sunrise and cross representing Jesus

A Review of The Jesus Revolution Movie

My husband and I recently watched the new movie The Jesus Revolution. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what the movie was about before we watched it. We were bored on a Saturday night and looking for something to do. 

For those of you who haven’t seen or heard of the movie, the movie portrays the rise of the Jesus Movement in the early 1970s from the perspective of the pastor and members of the Calvary Chapel church in Costa Mesa, CA.  The movie is based on true events and the lives of Pastor Chuck Smith, street preacher Lonnie Frisbee, and member and future pastor/evangelist Greg Laurie. It covers a period of several years, from the initial meeting between Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee and the eventual Time magazine cover story of the Jesus Movement. Since watching the movie, I’ve had several conversations with others about the impact of the movie and the desire to see a similar revival again. 

Overall, the movie was good. Several scenes moved me to tears, particularly those depicting the ocean baptisms. I was rebaptized by emersion a few years ago and it is an experience I will never forgot. Some scenes tugged at my heart and conscience as they depicted some of the worst offenses of the church, in particular, ostracizing those that don’t “look” and “act” like Christians or at least what we think a Christian should look and act like.  

One thing I noticed that may others haven’t seemed to notice was the seeds of something disturbing. One of the characters, Lonnie Frisbee, the street preacher, ended up leaving the church due to differences in how to minister to the church. Lonnie ended up engaging in healings and very charismatic-type preaching toward the end of the film, eerily reminiscent of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple. If you aren’t familiar with Jim Jones, we was the charismatic leader of a cult which ended in the death of nearly 1,000 church members by cyanide poisening. I don’t know the historical accuracy of any of the materials in the film, but I do know that history is full of examples of charismatic preachers going bad, just like Jones. I did research the pastors a bit more and found no evidence that any of them engaged in cult-like or immoral behavior because of their leadership roles, but the seeds are always there for all of us.  

I do pray for a revival in our country, it is desparately needed. However, I pray that any revival is wholly rooted in scripture and that God would see fit to prepare men and women of humility and balance to lead the revival. We are all human and prone sin. The power that comes with participation in such a revival movement can tempt the most steadfast of hearts.  

Contributed by Liz Hunt

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