Bell-Bottoms + Bible = Jesus Freak
"What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak. What will people do when they find that it's true. I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak. There ain't no disguising the truth." Jesus Freak is a term that is derived from a movement of Christianity that swept across America in the 1960's and 1970's. This movement is called "the Jesus Movement;" and it's people are known as the "Jesus People," "Street Christians," and "Jesus Freaks" (Enroth, Ericson, & Peters 9-14). What was the Jesus Movement about; and how did it grow into a national movement? Why did it occur? What impact did this movement have; and what can be learned from it? The Jesus Movement has made a lasting impression on American society in particular. The primary impact is felt in the resurgence of Pentecostal thought and new form of Contemporary Christian Music. Christian's today can learn the importance of cultural relevance and fervor from the "Jesus Freaks." Sydney E. Ahlstrom of Yale University said, "the decade of the sixties, in short, was a time when the old grounds of not only historic Western theism were awash, but also the older forms of national confidence and social idealism." In fact, he continues to say the sixties would be seen as a decisive turning point in American history (Ahlstrom 100-103). In this, Ahlstrom was right. The decade of the sixties experienced a great deal of social, political, and religious upheaval like none before. Some of the issues that drew the nation to it's turning point included the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam Conflict, Student Rights Movement, Ecology Movement, and the decline in church attendance among others (Jorstad 38). The Civil Rights Movement was the struggle of blacks to gain equality in jobs, housing, transportation, and other areas including an end to segregation. In 1964 and 1965, the U.S. government passed two acts protecting the rights of black Americans. Still, this did not end the personal bigotry that many experienced and unrest continued (39). While this struggle continued, America found itself in another international conflict. This was the Vietnam Conflict. The start of the war in Vietnam did not receive much opposition due to the fact that most Americans saw the Conflict as a battle against communism (39). Eventually, however, activism against the war began due to the stance that this was not a war against Communism at all; but instead, it was a civil war between two people groups in a foreign country that America was unrelated to. Thus, an Anti-War Movement began that led to more political and social unrest (40). Two other movements on the scene at the time were the Student Rights Movement and Ecology Movement. These movements were spawned mostly by high school and college students who were trying to voice their opinions about the state of society. The Student Rights Movement focused on removing censorship from school campuses by the administration on such things as newspapers and on-campus publications (Hefner para 4-7). Other issues such as curriculum relevancy and abolishing rules regarding conduct were also part of the agenda (Jorstad 42). The Ecology Movement was centered on preserving the environment for future generations and feeding the hungry (43). In addition to these movements, the church was in a state of confusion and decline. Congregation members were unsure of which view was correct and church leaders offered little direction. The 1960's marked the churches attempt at maintaining relevance to the youth culture. In the early 60's, churches tried to reach out to the culture however they saw fit. Unfortunately, by the late 1960's, the large financial supporters in churches were cutting back due to this move toward relevance (44). According to Gallup polls from 1971, thirty-one percent of people polled said religion wasn't important anymore. Also, eighteen percent of those polled said...
Cited: Ahlstrom, Sydney E. "The Moral and Theological Revolution of the 1960 's and it 's Implications for American Religious History." The State of American History. Ed. Herbert Bass. New York: Quadrangle, 1970.
Di Sabatino, David. "Jesus People: The '60s Intriguing Offspring." Christian Week. Feb. 14, 1995: 10.
Enroth, Ronald M., Edward Ericson, and C. Breckinridge Peter. "The Jesus People: Old Time Religion in the Age of Aquarius." San Francisco: Eerdmans, 1972.
Graham, Franklin. "The Jesus Generation." Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971.
Powell, Mark Allan. "Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music."Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002.
Roszak, Theodore. "The Making of a Counter Culture." New York: Doubleday, 1969.
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