Tuesday, February 28, 2023

You Say You Want a Jesus Revolution

I’m marginally attached enough to evangelicalism through family that I’ve been hearing a lot of radio ads about the so-called “Jesus Revolution.” And sure, the Jesus Movement itself was pretty cool with all the communes and the actual, you know, living out of Jesus’ teachings (because, surprisingly enough, Jesus was a proto-hippy – I mean, “love your enemies?”).

But I’m reluctant to see the movie.

Because from what I’ve read online, it feels like another evangelical Trojan Horse. Greg Laurie, who apparently is the hero of the movie – and, fair enough, I guess if you write the book it’s okay to be the hero – even mentions that he hopes it’s a way to stuff Millennials and Zoomers back into the evangelical box start a new Jesus Movement among Millennials and Zoomers.

And that’s kind of the problem.

Because what the original Jesus Movement did was take a bunch of idealistic kids who saw Jesus and said “lets be like that,” and turned them into a bunch of culture warriors who decided that it was more important to be in power than it was to follow the hippy-dippy Jesus of their youth.

And then there’s the very troubling airbrushing out of the story of Lonnie Frisbee, a bisexual, theologically non-“evangelically orthodox” guy without whom much of evangelicalism’s late-20th century success probably would not have occurred. I mean, for the love of God, the guy was instrumental in launching not one, but two evangelical church movements.

Let that sink in. If you take evangelical theology seriously, which I don’t, but humor me here, God used a gay man who didn’t believe all the right things to start a revival among a group of disenchanted post-Christians.

And if you don’t have a particularly evangelical theology, you can still admire the fact that large numbers of people saw Christ through Lonnie Frisbee – did I mention he was gay and didn’t believe all the “right things” – and decided that Jesus’ way was a life they wanted to live.

It’s almost like you can be Christ-like and gay. You know, you don’t have to be something you aren’t to follow God? But that’s what all those backslidden Progressive Christians say so it can’t be right, amiright?

One would think that at some point that might cause some self-reflection among evangelicals, but fifty years of history would show that one would be mistaken.

But Kelsey Grammer is cool and I find it funny that he’s playing a 40-year old Chuck Smith and the 40-year-old Jesus guy is playing 20-year old Lonnie Frisbee so I may still see it.