The Evangelical Universalist Forum

THe "Jesus Movement" and Universalism

Hi all,
Posting some songs from the “Jesus Movement” of the 60’s and 70’s recently got me thinking a bit. I caught the tail end of the “Jesus Movement” in the late 70’s early 80’s as a kid and was profoundly affected. I had become a Christian about that time and listened the the “Jesus Music” of the time, went to a couple “Jesus Festivals”, listened to Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa on the radio and was generally sucked in to the whole scene. I even went to a Calvary Chapel in Honolulu a few years later as the whole thing was dying down. I remember the time fondly. Lots of emotion, optimism, a sense of getting back to the early church and some great music. But… It all kind of died out.

Sure, lots of churches continue to use the choruses of that time. There’s often a praise band singing similar songs and the dress code at church is more relaxed than it was in the 50’s, but is there anything else left from that time? Why did it die out? I suspect much of the dying out was just do to the aging of the baby boomers, but is there more to it? And is there any legacy in regards to universalism from that period? I tend to think that in some regards, the whole “Jesus Movement” was a case of pouring new wine into old wineskins…The old theology couldn’t hold what was poured into it. Unfortunately, I don’t think the old wineskins were destroyed , but continued as they had been before. :frowning: So, is there any legacy in regards to universalism from that time?

I know (at least from my experience) that the theology, at least of Calvary Chapel, was very ECT and at least somewhat Calvinistic. I read recently that Chuck Smith just died (at age 87) and hadn’t changed his theology a bit from what I can tell. I really feel he was a loving and Godly man, (and am very thankful for him) but trapped by his theology to a large degree. So, are there any universalistic leaders, theologians, or philosophers that came out of that time? Anyone with a universalist website? Just wondering…


But oh dear Steve :laughing: I was very young at the time but I do remember the Jesus movement of the early 70s :astonished: :blush:

It was pretty diffuse stuff - hippies finding a hippy Jesus as a hip Saviour. I remember people doing the one way sign as an alternative to the peace sign and saying stuff like ‘Jesus has blown my mind - he is the ultimate trip’ - and remember being taken to concerts by my local church where people did this stuff which really impressed me but made me feel too young and too clumsy and awkward.

Most of the Jesus Freak stuff now seems alarmingly simplistic and apocalyptic to me- ‘Larry Norman’s’ ‘I wish we’d all been ready’ was an anthem for example. A lot of the Jesus Freak bands were trying to be copies of but alternative to mainstream rock bands. There was a band could The Sheep who put on a musical called ‘Lonesome Stone’ in London and I remember ‘Phil’ at Christian Union saying -’ Hey man its cool to have one of the Lord’s band being equally as heavy as Led Zeppelin (are you surprised I became a punk!!! :laughing: )

And if we are talkin’ cheesy and simplistic check out the Byrds – ‘Jesus is alright by me’ - or Arthur Blessit with his Jesus cheer.

Some of the Jesus Freak movements became alarming cults - like the Children of God (who were very hip for a time). The COG got a celebrity scalp when they netted Jeremy Spencer out of Fleetwood Mack. I don’t remember any Jesus Freak stuff being universalist at all - the drama was very much an individualistic one.

Jesus Christ Superstar was a huge influence - I actually like a couple of the songs in that but on the whole I think it has very little spiritual merit and I don’t’ recognise the Jesus in it as being Jesus at all.
Oh and of course Godspell came out of that era. I really like God spell still and one of the songs in that ‘Save the People’ is universalist in its message (so yes there was at least one universalist song from the period – it’s an ill wind that blows no one any good))
When wilt thou save the people?
Oh God of mercy when?
The people, all the people
Not thrones and crowns,
But men
Flowers of thy heart
O God are they
Let them not pass like weeds away
Their heritage, a sunless day
God save the people

Shall crime bring crime forever
Strength aiding still the strong?
Is it thy will, O Father
That men shall toil
For wrong?
Oh, no, say thy mountains
No, say thy skies
Man’s clouded sun shall brightly rise
And songs be heard, instead of sighs
God save the people!

When wilt thou save the people?
Oh God of mercy when?
The people, all the people!
Not thrones and crowns,
But men!
God save the people
For thine they are
Thy children as thy angels fair
God save the people
From despair
God save the people!

Oh God save the people!

Yes, indeed, Hal Lindsey’s book The Late Great Planet Earth was enormously influential. Everyone thought “the rapture” could happen at any moment. I remember Larry Norman’s music well. Poor guy had a tough time later on from what I’ve read. :frowning:

Lots of communal living going on which was just carried over from the Hippy movement, I suspect. It probably was a difficult task for church leaders of the time to try and channel, tame or mature the “Jesus Freaks” of the time…

Could be Steve :confused: -

And when it got drop out communal it often got very cultish. The same thing seems to have often happened with in non Jesus freak hippy communes - the dream was idealistic but because there was not concept of lawfulness and redress in these communities sociopaths often rose to positions of leadership and there was no protection from them.

What happened to Larry Norman?

Apparently Larry Norman suffered some brain injury during a rough aircraft landing in 1978 which affected his focus and creativity to the point where his life sort of spiraled out of control. He was divorced soon after, remarried and later divorced again, suffered from severe cardiac problems with a major heart attack in 1992 and frequent hospitalizations for cardiac problems after that. He died at age 60 in 2008.

Have you all heard of “Hipster Christianity?” That’s the largest cultural group of Christians among the American high school and college crowd – and I find them quite annoying, by the way. :wink: I am not too familiar with the “Jesus Freak” movement of the 70’s, but I’d venture to guess that Christian Hipsters are roughly today’s equivalent of your day’s “Christian hippies.”

I am not very familiar with the Christian hipster culture. I’ve met many self-professed hipsters during high school and college, and I did not feel welcome. A large part of this was probably because I can’t afford the “disheveled intellectual” hipster style, which I don’t find too attractive anyway. In short, I don’t like loud music, abstract art, or skinny jeans – which apparently are staples among the hipster Christian crowd. :laughing:

Here’s a website explaining hipster Christians better than I can. (I know exactly what they are, but I can’t quite pinpoint the words to explain them.) I think some Christian hipsters are open to Rob Bell and universalism, but from what I’ve seen they are more along the lines of Mark Driscoll fans.

I took the “Are you a Christian Hipster?” quiz here, and I am too old-school – and not in the “vintage, hipster way” apparently. :laughing:

Oh, and here’s a “Christian Hipster How-To” video on YouTube. I kid you not, I see these guys all the time. :open_mouth:

Non-Christian hipsters look like this, too, minus the Hebrew tattoo and the Bible app.

Oh, no!!!
I took the quiz (but had to pick some answers a bit randomly) and this is what it said…

…hanging my head in shame. :frowning:

Very funny because I am so unhip… We spend a lot of time in Seattle these days where my oldest daughter is attending the University of Seattle which is in the Capitol Hill area, a hotbed of (secular) hipsters. My oldest son dressed up as a Seattle “hipster” for Halloween. Had to wear his sister’s jeans to pull it off, but looked great!


There are certainly similarities, particularly in regards to political and environmental activism, but some major differences as well. I think the “Jesus Freaks” were more naive and uncritical compared to today’s hipsters. I see hipsters as being more “post-modern”, more ironic and critical–more theologically sophisticated as well. The “Jesus Freaks” were very child-like and joyful, something I don’t really associate with hipsters. :wink:

Thinking more about the “Jesus Movement”, I think it had a major effect on evangelicalism. The massive influx of these new converts from the baby boom gravitated to evangelical churches as opposed to more “mainline” denominations. I think the rise of the so-called “Christian right” in the 80’s in the US can be attributed in part to the Jesus movement. I’m not sure if there was the same effect elsewhere, such as the UK. Perhaps the only effect of the Jesus movement on universalism is simply that of universalists as the children or grand-children of former “Jesus Freaks”…


:laughing: LOVED the anatomy of a Christian Hipster thing So THAT’S what all those ugly clothes the young girls have been wearing are all about. :laughing:


How did a middle-aged father and physician earn the classification of “hipster,” but the twenty-year-old art student didn’t? :laughing: :unamused:

My quiz says:

*Low CHQ. You probably belong to the purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive, Hawaiian shirt-wearing Christian establishment, even though you are open to some of the “rethinking Christianity” stuff. You seem to like edginess in some measure but become uneasy when your idea of Christian orthodoxy is challenged by some renegade young visionary who claims the virgin birth isn’t necessary.

I really am still pretty old-school, I guess, having grown up with Latin chants and such of my Catholic parish. And I’ll never be “urban chic” enough to be hipster – The many hipsters at my liberal arts college don’t seem to realize that they are situated in literally the middle of nowhere! :laughing: But I commute, so I pass just enough cows and cornfields to remind me that I’m a country bumpkin. :laughing:

And it’s everywhere, I tell you! :open_mouth: People at my university – even the boys – wear fashion scarves in the summer! When I first visited from my small town of jeans, cowboy boots, and hoodies, I didn’t know what to think! :laughing:

Also… I just realized EU has a hipster emoticon: :ugeek:

~ Kate

Oh man! My CHQ is way down there. And I sooo wanted to wear the polka dotted leggings. :frowning:

Yep, we true hipsters don’t even know we’re hip! :ugeek: :laughing:

And to pay for that remark, I’ll post a very old picture, from around the time I listened to “Jesus Music”. (This photo always cracks up my wife…She thinks it looks like I was smoking dope or something…)


You look very sweet Steve - and I take back all I’ve said about ‘ippies’. :smiley:

Ah, yes…but of course I’m a hipster now! :ugeek: :laughing:

What we’d all love to see, though, is a picture of you, Dick, in your punker days!!! :smiley:

If your former self was a hippy, Steve, I’m sure he was a very sweet hippy indeed. :slight_smile:

Seconded.:slight_smile: :laughing:

:blush: (blushing)

Nope…never really a hippy. Came around a bit too late for that but did enjoy some of the music. Besides, would any self-respecting hippy wear a shirt with DNA on it? :wink:

:laughing: I thought was that a snake on your shirt!

Don’t worry – I can’t judge. The only sports letter I earned in high school was for academic team. :laughing:

And if the punker Prof was as camera shy as his current self, then I doubt any historical evidence exists for his rocker days. :laughing:

Jesus Freaks weren’t very influential in the UK. (Very sorry to hear about Larry Norman btw :frowning: )

For me the danger of joyful innocence as the only note is that it can be sentimental and cover up the violence in its midst- I reckon the The Late Great Planet earth is a very violent, extremely violent book for example.

One of my favourite philosophers Gillian Rose talks about two false kinds of innocence

One is the innocence of the beautiful soul. For the beautiful soul the world of cruelty and violence is just too horrible. So the Beautiful soul seeks refuge with other beautiful souls from the horrible world (perhaps awaiting the rapture of beautiful souls)

The other is the innocence of the angry angel. For the angry angel the cruel and wicked world needs to be cleansed of its wickedness and complacency through violence and rage.

I think both postures are often found in youth culture – not always, and not exclusively but you do find them in youth culture when it becomes idealistic. I think missing in both stances is a proper understanding of one’s own violence, fallibility etc.

But if universalist do want to be idealistic I think it’s best for us to look at the history of the Diggers – the first universalist sect – who were a bunch of communal living idealists if ever there were a bunch of communal living idealists :smiley:

Too true! And its effect (or at least the effect of the theology it is based on) continues to have a profound influence on evangelicalism.

Very apt portrait of the “Jesus People”, I think. I think so many were of this type. I think they were also very theologically ignorant, hearing only “The Good News” (the carrot) and being relatively unaware of, or just so over-whelmed with joy at being “saved” that they ignored the “stick” of ECT.

Very true. I do think that the current youth culture (including or especially “hipsters”) are not, in fact, that idealistic but more cynical and worldly wise. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, to be honest, but they are far less likely to be involved in cults etc than the 60’s folk.

Fun song! :smiley:

Had to look up the Diggers on Wikipedia and, wouldn’t you know it, a bunch of 60’s hippies tried to resurrect the idea…

Peter Coyote? Who knew? :smiley: