There have been so many articles on the current “Jesus Movement” appearing recently in both religious and news periodicals that one hesitates to add another one to the list. However, by special request and out of a deep concern for the deceptive and harmful effects some of these evaluations may have on true Christianity I have undertaken the task.
A rather glowing eulogy appeared in the November 23, 1971 Gospel Herald in which the author declares that the Holy Spirit is “doing a great work in our time to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ...in every major and in most denominations the Spirit is doing a new thing” and “what I have witnessed on the west coast among the Jesus people is the nearest thing to the New Testament that I have seen...”
Norman Vincent Peale, a theological hybrid of Modernism and so-called Fundamentalism, says that “an electrifying wave of religious fervor is sweeping through the youth of this country...Your church needs the warmth and vitality and excitement of this movement... Let us therefore welcome this explosion... and use them to build the kingdom of God on earth.”
A young minister in California where it is claimed that 11,000 High School youth stepped
forward at his church to declare themselves for Jesus says that “...these kids are turning men to Jesus” and that he is concerned that churches do not “reject these kids and miss the most genuine revival of our life-time.”
Larry Norman, a Jesus rock singer says “It’s like a glacier, it's growing and there's no stopping it.”
Billy Graham says “Even if all this is a fad, I welcome it.”
Quite recently one of the nation's most popular news magazines carried an article which shows up some definite characteristics of the movement in a manner that we believe should take the scales off of any truly sincere person’s eyes. The article states that “last week” the Jesus Movement had “audiences... grooving nightly on hallelujahs and the Holy Ghost” at a certain club house outside Los Angeles. The leader of the group is said to move through his audience “singing and sermonizing, jerking and jiving in a joyful-noise act that crackles with electricity and drive...working up 'the spirit' with glory—glories and exhortations to the Holy Ghost.” The owner of the club house testified that “they have power, they have life, they can turn on any age.”
After the leader works his audience up until they are “infected with revival fervor” he gives an invitation...”if it's not too dignified for you...I'm askin' you to stand up and declare where you are, let's witness.” And “most of the audience” stood and “clapped and hooted” as the pianist swung into a tune called “Every day is Sunday with Jesus.”
Now any serious minded person ought to be able to see that this type of “Jesus and the Holy Ghost” entertainment is sacrilegious if not altogether blasphemous.
Of course there are many different types of Jesus people and no doubt there are some individuals and groups among them who mean to be sincere in their profession. However, the general nature and trend of their movement seems to be rather far removed from the peaceful and serene, meek and quiet, solemn and sacred, pure and holy, submissive and respectful, New Testament type of Christianity.
Even those in the movement who may be sincere are in grave danger of missing the way because of their acceptance of a deceptive and faulty presentation of the Person and claims of Christ.
In a rather large way the movement comes out of a background of hippyism, drug addiction and rock and roll music. It is estimated that 300,000 hippies now claim to be Jesus people. From being “Acid Freaks” they are now known as “Jesus Freaks.” There is a general gayety and jollity and crudeness about the revolution that is hardly compatible with true Christian sobriety. “If you love Jesus, give two honks” was in the back window of a car we passed recently. (Jesus said, “If ye love Me keep my commandments.”) Their experiences seem to be highly emotional. And while getting “high on Jesus” or “tripping out on Jesus” may involve an emotional enthusiasm that will give a person temporary release from such things as tobacco, liquor, drugs, etc., it can hardly be otherwise but that it will be a transitory and disappointing experience regardless of how supernatural it may seem at the moment.
There are a few things we will need to keep in mind lest we become enthused and overtaken by the “freak” and “phony” Jesus movements of our day.
Jesus said that in the last days many would come in His name with a declaration that he is the Christ and with that declaration they “shall deceive many”. Matthew 24:5. The mass “freak” and “phony” Jesus movements today might well be a part of the march of the antichrist in preparation for the reign of the antichrist. A “freak” movement is needed to prepare the way for a “freak” christ.
The New Testament also teaches that deception will increase from the birth of the church to the revelation of Christ at His second coming. The “Lord, Lord,” “Jesus, Jesus,” emphasis that pays little or no attention to cross bearing and discipleship, even though its enthusiasts may claim miraculous results, fits well to the active group that Jesus describes in Matthew 7:21-23 to whom He will say “I never knew you: depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.”
It goes without debate that the more rigid terms of New Testament discipleship have been unwelcome, unwanted and unaccepted by the masses in this age which the Bible also says will be a time of universal lawlessness. In addition to a background of hippism, a large part of the Jesus revolution has also grown out of a revolting society which has been ditching the home, ditching the employer, ditching the school, ditching the church, ditching the state, and in fact, ditching the whole establishment. Might it be that because these people have not formerly received “the love of the truth” God has now allowed them to come under the delusion of a fake peace, a superficial joy and a false hope. II Thessalonians 2:10, 11.
We should also keep in mind that miracles can happen outside the will of God. Moses performed a great miracle in disobedience. The basis for truth must always be God's eternal Word. God sometimes tests our love for His word by allowing supernatural manifestations outside of His approved program.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.” I Jo 4:1. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar . . .” I Jo 2:4. “But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.” Revelation 2:25.
–Aaron M. Shank