on April 25.1
Gen-Xers and millennials: you had better get used to such nostalgic pap stories over the next five years. Your baby boomer parents and grandparents are still firmly in charge, and the forthcoming golden jubilees of the late 60s will represent their last chance to relive their halcyon days.
It is natural for any demographic to recollect their formative years with tenderness and longing. However, the baby boomers took what should have remained the foibles of their youth and constructed the remainder of their lives around these shibboleths. Due to their great numbers, these not only influenced their own lives but the entirety of Western culture as well. To paraphrase the apostle Paul, the boomers spake as a child, understood as a child, and thought as a child, but never got around to putting away those childish things because they were also idealistic things, and thus obviously of inherent value, man.
Boomer Christians – being only too happy to be followers of the prevailing culture rather than molders of it – partake in this misplaced reminiscing with eyes every bit as misty as their secular counterparts. “Hard-headed” Calvinists are just as prone to doing so as soft-headed Arminians. In an interview, John MacArthur credited the Jesus Movement with ushering in a new era in Scriptural study:
Macarthur: (T)here was new excitement about Bible study because of the new translations. The Jesus Movement was coming…
Interviewer: Yeah, California in those days was a wild place to minister, wasn’t it?
MacArthur: Yeah, we caught the wave, no question.
Interviewer: Sixty-nine was the summer of the Manson murders and all of that. That was the same year you started as pastor.
MacArthur: And that was when the Jesus Movement started out here and there was a tremendous renewed interest in Bible study. And with those translations and a whole bunch of new little Christian publishers coming into the picture, and I was doing what was unavailable, and so people started flooding in here to hear Bible teaching.2
R.C. Sproul Senior also spoke favorably of the movement’s vigor:
In the sixties the uplifted index finger became a symbol not only of a number one ranking for a football team, but also a popular sign of the members of the “Jesus movement” that there is but “one way” to God, the way of Christ. The zeal of the Jesus People met great resistance and hostility at this point.3
Perhaps I am being a touch harsh? After all, we all had our salad days. One generation rolled a hoop down the lane with a stick, another played with Tonka trucks and GI Joe, still another plays Call of Duty XXXIII: Israel’s in Trouble!!!! on the Xbox. As long as the suzerainty of Christ over all is acknowledged, where’s the harm in youthful foibles? And it’s not as though the hippie movement was all terrible. It was anti-materialist, anti-imperialist, in favor of simple living, even tribal in certain of its manifestations. Why can’t I tolerate its Christian wing, even though that might not be my ‘scene’?
Well, to paraphrase a much-derided bit of Pentagon doublespeak from the era, I can’t because the Movement believed that ‘it became necessary to destroy the church in order to save it’. In this, it had a lot of help from our enemies at large. Let’s take a Magic Carpet Ride back to the Age of Aquarius and see how this all went down.
Dig it. It’s 1965. In the America of that great social warrior Lyndon Baines Johnson, there is Something in the Air. I think it’s a combination of smoke and musk from the Watts riots. Oh, wait – this is more ethereal. It must be Change.
Yes, the first wave of baby boomers is just starting to graduate high school, and boy, are they flush with idealism! Not for them is the gloomy, nihilistic ennui of the last decade’s Beat Generation – the Mickey Mouse Club vision of the world was decidedly sunnier. The coming rebellion against God will be awash in pastel colors, ‘happy’ drugs, vacuous smiles, and the shallowest displays of egalitarianism imaginable.
What self-respecting huckster of simony wouldn’t want to get in on this act? Certainly not Chuck Smith.
In December of 1965 Smith, who was becoming increasingly disheartened with denominationalism in general, took over the pulpit of a small Costa Mesa, CA, church called Calvary Chapel. From that inauspicious beginning he would go on to forge a non-denominational empire, bringing churches around the world under a loose affiliation of the Calvary Chapel name. The church has famously refused to declare itself Calvinist or Arminian – or, to put it in the pseudo-diplomatic language of this page, “Calvary Chapel strives to ‘strike a balance between extremes’ when it comes to controversial theological issues such as this one.” Rather, it has preferred to refer to itself as ‘biblical’. One wonders whether Muslims would find solace in a mosque that declares itself ‘neither Sunni nor Shi’a, but Koranic.’ But I digress.
Smith’s theology might have been a hobo stew with all the depth of a burnt pancake, but he caught the wave of the times. His guilt-free message of ‘luhv’ and ‘freedumb’ would resonate with the burgeoning hippie movement, and the vaguely Christian among them would begin to congregate at his doorstep. At this time, though, Smith was unaware of that fact.
On to 1968. This hippie bit was not riding off into the sunset, Smith noticed. He decided he wanted to meet one of the longhairs so he could ‘rap’ with him and ‘get a handle’ on their ‘bag’. His daughter was bumming around with a guy who knew just such a chap. His name was Lonnie Frisbee. That’s his birth name, believe it or not. His Christian credentials were impeccable. The previous year he had gotten in the habit of reciting passages from the Gospel of John while on acid and experiencing apocalyptic trips afterward.4 Far out. He promptly joined the congregation of the chapel.
Smith was instantly taken with his new acquaintance, saying, “I was not at all prepared for the love that this young man would radiate.”5 One can only hope that he was unaware at the time that Frisbee was a not overly uncloseted homosexual, his sham marriage to his wife Connie notwithstanding. He would die of AIDS in 1993 (his funeral, incidentally, taking place at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral), and a ‘pioneering’ LGBTFSQDPUZ documentary would be made about his life twelve years after that. It would seem in the 1960s, though, people were not as attuned to the idiosyncrasies of sodomites as they are today. This, after all, was the era in which many people honestly could not fathom why Liberace hadn’t gotten married yet.
Frisbee would eventually work his way up to be Calvary’s assistant pastor, and his charisma immediately attracted hippie devotees. So we are told, anyway. Judging by this YouTube clip of his preaching style, he comes across as a tall drink of effeminate water peppering his stumbling and insipid sermons with mod sayings like ‘out of sight’ and ‘same old trip’. If he got a haircut he could pass as a modern youth pastor in any denomination easily. Still, he looked like the popular conception of Jesus (which he was at no great pains to discourage – he once said, “People say I look like Jesus, and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather look like.”6) and had a reputation for being ‘zany’, so the youngsters naturally flocked to hear his sermons. Something ‘beautiful’ was transpiring.
And boy, did Chuck Smith run with it! With his new captive audience, he figured if he only catered to them they would wholly embrace his social conservative teachings wholeheartedly. His New York Times obituary describes the transformation best:
His decision to dispense with the traditional liturgy, replace pipe organs with electric guitars, preach from the pulpit in a Hawaiian shirt if he felt like it and give the same come-as-you-are rights to worshipers set the standard in the 1970s for what the church historian Donald E. Miller, a professor of religion at the University of Southern California, has called the “new paradigm” of independent Christian megachurches.7
His methods might have been appalling, but there is no denying their success. Such is yet another sad commentary on life. After taking over all pastoral duties, Smith shunted Frisbee out to a Chapel-affiliated halfway house for wayward youth, which he would eventually grow into the Shiloh Youth Revival Centres – flophouses for hippies who needed a place to crash after their car broke down on the way to the free Altamont concert or whatever. These would set the stage for the establishment of future Christian-oriented communal societies and helped raise the profile of the Jesus Movement exceedingly.
Inspired by the success of Smith’s endeavors, other charlatans clamored to get in on the act:
- Arthur Blessitt channeled his efforts into ministering to the bikers, prostitutes, and assorted other dropouts infesting the Sunset Strip. He was also reputed to be the originator of one of the most tasteless ministering slogans of all time: telling druggies, “You like to get high? Well, Jesus will get you higher than you’ve ever been!”8 As stated on his website, on Christmas Day 1968 he set off from Hollywood on a worldwide walking tour carrying a cross – a task he continues with to the present day. Youth pastors and prop comics no doubt look on such pious gimmickry with wonderment.
- Ted Wise founded one of the original Christian communes: the House of Acts. He spelled out the purpose behind this endeavor in an interview, saying, “I wanted to be as good a Christian as I could but these church folks were not at all like the people I had read about in the Book of Acts. They didn’t live together or share much of anything, they didn’t hold everything in common or give to each as any had need.”9 Lest one mistake him for a sensitive, new-age-guy version of Paul, though, in that same interview he also established his evangelical Zionist credentials: “As long as we think of ourselves as a Christian nation, we will continue the practice of another moldy old heresy, Anglo-Israel-ism. This gem simply appropriates all the promises that God made to Israel and applies them to Europeans and their descendants by virtue of a self proclaimed or enforced Christian majority. As far as I know, God has a deal with only one nation and that’s Israel.”10 What a relief.
- Duane Pederson was the founder of the Hollywood Free Paper, the preeminent underground Christian periodical of its time. It was in its pages that the terms ‘Jesus Movement’, ‘Jesus People’, and the pejorative ‘Jesus Freak’ were alleged to have originated.11
- Kathryn Kuhlman was a feminist faith healer in the ‘proud’ tradition of Aimee Semple Macpherson (by her own admission) who championed the Jesus Movement on her nationally televised show I Believe in Miracles.
- Our good pal Hal Lindsey became a darling of the movement with the 1970 publication of his churchian ‘classic’ The Late Great Planet Earth – as Lonnie Frisbee discovered, Arminian dispensationalist rapture-and-antichrist pop eschatology can be mighty, mighty trippy.
- The movement attracted its fair share of overt charlatans as well as covert ones. In 1968, David Berg (hmm…) founded a cult entitled ‘Teens for Christ’ and managed to convince a goodly number of hippies that his group constituted God’s election. Berg wasn’t selective about the age of his recruits, which resulted in a coalition of irate parents chasing him out of the state of California. Berg kept the racket going for another year or so by changing the cult’s name to ‘Children of God’, but charges of fraud and kidnapping eventually forced him to relocate to Europe, where his ministry died faster than a daisy in a gun barrel.12
Thus the stage was set for a Great Spiritual Happening – or a fad, if you are not of a romantic bent. While the hippie subculture at large had peaked in membership by 1968 and thereafter began a gradual decline, the Jesus Movement itself reached its crescendo by 1971 and would continue its existence until sometime around 1975 – documenting, once again, that twentieth-century Christianity was content to exploit cultural trends in an archaic fashion rather than to set the culture itself, as it had done in past epochs.
Still, there is no denying that for a brief period of time, the Movement did become something of a phenomenon in the culture at large. TIME magazine featured the movement as the cover story in its June 21, 1971 issue. In describing Christ, the subheading resorted to the puerile trope of ‘Jesus as revolutionary’, beloved of Marxist revisionists and liberation theologians everywhere:
ALIAS: THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD, KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS, PRINCE OF PEACE, ETC.
> Notorious leader of an underground liberation movement
>Wanted for the following charges:
—Practicing medicine, winemaking and food distribution without a license.
—Interfering with businessmen in the temple.
—Associating with known criminals, radicals, subversives, prostitutes and street people.
—Claiming to have the authority to make people into God’s children.
APPEARANCE: Typical hippie type—long hair, beard, robe, sandals.13
The TIME cover, shown here, would also showcase the predominant artistic style of the Movement – gaudy unnatural psychedelic faux-Warhol images of Christ, highlighted with ample usage of sunbursts, clouds, and rainbows. To paraphrase Rushdoony, it resembled someone taking a pious gush all over a sheet of canvas.
This being from the days when TIME was still a cultural avatar, though, the Movement began to appear in popular culture as a whole…and the mockery of Christ increased a hundredfold. That avid believer Norman Greenbaum’s 1970 single ‘Spirit in the Sky’, which originally peaked at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Singles chart, would become an anthem of the Jesus Freaks – doubtless because such Judeo-supremacist lyrics as ‘Never been a sinner I never sinned/I got a friend in Jesus/So you know that when I die/He’s gonna set me up with/The spirit in the sky’14 could be interpreted as guilt-free religion to the uninitiated hippie. The 1971 film Billy Jack, which must have made more than a few alienists swoon when they saw it at the drive-in during their formative years, incorporated much facile Christian allegory into its multicultural imagery – and crossed into outright blasphemy right at the beginning when it depicted a pageant featuring a black Christ being born and saluted with the Black Power salute by ‘with-it’ white kids. Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell became smash hits on Broadway and were later turned into movies of their own – both films feature their Christ characters undergoing crucifixion but not a resurrection. Shades of The Passover Plot later in the decade. Somewhat more reverent, if every bit as theologically erroneous, would be a slew of ‘Christian’ B- and Z-movies that would later go on to be staples on TBN’s Saturday-night-at-the-movies slot: 1970’s The Cross and the Switchblade and 1972’s A Thief in the Night being two prominent examples. Many of these movies were adapted into comic book form by Spire, which would most famously adapt the Archie comics into a Christian format – giving the Riverdale gang a decidedly hippie bent in the process. (Not to mention upping the multicultural agitprop of that comic considerably, as this cover helps to illustrate.) Several celebrities would also jump on the Movement’s bandwagon. Johnny Cash would be featured in his own Spire comic and would produce his very own Jesus-as-hippie movie, 1973’s The Gospel Road, for which he also composed the soundtrack. Billy Graham, always on the lookout for a relevant ‘hook’ for his infernal ministry, would branch out from telling world leaders how special they are to embrace the Movement, adopting its ‘One Way’ raised index finger icon as his own during the 1971 Tournament of Roses Parade and, that same year, penning the book The Jesus Generation, which proclaimed the Jesus Freaks the vanguard of the great ‘spiritual awakening’ that would re-Christianize the West for one and all times.15 His embracing the Movement lent it an undeserved yet undeniable air of credibility among the church as a whole.
The high-water mark for the movement undoubtedly occurred during its own version of Woodstock – Explo 72. Co-sponsored by Billy Graham and Campus Crusade for Christ, this event was held in Dallas during the middle week of June 1972. It was designed as an evangelical seminar for high school and college-age kids, culminating in sermons during the evenings and a rock concert at the seminar’s conclusion. Graham himself would deliver six sermons during the course of this event, and the performers included Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson (who would have a #1 Movement-influenced song on the Billboard Country charts, ‘Why Me’, the following year), and such Christian rock singers as Larry Norman and Randy Matthews. While traditionalist Christians were discomfited by the ‘far-out’ atmosphere, the participation of Graham should have alerted them to the fact that the festival was a tame venture: Richard Nixon himself attempted to wrangle an invitation from CCC chair Bill Bright, and a young Mike Huckabee was one of the attendees.16 Far more concerning to the traditionalists should have been the festival’s avowed spirit of ecumenism – Graham and Bright freely invited Catholic organizations to participate in the shenanigans and they did so, sending nuns and priestly seminarians to handle advance bookings and distribute transubstantiation literature during the proceedings.17 Members of Dave Berg’s Children of God were also present, attempting to kidnap unwary teenage girls.18 The success of this event led to a follow-up Explo seminar two years later in Seoul. One can’t help but wonder if ‘Reverend’ Sun Myung Moon had a hand in its organization.
Time and tide wait for no man, and certainly for no trend, and after 1972 the Jesus Movement began a rather precipitous decline. Lonnie Frisbee, the Movement’s poster child, had parted ways none too amiably with Chuck Smith in 1971 and would venture into Pentecostalism. As the Movement was always very much driven by charismatic personalities, this represented a major blow. The rest of the Christian hippies, disillusioned that the world hadn’t been evangelized within a matter of months, retired their sandals rather than continue to kick the dust off of them and went looking for some ‘new’ religious high – some embraced speaking in tongues and snake handling, some EST, some yoga, some just sat in their Fruit of the Looms smoking pot all day. By 1975, the Movement was all but dead. Its passing went largely unlamented until the rather fuzzy hindsight of Christian baby boomers resurrected its memory.
This, then, was the Jesus Movement in an abridged format. Certainly on the surface, it is quite obvious why kinists would object to it. With its support largely confined to urban areas in general, and the metropolises of the West Coast in particular, it was only inevitable that the Movement would adopt a distinctly multicultural hue, aping the fallacies of the secular flower children. As well, the Movement’s Arminian character was its predominant theological component. One can ‘choose’ to follow Jesus just like one can ‘choose’ to live in a squalid Haight-Ashbury flophouse or on a barren commune in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Just as long as you stick it to the Man, man, it’s all too beautiful.
Both are valid criticisms. Yet our objection to the Movement goes far deeper…and reveals far more sinister designs.
The active participants during that era like to define the Movement as epochal in Christian history. It was, but not in evangelizing the world, as they would claim. Rather, it acted as the culmination of a Hegelian dialectic process, producing a grotesque parody of a church under the veneer of utopian hopes and dreams.
The church’s record in the first half of the twentieth century of combating the antithesis of modernity with the thesis of biblical doctrine was admittedly pretty dismal, but if nothing else, a goodly portion of the rank and file was adamant about keeping their congregations on the straight and narrow path, regardless of what Union Theological Seminary-addled pastor they happened to be burdened with. Through the 1950s and 60s, though, either through spiritual fatigue or indolence caused by letting the mediums of communication do their thinking for them, they became seriously derelict in their duties. Doctrines that would have been unthinkable as little as a decade previous began to hold sway over these congregations – grudgingly, at first, but with greater and greater enthusiasm as Tolstoy’s alleged ‘inevitable wave of history’ swept over them. Nowhere was this more readily apparent than in the church’s exponentially increasing acceptance of racial integration.
Once this barrier was breached, gone were the biblical injunctions against mixtures of all sorts from the pulpits. Gone, too, were white recollections of the catastrophes visited upon them when these same injunctions were blithely ignored, as were the hard lessons gleaned from such experience. The new theology, in keeping with the nascent feminist movement, would be based on emotions rather than doctrine and practice. ‘Thus saith the LORD’ was out and ‘Thus feeleth the Spirit in the Sky’ was in.
The Jesus Movement was the inevitable and sickly logical culmination of this process – a final victory of the antithesis over the thesis. After all, it’s not ‘fair’ to throw just one taboo out the window. Might as well jettison everything and start over with a ‘nice’ Christianity featuring lotsa trendiness and flowers but zero bite. TIME magazine thinks it’s outta sight, and what else matters in the big picture?
And what of the resulting synthesis? The Movement’s collapse left behind a heap of the spiritually vacuous who learned little from their experiences except that Christianity was such a groovy religion that it allowed them to be whoever they wanted to be and still get their free ticket to heaven. However, as hippiedom was by this time as dead as Steve Prefontaine and the 70s were a decade all about ‘finding yourself’, these heaps, when they remained nominally Christian, pursued their calling under whatever guise they chose to identify with. Thus began the modern hyper-atomization of the church body, wherein liberty (in its hedonistic form, libertinism) replaced grace as man’s means of salvation. This led directly to today’s odious ‘niche’ Christianity, which could be argued to be a perverse parody of kinism. As examples, a quick perusal of Facebook will turn up pages for ‘Juggalos for Jesus‘, ‘Goths for Christ‘, and Christian emos, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. We have met the Age of Aquarius, and it is us. That being the case, we also have no call to condemn the likes of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner so long as it proclaims itself a follower of Jesus.
Such fragmentation also led during the Movement’s era to the founding of one of the single most insidious ‘Christian’ sects in living memory: Jews for Jesus. Moishe Rosen was an alleged Christian convert from the Midwest who relocated to San Francisco in the 1960s and, inspired by the mixture of tailor-made alternate religions and aggressive demonstration tactics he experienced in Haight-Ashbury, began ministering to Jews in a decidedly pandering fashion. His obituary in the Independent describes his methods aptly:
Often arriving alone with a batch of leaflets in San Francisco’s People’s Park, he began preaching to young Jews that they could believe in Jesus without giving up their Jewish identity or culture. He caught people’s attention through what he called “broadsides” – leaflets he wrote himself, using pop and rock imagery with such titles as “If Being Born Hasn’t Given You Satisfaction, Try Being Born Again”.19
Failing to heed Paul’s admonition to the Colossians to ‘put off the old man with his deeds’, Rosen would found his organization in 1973, with its mission being nicely summarized in a statement he would make years later: “We want a climate where all ideas can be accepted or rejected without previous indoctrination. You can take from me everything but my Jewishness and my belief in God. You can say I’m a nuisance, a Christian, out of step with the Jewish community, but you can’t say I’m not a Jew.”20 In essence, he preached that a Jew could reap all the benefits of Christianity while clinging to his old anti-Christian Jewish cultural identity – a most convenient means of ‘finding oneself’, and a good example of the grossly self-centered mentality that poisoned the minds of the hippie subculture in particular and the baby boomers as a whole. One can’t help but wonder how much influence Rosen had on Norman Greenbaum.
It is not surprising, then, to understand how liberals in the church looked upon these developments favorably. What of the conservatives, though? How were they bamboozled? The more theologically astute among the Jesus Freaks claimed to be devotees of Restorationism – the desire to restore the church to its earlier, more pristine state. Given the empty state of mid-twentieth-century Christianity, though, this Restorationism was strictly based upon surface appearances rather than doctrine, and as such was remarkably successful. What did it matter if the New Truth bore more of a resemblance to monism at best and pantheism at worst than to the teachings of Christ? Its devotees dressed like extras from biblical extravaganzas like King of Kings, hung around in groups and wandered around extensively as the apostles did, preached ‘love’ and ‘values’, practiced simple living, and smoked somewhat less pot than their secular hippie counterparts did. Plus, the Christian conservatives’ guru Billy Graham gave them his endorsement. Good enough! Even though it’s not our bag, let’s send Junior off to Explo 72, where maybe he’ll learn something! It sure beats joining the Weather Underground!! R.L. Dabney’s anathema against conservativism was once again proven true: “American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition.” It is also little wonder that so many ex-Freaks went on to embrace Pentecostalism, which also erroneously claims to be a Restorationist movement.
Restorationism most certainly had zero part to play in the area almost all scholars agree is the Movement’s single most lasting legacy – the genesis of that most rancid of musical genres, Contemporary Christian Music. Prior to the late 1960s, popular Christian music had been relegated to the gospel, folk, and country/bluegrass genres, but the Jesus Freaks demanded worship in their rock music, and they sure got it. Not good rock music, mind you – the kind of safe and more than slightly effeminate atonality that played on AM stations weekdays at 1:30 PM during the period.
The era’s primary personalities were all attuned to the power the era’s music held over their charges. Lonnie Frisbee convinced Chuck Smith to hippen up Calvary Church’s choir, saying that he had often left his sermons early ‘just to avoid the music’ and that the sound wasn’t ‘something that made you just leave and go into another world.’21 (Perhaps not uncoincidentally, this was also the era that Erich von Däniken’s paean to UFOlogy Chariots of the Gods was something of a phenomenon.) Smith, being the groovy Rocket Man that he was, eagerly embraced the changes – so much so that in 1971 he would finance out of his own savings a ‘Greatest Hits’ Calvary choir compilation entitled The Everlastin’ Living Jesus Music Concert.22 Thinking bigger, he would eventually gather all the church’s recordings and song sheets and use them as the basis for the formation of Maranatha! Music, the first-ever record label dedicated to CCM.23 Explo 72 would produce a limited-edition album of its performers, Jesus Sound Explosion, which would circulate widely via bootlegged copies and would help to fuel the demand for early CCM stars as Larry Norman, Andrae Crouch, and the group Love Song. Radio stations specializing in the format would turn up by the end of the decade, and the genre’s stars would be featured on the PTL and TBN networks. Jesus rock had arrived…and it has proven over the years to be every bit as susceptible to debauchery and atomization as the rest of the Movement, as displayed by the disproportionately large numbers of CCM singers coming out of the closet and embracing sodomy, to cite just one example. Moreover, unless you are a social Darwinist, one can hardly look to the likes of Lecrae as the natural successors of the past masters of hymnody. In the arena of music (or rather muzak), Christianity has once again meekly trundled behind the prevailing winds of popular culture rather than lead with the Standard, as it had done in times past. How long, o man? How long?
Dark as all these clouds have been against the Movement, there remains one that may be the darkest yet. As has been demonstrated, the Movement was heavily ecumenical, embracing every denomination under the sun – Protestant, Catholic, Jew, some of the ‘nicer’ Eastern religions – you name it. At the same time on the world stage, the still-recently-formed World Council of Churches (1948) was going through a vigorous period of denominational recruitment, fueled by the efforts of its American Presbyterian general secretary Eugene Carson Blake. A prominent civil rights busybody who loved getting his photo taken with Martin Luther King, Blake had also called for worldwide Protestant church unification in a 1960 sermon – a call he was able to put into action when he assumed the headship of the WCC in 1966.
Thus, the pressures being put forth on the church were identical tactically to the pressures being put upon secular society during the 1960s. In his classic conspiratorial work None Dare Call It Conspiracy, author Gary Allen described this process as a vise, with pressure being exerted upon the middle class from above by the Rothschild/Rockefeller/CFR elite and pressure from below being exerted by the radicals of the SDS/Black Panthers/Yippies/etc. – both acting in tandem to socialize white America.24 If one cannot be effectively ‘changed’ without having his faith fundamentally altered, then it stands to reason a similar process had to be occurring in the Christian sphere at the same time, utilizing the WCC and the Movement both.
And if one of the more notorious rumors concerning the Movement proves to be true, it would certainly go a long way to proving this thesis correct. Pat Matrisciana was a co-founder, along with Jack Sparks, of another Movement fringe group called the Christian World Liberation Front.25 In later years he would go on to produce an anti-Clinton documentary for Jerry Falwell and to join the conservative Christian answer to the Council on Foreign Relations: the Council for National Policy. Matrisciana has long been rumored to be a CIA agent, and in one interview he allegedly boasted about having been ‘detailed to Berkeley’ in order to ‘invent the Jesus Freaks’.26 Fact or apocrypha? We may never know. Given the nature of our enemies that we have come to know well, though, we can strongly suspect – and praise God for His wonderful gift of discernment.
And with that, kids, our long, strange trip is drawing towards its end. Time to park the Partridge Family-colored VW bus and clean all the roaches out of the ashtray before Dad finds them. We pulled down some landmarks, broke some taboos, and listened to a lot of crappy music, all in the image of our personal conception of Christ. What a gas.
A postscript, though: whatever happened to those wild and crazy kids with their cuckoo hair and their zest and zeal and zip and zowie for Jesus? Well, they grew old. And let us see what kind of a legacy they left behind – the Lamentations of Jeremiah, chapter 2, verses 8 and 9 tells the story of that:
The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together.
Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD.
And who is that over in the corner, according to verse 10? Could that be them?
The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.
Yeah, it’s them. Bummer.
- Maddi Eckert, ‘Troy Camp will commemorate Watts Riots‘. February 23, 2015. ↩
- ‘John MacArthur’s Life Testimony‘. Interview, Dec. 21, 1986. ↩
- R.C. Sproul, ‘Why Is God so Narrow-Minded About Salvation?‘ from Chapter Two in Reason to Believe. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1982. ↩
- Matt Coker, ‘The First Jesus Freak‘. The OC Weekly. March 3, 2005. ↩
- Randall Balmer, The Encyclopedia of Evangelism, pp. 227, 303, 532. ↩
- Coker. ↩
- Paul Vitello, ‘Chuch Smith, Minister Who Preached to Flower Children, Dies at 86’. The New York Times. October 13, 2013. ↩
- ‘Remembering – the Jesus Movement‘. ↩
- ‘Jason Questions a Jesus Freak‘. September 13, 1997. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duane_Pederson ↩
- ‘Remembering – the Jesus Movement’. ↩
- TIME, June 21, 1971. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,905202,00.html ↩
- Norman Greenbaum, ‘Spirit in the Sky’. Album: Spirit in the Sky, Reprise, 1969. ↩
- Chris Armstrong, “Tell Billy Graham: ‘The Jesus People love him.’” Christianity Today, August 8, 2008. ↩
- John G. Turner, ‘The Christian Woodstock‘, The Wall Street Journal. January 18, 2008. ↩
- ‘Explo ’72‘. Thanks Mucho. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Phil Davison, ‘Moishe Rosen: Evangelist who founded the Jews for Jesus movement’, The Independent, August 24, 2010. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Larry Eskridge, ‘The “Praise and Worship” Revolution‘, Christianity Today. October 29, 2008. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Gary Allen, None Dare Call It Conspiracy, Concord Press, Seal Beach, CA, 1971, pp. 124-125. ↩
- ‘The SF Bay Area Jesus People Movement – Volume Two’. ↩
- Barbara Aho, ‘Antipas – A CIA Front‘. It should be noted that this quote is taken as hearsay from another website and thus cannot be verified to the author’s satisfaction. However, this article lists other individuals who allegedly were involved in both the Jesus Movement and various intelligence branches, such as Stevan Shearer and Dene McGriff. ↩