Jesus Revolution is an oral history of sorts. While setting the context for events within the larger narrative of the United States in the 50s-70s, the book is focused on the Jesus people movement. In places like the West Coast, hippies were getting saved and following Jesus in bold and deep ways. What exactly happened during those tumultuous times that so many did not know how to handle?
Laurie and Vaughn do not set out to give an academic history of the Jesus people movement. As they recommend, one would need to look to Larry Eskridge’s God’s Forever Family for that. Instead, the book largely focuses on Greg Laurie’s involvement in the Jesus people movement. That is why it is a sort of oral history: it is largely a history of the Jesus people movement through the life and telling of Greg Laurie.
Along the way, the reader meets a number of people and groups. We learn of Lonnie Frisbee, a charismatic minister in the Jesus people movement. We also hear about Chuck Smith, a pastor who helped his church embrace the Jesus people. That church ended up booming and spreading like wildfire. For those who are aware of the history of evangelicalism, the name should be familiar: Calvary Chapel.
As the subtitle indicates, the book is not simply about history, but about how God can do a similar thing in the present. It is here that I started to worry. The endorsements included names like Jack Graham and Robert Jeffress. I knew where this was going: fighting culture wars by means of the Republican party.
It was a bit of a surprise, then, when I ran across the following sentence, “Many American were no longer willing to swallow conventional churchianity that was just part of a God-and-country type of mind-set.” (57) On the other hand, you have these juxtaposed sentences, “Today’s celebration of diversity and tolerance tolerates anything except an exclusive truth claim. The Jesus Movement’s One Way hand sign–as in there’s but one way to Heaven, through faith in Christ–would be derded by some as offensive hate speech today, with Jesus People carted off to jail or to community service or sensitivity training workshops. Still, let’s not get wigged out about culture wars or the increasing marginalization of biblical Christianity.” (242)
The book is a bit of an odd read. The author seems to be Ellen Vaughn, as Laurie is often referred to in the third-person. Nonetheless, the book is an interesting read. If you want to read about one participant’s involvement in the Jesus People movement, this is your book.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.