By Pastor Tom Anderson
Jesus Revolution is a movie that tells the story of the Jesus Movement in Southern California from 1968 to 1972. It’s a movie that all Christians can applaud. Kelsey Grammar plays the role of Chuck Smith–the aging preacher who welcomed the movement into his church. Jonathan Roumie (the guy who plays Jesus in The Chosen) has the role of Lonnie Frisbee, the reformed addict who becomes a hippie preacher to thousands. Joel Courtney is Greg Laurie, the troubled young man who goes on to found Harvest Church and still preaches today.
This was the era of hippies, anti-war protestors, Timothy Leary and the use of psychedelic drugs like LSD. In many ways established churches–as well as parents– of the day did not deal well with the rising generation. Condemnation seemed to be the order of the day in many households and churches. These dynamics are well displayed in the film. Yet, Chuck Smith is astute enough to see the Holy Spirit at work in the movement. At risk to his job, he opens his church to this movement and soon it is overflowing.
The acting is solid and the storyline is engaging. I credit the producers with avoiding preachy, Christian schmalz. The drama speaks for itself. The inner tensions and failures of the leaders humanize the film. There is one scene of baptism that stands at the center of the film. No words of explanation are given, the filmmakers chose to let the scene explain itself to the audience. It’s enthralling.
The film is rated PG13 because it does depict drug abuse and its negative effects on human life–some of the characters have a brush with death.
The Jesus Movement of 1968-1972 was a remarkable revival in American religious history–perhaps one of the greatest. The legacy of this revival is enshrined in Calvary Chapel churches and the long and effective ministry of Greg Laurie at Harvest Church. It started among young people struggling with the controversies and confusion of their generation. They turned to Jesus in surprising numbers. When an old man preacher opened his heart to them, the movement exploded, epitomized by the scene of thousands of people being baptized in the Pacific Ocean.
Is it a coincidence that such a film would be released on the heels of the great prayer revival among students at Asbury University? Could there be such a revival in our time? The Holy Spirit has the answers to those questions. But here’s some for us to answer: Do I have any hope for today’s rising generation? Would my church be open to smelly, barefoot people fleeing drugs and chasing Jesus?
See the official trailer here: Jesus Revolution - Official Trailer (2022) Kelsey Grammer, Joel Courtney, Jonathan Roumie