Review: Jesus Revolution (Laurie and Vaughn)

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.

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Review: The God Impulse (Alexander)

Admittedly, I planned on passing this book over. The fact that Walter Brueggemann wrote the foward, however, drew me in. I suppose publishers know what they are doing.

In The God Impulse: The Power of Mercy in an Unmerciful World, Jack Alexander explores the theme of mercy throughout Scripture, with particular attention to the parable of the good Samaritan. The book is structured around this parable and falls into four parts (22):

  1. See: the disposition of mercy.
  2. Go: the discovery of mercy.
  3. Do: the displacement of mercy.
  4. Endure: the discipline of mercy.

Each part consists of two chapters. The first usually explains and supports the particular part. Thus, these first chapters of each part look at the bible in detail and connect what is being said to Scripture. The second chapter is typically more practical. Throughout both chapters, the book teems with stories, examples, and insights. There is therefore no hard separation between the two chapters of each part, but they mutually reinforce one another.

Each chapter also ends with a command/invitation to put into practice what the chapter is about. I find this extremely beneficial for moving the reader from theory to practice. Helping readers see what the chapter looks like in their own life and how to enact it is a great strength.

Overall, the book is great for orienting readers towards mercy. It is not breaking new ground in really consequential ways but is more focused on living out what we have known all along (if we have read our bibles). Alexander does this well, so he is to be commended. Along the way, there are some slip ups (on p. 202 he claims that berith means “to cut,” but berith is a noun) that should be amended, but the book is well worth your time.

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.