See listing of Recent and Most Popular articles on the Home Page


Category: History / Topics: Arts & Entertainment Faith History Jesus Media Movies Religion Social Movements Trends

The Jesus Revolution Then and Now

by Richard Bergstrom

Posted: March 4, 2023

The JESUS REVOLUTION movie is a must-see for those who want to understand better the radical transformation that occurred during those days…

Editor's Note: Also see Greg Asimakoupoulos's poem this week "A Time for Jesus", noting the 1973 Time magazine cover, and Rusty Wright's February 18 review of the Jesus Revolution movie.

Our friend, Curt Miller, was a 23-year-old Marine serving at the El Toro Marine Base in L.A. in the early '70s. He had walked away from the church and the Christianity he grew up with but sought a way to reconnect with faith. A fellow Marine told him about Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. Curt went by himself, sitting near the back of the tent where they met

As Curt describes it, "People stood up to sing, rocking left and right to Love Song or Maranatha music. A guy beside me had his arm around me, swinging back and forth. This is the guy I was brought up to stay away from," Curt told me. "This is the kind of Christianity I want," he said.

It was on that day Curt made his decision to follow Christ. He continued to attend Calvary Chapel for the duration of his 35 months at El Toro, sitting under the teaching and discipleship of Pastor Chuck Smith.

Curt's story reflects a personal experience similar to those portrayed in the recently released movie "The Jesus Revolution." The film features the ministry of Calvary Chapel and its pastor, Chuck Smith. Early scenes show Chuck as the pastor of a traditional church confronted by the sudden appearance of a group of "Jesus freaks" and hippies who began attending his church, much to the dismay of many of his congregants. I was struck by the courage of Pastor Chuck, who stood up against the intimidation of his leadership and insisted on opening the doors to these disheveled young people. It put Calvary Chapel at the epicenter of the Jesus Movement. One of the young men in the film who converted was Greg Laurie, who went on to establish the Harvest Christian Fellowship, a multi-site mega-church affiliated with the Calvary Chapel Association. 

I attended Westmont College in Montecito, California when the Jesus Revolution was happening. The college opened a coffee house near the railroad tracks in Santa Barbara to reach out to the street people of that time and named it "The Areopagus," after the Apostle Paul's address to the Athenians in Acts 17. Many of us from Westmont visited and volunteered at the coffee house.

Two of the professors at Westmont wrote a book about the movement titled, The Jesus People. In its opening, they write, "Something new and strange has hit the current religious scene in America, and most observers are baffled by it. Hippies and drug addicts are becoming Christians in significant numbers. Both secular and Christian press have devoted considerable space to describing and interpreting this phenomenon."

The June 21, 1971 issue of TIME Magazine featured THE JESUS REVOLUTION as its cover story. "Jesus is alive and well and living in the radical spiritual fervor of a growing number of young Americans who have proclaimed an extraordinary religious revolution in his name. Their message: the Bible is true, miracles happen, God did so really love the world that he gave it his only begotten son. "

The JESUS REVOLUTION movie is a must-see for those who want to understand better the radical transformation that occurred during those days. It's also an opportunity for those of us who lived through those times to be reminded of all that transpired. One can only wonder if a new Jesus Revolution is brewing in the recent revival on the campus of Asbury University in Kentucky. Although the gathering has formally concluded on that campus, the impact continues to be felt.

Search all articles by Richard Bergstrom

Richard Bergstrom is president of ChurchHealthRe-Ignite in Edmonds, Washington

Author's website (personal or primary**)

** opens in a new tab or window. Close it to return here.

Posted: March 4, 2023

Go to the list of most recent Faith Articles
Search Faith (You can expand the search to the entire site)
Go to the list of Most Recent and Most Popular Articles across the site (Home Page)