Chapter 10 The Non Establishment Awakening
The Turbulent, Tempestuous, Disorderly, Riotous 1960's
III The Jesus
IV The Born Again
V The Moral Right
The biggest change in American
Christianity since the Second World War has been the religious
activities outside the Church, and in particular, outside the
major denominations. Keith Hardman's description explains these
efforts as, "Independently supported ecumenical agencies
came to occupy every conceivable ministry niche." The new
organizations were created to confront practically every liberal
issue and special need that Christians saw in society. The entire
auxiliary crusade is best known under the umbrella title - the
After W.W.II America experienced its fifth national revival.
Unlike the previous instances this awakening was predominantly
outside the Church, hence this chapter is referred by the "sixties"
jargon as the "Non Establishment Awakening." The venues
took place in nonchurch locations such as sports stadiums,
beaches, parks, theaters, drive-ins, coffee houses, college
campuses, high schools, homes, workplaces, storefronts, and even
the streets. The notion that sacred worship was limited to the
church building was dashed by this awakening.
In every decade the fifth awakening reached people groups not
always connected to the church. The postwar phase touched
Hollywood, colleges, and even Congress. While "post-Christian"
became a label in America of the 60's, the hippies and the Jesus
people found spiritual answers to their questions and problems.
The terms born again, evangelical, and charismatic were
popularized in the 70's. In the 80's the Moral Majority led
people to believe that our problems would be solved, if every
elected official was a Christian. In the 1990's a stunning change
in American manhood was made from Macho Man and "in your
face" to a Godly Man and a Promise Keeper. The Promise
Keepers packed 98 stadiums and arenas with 3.5 million men during
the decade. The era was, also, bathed in "Concerts of Prayer"
for revival in America. Needless to say, while many of these
activities happened outside of the church doors, American
Christianity harvested new ministries in the forms of the
megachurches and the seven-day-a-week church.
A. W. Tozier, a Chicago pastor, has been considered a "20th
Century prophet." In his 1948 book The Pursuit of God Tozier
called Christians to not divide their lives into two areas - the
sacred and the secular. He said that "every act of our lives
contributes to the glory of God; and that every day is holy, all
places are sacred, and every act is acceptable to God." By
the end of the 20th century this perspective came to be known as
the "Christian Worldview," believing that "God is
involved in everything, in every place, at everytime."
Another prominent viewpoint of the past 50 years has been the
attention to the Middle East. In 1948 the most significant sign
in Bible prophecy, since the life of Christ occurred; it was the
reborn state of Israel. For the first time in 2600 years the Jews
ruled their homeland in the land of Palestine. No other
generation in history had seen this. Naturally, Christians began
speculating about the end times, the rapture, Armageddon, and the
personal return of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the Truman administration largely through the
efforts of Clark Clifford became the first nation to recognize
the new state of Israel. Twelve minutes after the British mandate
expired President Harry Truman announced the U.S. recognition.
American Christians often assert that the United States has been
blessed because of our continued support of the Jews (based on
Genesis 12:3 "I will bless them that bless thee"). A
few have suggested that the 1948 election upset providentially
blessed the Baptist President Harry Truman over Dewey because of
Truman's actions on Israel's behalf. They quote Nebuchadnezzar's
words in Daniel 4:17 & 25, "the Most High ruleth in the
kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever he will".
With the Atomic era came various scenarios on the end of the
age. After the Iron Curtain and the Cold War began, the "Doomsday
Clock" first appeared in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
in 1947. Both hands on midnight symbolized the nuclear
annihilation of mankind. When the US and the Soviet Union
exploded hydrogen bombs in 1953, the hands were set at two
minutes before midnight. With every threat of war or hope for
peace the minute hand shifted closer or farther away from the top
of the hour.
Finally, the last half of the 20th Century has seen a
conspicuous resurgence of spiritual interests and the
supernatural world. The range spans from the pantheism of Bahaism
to the cosmic consciousness of the New Age. The terms include
mysticism, Eastern religions, yoga, Zen, reincarnation, born
again, angels, ghosts, aliens, astrology, crystals, drugs,
psychics, the occult, the paranormal, and this only touches the
surface. The virtual reality of it all is that there has come to
be an acceptance where there is no limitation to time or space,
or even life or death. Clearly, the secular world has promoted a
vague "god" tolerant of all religions which generally
believes about the same things. Certainly their "Man or
Woman upstairs" is not the God of the Bible and the Jesus
Christ, who is the only Savior and Lord of the world.
I. The Evangelical Awakening
Throughout the Non-Establishment Awakening the Evangelical
experience grew in prominence. While they espoused some doctrinal
differences, Evangelicals agreed on two basic beliefs: a
conversion to Christ is the only way to salvation and the Bible
as God's Truth of life for mankind. Theologically, repentance
leads to justification by faith, and the Bible is the infallible
word of God. Consequently, these cornerstones have resulted in a
changed life through a personal relationship with Christ and an
obedient life as the Bible directs. This change is referred to as
a new life, a new creature, and born again or born from above.
After W.W.II an Evangelical Awakening unfolded until the end
of the 1950's. Because these developments lacked the devotion of
other revivals and the events ripened outside the church, few
church historians noticed the scope of the awakening. However, a
young Irish evangelist-scholar, who earned his Ph.D. from Oxford
in 1948, James Edwin Orr wrote a book Good News in Bad Times:
Signs of Revival; and he was able to discern the movement. His
1953 book documented the events and people of the awakening.
The earliest signs of this revival came from the Youth for
Christ rallies. Jack Wyrtzen, the founder Word of Life, had
surprising success with Saturday night rallies in Times Square.
The notion of presenting the Gospel on the night, when young
people were dedicated to pleasure-seeking and hanging around,
became so well received that within six months turn away crowds
were packing Madison Square Garden. The meetings were geared
toward the young with stirring congregational singing,
testimonies by youthful converts, Scripture reading, and a basic
salvation message which had a follow-up in the inquiry room. In
1944 and 1945 the YFC rallies spread rapidly to every big city in
the nation. Thirty thousand packed the Chicago Stadium in the
fall of 1944, and the next spring in 1945 sixty thousand attended
an outdoor rally at Chicago's Soldiers Field.
Chicago became the early YFC headquarters, and "Geared to
the Times, Anchored to the Rock" was selected as their
slogan. Torrey Johnson served as President, and Robert A. Cook
was the Chicago director. Mel Larson kept a history of the
movement. In 1945 Billy Graham, a little known speaker, was hired
as their first full-time evangelist, and Rev. Graham invited
Cliff Barrows to serve as his MC and song leader.
While the objective of YFC was to use spiritual entertainment
to reach unchurched young people, critics said that it was too
superficial. Philip Kerr said, "it was a matter of fish-catching
instead of sheep-feeding." Others said that the rallies were
boosting the speaker's or the performer's reputation instead of
glorifying Christ. Another criticism was it was not sufficiently
church-centered. Although YFC said they cooperated with the
churches, they mainly cooperated with churches with an
evangelical doctrine. Nevertheless, the movement enthusiastically
spread internationally by 1948.
At mid-century if America had one place where sinners abounded
and sin was publicized, it was Hollywood. However, the glamour of
the Gospel radiated from the First Presbyterian Church. Their
pastor was Dr. Louis H. Evans, and Dr. Henrietta C. Mears was the
director of Christian Education.
Dr. Mears, one of the great Christian women of the 20th
Century, founded Forest Home, a retreat in the San Bernadino
Mountains, and Gospel Light Publication, the outstanding Sunday
School curriculum. She wrote the great Bible handbook What the
Bible is all About, and she was, also, involved in the Hollywood
Christian Group, a gathering of believing actors.
One of the wondrous works of God during the 1940's was the
movement of "ministers in prayer for revival." Armin
Gesswein, a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor who had studied under
the great radio minister Dr. Walter A. Maier, was moved to pray
for a spiritual awakening of all Christians and a reviving of the
ministers. As the movement grew pastors reported fellowships
where every pastor in town attended regardless of denominational
lines with their only purpose to simply unite in prayer. A
genuine stirring of prayer, confession, even tears and sobbing
occurred in these meetings that included pastors and their wives.
The most successful pastor's conferences were held in Minneapolis
in 1948 and Los Angeles in 1949.
A significant spiritual conjunction happened in Southern
California in 1949. Preparatory meetings at Forest Home and in
Los Angeles for a Billy Graham Crusade gathered Christian
leaders, who would be influential for the rest of the 20th
Century. Billy Graham, Chuck Templeton, J. Edwin Orr, Dawson
Trotman, Bill Bright, Armin Gesswein, Henrietta Mears, and others
met for plans and prayers for the September crusade. Little did
they realize that their hopes to make an impact for Christ would
result in a national media attention to some changed lives.
Colleen Townsend was a promising 21 year-old starlet for
Twentieth Century Fox. While attending the Hollywood First
Presbyterian Church and Henrietta Mear's college age class,
"Coke" gave her life to Jesus Christ. When she gave up
her career "to answer the call of God," her Christian
testimony made the Associated Press, Life magazine, and Louella
Parson's column. Life magazine devoted three pages to Colleen
Meant What She Said. She quietly married the pastor's son Louis H.
Evans Jr. and later starred in some evangelistic Christian films.
"Any hope for Hollywood" was a far-fetched concept
in the 1940's. But as Dr. Orr has uncovered, the single most
important factor in every revival and in most conversions is
prayer. Three wives of prominent Western entertainment
personalities had their prayers answered when Tim Spencer, Stuart
Hamblin, and Roy Rogers trusted Christ as their Savior. Tim
Spencer was the manager of The Sons of the Pioneers and like many
in Hollywood deeply afflicted by alcoholism. When he was
converted, he was freed from alcohol and joined the First
Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. While he wrote over 200 songs
in his career, none was more meaning than Roomful of Roses, a
love ballad, which was an answer to prayer on the day he gave up
alcohol. He and his wife Velma led the Hollywood Christian Group
until 1952 when he became a full-time evangelist. Stu Hamblin,
who wrote It is No Secret What God Can Do, was the first
publicized conversion at the Billy Graham Crusade. Roy Rogers and
Dale Evans maintained an outstanding Christian testimony
throughout their over 50 years of marriage.
In 1950 the Hollywood Christian Group held their first annual
banquet. Colleen Townsend's public confession encouraged other to
take a stand for Christ. Other cowboy converts included the
successful tailor Nudie, Cindy Walker, and Redd Harper. Lois
Chartrand, a Paramount actress and friend of Colleen Townsend,
also gave up her Hollywood career for full-time Christian service.
Even TV-Radio Life included an article on the conversions with
the headline "Religion: A Hit Parade Trend."
In 1951 the BGEA produced the first Christian Western film Mr.
Texas starring Cindy Walker and Redd Harper. The premiere in the
Hollywood Bowl drew 25,000 people, and 25 searchlights
crisscrossed the sky. It was a record crowd for that period of
Hollywood's history, and the Hollywood Christian Group was
thrilled at the outreach. Also, the Graham Association began a
long history of using motion pictures as an evangelistic tool.
In 1952 another almost forgotten film was Red Planet Mars. It
was an anti-Communist film about a voice from Radio Free Mars.
The voice was really God speaking. The film closed with world
peace when the Soviet Union was converted to Christ.
However, clearly the biggest publicity came from the September
1949 "Christ for Greater Los Angeles" Billy Graham
Crusade. The meetings were planned for three weeks with six-thousand-seats
in a Ringling Brothers circus tent. Cliff Barrows recruited the
choir, Dawson Trotman trained the follow-up counselors, and over
200 churches spent twenty-five thousand dollars on posters,
billboards, and radio publicity to promote the event.
Mr. Graham's themes surrounded the increased moral decay of
the nation, the sin and wickedness around Los Angeles, and the
threat of judgment unless revival occurred. Two days before the
Crusade began President Truman announced that the Soviet Union
had tested an atomic bomb. During the first three weeks of
meetings the average attendance was 3,000 people, but the crowds
seemed to be growing. The committee decided to extend the
campaign, when radio personality Stuart Hamblin gave his life to
A second sign of encouragement came when the news media
flocked to the tent nightly. Later it was learned that William
Randolph Hearst, owner of two Los Angeles newspaper and a
nationwide chain, had sent orders to his editors to "Puff
Graham." When other famous conversions happened to Jim Vaus,
wiretapper for mobster Mickey Cohen, and Louis Zamperini, the war
hero and 1936 Olympian, the overflow crowds forced the committee
to add three thousand more seats.
The impact was overwhelming. Billy Graham became a national
figure, and the old-time revival meetings had returned to
respectability. During the eight weeks of the crusade 350,000
attended the Canvas Cathedral. An estimated 3,000 made a
profession of faith in Christ (82 percent had never attended
church), and nearly 700 churches ended up supporting the campaign.
Clearly, God had answered the prayers of Armin Gesswein and the
Another significant sign of revival outside the church that
resulted in sensational news in the secular press was the college
awakenings. While groups like Inter-Varsity, Christian Endeavor,
and the Newman Club existed on college campuses, for the most
part Christian students were inactive and silent. However,
colleges, being interested in a well-rounded individual, provided
a spiritual activity on their calendars known as the "Religious
Emphasis Week." While these meetings were common at
Christian colleges, they continued at secular universities and
liberal arts colleges even until the 1960's.
In April of 1949 in the office of Billy Graham, President of
Northwestern schools in Minneapolis, five men met to pray for a
spiritual outbreak among Christian college students. The prayers
of J. Edwin Orr, Armin Gesswein, Jack Franck, William Dunlap, and
Graham were answered the next week at Bethel College in St. Paul.
The president of the college, Dr. Henry C. Wingblade reported
that 95 percent of the students were on their faces praying,
confessing, and searching to know God's will for their lives. The
chapel services and the days of prayer were even broadcast over
the radio station KTIS. Over the final months of the school
semester similar spiritual outbreaks were reported on other
During the summer of 1949 the movement shifted to Southern
California where five hundred students were meeting at Forest
Home. Henrietta Mears saw her prayers answered, when an
outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred. It was similar to the
reports in Minnesota. Dr. Mears called Billy Graham to come and
help with the harvest. This movement included scores of
conversions. When the fall semester started, the awakening spread
to other colleges up and down the Pacific coast states especially
during their Religious Emphasis Weeks. It was certainly akin to
the Bethel events and the September Graham crusade in Los Angeles.
By far the most notable month of the collegiate awakenings was
February of 1950 at the most prominent evangelical college in the
nation Wheaton near Chicago. It was their practice to begin each
semester with an evangelistic campaign. Unusual manifestations
had occurred in 1936 and again in 1943 during Billy Graham's
impressionable senior year. Now, another seven years later,
evangelist Edwin S. Johnson from Seattle had been invited for a
week of services. However, on Wednesday before he could start to
preach, a stream of students began repenting, confessing,
praying, and praising. It lasted all night long and continued
through the next 42 straight hours.
On Thursday the Chicago Daily News made it the front-page
story. They asked their famous cartoonist, Vaughn Shoemaker, a
Christian who was familiar with Wheaton, to give an account of
the events. His presentation was favorable as was the flood of
nationwide publicity that followed. One writer coined the term
"Prayer Marathon" as a spin off of the dancing marathon
craze of earlier times. Newspapers and editorial columns
throughout the country reported the Wheaton Awakening. Life
magazine devoted two-pages with the headline "College
Revival Becomes Confession Marathon." Time magazine titled
their two-page report "42 Hours of Repentance."
Newsweek and Quick, also, gave favorable reports of the
remarkable religious fervor of the students.
In the wake of the Wheaton revival spiritual stirrings broke
out on other campuses in the Midwest. Asbury College in Wilmore,
Kentucky had a reputation as a fine, evangelical seminary. On
February 23, 1950 Rev. Dee Cobb read one verse of scripture and
the Holy Spirit sweep across the chapel. Tears and weeping moved
most of the young people. When the prayer meeting continued for
five days and five nights, it was a continuous momentum of
worship and praise that lasted one hundred and eighteen hours.
Like Wheaton confessions and repentance for wrongs and
backsliding were spontaneous and public.
Reporters from radio, television, and the Louisville and
Lexington papers as well as the Associated Press and the United
Press hovered over the occurrences. The revival turned
classrooms, dormitories, the dining hall, the gymnasium, and even
homes in Wilmore into prayer meetings. Many testified that they
had never experienced the presence nor the power of the Holy
Spirit on any occasion like that one.
After the divine visitations at Wheaton and Asbury a variety
of responses came to pass at other colleges. At UCLA Bill Bright
led a student revival crusade which resulted in 150 "decisions
for Christ." As a follow-up he decided to go to other
colleges, his organization became known as Campus Crusade for
Christ. At Baylor 3,000 students packed Waco Hall auditorium to
hear Billy Graham preach an old-fashion evangelistic sermon, and
two-hundred and twenty-six student decided to meet in the
adjoining auditorium for further talks. Dr. Orr observed that
Religious Emphasis Weeks on State universities and private
college had an increased attention on spiritual matters. Still,
he estimated that less than one-percent of the student body was
affected. While revival results should have been expected
fundamentalist schools, Dr. Orr said that, "Many of the
fundamentalist schools missed the movement completely except
where an Inter-Varsity chapters existed." The revival was,
also, witnessed at Northern Baptist and North Park in Chicago;
Simpson, Pacific Northwest, Northwest Bible, and Seattle Pacific
in Washington; Nyack and Houghton in New York; Lee College in
Tennessee; and McGill, Manitoba, and some other Canadian colleges.
The college revivals continued for three years, but they were
no longer considered news-worthy. While publicity was never
sought, the national attention gave religion in general a greater
degree of public esteem than at anytime before in the 20th
century. Furthermore a new generation of leaders had emerged, and
thousands of students, the most notable being All-American
football player Don Moomaw, had announced their commitment to
full time Christian service.
By the 1950's the resurgence of religious interest, also,
touched government officials in Washington, DC. Abraham Vereide
was a man with a burden to pray, "Lord, whatever happens,
send us more converted men to Congress." He came to The
Capitol in 1942 with a vision to reach the leaders for Christ.
Vereide was a childhood immigrant from Norway, who served as a
Methodist minister in a small church for two years; but, he
enjoyed the work outside the church for Goodwill Industries,
CBMC, and breakfast groups. He said, "I loved the sheepfold
but was often found outside looking for the lost sheep among the
rocks." In Washington he met with various Breakfast groups
and Bible studies from the House and the Senate. Among
evangelicals Vereide was given the title "Mr. Christian of
In the 1950 mid-term elections it was estimated that 20
percent of Congressmen were real believers compared with 10
percent at most in the general population. Vereide found a dozen
legislators conducting Sunday School classes in Washington
churches. Russell Hitt in Christian Life estimated the number of
evangelical legislators was in excess of a hundred. During the
decade the President and Congress made several religious
proclamations. The first notable agreement was the National Day
of Prayer which was established by a joint Congressional resolution in 1952.
When Dwight Eisenhower was elected President, he joined the
National Presbyterian Church after taking their religious
instruction and being baptized. During his baptism the
congregation sang, "What a Friend We have in Jesus."
Ike told Bev Shea that it was his favorite hymn. President
Eisenhower confirmed his faith in Christ several times with Billy
Graham especially after his 1955 heart attack.
During his Presidency the first Presidential Prayer Breakfast
was held in 1953. It was the vision of Abraham Vereide, who
remained the driving force behind it for many years until his
death in 1969. President Eisenhower was in attendance, and Billy
Graham was the featured speaker. Kansas Senator Frank Carlson
persuaded the hotel magnate Conrad Hilton to be the financial
sponsor for the first several years. It is now called The
National Prayer Breakfast and is held annually in February.
In 1954 at the urging of President Eisenhower Congress passed
an act establishing permanently "One Nation Under God"
into the Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag. On Flag Day 1954
President Eisenhower stood on the steps of The Capitol Building,
and he was the first to recite the Pledge with the words "under
God." In 1956 Congress, also, made an official government
announcement that our coins are to be stamped with the phrase
"In God We Trust."
The "piety on the Potomac" was, also, reflected
among the general public in the 1950's. After the Great
Depression and World War Two Americans hoped for a period of
prosperity and peace or at least personal peace. Despite all
this, the postwar affluence produced a disillusionment that was
expressed in fiction like The Organization Man and Death of a
Salesman. The flight to suburbia and the demand for conformity
became known as the "lonely crowd." Some social
scientists suggested this was a reason for the tremendous growth
in church membership during the decade.
The search for peace of mind during this "age of anxiety"
gave rise to a number of books on the subject by religious
leaders. Norman Vincent Peale had millions of followers with his
Guide to Confident Living (1948) and The Power of Positive
Thinking (1952). Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote Peace of Soul (1949),
and he received enormous popularity from his CBS television
program The Catholic Hour. Billy Graham's Peace with God (1953)
was written for "the man in the street," and it was
eventually published in over 50 countries. Another best-seller
was Peace of Mind (1946) by Rabbi Joshua Loth Liebman. It
satisfied the growing interest in Freudian psychology from a
religious point of view.
An additional factor for the disenchantment over peace was the
Cold War. The United States' adversary was the Soviet Union, the
first openly "atheist" government in history.
Consequently, being a Christian or at least a church member was
the antithesis of the Communist enemy. In 1956 ninety-six percent
of American proclaimed a church affiliation, and by 1960 sixty-nine
percent were church members. The popularity of religion was,
also, exhibited in the increased spending on church-building
construction which surpassed a billion dollars annually in 1960.
Clearly the growing powerful force in American Christianity
was evangelicalism. It was conservative, patriotic, racial, and
attractive to many former fundamentalists. Between 1945 and 1965
membership in churches with this emphasis increased 400 to 700
percent. In the meantime mainline denominations only grew 75 to
90 percent according to William McLoughlin. Also, two key
organizations provided leadership for the evangelicals. They were
the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the Billy
Graham Evangelical Association.
The National Association of Evangelicals was born out the
network guidelines for religious radio broadcasts in 1942. The
Federal Council of Churches offered to coordinate the network's
required and donated public service time for religious programs.
Their policy called for a "broad" message rather than
any narrow sectarian view. The practice would have ended the
selling of time to independent radio preachers and, also, stopped
such gospel programs as the Old-Time Gospel Hour and the Lutheran
Hour. NBC and CBS adopted this policy. When Mutual, the third
major network, decided to consider whether or not to drop all
paid religious programs, the NAE appeared on the scene.
In April 1942 more than 150 evangelical leaders met in St.
Louis to form a national organization (NAE). John Ockenga of
Boston's historic Park Street Church was elected President. J.
Elwin Wright urged the NAE to become the "fourth force."
The first was the so-called liberal or modernist group which was
represented by the Federal Council, and the other two were the
Catholic and Jewish faiths. The NAE did succeed in keeping The
Lutheran Hour on the Mutual network. However, at the 1944 NAE
convention a new organization named the National Religious
Broadcasters was born. With the blessing of the NAE the NRB
continued the pressure to purchase time for religious broadcasts.
When W.W.II ended and the ABC network began operations, the
restrictions on religious radio time ended. In the meantime the
NAE blossomed into a powerful voice for conservative Christianity
by the 1950's. They claimed a million and a half members, and to
be the preference of ten million American Christians.
In 1956 Christianity Today was born as the magazine for
evangelicals. It was Billy Graham's idea to counterbalance the
Protestant liberal magazine The Christian Century. Its editor was
Dr. Carl F.H. Henry, a Wheaton College friend of Billy Graham.
The hallmark of their editorial principles was the
trustworthiness of Scripture as The Word of God. After a shaky
start, Christianity Today assumed a status as the nation's most
widely read serious religious publication.
When Walter Maier died of a heart attack in 1950, The Lutheran
Hour was the largest program of its time. Dr. Maier had an annual
audience of 700 million listeners on 1200 stations in thirty-six
languages. Billy Graham was approached to take his place. At the
Portland Crusade he jokingly told the audience about a $25,000
"fleece." That night before midnight Grady Wilson had
the exact amount in a shoe box in their Portland hotel. Thus, The
Hour of Decision was born. Within five weeks the program had the
highest audience for a religious broadcast that the Nielsen
rating service had ever recorded.
Meanwhile the issue over money had been the evangelist's
stigma since the days of Elmer Gantry bilking his fictional
crowds. The "love offering" was a traditional gift at
the final service for most evangelists. After the 1950 Atlanta
Crusade the Atlanta Constitution printed two picture side by side.
The first had Billy Graham waving good-bye to Atlanta. The second
one was two ushers with their arms wrapped around four bulging
bags of money and being escorted by an uniformed policeman. His
love offering was over nine thousand dollars and more than most
pastors made in a year at that time. Billy Graham was embarrassed
and vowed it would not happen again.
Consequently, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association was
born in Minneapolis in 1950. The BGEA was an incorporated, non-profit
organization that would handle all donations from the crusades
and the radio ministry. They hired George Wilson as business
manager, and Billy Graham as a salaried employee. They, also,
promised a policy of open disclosure of contributions and
expenses from all the BGEA's ministry's - advertising, crusades,
films, radio, books, and television. Whether it was Billy Graham
or Cliff Barrows, they maintained a low-key financial emphasis by
simply saying, "Send your prayer requests and contributions
to Billy Graham Minneapolis, Minnesota." Above all they keep
an extensive mailing list and tried to answer every letter.
The most noteworthy single event of the Postwar Evangelical
Awakening was the 1957 Billy Graham New York Crusade. Twice
Graham had turned down offers for a New York crusade, and New
York had the reputation as the town "Billy Sunday could not
shutdown." However, after the tremendously successful 1954
London Crusade at Harringay and Wembley Stadium, and a worldwide
reputation and prayer support, he accepted a scheduled six-week
summer campaign at Madison Square Garden. The Graham Association
estimated a base of ten thousand prayer groups in seventy-five
The BGEA team spent two years on crusade committees. They
received the most influential help from corporate executives of
MONY, Chase Manhattan, and United States Steel; from the famous
like Eddie Rickenbacker and Norman Vincent Peale; and from rich
families, who had backed Moody and Sunday, such as Dodge, Phelps,
Vanderbilt, Gould, and Whitney. Using pro football terms the
official team had 22 members, and a taxi squad of 14 workers.
The media gave wide exposure to the Crusade. Many were anxious
to interview Mr. Graham. All five daily newspapers covered the
story. The New York Times had three pages on the first night of
the Crusade. Look, Life, and Ebony magazines had pictures from
the first day. The television coverage included interviews by
Walter Cronkite on CBS, John Cameron Swayze on ABC, and Dave
Garroway on NBC, as well as the Steve Allen Show, Meet the Press,
and from numerous local stations.
The Crusade was not without controversy. Graham hired Howard
Jones, a black pastor from Cleveland, to join the team, and to
lead the services in Harlem. He, also, praised the controversial
civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. for his "example
of Christian love." He even put Dr. King on the platform as
a prayer leader. The great Ethel Waters sang in the choir and as
a soloist on the platform. She endeared herself to audiences
numerous times for "His Eye Is On The Sparrow," and for
her closing testimony "I know He watches WE." During
the closing weeks the crusade the attendance was made up to 20
percent Negroes. Billy Graham's stand against racism and bigotry
and for brotherhood and integration was growing, since he had
personally removed the segregation ropes at the 1953 Chattanooga
Graham drew fired from Bob Jones Sr. for his position on
integration. He was, also, criticized for the makeup of committee
members and churches. The leading fundamentalists Jones, Carl
McIntire, and John R. Rice of The Sword of The Lord objected to
his association with liberals and modernists because it showed a
growing ecumenicalism. Reinhold Niebuhr attacked him numerous
times in the Christian Century for simplistic revivalism in an
enlighten age, and for shallow meaningless conversions, and for
the lack of social action. A Catholic leader Rev. John E. Kelly
forbade Catholics from attending the crusades, listening to
Graham on radio or television, and reading his books or sermons.
Nevertheless, Graham did not fight back against his critics,
but decided the best course was to ignore them. He called his
policy "cooperation without compromise." No group was
to be excluded whether from the mainline churches, the cults, and
eventually even the Communists. However, he stood his ground on
the central issue of the opportunity to preach Christ and to call
people to commit their lives to Him. Graham refused to criticize
pastors or their churches, but rather he emphasized the
importance of the church for spiritual growth and Christian
The Manhattan Crusade was a marvelous milestone with a record
attendance at every endeavor. The crusade began May 15th in
Madison Square Garden for six weeks. It was extended to sixteen
weeks because of the overflow crowds, which averaged 19,000 per
night. Originally the planned closing ceremony was scheduled for
July 20th in Yankee Stadium. The event went on in 105 degree heat
and drew 100,000 people including Vice President Nixon. Another
25,000 were turned away from the record crowd. The crusade closed
Labor Day weekend with a Sunday service in Times Square where an
estimated 160,000 to 200,000 people were jammed shoulder-to-shoulder
The counseling and follow-up committees had a momentous task.
Charlie Riggs, who was active in the Navigators, was picked as
the new leader, since Dawson Trotman had died in a boating
accident at Schroon Lake the previous summer. More than 60,000
came forward at the alter calls, and Times Square was so packed
that people could only raise their hands to make a "decision
Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, called Eleanor, was one of the
converts, and she led many of her socialite friends to Christ.
Tom Phillips, President of Raytheon Corporation, was another
famous convert, and he instrumental in leading Watergate figure
Chuck Colsen to The Lord. Clearly the most memorable story was a
simply dressed women from a tenement. She cried, "God,
protect me." When the counselor asked for an explanation,
the woman said, "My son hates the church, he drinks allot,
and he'll beat if he finds out I'm a Christian." Almost
immediately a voice nearby called out, "It's okay, Mom. I'm
This was the first crusade on national television. ABC
televised 14 Saturday nights. Network officials were surprised
that the first telecast drew an estimated 6.5 million viewer,
even though it was opposite the very popular Perry Como Show and
Jackie Gleason Show. The responses to the BGEA were ten thousand
a day, and overall a total of 1.5 million letters were sent to
Minneapolis from the New York TV programs. At least 30,000
proclaimed a "decision" in the privacy of their homes.
At the conclusion, Billy Graham had preached to 2,357,400
people. He had lost 30 pounds and was exhausted. Bev Shea had
sung "I'd Rather Have Jesus Than Silver or Gold" over
one hundred times. The Protestant churches gained an estimated 6,000-10,000
new members. A planned follow-up to visit 200,000 homes seemingly
failed and reaped no notable harvest. There was no change in
Times Square. The nightclubs and the crime remained. The one
important criteria the change in people's hearts was immeasurable.
Only the Lord, who runs to and fro to search for hearts toward
Him, knows the results of the New York Crusade.
One final significant factor during this era was the
accidental discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. A Bedouin
boy, who was looking for his lost sheep and throwing stones, hit
several jars in a cave near Qumran. The collection of leather and
copper scrolls were part of a library of Essenes, a monastic
community of the first century BC. The documents gave invaluable
information on Jewish life during the times of Jesus. The
manuscripts, also, gave a greater authenticity to the Old
Testament, since they were a thousand years older than existing
documents. The discovery further encouraged biblical scholarship,
and the Bible as a source-document for historical evidence.
According to Sydney Ahlstrom by 1958-59 observers began
talking " about the postwar revival in the past tense."
The churches had "failed to sustain human religious needs"
of the mobile population. The social and moral challenges of the
turbulent sixties would shake the will of the American Republic,
and the confidence in America as the "Chosen Nation"
and the "beacon to the world."
II. The Turbulent, Tempestuous, Disorderly, and Riotous
Sydney Ahlstrom of Yale said of the sixties, "The decade did
experience a fundamental shift in American moral and religious
attitudes. The decade..was a time, in short, when the old
foundations of national confidence, patriotic idealism, moral
traditionalism, and even of historic Judeo-Christian theism, were
awash." The trauma that took place was described by such
titles as: "post-Puritan," "post-Protestant,"
"post-Christian," and even the "death of God."
The US government had made a dramatic shift in their attitude
toward religion. In 1947 the Supreme Court in the case of Everson
v. Board of Education declared there to be "a separation of
church and state" in the First Amendment. It was the first
time in our history that the Supreme Court interpreted "a
wall between church and state." It totally reversed the
government's long-standing traditions on religion. The words of
the decision did not receive national attention until the
election of 1960. Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, a Roman
Catholic, announced his religious position in a TV speech by
saying, "I believe in a America where the separation of
church and state is absolute - where no Catholic prelate would
tell the President, should he be a Catholic, how to act, and no
Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote."
In 1962 the Supreme Court began what David Barton called
"an all-out and widespread war against religious principles."
In the Engel v.Vitale case eight of nine Justices ruled that a
verbal prayer in public schools was unconstitutional. The ruling
was made on the regent's prayer in New York state. The 22-word
prayer during morning announcements read: "Almighty God, we
acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings
upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our Country." The
Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren not only reversed the
entire history of public education, but it declared that verbal
prayer to be unconstitutional, "even if it is both voluntary
and denominationally neutral." The Supreme Court had
overturned the decisions of the New York State Legislature and
the New York Courts.
The next year the Court continued its "new" doctrine
in Abington v. Schempp 1963. The Abington School District had a
policy of voluntary Bible reading to open the school day. The
plaintiff Schempp was a Unitarian, who objected to the Trinity
and the divinity of Jesus. Rabbi Dr. Solomon Grayzel testified as
an "expert" witness that portions of the New Testament
"could be psychological harmful to the child." The
Warren Court accepted Grayzel statement as "fact," and
declared Bible reading, also, unconstitutional. The Washington
Evening newspaper declared, "God and religion have all but
been driven from the public schools. What remains? Will the
baccalaureate service and Christmas carols be the next to go?
Don't bet against it." For years afterward Congress attempt
to override the Court through bills and amendments, until finally
the Equal Access Bill was enacted in 1984.
David Barton in The Myth of Separation pointed out that the
make up of the nine justices on the Supreme Court was political
in background and not judicial in experience. Earl Warren was the
former governor of California and seven other Justices were all
political appointments. Only Justice Potter Stewart had been a
federal judge with training in Constitutional law. It is, also,
important to note that he was the only dissenter on both 8-1
decisions. The churches wanted to give him sainthood for his
It should, also, be noted that on June 25, 1962, the same day
the Supreme Court banned prayer from the public schools, they
opened the US mail to a magazine published by homosexuals. The
decision was one in a series under which long banned books such
as Lady Chatterly's Lover and Tropic of Cancer were classed as
"literature" and therefore exempted from obscenity laws.
As a result, pornography became free to flow through the US
Future generations would look back on what they would call
"the moral decline of America," and they would always
say, "the fork in the road was when the Supreme Court kicked
school prayer and Bible reading out of the schools." They
could quickly cite the rapid increase in the major measures of
morality in society such as violent crimes, teenage pregnancies,
sexually transmitted diseases, divorces, and unmarried couples
Nevertheless, there were many other factors that gave the
sixties the epitaph "Post
Puritan." Clearly, a sexual revolution took place among
women. The Kinsey Reports (males 1948 and females 1953), while
not truly representative of the US population, seemed to imply
that premarital abstinence and the Judeo-Christian standards were
unnatural. Kinsey's findings claimed that 50 percent of the women
had sex before they were married. While he openly challenged the
hypocrisy of America's double standard for males and females,
moralists, especially the clergy, felt Kinsey undermined the
virginal status of American womanhood.
Another barrage on women's mores came from Playboy and some
women's magazines. While feminists labeled the Hugh Hefner
approach as degrading to women, centerfolds sent a message that
some women wanted to be free, groovy chicks. Other women boldly
wore the new swimsuit rage - the bikini in public. A new women's
revolution was being exposed.
On the other hand a new feminist wave came from Betty Friedan,
who in The Feminine Mystique reported deep pockets of discontent
among American housewives. The new "Women's Lib"
movement received impetus in 1965 when thousands of women
publicly burned their bras in New York City. When the National
Organization for Women (NOW) was founded in 1966, they proclaimed
that the traditional institutions such as marriage, family, and
motherhood needed to be redefined to prevent the oppression of
women. They began a political campaign for the equal rights of
women, gays, lesbians, and the handicapped.
In 1960, ironically one hundred years after the first condom,
Enovid, the first commercially produced birth control pill, was
made available to women. While the fifty-five cent pill liberated
women from the chance of pregnancy, some felt it increased
promiscuity. However, in 1968 when Pope Paul VI issued a
encyclical condemning artificial methods of birth control, he met
unprecedented resistance from even devout Catholics. Sydney
Ahlstrom said, "one may safely say that America's moral and
religious tradition was tested and found wanting in the sixties."
For women the dual messages of sexual freedom and the old-time
Puritan restraint found a wide gulf with a variety of moral
choices, and meanwhile the Judeo-Christian standards were being
pushed farther to the fringe. John Stormer in his book The Death
of a Nation explained how the new morality of the sixties was
being defended by the catch phrases of conformity "everybody's
doing it" and "it's between consenting adults."
His chapter "The War in the Churches" criticized the
amended view of rules where "anything and everything is
right or wrong according to the situation." Nevertheless,
the sexual revolution was not as scary as the violence from the
other revolutions of the sixties.
JFK's call for activism - "ask what you can do for your
country" - became a reality with the protest movements
during the decade. The disenchanted and the idealists protested
against the government and the "establishment" in four
ways: the Black civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war
protest, the youth counterculture, and against the environmental
exploitation and ruin. Only the final area ecology did not result
in turmoil and violence.
The first protest movement of the decade was civil rights. The
original impetus came from the 1954 Brown vs the Topeka Board of
Education, when the Supreme Court declared racial segregation in
public schools illegal. In 1955 Dr. Martin Luther King, a Baptist
minister, gained national fame from the Montgomery bus boycott.
Rev. King earned the support of northern and white churches when
he emphasized the peaceful methods of nonviolence and passive
resistance from the philosophies of Thoreau and Gandhi. The
demonstrators used sit-ins, pray-ins, marches, boycotts, and
voter registration drives. Their theme of "freedom now"
stirred the nation's conscience and admiration as the passive
protesters sang "We Shall Overcome." The highlight was
two hundred thousand marchers at the Lincoln Memorial, when Dr.
King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In 1964
he was given the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Congress did respond by passing legislation for equality
in jobs, housing, public transportation, voting, and some other
discriminatory practices. However, in 1965 the movement turned
violent and militant. In the Watts riot in Los Angeles thirty-four
people were killed. The Black Muslim's leader Malcolm X called
for a separate state. The Black Panthers urged Blacks to arm
themselves, shoot white cops, and force the whites to give them
equal rights. Summer riots in Black ghettos became a common
occurrence. The Kerner Commission blamed the cause on "white
racism." Rumors spread around the white suburbs that Black
militants were going to invade and burn their neighborhoods.
Finally, one-hundred and twenty-six cities erupted when Martin
Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Frustration and
bitterness grew as polarization, not integration, divided the two
The second protest of the decade was the war in Vietnam. At
first, even after the flimsy Gulf of Tonkin incident, the
churches like most people followed the patriotic position of
supporting the government. Then the military involvement
escalated the "search and destroy" missions "to
stop from losing the war." The critics said that it was a
civil war in Vietnam and not a "domino threat" from
Russian or Chinese Communism. But, suspicion and mistrust grew
because for the first time television brought the war into every
living room with a graphic daily "body count." When
Robin Moore's book Green Berets was released, everyone wanted to
know how much of it was true? The servicemen said, "It's all
true!" Even the popular John Wayne, who starred in the film
version, could not dissuade public opinion about the war.
The college campuses became the hotbed of discontent as "teach-ins"
grew in popularity. Inspite of their draft deferment status
students began protesting the military effort. They burned their
draft cards, mocked the flag, and refused to stand for the
national anthem. They demonstrated against military recruiters,
government speakers, and employers with military contracts.
Finally, riots broke out at the ROTC buildings. When antiwar
parades were organized in big cities, others joined the protest.
In October of 1967 two-hundred thousand protesters marched on the
Pentagon. Meanwhile the Marines were barely hanging on to the
landing sites like Danang and Chu Lai, but the Johnson
administration claimed that we were starting to win the war.
The Tet Offensive in January of 1968 was the turning point of
the war. The media mis-informed the nation that we had lost the
battle. The question that hurt the most was by the respected
Walter Cronkite who said, "I thought we were winning this
war." In truth the Viet Cong attack on thirty targets was an
American victory. However, after reading Ho Chi Minh's book, the
media postulated the Tet attack to be the final phase of a Viet
Cong victory. Back home further contempt raged at one single
picture during Tet. It was the Saigon police chief pointing his
pistol inches away from a Viet Cong prisoner's head, and then
executing him for the camera and the eyes of the nation.
During the next months LBJ announced, "I shall not seek,
and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term."
However, he continued to bomb North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh
Trail to the dismay of the protesters. More anguish spread
throughout the nation when Martin Luther King and Robert F.
Kennedy were assassinated. The nation only hoped for peace talks,
and some kind of quick end to the war. Even Nixon's withdrawal
policy of "Vietnamization" would become an acceptable
closure. Finally after the deaths at Kent State and Jackson State
the demonstrations declined.
Unfortunately, the real American victims of the war were the
servicemen. The US government seemed confused in their purpose.
Khe Sanh was sieged for most of a year, and then it was abandoned
in a matter of weeks. The soldiers could not tell the "gooks"
from the "friendlies," and mistakes like My Lai
happened more than once. They would defoliate the jungle around
their bases, and then marched into the clearing only to wiped out
in an ambush. It became a war of attrition, and the soldiers only
hoped to survive, and go home, and block it out of their minds.
But when the veterans returned home, they received no heroes
welcome, no parades, not even a thanks. The protesters spit on
them and called them "baby killers." Their lives were
even threatened for being veterans and wearing military fatigues.
As the protests against the war and the draft grew, the
churches joined the academic community as the most verbal
dissenters. Christians were respected for their approach to the
rallies. They obtained permits and observed the rules for the
marches. They made sure the march and the program was patriotic.
They waved the American flag and marched with their tots in
strollers. They cooperated with other factions for a peaceful
Eventually, the bishops and the church bodies passed
resolutions labeling the war as "wrong," "immoral,"
"unjust," and "pointless." Clergymen not only
organized demonstrations, but they picket the home of Dean Rusk,
Secretary of State. The Yale chaplain Rev. William Sloane Coffin
Jr. was convicted with Benjamin Spock of conspiracy to defeat the
operation of the draft. Catholic priests Fathers Daniel and
Philip Berrigan were celebrated heroes of the anti-war protest.
In 1972 a dozen nuns were even arrested for disrupting a Mass at
St. Patrick's Cathedral in protest of the Catholic apathy toward
the war. Nevertheless, as the church became a leader in the anti-war
movement, denominations were part of the establishment, and thus
they lost relevance and influence, especially among the young.
By the late 60's church attendance was down, large financial
contributors had cut back, and religious book sales slumped.
Those over 30 opposed the changes in the liturgy, the doctrine,
and the social emphasis. The older Roman Catholics frowned upon
Vatican's II's change in the Mass from Latin to English. Some
theologians even endorsed the "God is dead" movement,
and it eroded some religious opinions. It seemed clear that any
hope for revival would not take place in the established churches.
The only religious groups elevated in prestige during the war
were the Mennonites, Amish, Friends, and Church of the Brethren,
who had a history as conscientious objectors. In other wars they
were scorned, but in Vietnam the "C.O.'s" were gladly
given alternative service. Ray Abrams said, "Never before in
modern times has so much support been given to the right of
conscientious objection to war."
The most perplexing protest was the youth culture. Their
generation was the most affluent in history. Their parents, who
had experienced the Depression and several wars, wanted the kids
to have everything they had not had. Kids had their own bedroom,
television, the family car, Little League, a family vacation,
fast food, and seemingly almost free from want. Their parents
used Dr. Benjamin Spock's "permissive" child-rearing
techniques, and some said, "they sparred the rod, but
spoiled the child." Thus, a so-called "generation gap"
The social revolution among the youth was eventually referred
to as a counterculture. Their lifestyle included long hair,
sloppy dress, and a generally unkempt, dirty look. Their behavior
was to "do your own thing," which meant promiscuous
sex, drugs, and loud rock music. They claimed to be revolting
against materialism, technology, and the over thirties value
system of conformity and success. Numerous communes sprang up
based on agriculture, religion especially Eastern mysticism,
crafts like macramé, sexual orientation, or just to dropout of
society or college.
They were ascribed the prominent title of hippies. Their
emphasis on universal love, peace, and freedom, also, gained them
other names like flower children, gentle people, and love
children. They gathered in the section of San Francisco called
Haight-Ashbury and in the East Village section of New York City.
At its peak the movement claimed 300,000 followers, and in 1967
the publicized attraction was called "Summer of Love."
However, they were notorious as panhandlers and thieves. The
movement declined because of drug overdoses, hepatitis, and
disease from malnutrition and exposure. Also, the violent wing or
yippies gave them a negative image especially after the Sharon
Tate murders by the Charles Manson family.
The most violent year of the decade was 1968, and possibly the
worst year in US history. Television specials called it The Crack
in Time. Time magazine said, "the year severed past from
future." It was the year of Tet, the U.S.S. Pueblo, and
riots in Paris and Prague; the despair of the King and Kennedy
assassinations; and the rage at Columbia and the Chicago
Democratic Convention. The marches and mobs were angry, and they
thrust the "bird" finger at everyone. They shouted
obscenities and profanities. They rioted, and looted, and burned
ghettos, and businesses, and ROTC buildings. Chaos was the goal
of the Black Panthers, SNCC, SDS, and the Weathermen. When Nixon
was elected, he promised withdrawal from Vietnam. It was referred
to as "peace with honor." Nonetheless on Christmas Eve
the moon provided a ray of brilliance, when Apollo Eight circled
the JFK goal for the decade - someday a lunar landing.
Meanwhile observers of Bible prophecy explained 1968 in
different terms. On June 7, 1967 during the Six-Day War, the
Israeli army under General Moshe Dayan captured Jerusalem and the
Wailing Wall. As the Jews gained their holy city, the words of
Jesus Christ in Luke 21:24 "Jerusalem shall be trodden down
of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,"
caused Jews and Christians to herald a new era. Jews began
looking for the Messiah, and Christians started talking about the
Temple, the Tribulation, the Anti-Christ, and the Rapture. For
those who believed that God established the Americans as His
"new Chosen people," and their nations as the "New
Testament Israel," after 1967 they had to admitted God's
dispensational plan always centered on the Jews in Israel.
Nothing called attention to that fact more than Hal Lindsey's
Bible prophecy sensation The Late Great Planet Earth. It appeared
in print in 1970, and it out sold every book (20 million copies)
during the decade except The Bible. It foretold the Second Coming
of Christ in "this generation" based on the Olivet
discourse in Matthew 24 and the return of the Jews to their
homeland in 1948.
As the decade came to a close, Todd Gitlin's title Years of
Hope, Days of Rage proved to be a proper postscript. The violence
ceased as the Paris Peace talks brought withdrawal and a Vietnam
cease-fire by 1973. The civil rights movement produced a Black
female Presidential candidate in the 1972 election Congresswoman
Shirley Chisholm. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring resulted in the
first Earth Day in 1970. Finally, the youth movement pointed a
finger in two different paths.
One road led to Bethel, New York in August of 1969; it was
Woodstock, the pinnacle of the counterculture. Between a quarter
and a half million young people gathered for three days of rock
music and drugs. It was billed as an "Aquarian Exposition of
music and peace." In reality there was almost unanimous use
of marijuana and hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and Mescaline. One
ironic side trail was that the two leading entertainers Jimmy
Hendrix and Janis Joplin both died from drug use the next year.
Hendrix O.D.'d on a barbiturate and drowned in his own vomit, and
Joplin died from a heroin overdose.
The Woodstock rock festival will be remembered however for the
weather. During the three-day weekend off and on cloudbursts and
thunderstorms made Max Yasgur's 600-acre farm a sea of mud. By
the second day the festival goers were belligerently flipping the
"bird" finger skyward to the God of heaven in open
defiance to His rain.
The second road was a spiritual revival among the young
people, who became known as the Jesus People. Outside the
institutional church at rock concerts, on beaches, and in the
streets they could be seen jabbing their "index" finger
heavenward and chanting "one way, one way, one way" in
reference to salvation only through Jesus Christ.
III. The Jesus Movement:
The Jesus Movement, sometime called the Jesus Revolution, was
unlike the old-time revivals in that it was mostly outside the
organized church, and it was more like the counterculture of the
day. The young people had found the hippie culture of drugs,
"free love" sex, and rebellion unsatisfying. When they
were converted, their long hair, bell-bottoms, and barefoot
appearance was overlooked because of their smiling faces,
emotional joy, and bold, unabashed words of praise for Jesus.
They were referred to as Jesus People, Jesus Freaks, Jesus Kids,
and Street Christians.
While the movement originated in Southern California,
spontaneous ministries sprang up in many places and in many forms.
The Jesus People were known for spreading the gospel in the
streets, coffee houses, rescue missions, communes, rock
festivals, and hip churches. These new Christians made a
fanatical effort to know the Scriptures and to quote the chapter
and verse. Bible studies were the central emphasize in every
segment of the new Jesus culture. Furthermore, their testimonies
were laden with hip culture terms. "Jesus is real, man."
"I'm on a Jesus trip." "I'm high on Jesus."
That Bible verse is "heavy" or that is, it has a deeper
In 1966 John Lennon of the Beatles said, "Christianity
will go. It will vanish and shrink. We're more popular than Jesus
now." But he was wrong, the next year the Jesus movement was
in full bloom among the flower children. They said that Jesus was
"the first hippie" because of his long hair, and they
were proclaiming "Hal-lay-loo-ya, Jesus loves you." It
is hard however to pinpoint the beginning of the movement to any
one person or single group.
One of the famous early ministries was Calvary Chapel at Costa
Mesa in Orange County, California which was led by Pastor Chuck
Smith. They had three youth services a week, and about 2,000 kids
in jeans, tie-dyed tops, and hip clothes came in carrying Bibles
and bear hugging one another. For three to four hours they sang,
prayed, and studied the Bible. An older member estimated 150
converts a week and upwards of 500 baptisms a month. The most
publicized baptisms of the Jesus movement took place at the
nearby Corona del Mar beach in the Pacific waters.
The emotionalism of the Jesus movement was most apparent in
the music. Rock groups with electric guitars, drums, and kinky
piano music were another major attraction of the monthly rock
festivals at the Chapel. The best known Jesus rock groups were
the Love Song, Blessed Hope, Country Faith, Children of the Day,
and the All Saved Freak Band. A staple song was "Pass it On"
with the congregation interlocking arms and swaying to the music.
Also, "Kum Ba Ta" (African for Come by here) was another popular song for swaying to and fro.
Many of the new converts were homeless, runaway street people,
who needed nurturing and discipleship in the Word. Calvary Chapel
established a chain of Christian communal homes called the "House
of Miracles." The usual stay was two to six months, and each
house was led by an elder, who was assisted by several deacons.
John Higgins, an early leader at the House of Miracles, had a
vision to "descend to a northern location." He and his
wife Jackie founded the successful Shiloh houses around Eugene,
Oregon. It became the fastest growth communal system and spread
to thirty states until the ministry split in 1978. Mansion
Messiah and Philadelphia House were some other famous homes.
Another star attraction at Calvary Chapel was the Youth
minister Lonnie Frisbee, who was known as one of the leading
Jesus Freaks. He was convinced that the Jewish victory in the Six-Day
War of 1967 set the stage for the last days and the Second Coming
of Christ. Frisbee emphasized the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
prophecy in the Book of Joel and the charismatic gift of speaking
in tongues. Most of the Calvary Chapel people stressed the
tongues experience less than Frisbee, so he left in 1971 for Bob
Mumford's Florida ministry, and he died of AIDS in 1983. However,
before the end of the century Calvary Chapel grew to over 750
Chapels in the United States and another 500 overseas.
One "hip church" that did stress the Pentecostal
experience was Bethel Tabernacle in Redondo Beach. Lyle Steenis
and a 19-year old convert Breck Stevens made it famous as a haven
for ex-drug addicts. The place was renown for the "thirty-second
cure from heroin" which consisted of merely offering prayers
"in the name of Jesus." They claimed that 100,000
inquirers came through their church. In 1972 Pastor Steenis died
in a plane crash, and Stevens committed suicide in 1986.
The original and most flamboyant leader of the Jesus Movement
was Arthur Blessitt, who was called the "Mod Minister of
Sunset Strip." He was noted for his bold, sidewalk
evangelism, such as leading the Jesus kids in a Jesus cheer
("Gimme a J; Gimme an E"; and so on) in front of
Hollywood's topless bars and pornographic bookstores. He
established His Place on Sunset Boulevard as a type of nightclub/rescue
mission. Thousands of kids flocked into His Place for free
sandwiches, Kool-Aid, and the midnight message on Jesus Christ.
The most noteworthy event was the "Toilet Party." When
the drug users converted to Christ, they went to the restroom to
flush their pills and powders down the toilet, and thus
symbolically "flushing away the old life."
Blessitt faced continuous opposition from the Strip
businessmen and the police. The Sheriff's Department enforced an
anti-loitering campaign against the street witnesses. Some Jesus
freaks were busted dozens of times and told to stay off the
Strip, but they kept on returning. Finally, the landlords gave in
to pressure and they stopped renting to the ordained Baptist
minister. Blessitt spent twenty-nine days on the sidewalk chained
to a cross to protest his unfair eviction. Then for seven months
of 1970 he dragged a cross 3,500 miles from California to
Washington, DC preaching along the way. His accounts of the dens
of iniquity from Hollywood and New York were sensationalized in
Turned On To Jesus. In the early 1970's he continued to carry his
cross to Europe, Asia, and over 70 countries of the world before
the end of the century.
Elsewhere in Los Angeles Duane Pederson directed the most
successful and widely known "underground" Christian
newspaper of the Jesus movement: the Hollywood Free Paper.
Pederson, a stuttering farm boy from Hastings, Minnesota,
overcame his childhood stammering and became a nightclub magician.
In 1969 he published the first edition of the HFP with the
financial support of Hollywood's First Presbyterian Church. By
the end of 1971 the HFP had a circulation of five hundred
Pederson used eye-catching headlines on social issues of the
day and Judgment Day cartoons, while sowing soul-winning seeds
throughout the paper. The classified section had a listing of
Jesus People programs and their activities in all fifty states.
The paper had remarkable results including one salvation
testimony of a street kid, who picked up a Free Paper in the
gutter and found Christ.
The HFP had a mail-order enterprise for posters and bumper
stickers known as The Emporium. The paper, also, sponsored
monthly Jesus concerts at the Hollywood Palladium. They
established a Jesus People Training Center and advertised a
nonexistent university. While Pederson was a respected as a
leader in the Jesus movement and was quickly recognized in his
fringed buckskin vest, he maintained "the only leader is
Another vehicle of the Jesus Movement the coffee house was
popular with the "beatnik" generation in the 1950's and
with the hippies in the sixties. It quickly became a hangout for
Jesus People to "rap" about Jesus and the Bible. An
early famous location was "The Living Room" in the
heart of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury drug culture. The
founders were Ted Wise, who is referred to as the first hippie
convert of the Jesus People, and his wife Elizabeth; Dan and
Sandy Sands; Jim and Judy Doop; and Steve and Sandy Heefner.
Their storefront ministry began in late 1967 and lasted for two
years during which time an estimated thirty to fifty thousand
young people wandered in and out of the coffee house. Meanwhile,
the coffeehouse with its casual atmosphere served as a key link
between the young people, the adult workers, the street people,
and the evangelical churches in both big cities and small towns
throughout the country.
In many cases the coffee house led to another important
ministry of the Jesus movement: the commune. The first such
halfway house was "The House of Acts" in Novato,
California. It was founded in 1970 by Ted Wise and "The
Living Room" founders as a rehabilitation center from drugs.
It provided a fellowship for the new life in Christ and a
separation from the former friends and temptations of the old
life. It set the pattern for the Jesus Houses with daily Bible
study, worship, and prayer.
The communes, also, became well known for their community
outreach of street witnessing and passing out tracts. But, in
some cases rural communes wanted to maintained a separation and
independence from the secular world. Two of the most publicized
communes of each type were: The Children of God and the Christian
The Children of God was clearly the most controversial group
in the Jesus movement. They had a closed system with tight
security against outsiders. They expected 100 percent commitment
even turning over all earthly possessions to the community.
Members gave up their birth names for an Old Testament name from
the tribes of Israel. If they were married they were expected to,
also, give up their spouse.
They preached a forceful "repent or go to hell"
message. "Speaking in tongues" was a sign of their
"saved" life. They, also, believed only in the King
James Version of the Bible and in their leader's interpretation.
They were opposed to the established churches and received much
publicity for their militant disruptions of church services with
chants and yells, sometimes even swearing at the church attenders.
The Children of God movement was very much noted for their
strong-personality, extremist leaders. The original founders were
Fred Jordan, a Pentecostal evangelist, and David Berg, an
ordained Protestant minister. They ran the "Texas Soul
Clinic" on Jordan's 400-acre ranch near the ghost town of
Thurber, Texas. David Hoyt observed the Thurber operation and
founded his communes in the Southeast from his Atlanta, Georgia
headquarters. Linda Meissner, another high profile COG leader,
was called "the Joan of Arc of the Jesus Movement" in
Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Her followers were called the
"Jesus People Army." Russ Griggs and Carl Parks
attracted larger followings in the Northwest. The leaders of the
Children of God movement were more badly divided than the
children of Israel in earlier times.
Finally, the Children of God groups were dubbed as a cult.
They were accused of brainwashing, kidnapping, and even
stockpiling weapons. A parent's group received national publicity
for trying to get their kids back. Eventually, Fred Jordan
ordered them off of his properties. David Berg, who renamed
himself "Moses," became regarded as a false teacher for
his heretical interpretations of the Bible. In one of his "Mo
Letters" he called for the female members to use sacred
prostitution to recruit prospective members. They became known as
"the flirty little fishy" and "hookers for Jesus."
By the mid-1970's the COG had experienced a large number of
dropouts, and Berg with some of his followers fled the country to
avoid prosecution. Erling Jorstad called it "a commune that
The Christian Foundation under the leadership of Tony and
Susan Alamo was located in Saugus fifty miles north of downtown
Hollywood. This commune was in a remote hillside area which had
been damaged by a recent earthquake. An abandon restaurant was
used as their worship center. Nevertheless, they had a reputation
for the most ecstatic and charismatic worship services of the
Jesus movement. Their music was spirited, old-time revival songs
like "I'll Fly Away" and "When the Roll is Called
Up Yonder." Their worship was described as several hundred
"wildly gyrating bodies" that were "on the edge of
hysteria the entire time." A steady stream of personal
testimonies flowed throughout the enthusiastic services. A
regular schedule of shuttle vehicles from the corner of Hollywood
and Highland transported inquirers and recruits for an hour and a
half ride to the eight weekly meetings at Saugus.
The Alamo's, who were like a Mom and Dad to the Jesus kids,
were both reared in Jewish homes. Sue converted to Christianity,
when she was miraculously healed of a hopeless childhood disease.
She became a Pentecostal evangelist. Tony was a recording
industry executive, who said that the Lord appeared to him during
a business conference and ordered him to proclaim His imminent
return. Consequently, their street message was always apocalyptic:
"Repent or go to hell, the world is coming to an end, and
Jesus is returning soon."
Another heavily premillennial, but not charismatic group, was
the JC Light and Power House near the campus of UCLA. The leaders
Hal Lindsey and Bill Counts were both former staff members of
Campus Crusade. Their commune was more like a dormitory for forty
Bible students, who were being trained for full-time Christian
service. While they rejected the emotionalism and the experience-centered
emphasis of the mainline Jesus movement, they agreed with their
anti-institutional philosophy. As a result of criticizing both
sides, they appeared uncomfortable with the church and with the
Jesus People. Critics like Lowell Streiker found them lacking in
enthusiasm and failing in compassion toward each other.
The San Francisco Bay area was the center of the hippie
culture since the days of Haight-Ashbury and the radical New Left
of the student rights movement at the University of California at
Berkeley. That climate produced perhaps the best Christian
response to the counterculture in the Christian World Liberation
Front which was based in Berkeley. The founder was Jack Sparks, a
former Ph.D. college statistics professor and a Campus Crusade
associate. CWLF was an organization of well educated, evangelical
Christians, who ministered to the students and the street people
around the Berkeley campus.
In July of 1969 CWLF began publishing Right On, the first and
what many called the best underground newspaper of the Jesus
movement. It was written in the hip language of the street people.
The organization, also, addressed the political platform of the
radical Berkeley Liberation Movement with a matching thirteen-point
program in Christian rhetoric. Their literature ministry included
pamphlets, tracts, leaflets, comic books, and manuals on diet,
nutrition, and a shoestring budget for street survival.
Everything they printed carried a simple gospel message about
Jesus in the vernacular of the hippie and the revolutionary.
When the leftists held marches or rallies, the street
Christians echoed their cheers with Jesus chants. The cheer
"Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, the NLF is Gonna Win," was
answered by the Street Christians cheering "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi
Minh, Jesus Christ is Gonna Win!" The CWLF gave out free
Kool-Aid to marchers, but their sign read: "Whoever drinks
this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water
that I'll give him will never thirst - Jesus Christ." CWLF's
placards read: "I'd Walk a Mile for Jesus" and "Curse
The War - Jesus The Cure."
On the other hand the CWLF marched for other causes. They
picketed San Francisco's notorious North Beach Beach topless
& bottomless clubs. They demonstrated at the Russian Center
to protest the Soviet Union's policies toward Czechoslovakia.
They joined other Jesus People in picketing the downtown San
Francisco Glide Memorial Methodist Church which was known for
homosexual weddings and unorthodox worship services.
Jack Sparks and his staff put together the best organization
of the Jesus movement. They tried to be academic and Biblical in
their approach. They were the only group from the Jesus movement
that attempted to worship and work with the straight, evangelical
churches. They even actively backed a Billy Graham Crusade.
Unlike many of the Jesus People organizations they were not
charismatic in their orientation. While they did not forbid
tongues, the CWLF staff pointed out in Scripture that the gift
was not required for everyone. Consequently, they discouraged
anyone from guilt-tripping others about the Pentecostal
While their best recognized endeavor was Right On, CWLF had a
many-sided ministries including several Jesus "houses"
for Bible rap sessions, the distribution of food, clothing, and
medicine to the street people, and an overnight hostel on
Telegraph Hill as a crash pad for Christian workers. They
established a youth ranch in the mountains north of San Francisco
in the heart of the largest concentration of hippie communes in
the West. Sparks visited Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri with a vision
of developing a Christian "Counter University" in
Berkeley. But always, Sparks and CWLF maintained that only the
transforming power of Jesus could truly meet the needs of people.
Elsewhere, the Jesus movement flourished in other parts of the
nation. In New York City David Wilkerson, whose celebrated story
was The Cross and The Switchblade, ran the well respected the
drug rehabilitation program called Teen Challenge. While it was
not part of the counterculture, the Teen Challenge ministry
gathered some of the Jesus people converts.
In 1968 outside of Mansfield, Ohio Gordon Walker started an
early Jesus commune at "Grace Haven" farm. The former
OSU Campus Crusade leader emphasized "grace" outside
the institutional church rather than the theological hair
splitting done within the fundamentalist congregations. They,
also, operated a bookstore-restaurant The Yellow Deli on the
downtown square. Thirty years later Grace Haven still continues
today as fellowship church with an emphasis on family centered
In Houston, Texas Pastor John Bisagno of the First Baptist
Church promoted a unique revival program called SPIRENO -
Spiritual Revolution Now! It was developed by evangelist Richard
Hogue, and it combined rock music, mass baptisms, and personal
witnessing. The program was given to the public and school kids
over three months, and it registered 11,000 decisions for Jesus.
Even the Southern Baptist Convention attempted to mainstream the
program. From 1970-74 they had the highest baptism rate (2
million) in their history.
Throughout the country Jesus houses could be quickly
recognized by the spiritual connotation of their titles. In
Nashville it was called the "23rd Psalm." In Lansing
Michigan the "Master's House" was sponsored by
businessmen called "The Carpenter's Men." Titles like
"Koinonia," "Soul Inn," "House of Acts,"
"Living Waters," "Agape House," "Sheepfold
House," "His House," and the "Lord's Fish
House" were all part of the Jesus movement. One famous chain
the Shiloh Youth Revival Centers was started by John Higgins in
Eugene, Oregon. Sociologist Marion Goldman claimed that 100,000
young Americans passed through the Shiloh Houses.
A most significant feature of the Jesus Movement was the music
of the Jesus People. Their accent on feelings and emotions made
it the best medium to reach the young people. It also proved to
be a common link to connect the coffeehouses, communes, and
churches. The new "God-rock" tunes even made the
popular music charts. In 1969 the first gospel song to make the
Top-40 radio stations was "O Happy Day." It was sung by
the Edwin Hawkins Singers, who came out of the Black gospel
tradition. It was followed shortly by Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock
opera Jesus Christ, Superstar, which was a financial success on
Broadway. Another pair of God-rock tunes to make the charts were
"Jesus is a Soul, Man" and "Put Your Hand in the
Hand of the Man from Galilee." Judy Collins had a successful
number-one hit with the eighteenth century hymn "Amazing
Billboard magazine pointed out that the religious theme was
catching on in popular music. "Spirit in the Sky,"
"Let It Be," "Bridge Over Troubled Waters,"
and "My Sweet Lord," all had religious values, but they
were not Christian songs. When the opera Godspell hit Broadway,
Christians criticized the depiction of Jesus in a Superman
sweatshirt and the cast in clown costumes. They pointed out that
the divinity of Jesus and His resurrection had been omitted from
the musical. Larry Norman, the leading artist of the Jesus music,
said, "There is no real Jesus music out yet. No music that
sees Jesus as the Son of God who died for our personal salvation."
Other critics made claims that the music capitalists were only
exploiting the spiritual revolution of the time.
By far the dominant feature of the Jesus music was the use of
the guitar in the worship. The song lyrics used the "message"
style like the contemporary folk music along the lines of Bob
Dylan and Arlo Guthrie. The words usually included verses from
Scripture and finding Jesus as the source of peace. The
conversions of famous entertainers like Noel Paul Stookey of
"Peter, Paul, and Mary," Johnny Cash, Kris
Kristofferson, and the Statler Brothers increased the influence
of the new kind of gospel music. Nevertheless, the church people,
who favored the old-time traditional hymns, leaned more toward
notable Christian singers like Pat Boone, who was now receiving
fame for his Pentecostal baptism and the baptisms in his swimming
pool at his Beverly Hills home.
When the "Dove Awards" for Christian music began in
1969, the winners were Bill Gaither, James Blackwood, the Speer
Family, and the well known inspirational singers, while the Jesus
musicians remained unacknowledged. Anyway, the soul of the Jesus
music came from the many little known individuals and groups in
every coffee house and church where the young people would gather.
The better performers were invited to Jesus rock festivals like
Duane Peterson's Palladium events and the concerts at Calvary
Chapel. The most notable groups included Love Song, Resurrection
Band, Daniel Amos, Lost and Found, Everlasting Water, Harvest
Flight, Dove Sounds, Phoenix Sunshine, the 2nd Chapter of Acts,
Paul Clark, Andrae Crouch, and a young Phil Keaggy. But by far
the most remembered pairing was Larry Norman and the Salt
Company, who were backed by the Hollywood Presbyterian Church.
Norman's classic song about the Rapture "I Wish We'd All
Been Ready" was the theme song for the popular film A Thief
in the Night. Yet, the church and the Jesus People parted company
over the anti-church themes and the continual repetitive phrases
of their music.
While the music usually included a vary of multimedia effects
like strobe lights, blacklights, and psychedelic sights, the most
memorable visual message of the Jesus movement was the bumper
sticker. The first popular bumper sticker was "Honk if you
love Jesus." The most popular subject was the rapture. Those
stickers read "In case of the Rapture - This car will be
unmanned" and "The Rapture - The Only Way to Fly."
Most bumper sticker user were not trying to evangelize people,
but only to identify themselves as believers in Jesus Christ.
Church leaders responded with everything from admiration for
their boldness to calling the bumper stickers "undignified
to God." One irritated sticker read "Anyone can honk,
Tithe if you love Jesus."
A spin-off of the Jesus movement was the revival on American
campuses in the 1970's. While colleges experienced protests,
marches, and riots in the 1960's, the new decade saw an
evangelical harvest by the leading campus Christian organizations
such as Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, Campus Crusade for
Christ, and the newly formed American Association of Evangelical
In 1970 IVCF held a missionary conference at Urbana on the
campus of the University of Illinois, and it drew 12,000 which
was probably the largest religious gathering of students to that
date in American history. They invited a non-traditional speaker
Tom Skinner, a black, former gang member, who knew firsthand the
crime and drug culture of the ghetto. While his audience was
primarily from the white middle-class, his message attacked the
institutional racism of the church, the middle-class, and the
national institutions such as Wall Street, big business, and
government. He did not see revolution, or social action, or
political change as the answer to the evil and the poverty in the
world, but he proclaimed "the liberator has come," and
it is Jesus Christ, who is the only force powerful enough to
change and save humanity from destroying itself. His message was
overwhelmingly accepted by the students, and the Skinner
phenomenon attracted larger crowds at the future Urbana
Campus Crusade annually held regional rallies throughout the
country, however in June of 1972 they met in Dallas at the Cotton
Bowl stadium. It was called "Explo 72." Almost 75,000
young people showed up, and it was the largest event of the Jesus
movement. The week-long event featured evangelism training
classes on the "Four Spiritual Laws" and Jesus rock
festivals. In the stadium atmosphere yells like, "Two bits,
four bits, six bits, a dollar. All for Jesus stand up and holler,"
and fingers pointing the One Way sign were exuberantly common.
The honorary chairman Billy Graham called it a "religious
Woodstock," but the lasting religious title was "Godstock."
When the three thousand full-time staff workers returned to the
field, they reported an increase in "decision prayers,"
and the greatest increase in new staff personnel in CCC history.
Nevertheless, CCC remained mistrusted by the churches because of
their simple evangelism and a divisive relationship with most
major denominations. However their emphasis on a prayer time,
personal Bible study, and witnessing resulted in a growing,
vibrant relationship with Christ for many new Christians.
The third campus organization the AAES moved in a different
direction away from evangelism toward social action. Their
delegates had a spirit discussion on such issues as racial
prejudice, population control, and the Cambodian invasion. At
their 1971 convention at Oral Roberts University they
surprisingly invited Kevin Ranaghan, a well known Roman Catholic
Pentecostal leader, to address the convention. After a female was
elected President of the organization the delegates debated
abortion, capital punishment, a ban on DDT, selective service,
and even lesser marijuana penalties. In the end a resolution
calling abortion "murder" was badly defeated, and a
resolution asking for the abolition of capital punishment passed.
Meanwhile the most spectacular outpouring occurred at Ashbury
College in Wilmore, Kentucky in February of 1970. The chapel
service turned into a 185-hour marathon of prayer, confession,
forgiveness, and rebirth. The revival broke out among the
students and faculty members, and spread to another dozen
evangelical colleges. The event was told by Robert E. Coleman in
his book One Divine Moment.
Another amazing part of the movement touched the secular
colleges. In 1971 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute four
thousand students, nuns, ministers, and Jesus people gathered for
a two-day festival for "turning on to Jesus." At
Harvard one staff member reported that many students were "changed
to a full commitment to Christ." At Stanford University the
neighboring churches scheduled seven Sunday School classes to
handle the college students. Two Illinois campuses Eastern
Illinois University in Charleston and North Park College in
Chicago were moved by the revival. Everywhere the young adults of
college age, who have always been known for their idealistic
dreams and hopes, were quickly interested in reaching out to the
victims of social oppression after they had experienced the grace
of Christ's salvation.
Alongside the campus revival was the Pentecostal impact on the
Roman Catholic Church. The "charismatic renewal," which
stressed the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" and speaking
in tongues, touched Catholic believers especially in college
communities. It first appeared in 1967 at a Duquense University
prayer meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and reached Notre
Dame in South Bend and the universities at Ann Arbor and East
Lansing in Michigan.
Although their renewal was related to the Jesus movement, the
Pentecostal Catholics, unlike the Jesus people, stayed within the
church and hoped for a revival among all Catholics. While they
appeared almost like Protestants in their worship, the remarkable
transformation was that these Catholics and their Protestant
friends stopped trying to convert one another to each other's
religion. They talked about "faith in Christ" alone and
not their church. They reached an upward estimate of 50,000
adherents by 1971. Their most important influence on the church
was the emphasis on searching the Scriptures to be accurate in
Another large group affected by the Jesus movement was high
school students. Two youth organizations that began in the 1940's
were Youth for Christ and Young Life. They were noted for their
non-denominational approach that crossed racial, cultural, and
economic boundaries. Both majored on bringing young people to a
saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Another parachurch organization
that ministered to high school and junior high athletes, coaches,
and trainers was the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The FCA
used sports lingo in "huddle groups" with "scouting
reports" on the Bible to present "God's game plan"
for salvation. FCA had founded in the mid-1950's with the
blessing of Branch Rickey, a reputable Christian who the owned
the Brooklyn Dodgers and integrated baseball with Jackie Robinson.
A final group touched by the movement were the Jewish people.
In 1968 it was estimated that 30 percent of the hippies on the
streets of San Francisco were Jewish. Surprisingly, hundreds
began finding Jesus as their Savior. From their slogan "Jews
for Jesus" Moishe Rosen, a missionary to the Jewish people,
founded the Jews for Jesus organization in September of 1973 with
their home office on Haight Street in San Francisco. The
Messianic Jews began proclaiming that Jesus or Y'shua was the
Messiah, and thousands of Jewish street Christians became
aggressive witnesses to their people.
By 1971 the "Jesus Revolution" was receiving full
blown media attention with articles and pictures on the Jesus
people in Look, Life, Time, and US News and World Report. Time
picked them the third top "story of the year." Almost
every religious periodical like Christianity Today, Christian
Century, Guidepost, and Moody Monthly, and most of the
denominational journals carried opinions on the movement.
Unfortunately, the extremist sects received an excessive amount
By 1973-74 the war in Vietnam was over and the counterculture
seemed to have ended. The media gave the publicity to Watergate
and to the "deprogramming" of the "brainwashed"
young people, who had fallen victims to cults like the Charles
Manson Family. The Children of God and the Way International, an
anti-Trinitarian sect under Victor Paul Wierwille, were easy
examples to expose the dangers of the exclusive, cult activities.
In spite of that people began wondering "where have all
the Jesus people gone?" It was surmised that they joined the
established churches; some went to seminary or a Bible college;
others became missionaries, pastors, Sunday School teachers, or
they joined the choir. Several leaders, Duane Pederson, Jack
Sparks, and Peter Gillquist, joined the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Ted Wise joined the Peninsula Bible Church and still serves today
in their ministry to drug addicts. Nevertheless, the evangelical
Christians hoped that they had not dropped out again. When all
was said and done, historians and sociologists began speculating
as to whether this was just an extension of the counterculture or
was it another work of God again.
For years very little was written as if the Jesus people were
a forgotten people. Finally, in 1999 three things happened to
revive the memories of the Jesus Movement. David Di Sabatino, a
professor at Virginia Tech, released the first major book in the
post-Jesus Movement era. It was a bibliography of resources on
the movement. Secondly, a very valuable website was established
by Dave Hollandsworth at http://www.one-way.org. And thirdly, on
Saturday April 24th the "first-ever Jesus People reunion"
was held at the Arrowhead Pond sports arena in Anaheim,
California. A remnant of 10,000 former Jesus people attended to
hear Chuck Smith Sr. of Calvary Chapel and a string of speakers
and singers from the glory days of the Jesus Movement. The
stadium Jumbo-Tron flashed a montage of images from thirty years
ago. The index fingers were pointed to the sky, the singing and
swaying began again, and most of all tears of heartfelt joy
swelled up for the faithful work that God had done in
transforming the individual lives of these Jesus freaks over the
past thirty years.
In retrospect several questions arise: "how did this
happen?", "how could the hippie culture of "do
your own thing" lead to the Christian environment of a
personal God with absolute values?", and "where did the
Jesus people go?"
Francis Schaeffer reasoned that the drug culture of the
hippies became only an escape. It left no hope and only a vacuum
due to the impoverished values of personal peace and affluence.
In the late sixties when hundreds of thousands of young people,
who were running away to the counterculture, found only broken
dreams, and then they were drawn into the Jesus movement. The
amazement of the crossover between the two extremes eventually
attracted widespread media attention.
Looking backwards Don Richardson in his books Peace Child and
Eternity in Their Hearts explained "redemptive analogies"
to show how God used opposite ends of the cultural spectrum to
gather a harvest of souls. Richardson pointed out how a similar
goal or a language key or a custom or a tradition had a parallel
in Christianity, and it prepared people for cross-cultural
evangelism. Clearly the search within the counterculture by the
hippies and many young people was satisfied in their personal
relationship with Jesus Christ.
In the postscript the major phenomena of the Jesus People
movement was the number of youth, who entered the mainstream of
American Christianity. A second wonder was the spiritual renewal
in the parachurch organizations and the conservative churches
which included the Pentecostals, the evangelical and fundamental
denominations, and the Eastern Orthodox denomination. A final
legacy was the momentum that ignited the "born again"
era of the mid-seventies.
IV. The Born Again Era:
When the US reached the mid-seventies, Nixon had fallen from
Watergate and Saigon had fallen to the Communists. While
confidence in the government had toppled for the young people in
the Sixties, now citizens of every age had contempt and mistrust
for politics and their government. To further add to their
skepticism the only non-elected President Gerald Ford failed to
whip the inflationary trend of the decade.
But as the United States made plans for the Bicentennial Year,
everyone anticipated a nostalgia of patriotism and glory. When
the nation turned its eyes backwards on two hundred years of
independence, many citizens perceived that our successes were
based on either political, economic, military, geographic, or
immigration factors. Yet, many Christians were surprised to learn
that the US had a rich spiritual heritage which had been either
omitted or ignored in their American history textbooks.
Publishing companies reprinted a host of old classics and a
number of new revival-slanted books which bore witness to the
powerful Christian influence throughout our nation's history.
By enlarge Americans practiced a civil religion where
Christmas was being remember more for the gifts than the birth.
Easter was promoting bunnies and eggs rather than the
resurrection. Thanksgiving was becoming a day of gluttony and
football, and the original purpose of thankfulness was being
overlooked. While Francis Schaeffer and other thinkers were
declaring that Europe was in a "post-Christian" era,
many surmised that the United States might possibly be in their
last generation as a so-called "Christian nation."
To the outsiders church people were viewed as religious
marionettes, who dressed up to perform a rote memorized service,
which appeared to be an apathetic and lethargic obligation.
Usually when they were questioned about their faith, their
response was "that it is a personal and private matter."
If they talked about God, he was "The Man Upstairs."
Their sincere religious conviction was that "my faith can be
seen in my behavior. I don't have to say it, I do it."
Be that as it may, the American Christian church was suddenly
astonished by the "born again" movement. Taken from the
words of Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3:3 "you must be born
again (or born-from-above)" the command clearly called for a
conversion experience. In 1976 the Gallup reported that one in
three Americans (around 50 million) claimed to be born again.
While Time and Newsweek magazines labeled 1976 as the "Year
of the Evangelical," every spiritual indicator pointed to an
awakening. For the first time in seventeen years church
attendance was up (85 million a week). The Christian Herald
reported that giving to church and religious organizations rose 9.9%
to 12.8 billion dollars. One out of every five adults attended a
Bible study or prayer meeting during the week. There was a
noticeable increase in Christian discussions about prayer and
fasting. Above all, the laity became active in witnessing about
Campus Crusade for Christ initiated the most ambitious
witnessing program in history called "Here's Life America."
In 165 cities through TV commercials, billboards, and telephone
calls Americans were exposed to the proclamation "I Found It."
Almost a third of a million lay people were trained as Here's
Life workers. CCC founder Bill Bright and Field Director Paul
Eshleman estimated that 129 million people were acquainted with
the message of Christ, and supervisors estimated around two
million decisions were made for Christ. Unfortunately however, a
follow-up study reported that "97 percent never bothered to
join a church."
Evangelism Explosion was another training program to equip lay
people as soul winners. It was founded by Dr. D. James Kennedy of
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The
program was unique in that everything was done within the local
church body. EE was quickly recognize by the "two question
marks" on a lapel button which hopefully initiated the two
diagnostic questions about "going to heaven." After EE
was incorporated in 1977, the training program was taken
worldwide to every populated continent.
The most profound feature of the born-again era was the
activist position by the laity in witnessing. Here's Life and EE
weren't the only groups providing evangelism training. Others
like "Equipping the Saints" by the Navigators, the
"Christian Life and Witness" training for the Billy
Graham Crusades, the Christian Business Men's Committee
breakfasts, the Flame Fellowship, Women's Aglow, and numerous
other parachurch organizations placed a high priority on
evangelism. While in other generations outreach to the lost
seemed to be for those missionaries in Africa, now the Great
Commission (Matthew 28) was pointed toward a believer's hometown,
neighborhood, workplace, friends and family.
Another distinctive earmark of the born-again period was the
number of famous personalities, who publicly announced their
"new life in Christ." In March 1976 Democratic
Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter told a press conference that
he had "formed a very close, intimate, personal relationship
with God through Christ." Chuck Colson, former Nixon hatchet
man and once Watergate federal prisoner, released his book Born
Again about his recent Christian conversion. Within the year he
was at a prayer breakfast with Harold Hughes, a former liberal
Democrat Senator. In another opposite extreme Colson was
photographed in church singing hymns with ex-Black Panther
Eldridge Cleaver. Hughes and Cleaver, also, professed born again
From every quarter around the nation many reported a spiritual
rebirth. Astronaut James Irwin; UN Ambassador Andrew Young;
Golden Circle President Martin Clark; Howard Butt Jr.; the "praying
millionaire" Wallace Johnson of Holiday Inns; song writers
Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan; crime figure Jack "Murf the Surf"
Murphy; Mansion member: Charles ("Tex") Watson; and
Anita Bryant, Good Housekeeping's "most admired woman"
all asserted a born again experience along with millions more.
In 1960 a Christian athlete seldom found a Christian
fellowship on his team or in his sport. For the most part they
had an individual witness such as Stan Smith in tennis, Gary
Player in golf, Rafer Johnson in track, and Bob Pettit and Bill
Bradley in basketball. Some like Fran Tarkenton wrote tracts
which spoke about their faith. Others like Kermit Zarley and Babe
Hiskey formed their own Tour Bible study of two golfers. Early on
the one watershed organization for all of them was the Fellowship
of Christian Athletes. By the 1970's other similar organizations
appeared and Sport Illustrated referred to sports getting
religion as "Sportianity." By the end of the Century
when the roots of the first one hundred sports ministries were
traced, over half were born out of the FCA.
The sports arena soon became the most visible pulpit for the
born-againers. Their off-the-field activities and media
interviews provided an opportunity for them to take a stand for
Christ, and they did it as never before. While the Dallas Cowboys
were known as "America's Team," most Christians had
seen head coach Tom Landry and QB Roger Staubach on the speaker's
platform at a Billy Graham Crusade. Offensive tackle Norm Evans
at TCU, the Miami Dolphins, and the Seattle Seahawks was always
known for his testimony. Bill Glass, a former Cleveland Brown's
defensive end, was a successful evangelist. Archie Griffin, the
only college football player to win the Heisman trophy twice,
began giving his testimony in local churches around Ohio. Rev.
Billy Zeoli, President Ford's personal pastor, was the most
popular sports chapel speaker.
The first sports ministry to its athletes was Baseball Chapel.
It was founded in 1972 from the vision of a retired sportswriter
Watson Spoelstra, who had a passion to help Christian baseball
players with their spiritual walk. By 1976 the organization
established the Danny Thompson Award for "exemplary
Christian spirit in baseball." It was given in honor and
memory of Danny Thompson, who played for the Twins and the
Rangers before leukemia took his life in 1976. Over the course of
time Baseball Chapel has reached just about every major and minor
league professional team.
Campus Crusade initiated a basketball schedule with Christian
athletes, who gave an evangelistic half-time presentation to the
fans. They were known as Athletes in Action. The team barnstormed
the country with former college players. Over 100,000 watched
their games live and another 20 million saw their televised games.
By 1976 A-I-A had a staff over 250 men.
The movement spawned other groups like Pro Athletes Outreach
which was headed by Arlis Priest. Wes Neal, a former A-I-A,
founded the Institute for Athletic Perfection, which applied
biblical principles in athletic manuals for coaches and players.
Jerry Lucas, the All-American boy every place at Middletown,
Ohio, Ohio State, and the New York Knicks, wrote The Memory Book
and Theomatics, which showed clear evidence that a Christian
athlete wasn't just a dumb jock with blind faith.
By the mid-70's most of the professional and college teams had
some sort of chapel or team prayer before their games. Probably
none was as famous as Notre Dame. When a priest led the team
prayer, there was always hope for a miracle finish on a "Hail
Mary" pass. And of course the mosaic in the end zone of
Jesus with his hands raised became known as "Touchdown Jesus."
How could the Fighting Irish lose?
The Christian witness wasn't only on the playing field. By the
end of the decade the most common visual witness was the John 3:16
signs in the stands. The most discernible sign-bearer in his
rainbow wig was Rockin' Rollen Stewart. He aligned his John 3:16
sign and T-shirt with the television cameras behind home plate,
in the end zone, or over the green. He made himself a spectacle
at the Super Bowl, World Series, Miss America pageant, NBA
championship, and over 30 PGA events. He even was paid to do an
Anheuser-Busch beer commercial. Rockin' Rollen helped make the
John 3:16 sign as common a sports legacy as the placards rooting
for the home team.
By the 1980's hardly a college or pro game was played without
a Bible verse message on a sign or a bed sheet in the stands.
This author watched the 1984 USA Olympic hockey team play the
Russian team at Richfield Coliseum near Cleveland. A bed sheet
was hanging near the scoreboard on the top level with a sign in
Cyrillic letters. He climbed up to ask two spectators near the
sign what it said, and they replied, "It's John 3:16 in
On the coaching staff at Ashland High School in Ohio the head
tennis coach, the head baseball coach, and consecutive head
football coaches began attending home Bible studies and the same
Grace Brethren Church. All four coaches were born again by the
mid-70's. One of the football coaches was convicted by the verse
John 16:8, and he realized prostrate at the foot of the Cross
that he was a sinner unworthy to even raise up and kiss the feet
of the Savior. That coach was this author, who began working on
The born again epoch had some other special manifestations
that marked another shift in the Republic's religious landscape.
First, the "new evangelicalism," was what some said
just a reborn version of the old fundamentalism with the same
principles, but it now appealed to Northerners, the well-educated,
and the middle-class. The writers and apologists presented a
scholarly, historical, and intellectual defense of Christianity.
Josh McDowell in Evidence That Demands A Verdict detailed a long
list of OT Messianic prophecies that Jesus Christ fulfilled, and
he challenged readers with the impossible improbability that the
Scriptures were not correct. Others writers such as C.S. Lewis,
who wrote Mere Christianity, Francis Schaeffer, and Paul Little
of Inter-Varsity became popular defenders of the faith for the
born again evangelicals.
Secondly the new Pentecostalism became known as the "Charismatic
Movement," when it expanded into the mainline Protestant and
Roman Catholic churches. At first almost every denomination
adopted a "cautious openness" toward the movement
except for the resistance from the Southern Baptist Convention
and the Lutheran Missouri Synod. But by the mid-70's the
Episcopalian, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Mennonite
denominations were all referring to the charismatic experience as
a church "renewal." They were even providing special
worship services to practice the gifts of tongues (glossolalia),
interpretations, miracles, and healing. The followers, who were
involved in the charismatic experience, were called "spirit-baptized"
and "spirit-filled" Christians.
As the Charismatic Movement blossomed, believers found plenty
of encouragement from support groups. Oral Roberts University
became known as "the world's first Charismatic university."
Ralph Wilkerson's Melodyland Christian Center with its graduate
school was the most famous Charismatic church in the nation. The
publishing company of Logos International in Plainfield, New
Jersey was the best source for charismatic literature. Regardless
of ones location, a lay person could find a Full Gospel
Businessmen's Fellowship for charismatic worship and to hear
speakers of the same persuasion. Demos Shakerian, an immigrant
from persecution in Turkey and a wealthy California dairyman, was
the founder of FGBMFI. His organization not only reached the
grassroots believer, but it also provided a bridge between the
older Pentecostal churches and the new Charismatic movement. Even
the Charismatic Catholics were warmly praised for their
activities by Pope Paul VI during his 1975 Pentecost Sunday
Nevertheless, the movement was not without criticism. Some
said that the tongues sounded like "gibberish," and
there was an excess of emotion. Hard-liners proclaimed that
"tongues ceased" in I Corinthians 13: 9-10. The
toughest critic was Jerry Falwell. In September of 1977 he
announced, "the modern charismatic movement to be of satanic
origin. We reject tongues as ..unscriptural...and do not permit
our staff to participate in charismatic churches or programs. We
feel that association with a charismatic ministry creates a false
impression that we believe in what they are doing." But,
everyone was reminded that the Apostle Paul said, "do not
forbid speaking in tongues." I Corinthians 14:39
Far and away however, the most widespread influence of the
movement was the "electronic church." Pat Robertson's
Christian Broadcasting Network spent $20 million to broadcast The
700 Club over 130 stations in 1977. The next year CBN spent $50
million for a new communications school, a university, and a
global satellite connection. Nevertheless, another Pentecostal
Oral Roberts built a bigger university, a 10,575-seat sports
arena, $100 million medical center, and a 200-foot Prayer Tower.
Prayer Partners continued to supply "seed faith" money
for the multi-million dollar City of Faith in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
From Charlotte, N.C. Jim and Tammy Bakker's PTL (People That Love
or Praise The Lord) made a meteoric rise with an estimated 20
million viewers on 181 stations and 4000 cable systems in 1977.
The dominant topics for most Pentecostal broadcasts were the work
of the Holy Spirit and the coming day of judgment.
By the late 70's the TV church had an estimated billion-dollar
revenue, and it was judged that 90 percent had either an
evangelical or Pentecostal countenance. Their audience, the
supposedly 60 million unchurched in America, was given what was
referred to as "armchair religion." Rev. William Fore
of the National Council of Churches expressed the major concern
for the situation when he said, "What worries me is whether
the "electronic church" is in fact pulling people away
from the local church, whether it is substituting an anonymous
and therefore undemanding commitment for the kind of person-to-person
involvement and group commitment that is the essence of the local
Possibly the biggest shift in directions for American
Christians during the born again era resulted in the birth of the
Moral Majority. A negative worldview was growing because of the
threats from world hunger, pollution, diminishing energy sources,
nuclear proliferation, and international terrorism. While
Americans were facing inflation, high interest rates, and a gas
shortage, several responses took place in the face of the so-called
The most remembered response was President Jimmy Carter's
"malaise" speech on July 15, 1979. In a nationally
televised chat with 65 million viewers he said that Americans
were facing a "crisis in confidence." He attempted to
inject morality and faith into public life. He said that the
direction could be fixed by "faith in each other, faith in
our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this
nation." Americans were stunned. His approval rating began
to plummet, however his inability to get the hostages out of Iran
caused much of the doubt in his ability to lead the nation.
A second response came from Christians, who decided to pray
for Washington, DC. While some had gathered in 1979, a major
prayer rally called "Washington for Jesus" was planned
for April 29, 1980. It was the heart felt response of Pastor John
Gimenez of Rock Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The date was
the anniversary of Chaplain Hunt's prayer at Cape Henry in 1607.
Many evangelical leaders from Bill Bright to Pat Robertson backed
the march to the Mall. The focal verse was "If my people who
are called by my name will humble themselves and pray....I will
heal their land." (II Chronicles 7:14). For twelve straight
hours an estimated 500 thousand people showed up to pray. It was
an extraordinary day of cooperation and participation by Christians.
In an unprecedented shift Christians were challenged to get
involved in government and politics. The key issues that had
caused their disenchantment with the government were over school
prayer and Bible reading, abortion, pornography, and equal rights.
Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell led the call for political action.
In 1979 Falwell took over the Moral Majority. He called for
Christians to register and vote, and for conservative Christian
candidates to run for public offices. By the fall of 1980 they
had nearly a half-million members and a war chest of a million
dollars. The evangelicals, who were sympathetic to the born again
Jimmy Carter, drifted toward the Republican Party and their
candidate Ronald Reagan.
One other major response to the secularization and morality of
the nation was the Christian school movement. In 1972 the Supreme
Court decided in favor of the Wisconsin Amish in the Yoder case.
William B. Ball, a lawyer from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, argued
that "the Amish right to practice their faith was more
crucial than the state's claim to set educational requirements."
The landmark decision encouraged the growth of Christian schools.
The National Observer (Jan. 15, 1977) reported that it was "the
most significant trend in American education." These schools
grew from 652 in 1971 to over 10,000 by 1979. Bible-believing
evangelicals were the main force behind the objections to the man-centered
values that were being taught in the public schools.
They argued that the first premise in public education was to
leave God out of the classroom, and that secular humanism had
taken over education. After the US Supreme Court ruled "secular
humanism as a religion," the US House of Representatives
even passed an anti-secular-humanism amendment in 1976. However
it died, when the Senate failed to act on it.
Another objection along the same lines was the teaching of
evolution as a "scientific fact," and the omission of
any discussion of Biblical creation. Christians did not advocate
abolishing evolution from the curriculum; they asked for equal
time while teaching both ideas. The State Legislatures in
Arkansas and Louisiana passed acts requiring equal time to
creation science and evolution. However the courts struck down
both acts, and they based their decision on the "establishment
clause" from the First Amendment.
A subtler issue was what information was in the textbooks. Mel
and Norma Gabler, an evangelical Christian couple from Longview,
Texas, began exposing the content and topical selections in the
textbooks. They pointed out the liberal bias including the "value-free"
education ideas of situation ethics and relativism in morals.
Their most famous exposure was the 5th grade history book that
had seven pages on Marilyn Monroe and nothing on Presidents
Kennedy, Johnson, or Nixon. The Gabler's crusade was written in
their book What Are They Teaching Our Children?.
The Texas textbook watchdogs drew the attention of writers,
publishing companies, and national radio and television shows
like "60 Minutes," "Today Show," and "Phil
Donahue." School officials and State curriculum leaders
began taking a closer look at the textbooks. Terrell Bell, who
had been the US Secretary of Education, even said that the
textbooks had been "dumbed down." The Gabler's became a
favorite target of Norman Lear's People for the American Way (PAW).
Meanwhile the classroom teachers began better scrutinizing their
textbooks for errors and suggestive literary positions.
However, many saw good signs for the future of young people
with the enthusiastic, large crowds at the Jesus festivals.
Easter weekend in Orlando, Florida attracted over twenty thousand
to "Jesus 77." During that summer there were Jesus
music festivals in a half-a-dozen states, and "Ichthus 77"
near Ephrata, Pennsylvania attracted almost 100,000 campers.
Another good sign was the increased Bible sales with the very
popular New International Version, the eighth translation of the
Bible since W.W.II. The Iron Curtain was opened a bit when Billy
Graham made the first evangelical trips to Hungary in 1977 and
Poland in 1978. While Evangelicals believed only Christ's return
would solve the world's problems, they concluded that mankind
still had a moral duty to slow the earth's decay. They became
active in single-issue causes like abortion, pornography, school
prayer, education, and the bumper sticker campaigns.
On the down side of the revival, while many talked about a
"born again" experience, few joined a church. George
Barna concluded that eighty percent of the church growth was just
"church migration" to another fellowship. Every
mainline denomination lost between 30-50 percent of their members
during the 60's and 70's except the Southern Baptists. The
Seventies were titled the "Me Decade," and Jim Wallis,
editor of Sojourners a more radical Evangelical magazine, said,
"the Evangelical movement is presented in terms of what
Jesus can do for me. It calls many to believe and few to
obedience." Others worried that the Christian lifestyle
wasn't much different from everyone else, who just wanted to be
rich, comfortable, and happy. George Gallup evaluated it this
way, "Religion is increasing its influence on society but
morality is losing its influence. The secular world would seem to
offer abundant evidence that religion is not greatly affecting
Nevertheless, the born again era like the other post-W.W.II
revivals was short and intense. It, too, drew noticeable national
attention from the media. Like the other occurrences it was as if
a wave of the Holy Spirit had rippled over a designated segment
of the population. To those, who had experienced it, the life
changes clearly were "born-from-above" as Jesus had
said in John 3:3.
V. The Moral Right:
The decade of the 1980s opened with tremendous anxiety over the
possibility of a nuclear war. With the United States and the
Soviet Union boasting arsenals of tens of thousands of warheads
dialogue surfaced about the chances for a pre-emptive, Pearl
Harbor type, nuclear strike. When the TV movie The Day After was
viewed on national television, the demonstrations increased for a
"nuclear freeze." The Reagan administration began
talking about an expensive "Stars War" defense system
that would shoot down incoming missiles. President Reagan called
the Soviet Union the "evil empire," and he, even,
threatened to ignore the SALT agreements. Any chances for a
"strategic arms reduction treaty" seemed unlikely.
In Christian circles speculation increased about the
Apocalypse and Armageddon. Billy Graham released a book on the
Approaching Hoofbeats. After the bombing of the Marine barracks
in Beirut prophecy buffs were quick to point out the nearness of
the Kishon valley of Armageddon to southern Lebanon. They, also,
pointed out that Gog of Magog (Ezekiel 38) was from Russia, and
that Moscow was directly north on Jerusalem's line of longitude.
When Israel discovered a planned, surprise Soviet attack from
Lebanon in August of 1982, fears increased about the possible
Communist advances into the oil-rich Middle East.
Since their beginning Israel always had a friend in the United
States. The US was first to recognize the State of Israel and
quick to send the best military equipment. President Nixon turned
the tide of the 1973 Yom Kippur War be sending military aid.
President Carter negotiated the 1978 Camp David Accords, the
first Arab-Israeli agreement, for which only Sadat and Begin
received the Nobel Peace Prize. Israel was receiving more in US
foreign aid than any other country. It was a surety that if
anyone invaded Israel the United States would join what they
considered a righteous cause.
For all the doomsday talk around the world scene the domestic-political
picture was just the opposite. With the election of Republican
President Ronald Reagan the conservative Christians were
optimistic that the government would return to the traditional
values of earlier days. They hoped that the Reagan administration
would reverse abortion, endorse school prayer, support financial
aid to parochial and Christian schools, even send a
representative to the Vatican, and help to cleanup the sex
obsessed society created by television and Hollywood. The great
irony was that they pinned their hopes on the only divorced
President in US history, who made his name in Hollywood.
The conservative agenda for traditional values was the most
ambitious religious-political movement of the 20th Century. The
only family structure that they preferred was a lifetime
monogamous marriage of a husband, who was the bread winner, and a
wife, who was the homemaker. They disapproved of the homosexual
lifestyle and the "feminist" ERA Amendment saying that
both eroded the traditional family. They objected to the sex
education programs in public schools because it failed to promote
abstinence before marriage or to decry any sex outside of
The conservative's platform included several other issues that
undermined their family values. They were fervently anti-abortionists,
who preferred adoption as a better choice for unwanted children.
They protested the use of their federal tax dollars to fund
abortion clinics and to use Medicaid payments for abortions. They
wanted commercial television with its violence and suggestive
sexual advertising cleansed. They opposed pornography and called
for stiffer laws to punish the creators and distributors of such
literature, films, and videotapes. They, also, cried out for some
sort of major federal program to stop the flow and use of illegal
drugs. On their behalf national surveys showed that a high
percentage of Americans, also, favored their positions on values.
The right wing conservative Christians began working through
political action committees (PAC) to inform, persuade, and lobby
for their concerns. Three organizations of the "New
Christian Right" were formed in 1979. Obviously, the most
powerful and notable was the Moral Majority, founded by Jerry
Falwell. After Falwell lost credibility for calling Desmond Tutu
a "phony," it was renamed the Liberty Foundation and
headed by Atlanta businessman Jerry Nims. The Christian Voice
compiled the voting record or "Congressional Score Card"
of the candidates and provided a list of approved and disapproved
candidates, who supported conservative issues. The Roundtable,
once called the Religious Roundtable, was a quarterly two-day
meeting of 150 major conservative and fundamentalist Christian
leaders, who were briefed on key issues which they could pass on
the information to their flocks.
Some other political actions organizations were led by women.
Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum worked to defeat the ERA
Amendment, and Connaught Marshner headed the Library Court, which
spearheaded the failed Family Protection Act. Both organizations
campaigned to get an anti-abortion amendment passed. A third
women's group founded in 1979 was Beverly LaHaye's Concerned
Women for America (CWA). This organization has focused their
efforts on marriage and family workshops.
The most radical idea to change US society came from the
reconstructionist movement. The term was coined by Gary North,
who founded their Journal. Their think tank was the Chalcedon
Foundation at Vallecito, California. The Christian
Reconstructionists believed that the whole American society
should be "reconstructed" to conform to God's law. With
an aggressive fervency they have called for a theocracy to
Christianize all aspects of American life.
Any discussion of the "moral right" and those who
call for a righteous lifestyle must include the Roman Catholic
Church and particularly their worldwide leader Pope John Paul II.
While many of the American Catholics disagree with him, this Pope
has certainly made his position known on ethics and the
lifestyles of this age. However any considerations on the
contemporary Catholic Church must involve Vatican II.
Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council (1962-65),
and they made several changes in their church life. First, the
Mass was permitted in English, and the priest faced the
congregation more times during the service. Lay people were
permitted to serve in the worship service. The obligation of fish
for the Friday meal was rescinded. Nevertheless, priests were
still consider the go-between to reconcile, to forgive, to hear
confession of the sins, and to make sacrifices for the laity
"in the name of Christ."
Some other doctrinal positions were reaffirmed, especially the
"infallibility" of the Pontiff. The dogma of purgatory
and prayers for the dead continued. The veneration of Mary was
upheld, and her station as sinless, a perpetual virgin, and a co-laborer
in the atonement was corroborated. The doctrines of her
immaculate conception and her resurrection "incorruptible"
to heaven where she reigns as queen were also upheld.
The most revolutionary development was the ecumenical feature
toward Protestants, who in times past were declared heretics, but
the council referred to them as "separated brethren."
While the door of reunion was opened, the council made it clear
that the "other Christians" had to return to the
Catholic Church, the one true church. Vatican II maintained that
baptism was the basis for Christian unity, however the council
still perpetuated the necessity of baptism for salvation.
In 1978 Karol Wojtyla, who spoke eight times at Vatican II,
was selected Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian Pope in 456
years. He had studied for the priesthood at an illegal
underground seminary during the Nazi occupation of Poland. He,
also, had risked his life to help Jews escape from the Germans.
After the war he spent much time ministering to Polish refugees
in Western Europe. By 1967 he was given a Cardinal's red hat.
In the years after his election Pope John Paul II gained
tremendous influence and popularity. While his flock numbers one
billion baptized members, his opinions have had a global impact.
Not only has his charismatic personality won followers, but he
has traveled over a half a million miles to win admirers
worldwide. He has become a strong moral force and has used his
papacy to stand for conservative policies.
In 1994 he released Crossing the Threshold of Hope, which
covered topics from the existence of God to the mistreatment of
women. At the Cairo International Population Conference he used
his influence to defeat a US-backed proposition to encourage
abortions worldwide. Also that year, his most powerful
publication "Evangelium Vitae" or "Gospel of Life"
was published. The 200-page encyclical addressed the "culture
of life" which affirmed human life from conception to death.
He, also, condemned the "culture of death" which
supported abortion rights, euthanasia, capital punishment, and
the use of human embryos for medical research.
Nevertheless the people in the American Catholic Church have
some different views on sexual morality from that of the Roman
Church and their Pope. The Church disapproves of abortion, birth
control, premarital sex, extramarital affairs, homosexuality,
divorce, and remarriage. According to the Gallup polls American
Catholics for the most part have the same opinions of these
issues as the American Protestants and the non-Catholics. They
accept abortions in cases or rape, incest, and fetal defects
especially when the mother's health is endangered. Birth control
is a very testy issue. By 1990 ninety percent of the American
Catholics under age 50 favored artificial birth control for
family planning, and the practice is widespread. Their standard
rebuttal is always, "The Pope doesn't play the game, so he
shouldn't make the rules."
A second issue of contention between the Church and the
American Catholics is the divorce policy. The Church does not
recognize divorce, however it permits the long and expensive
policy called annulments. The procedure alleges that the marriage
really never took place. The practice get touchy when children
have been born during the marriage. The Church does not recognize
remarriage, and it teaches that remarried couples are living in
sin. Divorced Catholics are not suppose to receive the Eucharist,
but many local priest overlook the status of their divorced and
remarried parishioner when they administer the Sacraments.
Meanwhile many American Catholics have changed their minds about
divorce and remarriage, and they tend to believe along the same
line as other Americans in their acceptance of the matter.
In the same vein the Church's position on priests and nuns has
come under sharp criticism. The Church's strong official policy
is no married priests and no female priests. While there has been
a steady decline in men and women entering the Catholic ministry
especially since the 1960's, there has been a increasingly strong
support among American Catholics for both the ordination of women
and the permission for priests to marry.
While the Church teaches that sex outside of marriage is
wrong, most Catholic would prefer abstinence, but premarital
experimentation has become more accepted. However, when it comes
to homosexuality and extra-marital affairs, the Church and its
members still strongly disapprove of both.
The Catholics with one-fourth of the US population are the
largest single group of religious people in the country. Their
parochial school system with 2.6 million (1997) students is the
largest and strongest training ground outside the public schools
in the nation. Historically from the earliest days in this
country they have been a politically active people. They have
held many elected public offices and exerted a strong influence
at every level of government. The most recent achievement being
VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro, the first female candidate for a
major party office (1984). Regardless of whether the lay people
agree with their Church or their Pope everyone is aware of the
powerful moral influence and the ethical stance expected by the
Catholics. They are a stronghold for the conservatives and the
religious right in this Republic.
By far the most influential American Catholic position has
become the Archbishop of New York at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Cardinal Francis Spellman, who held the position from 1939 to
1967, elevated the position to one of international power and
respect. He was a friend of Popes, Presidents, and politicians.
Author John Cooney called him "The American Pope." In
1939 Spellman was appointed military vicar of the US armed forces.
He served through World War II and the Korean War. In 1951 he
began the practice of spending Christmas with the troops overseas.
Cardinal Spellman started the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation
Dinner as a fund raiser for Catholic buildings. It has become one
of the most significant annual political banquets in the nation.
He was, also, a close friend of Pope Pius XII. In his endearing
brilliant career Cardinal Spellman met world leaders from Europe
to Asia. He was one of the great Americans of his era.
During the 1980's a movement for lay people Christ Renews His
Parish swept across the country. It was a weekend retreat at the
parish in which everyone discussed their spiritual journey.
Everyone kept a personal journal and emphasis was placed on
sharing, discernment, confession, reconciliation, and a closer
relationship with Jesus Christ. Several gave their personal
testimony. Each group gave a skit and made a poster. The closing
ceremony was a Sunday morning service including the Eucharist.
The retreats were for men and women separately. After one's first
retreat you were expected to form the leadership team for the
next retreat in six months. One uniqueness of the experience was
that Protestants were invited to participate. This author was
involved in two such retreats at St. Edward's Catholic Church in
Ashland, Ohio in 1981.
Since this author attends a Catholic funeral or service just
about every year, this is a personal observation. The liturgy
certainly has all the right words that salvation is based on
Jesus Christ's death on the cross for our sins. However when it
comes to the Eucharist at the closing, invariably everyone takes
the wafer or the bread, but almost everyone skips the Cup. Now in
their doctrine the Cup is the actual blood of Jesus Christ (transubstantiation
- John 6). Then, why do so many Catholic skip it? Is it corrupted
or diseased? The command for the Lord's Supper in I Corinthians
11 is "do this in remembrance...and to proclaim the Lord's
death." To my Catholic friends this author must say, "If
the crucified Christ's blood pays for our sins to get us into
heaven, then why omit the most important part of the worship
This is one final observation for my evangelical friends about
the Catholics. The evangelicals complain that the sermons are too
short, and that the Scripture is not chapter and verse. The
congregation usually only hears, "reading from the book of
Romans." On the other hand this author appreciates the style
of worship in the Catholic liturgy. The congregation always has a
chance for confession. They, also, always have an opportunity to
humbly kneel in prayer. For the differences in both camps Chuck
Colson said it best in his book The Body, "Historically,
Protestants have done a better job of making visible the
spiritual reality of the Word in preaching, while Catholics have
better made visible the spiritual reality of worship." Amen!
By 1987 the fulfillment of the Righteous Right's goals seemed
right around the corner, if another Republican President could be
elected. The "electronic church" was reaching 100 to
130 million people with their message, and one of their own Pat
Robertson, a "religious broadcaster" not a TV
evangelist, had entered the Presidential race. The Supreme Court
might be within their grasp if George Bush could win twice, then
the abortion decision might be reversed.
At that time the momentum of the "Moral Right" was
broken by the prime time scandals that exposed two of their most
successful TV evangelists: Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. At
first a "holy war" ensued over Bakker and John Wesley
Fletcher's "tryst" with Jessica Hahn. The sleazy
details were uncovered in every major publication from Time and
Newsweek to Christianity Today. Evangelist John Ankerberg went on
national TV to expand the accusations against Bakker and his
staff. Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart each offered to "takeover"
and to direct the PTL ministry.
Next, in February 1988, Jimmy Swaggart in a tearful confession
to millions of TV viewers spoke to his family, his followers and
God about his own sexual sins with prostitutes and pornography.
He centered his appeal on the need for universal forgiveness for
everyone. While no one could see a broken and contrite heart,
they certainly heard a crying confession. Unfortunately three
year later, 1991, Swaggart was caught in traffic violation
accompanied by a known prostitute. His ministry of over 200
stations, in 145 countries, and an annual revenue of $140 million
apparently came to an end.
During that time Jim and Tammy Bakker were banished from the
Assemblies of God ministry. The PTL including Heritage USA filed
for federal bankruptcy protection. Later, Heritage USA was
purchased by an Orthodox Jewish developer from Canada. Bakker was
prosecuted for fraud, sentenced to prison for 45 years, and
served almost five years. Tammy Fay divorced him and married Roe
Messner, the builder of Heritage USA. Jessica Hahn posed nude
twice for Playboy.
After Jim Bakker was released from prison, his book I Was
Wrong was published. He admitted to wrongfully preaching a "prosperity
gospel," while the PTL collected $500 million dollars. He is
now working on a new 24-hour TV healing ministry with former
Green Bay Packer great Reggie White.
While Jim Bakker was trying to raise a million dollars every
other day, Oral Roberts, the most successful fund raiser among TV
evangelists, made the boldest announcement of all. Roberts
declared that the City of Faith medical school needed $8 millions
or "God will kill me." The outside world mocked and
jeered him. He entered the ORU Prayer Tower to fast and pray, and
miraculously the donors gave the money in one week. Nevertheless,
it was just another contributing factor in what Michael D'Antonio
called the "Fall From Grace: the Failed Crusade of the
The fallout from the scandals resulted in several consequences
to the cause of conservative Christianity. First was the impact
on Christian television. According to Jeffrey K. Hadden, a long-time
Christian TV analyst, the market was being saturated because of
dissatisfaction with commercial television, and PBS was the only
other alternative choice for like-minded viewers. However, the
audience was not pleased with the continual fund-raising appeals
or the increasing political involvement of the televangelists.
While the broadcasters claimed that their primary goal was
evangelism - soul winning, the message did not match the viewing
audience. Studies agreed that the majority of the viewers were
Southern and Midwestern Christian women, who were over 50 years
of age. Most of the viewers were regular church attenders, who
financial supported their local church. The only viewers, who
substituted TV for their local church, were the elderly,
handicapped, or young mothers with children. Clearly, one
statistic that broadcaster did not want to hear was that the
viewer estimates were inflated, and their ratings deserved to be
Marshall Fishwick referred to the whole escapade as "the
Rape of the Vunerable," but it became obvious that the
scandal only wounded the industry. With the core of Christianity
being confession and forgiveness Christian TV survives and even
thrives. The National Religious Broadcasters and the Financial
Evangelical Council for Accountability (ECFA) tightened their
standards to help regulate the industry.
One new Christian TV idea is the Faith and Values Channel
which merged with the Southern Baptists' American Christian
Television System in 1992. They have three appealing features.
They have no on-air solicitation for funds, no attempt to make
converts, and no attacking other faiths. It is a coalition of
fifty religious groups (Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox,
During this time the 1988 Presidential campaign had several
revelations of misconduct. Democrat Gary Hart was forced to
withdraw because of his affair with Donna Rice. Innuendoes became
prevalent that the hero of Camelot President JFK was a womanizer.
Finally, a bombshell fell on the Christian Right and Pat
Robertson. The press learned that Pat and Dede were expecting
their first child on their wedding day. He admitted the
pregnancy, but he tried to soothe over their premarital behavior
by saying that they had not yet been born again. When he withdrew
from the political race, it was another setback to the activism
of the Christian Right. The next year the Moral Majority went out
of business, and some said that it was the death knell to the
In 1989 Pat Robertson founded the Christian Coalition for
grassroots activism and hired Ralph Reed as the Executive
Director. Reed said, "The Christian community got it
backwards in the 1980's, we tried to change Washington when we
should have been focusing on the states. The real battles of
concern to Christians are in neighborhoods, school boards, city
councils, and state legislatures." Their goal was to
organize the 175,000 precincts and carry the fight to the local
level. They were more flexible than the Moral Majority, less
dogmatic, and more willing to compromise.
Another post-Reagan Christian-right organization was the
Family Research Council directed by Gary Bauer, a former top aide
to Reagan's Education Secretary William Bennett. The FRC was
formed in 1988 by Dr. James Dobson, who has the nation's second
largest radio voice of over 1450 stations, with his Focus on the
Family. Dr. Dobson gained national attention with his conversion
stories of basketball phenom Pete Maravich and serial killer Ted
Bundy. His group has focused on family issues such as no-fault
divorce, tax breaks for families with pre-school children, and
welfare policies for unmarried mothers. FRC has tried to avoid
foreign affairs, and centered on the American family and the
Judeo-Christian heritage of this nation. Their goal according to
Bauer is to become "the premier experts on the family and
family issues," so they can provide research data to
policymakers in Washington, DC.
While some have claimed that the Christian Right's campaign
failed, it has accomplished what third parties can only hope to
achieve in politics that of getting their issues before the two
major parties' platforms. They have clearly realigned the
Republican Party. In 1982 about one-third of the evangelical
voters called themselves Republicans. In the 1994 mid-term
elections 74% voted Republican and made them the majority party
in the 104th Congress for the first time since 1955.
The Republican's Contract with America, the legislative social
agenda under Newt Gingrich, was mildly accepted by the
conservative religious groups. While their intentions of "turning
the nation around to public acts of piety," the primary
issues of the Christian Right were on the back burner of
Congress' priority list.
Clearly the traditional cornerstone for the Christian Right
was overturning the Roe-Wade abortion decision. The battleground
was now being defined as Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life or Right-to-Life.
An amendment requiring two-thirds of Congress was hopeless. A
Supreme Court reversal seemed even more remote. The struggle was
limited to funding for "Planned Parenthood" clinics and
to third trimester abortions. Christians offered "Crisis
Pregnancy" centers and Operation Rescue as alternatives. But
as the abortion total neared 40 million by the turn of the
century, Christians painfully ponder whether anything short of a
miracle would change this policy.
The second major issue school prayer has been a hop-scotch
battle between legislative attempts and court decisions over the
separation of church and state. In 1962 the Supreme Court struck
down teacher-led classroom prayers. In 1992 the Supreme Court
ruled that clergy-led graduation prayers were unconstitutional,
too. The next year The Court let student-led prayers at
graduations stand, and in 1997 they permitted student-led prayers
at religious club meetings on school property. However, in June
2000 The Court ruled against the student-led prayer before the
football game at the Santa Fe (Texas) school district.
In 1999 Marian Ward, daughter of a Baptist preacher, won a
court-order to pray before the football games at Santa Fe, Texas.
However in June of 2000, the Supreme Court ruled against the student-led
prayers before the football games. Nevertheless, throughout the South
the fall football season opened with a rebellion against the Court's
decision. Some schools had a non-school sponsored prayer at the flag
pole. At other games the fans "spontaneously" stood up on cue and began
reciting the Lord's prayer. At Batesburg-Leesville (S.C.) the student
body president disobeyed the Supreme Court and led the football fans in a
prayer over the public address system after which the cheered.
In the meantime student-led prayers came to national attention
in Burleson, Texas in 1990. The movement became known as See You
at the Pole. SYATP has grown internationally as students gathered
in front of their schools at the flag pole at 7AM in September to
pray for their school. Advocates for student's right to pray have
argued that their free speech is being denied if the courts
decide against student-initiated prayer in schools.
The recent school violence has revealed the prayerful faith of some
students. The Paducah, Kentucky students were shot during a circular
prayer. At Columbine Cassie Bernall became the most famous student
martyr for her "Yes" answer to the "do you believe in God?" question.
Even editorialists and cartoonists are posing the question, "Why is it
OK to have prayer after the school shootings when it is forbidden before
the violence?" This issue and the other points of debate by the
Christian Right continue to remain unsettled.
From the words of Matthew Moen the political activism of the
Christian Right has "transformed" over the years. At
first they were politically naive with a "kaleidoscopic
structure" usually on single-issue campaigns. As they
developed political savvy, their enemies and the media portrayed
them as narrow-minded bigots far from the mainstream of American
life and politics. Meanwhile, their viewpoint has been
assimilated into the political scene and especially the
Republican establishment, and they have influenced every election
since their birth in 1979. Recently in the 2000 Republican
Presidential campaign John McCain's campaign stalled when he
criticized the "religious Right."
However, their success is cause for concern because as every
Christian historian realizes, "the more involved they are
for social causes, the less motivated they are for purely
spiritual concerns." Chuck Colson has made an astute
parallel to their predicament. He said, "Our well-intentioned
attempts to influence government can become so entangled with a
particular political agenda that it becomes our focus: our goal
becomes maintaining political access. What happens the gospel is
held hostage to the political agenda, and we become part of the
very system we are seeking to change."
VI. The Parachurch Movement:
Parachurch means "alongside the church." Their work is
to augment the churches and the denominations. They are a group
of not-for-profit, non-denominational ministries to aid the
spiritual, mental, and physical needs of people. Although they
operate outside the church, these agencies either seek a
partnership with or at least a sympathetic support from the local
churches. Still since their beginning, the mainline denominations
have generally viewed the parachurch organizations as
antagonistic outsiders or competitors.
During the 1920's the traditional denominations (Methodist,
Baptist, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, and others) sent the
missionaries, printed the Sunday School materials, supplied the
hymnals, and regulated the colleges and seminaries. When the
Scopes Trial over evolution and the modernist-fundamentalist
controversy occurred, the conservative believers, who were still
referred to as "fundamentalists," began withdrawing
from the mainline churches. They shifted into doctrinal
coalitions that are now being called "evangelicals."
By the 1930's they created strongholds where the Gospel could
be spread without liberal leanings and secular enticements. They
founded 30 Bible schools between 1930-40 and 60 more in the next
decade. They used radio programs, youth organizations, and the
printed word to add a new vitality to American Christianity. As
the evangelicals left the mainline denominations, they took their
money and their energies into the new ministries. Furthermore,
their zeal was "to honor God" and to insure that their
work was His work, so they bathed their efforts in prayer. Thus
were the modern parachurch ministries born.
In those days not all the biblical conservatives made the
flight to the right. The ones who stayed had sincere hopes that
their denomination might retreat to a position on the Scriptures
of earlier days. Consequently they found themselves not only on
the fringe of their church family, but embroiled in splits and
schisms and successions. While every major denomination faced
some sort of division or debate, the evangelicals were left with
the alternative to either leave for another denomination or
redirect their zeal into some new organization. They became the
backbone for the parachurch organizations.
In the early days of the modern movement the agencies had a
heart for the young people away from home. Evangelism was their
priority; and servicemen, college students, and the high school
youths were their objectives. The first successful parachurch
organization was Dawson Trotman's The Navigators. His goal was to
evangelize sailors and then make them disciples, who would in
turn evangelize another serviceman. "Daws" was noted
for his follow up techniques of "scripture memory" and
the Billy Graham "counseling" classes. His aim was
"to know Christ and make Him known," so he earned the
title "the apostle of follow-up."
As in so many fields of human endeavors where lives cross each
others paths, they inspire and feed off of each other. W. Cameron
Townsend, a good friend of Dawson Trotman, started the Wycliffe
Bible Translators. It has become the largest missionary
organization in the world. Their students learned linguistic
skills for deciphering unwritten languages; and missiology, cross-cultural
communication, became their evangelistic tool. They have
translated the Scriptures into languages of over seventy
countries of the world.
Quickly, new ministries sprang up with a passion for the young.
The earliest was Evelyn McClusky's Miracle Book Club for Portland
high school students in 1933. Also, new Sunday School materials
came from Gospel Light Press, written by Henrietta Mears, and
from Scripture Press, published by Victor and Bernice Cory. Young
Life was founded by Jim Rayburn to take the gospel message to
youth groups at the high schools. The final three agencies all
continue to operate at the turn of the century.
Historically, the preeminent parachurch organization that has
maintained a creditable reputation for integrity is the Billy
Graham Evangelistic Association. Since their beginning, Billy
Graham and his exemplary team have made decisions that have set
the standards for other groups to emulate. First, they changed
the practice of the evangelist collecting a love offering to just
receiving a regular salary. Another shift was eliminating the
longtime method of criticizing the local church and their pastor
for failing in evangelism. They, also, worked with the local
churches, and they counseled the "inquirers" to attend
a church regularly for discipleship. Perhaps their utmost example
was to form a non-profit corporation, the BGEA, to handle all
their monies and to make an open disclosure of their financial
Over the years, as the BGEA has grown and expanded, they have
taken advantage of every opportunity to preach the gospel. They
have used nationwide radio, films, television, magazines,
newspaper columns, books, and in recent years international
evangelism conferences, satellites, and now the Internet to
preach Christ. Doors have opened to Dr. Graham and his Crusades
where others could not go. Starting in Los Angeles, to London, to
New York, to every continent, behind the Iron Curtain, even to
North Korea, and to the globe where Billy Graham has been able to
proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for sinful
man to hundreds of millions of people.
As other individuals and groups have recognized the need for a
specific ministry, the parachurch movement began to focus on its
role in the body of Christ. They could do things that the local
church and even the denominations could not do. Foremost on the
list was evangelism. With the cooperation of a variety of sources
they could raise the finances and the people to fulfill the Great
Commission. They could devote their energies full-time to a
single project whether it was broadcasting worldwide like the
Trans World Radio or translating the Bible like Wycliffe Bible
Translators or feeding the needy like World Vision.
Over the years the two have realized their need for each other.
The church can not hire a big enough staff or develop enough
programs to reach the world, and the parachurch can only reach
the world with the help of the volunteers and the donors from the
church. However, neither can replace each other.
Joe Maggelet, a Navigator at Ashland University, gave this
warning, "Sometimes they (parachurch groups) become so
narrow and exclusive that they think a chapel service or a Bible
study replaces church." He continued, "We can't do what
the church does in worship and fellowship and administering the
The church needs to guard against the same danger. Sometimes
they (the church) becomes so complacent in ministering to the
same comfortable congregation that they fail to have any outreach.
It appears that the healthiest congregations have a variety of
ministries: local, cross-cultural, national, and international.
Clearly, the single common goal for both the church and the
parachurch is the Great Commission to evangelize the world. In
the author's opinion the best single vehicle has been the Jesus
film. This docudrama was taken from the Gospel of Luke. It was
released in 1979 to US theaters. Since that time, Campus Crusade
has made it the most translated (over 500 languages) and most
viewed film (over 3 billion people) in the history of the world.
It is seen daily by over a quarter of a million people, and over
100 million people have responded to the invitation.
Throughout the 20th Century the number of parachurch
organizations has proliferated so much that well over 10,000
groups exist today. Most of them are so tiny that they have more
people on their governing board than on their mission field. How
effective or how useful they are is not widely known. The main
criteria must be that they have earned the faithfulness of their
donors, so it must be assumed that they have a viable ministry.
The PTL scandal exposed the need for some sort of financial
watchdog or at least a financial disclosure system. It was
Senator Mark Hatfield (Oregon), who called for "a Christian
Better Business Bureau" or face the potential of government
intervention. In 1979 the Evangelical Council for Financial
Accountability (ECFA) was born with their offices in Washington,
DC. They have almost a thousand members, who submit to the EFCA
standards and to the 50-60 random inspections annually. They
feature a Donor's Bill of Rights and a Stewardship Responsibility
to insure truthfulness in conduct and fund raising so as not to
jeopardize their credibility or the IRS tax deductible status of
At the beginning of the 20th Century only a handful of
parachurch organization existed. The Society for Christian
Endeavor was the first national youth organization. It was
founded by Dr. Francis E. Clark in 1881. At the turn of the
century because of fears that the Judeo-Christian values were
being removed from the public schools youth agencies appeared
such as: Boys Scouts of America (1906), 4-H Clubs (1907), Camp
Fire Girls (1910), Girls Scouts of America (1912), and hundreds
of lesser known religious based groups. As the American Republic
enters the 21st Century the parachurch movement has enlarged, and
specialized, and outstretched to the utmost parts of the world.
This is a short list of notable Parachurch Ministries since the
Parachurch Organizations Date: Founder:
Indp Fundm Churches of America 1930
Gospel Light Press 1933 Henrietta Mears
Navigators 1934 Dawson Trotman
Scripture Press 1934 Victor E. Cory
Alcoholics Anonymous 1935 Dr. Bob (Smith) & Bill W. (Wilson)
Wycliffe Bible Translators 1935 Cameron Townsend
Child Evangelism Fellowship 1937 Jesse Irvin Overholtzer
Young Life 1940 Jim Rayburn
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship 1941
(NAE) Nat. Assoc of Evangelicals 1942
National Religious Broadcaster Asc 1944
Youth for Christ 1945
Campus Crusade for Christ 1947 Bill Bright
World Vision 1950 Bob Pierce
BGEA Billy Graham Evang Assoc 1950 Billy Graham
Christian Business Men Committee 1951 Demos Shakarian
Trans World Radio 1952 Paul Freed
FCA Fellowship of Christian Athletes 1954 Don McClanen
National Prayer Breakfast 1955 Abram Vereide
700 Club (CBN) 1961 Pat Robertson
Templeton Foundation Prizes in Religion 1972 John M. Templeton
Baseball Chapel 1972 Watson Spoelstra
Jews for Jesus 1973 Moishe Rosen
Evangelism Explosion 1973 James Kennedy
Intercessors for America 1973 John Beckett,Derek
PTL Club 1974 Jim Bakker
Stephen Ministry 1975 Dr. Kenneth C. Haugk
Prison Fellowship 1976 Chuck Colson
Basic Institute for Youth Conflicts Bill Gothard
Habitat for Humanity 1976 Millard & Linda Fuller
Focus on the Family 1977 James Dobson
American Family Association 1977 Donald Wildmon
Evang Council for Financial Acctblty 1979
Moral Majority 1979 Jerry Falwell
Samaritan's Purse 1980 Franklin Graham
Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation 1983 Arthur DeMoss
Christian Coalition 1989 Ralph Reed
Promise Keepers 1990 Bill McCartney
Internationals USA, Inc 199? Ivanildo Trindade
The meteoric parachurch organization of the 1990's has been
Promise Keepers. It was founded by Bill McCartney, the born
again, former football coach at the University of Colorado. It
was Coach Mac's vision to fill stadiums with men cheering and
praising Jesus Christ. The all-male rallies have been scenes of
hugs, tears, and emotional praises, while men behave like boys
batting beach balls around the stands, doing the wave, and
jumping to Jesus cheers. This evangelical men's movement has
attempted to be a non-denominational, multiracial organization
that calls men to be responsible to Jesus, to their wives and
families, to their church, and to each other. Each man is
challenged to find an "accountability partner," who
will check on him so he becomes a better husband and a better
Critics have pointed out that the cost made attendance mainly
for white males (85%). The women's group NOW has lead small
demonstrations against the "males leadership in marriage"
position. Gay men have objected to the opinion that homosexuality
is a sin. Others have mentioned McCartney's admission of adultery
and his daughter's two sons born out-of-wedlock from two
different men. Nevertheless, it has become the fastest growing
men's organization of the decade with over one million men
attending the conferences annually. Also, a spin-off organization
of Christian women called Praise Keepers has emulated the ideals
of Promise Keepers. They began in Missouri in 1996.
In 1997 Promise Keepers made several major successes. Their
Pastor's Conference in Atlanta was attended by almost 40,000
church leaders which was possibly the largest single gathering of
pastors in the history of the Christian Church. PK went
international with conferences in Canada, New Zealand, and
Australia. In October the rally in Washington, DC at the National
Mall drew an estimated 710,000 men. It was called "Stand in
the Gap: A Sacred Assembly of Men," and it was broadcast
live on C-Span. Since then, Promise Keepers has waved the stadium
fees to attract a more diverse group of men. However, they
continue to stress reconciliation and spiritual renewal as their
No group is too large or too small that it goes unnoticed by
the Creator of the universe. The author is President of a
released-time Bible-in-the-school program which dates back to
1946. It has a corporation's board of 12 trustees. The heart of
the program is two male teachers, who teach the Bible to
elementary kids grades one through four in one school system
north of Ashland, Ohio. Once a week during their lunch hour one
hundred and some kids walk to a nearby church and get a Bible
lesson in some classes under ten students. Insignificant as the
program may seem, it makes one speculate on how many thousands or
millions of little works God is doing all over the world.
The New Testament verse that inspires these church and
parachurch works is Matthew 25:36, "I was naked..sick..in
prison, and you came to me." Every church and hospital has a
chaplain or a visitation program for their patients. Most
communities are reached by the Salvation Army or an interchurch
group that provides food and clothing for the needy. While jail
ministries usually happen at the local level, Chuck Colson
started Prison Fellowship, one of the great parachurch group in
recent years. Most local works have aligned themselves with the
national organization and particularly the Angel Tree project for
the children of the incarcerated.
This author's mother spent almost thirty years at an "Interchurch
Thrift Shop" distributing food, clothing, and money to the
needy. Her kids and grandkids at different times helped sort
clothing or went on food runs with her. When she died in December
of 1999, the work continued and others stepped into the gap.
Lyle Schaller wrote a great statement about these ministries
in his book Innovations in Ministry. In Chapter 2 "Filling
in the Vacuum" he said, "When we look more closely at
the passing ecclesiastical parade, we see individuals, pastors,
missionaries, teachers, leaders, congregations, parachurch
organizations, theological seminaries, publishing houses,
denominational agencies, authors, Christian colleges, and other
institutions dropping out. Everyone, however, is replaced in one
form or another, and the parade continues to grow larger. Nursing
homes and cemeteries are filled with people once identified as
irreplaceable. God continues to raise up both people and
institutions for God's world."
VII. Everyday Everywhere:
The collapse of communism in 1989 astounded the world. During the
last months of the decade revolutions occurred in five Eastern
Bloc dictatorships: Poland, Hungary, East Germany,
Czechoslovakia, and Romania. Two years later the Soviet Union
shattered into 15 pieces. The Cold War was over, and the Berlin
Wall came down. Now only one superpower remained and peace was at
How was the course of history so dramatically reversed?
Everyone praised Mikhail Gorbachev for his policy of glasnost (openness).
Most credited Ronald Reagan for a military buildup with such a
staggering cost that the Soviet Union was bankrupted. Some
believed that Pope John Paul's support of Lech Walesa and the
Solidarity trade union encouraged a chain reaction that toppled
the Eastern Bloc. But a few said that, "It was a miracle of
God through His church."
The clear fact is that church people and ordinary citizens
discovered the most effective non-violent tool of the 20th
Century - the candle. One satellite country after another pierced
the darkness of communism with peaceful candlelight marches. The
flames were ignited by pastors, who called for prayers, masses,
sermons, or just singing hymns and Christmas carols. The crowds
swelled the streets, the town squares, and the churches as they
defied the troops, the tanks, and the Communists regimes. Thus,
as Bud Bultman called it, the Revolution By Candlelight brought
down the Iron Curtain. Barbara Von Der Heydt concurred in her
book Candles Behind The Wall.
But, another curtain was drawn back, and it revealed a never
before realized worldwide persecution of Christians. For years
Richard Wurmbrand, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Georgi Vins had
cried out about the Marxist war on Christianity. As the Siberian
atrocities were being exposed, a flood of blood was unveiled
about the tortured, imprisoned, and martyred Christians around
Two important authors have called attention to these
widespread human right violations against Christians. Nina Shea,
director of the Puebla Program of Religious Freedom, wrote In the
Lion's Den, and Paul Marshall released Their Blood Cries Out.
Their voices caused Ralph Kinney Bennett in a Reader's Digest
article to proclaimed that there is a "Global War on
Christians." And that "Never before have so many
Christians been persecuted for their beliefs. An estimated 200
million to 250 million are at risk in countries where persecution
is most severe."
James and Marti Hefley in their book By Their Blood stated
that "More Christians have been martyred in our century than
during all the other eras of church history combined."
Thanks to the growing awareness of the situation in 1997
Christian leaders set November 16th as the first "International
Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church." There is a great
irony about the countries where the worst persecution occurs (Africa
through Asia). Missions boards are calling this evangelistic
target the "10/40 window." It is the area of Africa and
Asia between 10th and the 40th degree of latitude. Nevertheless
the mission's door appears open more now than at any time of the
Every generation of Christians has been motivated by Matthew
24:14 where Jesus said that "the sign" of His return
and the end of the world would occur when the gospel of the
kingdom was preached in every nation. At the end of the
Millennium it appears that the fulfillment has never been this
close before. In 1988 David Barrett and James Reapsome listed
some 700 plans throughout history to evangelize the world. They
said that 387 were still being pursued.
One of the great ideas for reaching the world is Patrick
Johnstone's book titled Operation World. It is a day-by-day
prayer guide on every nation, people group, agency, and mission's
organization. His calendar is packed with facts and needs to pray
for around the globe. Every believer would agree that the first
step in reaching the world is prayer, and Operation World may be
the best prayer list anywhere. In 1995 Dr. David Barrett
speculated that in excess of 10 million weekly prayer meetings
were being held with 160 million participants.
In the past centuries global evangelism has no overall
coordination or cooperation. But, Ralph Winter founded "the
U.S. Center for World Missions" to help remove any obstacles
to the "hidden or unreached people" groups. Since 1975
in Pasadena, California, mission-related organizations have met
regularly for prayer, discussion, and problem solving. Dr.
Winter, who was inspired by Dawson Trotman and Donald McGavran,
has been considered a man ahead of his time because of this
Dr. Winter has tried to convince Christians that "the key
to a genuine renewal will happen when world missions is the
church's ultimate concern." In 1974 he pointed out that most
of the missionaries and Christian workers (91%) worked mainly to
win nominal Christians to real faith in the Lord where churches
are already established rather than to evangelize unreached
people groups. He estimated that only 9% of the workers are
deployed among the 16,750 unreached people groups. He has
identified the task for missions to recruit missionaries from the
world and not just the West, but from Asia, Africa, and Latin
Meanwhile, in the past two decades several circumstances have
opened areas that were resistant to Christianity. The Muslim
world with the flood of oil wealth has become more secularized
and worldly. The fall of Communism has torn down once impossible
barriers. The emphasis on a global economy has given the gospel a
chance to ride in on the shirttails of international business.
When disasters have occurred, the dollars within American
Christianity have provided not only relief, but Bible tracts have
been passed out to the suffering people. Perhaps the greatest
passageway is the satellite communication system for radio,
television, and the Internet which is reaching every corner of
It could be God's most glorious work of late has been in China
under the Communist Party. When they took over in 1949 there were
an estimated 3.3 million Catholics and 1.8 million Protestants
with 6000 missionaries. During the Communist reign Bibles have
been destroyed, believer's home were looted, and Christians have
been imprisoned, tortured, and killed. The government's record on
human rights violations has been notorious with Tiananmen Square
in 1989 being the most infamous incident.
Nevertheless, researchers estimated in 1990 after 40 years of
atheist indoctrination, there were now 30-75 million Christians
in the country. The growth occurred through itinerant preachers,
house churches, and revivals caused by wars, disasters, and
disillusionment with communism and the old religions. The harvest
has been amazing without Bibles, or missionaries, and with little
evidence of response to Christian broadcasting.
Another breakthrough in the Communist world was in Cuba, the
only Communist country in the Western Hemisphere and the lowest
percentage (44%) of Christians in the Caribbean. In January of
1998 Pope John Paul II made a five-day tour of the nation where
only five percent of the people attend church. The crowds were a
mix of political and religious fervor with "freedom" as
their favorite word. Tens of thousands attended the final Mass in
Havana's Plaza of the Revolution with Fidel Castro seated in the
front row. Believers and non-believers proclaimed that they were
encouraged by the Pope's monumental visit, and missionaries were
even permitted to go door-to-door with catechisms and gospel
tracts of the book of Mark.
For now, the state of world evangelism is cause for rejoicing.
Several web sites on the Internet have made it possible to keep
tract of the progress of the Gospel. Dr. Winter (www.The State of
World Evangelization), Patrick Johnstone, David Barrett, Todd
Johnson of YWAM, and others are keeping Christians informed about
every corner of the globe. The exciting news is that while the
world population is growing at a 1.6 rate Christianity is
expanding at a 2.6 rate. The fastest growing groups are:
Pentecostals and Charismatics 7.3, Evangelicals 5.7, Protestants
2.9, and Roman Catholics 1.2 rate.
Some other exciting facts are that in 1974 Dr. Winter
estimated that one-half of the world had not been reached by the
gospel. In the year 2000 David Barrett now estimates that the
figure for the unreached peoples is down to one-fourth. Dr.
Winter reports that the Bible-believing Evangelicals are 11% of
the world's population, and that the figure is increasing one
percent every 3-4 years.
One of the big questions is: who will paid for these world
missions? Presbyterian Pastor Stephen Crotts' scenario of the
global population in terms of 100 people clearly directs the
responsibility at the USA. He divides the ratio like this: "21
Europeans, 24 persons would be from North and South America, 57
Asians, and eight Africans; 48 would be males and 52 would be
females; 70 would be non-Christians and 30 would be Christians.
Six people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth. All
six would be from the United States, 50 would experience
malnutrition; 70 could not read; one person would be near death,
one person would be about to give birth; 80 would live in poor
housing; one would have a college education; and one would have a
computer. Who can afford to pay for evangelization of the world?
It is us!
A disturbing concern about world missions is the imbalance of
the effort toward the unreached or unevangelized peoples. While
the annual income of the global church members is estimated at 12.3
trillion dollars just $11.4 billion goes for missions. However,
only 114 million dollars or one percent is spent on the 10,000
unreached people groups. Eighty-seven percent of the mission's
dollars goes for work where the Christian church already exists.
Furthermore, of the 420,000 missionaries only 2-3 percent work in
the unreached mission's field.
In spite of that George Barna reports, "America
represents one of the great untapped mission fields in the world
today. North America represents the one continent on which
Christianity is not growing." Each new generation requires a
new evangelistic effort. Thus even longtime Christian areas need
to be re-evangelized in each generation.
The 21st Century US faces a home missions challenge in the
urban areas where the inter-city, the gated apartment complexes,
and the security-minded condos all offer stiff isolation to
outside evangelistic efforts. Also, the non-traditional family
structures such as the singles, the co-habitating couples, the
divorced-single parents, and the gays and lesbians all need a
compassionate effort to win them to Christ. It is still however
historically true that the church tends to flee to the
comfortable, safer, wealthier suburbs.
Meanwhile as the Christian church looks for the "blessed
hope" of the appearing their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
continually the world standard, that the faithful keep their eye
on, is the status of world evangelization from Matthew 24:14.
Nevertheless, believers still maintain a confidence that God is
at work everyday everywhere in every life throughout all of
On the other hand the American church of the 1990's faced some
new changes, too. Lyle Schaller, the foremost observer of
Protestant Christianity over the past 30 years, feels that there
have been more changes in the Protestant church between 1960 and
2000 than there were between the years 1820 to 1960. Among his
over forty books the best description of this transformation is
The Seven-Day-a-Week Church.
During the 1950's three of four adult members belonged to the
same denomination as their parents and grandparents. Their
congregation had one or two Sunday morning worship services with
a Sunday School and the Adult Bible classes during the opposite
hour. Their hymnals and Sunday School materials were published by
the denomination's printing company. Their Minister either
remained at the same church for years or the denomination
shuffled him and others around the district and the state. During
the week the church held a youth meeting, some women's meetings
probably associated with missions, and an occasional church board
meeting. Since the congregation size remained rather constant,
the same building had been used generation after generation.
While the oak pews lasted for years, the only capital
improvements projects were for renovation and for restoration.
The church service, the church calendar, and the church life was
simple, consistent, and comfortable.
In 1955 Donald A. McGavran founded the Church Growth Movement
with his book The Bridges to God. His basic theory was that
people come to Christ in homogeneous groups, and that "people
like to become Christians without crossing racial, linguistic, or
class barriers." At first his principles were used on the
mission field in Third World countries. Then in the 1970's he
taught his ideas to American pastors. Lyle Schaller said, "The
Church Growth Movement was the most influential development of
the decade." McGavran disciples like Peter Wagner, Win and
Charles Arn, and other non-Fuller Seminary experts like Elmer
Towns and Medford Jones began explaining webs and networks in
growing the churches.
By the 1970's these large churches of over 1,000 Sunday
morning worshippers were called the "Megachurches."
During this time the Jesus People and the "baby boomers"
were coming into the church. They were attracted to non-denominational,
evangelical, and charismatic congregations. They desired a Christ-centered
church with Bible-preaching, since many of them had experienced a
life transformed by Jesus Christ.
While bigness was a major concern, the megachurches
compensated by providing a number of congregations within the
congregation, smaller classes, cells, groups, and fellowships.
Their spiritual supermarket could offer a wide range of
specialized ministries. The point of entry was just not the
Sunday morning worship service, but the Saturday night dress-down,
music-centered service, a weeknight Inquirers' class, the youth
program, seniors' support, singles' volleyball, men's basketball,
jail ministry, divorce-recovery, alcohol-rehab, mother's club,
MOPs, a Christian school, and family offerings were all
attractions. Consequently, they needed a larger pastoral staff,
and many had to relocate because of the needed building program
for larger facilities and increased parking requirements.
Although a large sanctuary with multiple services was a
necessity, the centrality of the seven-day-a-week church was
children's ministries according to Lyle Schaller. A two or three
day-a-week pre-school was the easiest entry for any size church
into weekday ministries. A Christian elementary school and a home
schooling program could usually be accomplished by doubling up
with the Sunday School classrooms. The non-church addition that
required the congregation to reach out for ministry was a
gymnasium. However, it needed a crossover name such as the
activity center, or the family life center, or the multi-purpose
room, or just a fellowship hall for church gatherings after
church, a wedding, or funerals. Outside of the sanctuary this
building became the key bridge to the community. Thus, the seven-day-week
church was born.
Peter Wagner pointed out that "the Pastor is
unquestionably the key to the growth in churches." His
tenure was at least twenty years at most of the megachurches. He
was usually a dynamic preacher, who centered on the Scriptures;
and he was a CEO-type with a vision for growth. Likewise, he had
a congregation with a passion for evangelism and for inviting new
people to their church. They, too, had a vision for people needs,
and the term "lay-driven ministries" began appearing in
church growth circles.
Nevertheless, in many cases the megachurch is known for the
messenger and not the ministry such as Jerry Falwell rather than
Thomas Road Baptist Church of Lynchburg, Virginia. Jack Hyles at
Hammond First Baptist, Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel, Tommy
Barnett at Phoenix First Assembly of God, Dr. Richard Jackson at
North Phoenix Baptist Church, John MacArthur at Grace Community
Church, Rick Warren at Saddleback Valley in Orange County, Calif.,
Robert Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral, Leith Anderson at
Wooddale Church, Ross Rhoads at Calvary Church in Charlotte,
North Carolina, and Knute Larson at The Chapel in Akron, Ohio
were just a few of the top names at megachurches.
One of the biggest attractions among the megachurches is the
Willow Creek Church in South Barrington, Illinois. It was founded
by Bill Hybels in 1975 in a motion picture theater. At the turn
of the century Willow Creek is now the largest Protestant church
in the nation averaging over 17,000 people a week. Lyle Schaller
called it, "the most widely studied, the most controversial,
the most publicized, and the most copied church in North America."
Their top priority has been reaching the unchurched adults,
who displayed no interest in the traditional church or church
service. Willow Creek's approach is to the boomer generation, who
sees the uncertainty of modern life and experiences the
dysfunctional episodes of family life. Their staff assumes that
many have broken relationships and are in need of healing.
Consequently, most of the four weekend services are for "seekers"
When one drives up to this church, it is as if the traffic
cops and parking lot attendants are directing you into a sports
stadium or a rock concert. As one nears the building, it doesn't
seem like church, but a 120-acre suburban business headquarters.
Inside there are no greeters only information centers where
"community updates" are passed out. The auditorium and
the seating are more like a movie theater with a large video
screen up front. There are no hymnals or religious decorations.
To that point everything is very user friendly to the non-church
The service begins with non-participation, upbeat music and
usually includes a dramatic skit. There is no liturgical type of
involvement, and the attender is only gradually and moderately
drawn into the singing portion. The 35-minute message (sermon)
deals mainly with the issues of life and a limited amount of
references to Bible passages. The entire program is like the 4,000
to 5,000 people are watching everything on a television screen up
front. One goal is to attract the listener into one of the 250-small
group Bible studies or some further involvement at this church.
As one leaves it is as if they have been to the mall or at least
a religious supermarket that they might return again to do some
spiritual shopping. The "believers" can attend a
midweek service for worship and Bible teaching.
Critics, such as Gregory Pritchard, have questioned the
consumer-oriented approach by Willow Creek as just "theological
engineering" that appeals with a multi-media method of
delivery. Marshall Fishwick, also, points out that the new mass
culture has electronically consumerized and "McDonaldized"
the church. That "Big Mac" and "Big Jesus"
are being marketed with fast, high-tech versions that are feeding
the church growth movement. Their observations are a kin to
Marshall McLuhan's theory that "the medium is the message."
Others contend that since the traditional worship is left out
of the Willow Creek seekers service subsequently a "nonworship
epidemic" is being fostered at all the copycat churches.
Since the attenders are not being called on to participate or
directly respond in worship, they do not have a chance to engage
in a relationship with God through Christ.
To his detractors Pastor Hybels points out, "At Willow
Creek I preach about sin. I use the 'S-word." He identifies
the Willow Creek theology with Wheaton College and the Billy
Graham Evangelical Association. One Grace Brethren pastor, who
has heard Hybels preach, said, "He is clear on sin,
salvation, repentance, and redemption." It is also
noteworthy that Pastor Hybels has been one of President Clinton's
spiritual accountability partners since the Lewinsky escapade.
During the rapid growth years Willow Creek and most of the
megachurches emphasized evangelism and soul-winning. At some
plateau along the way their approach switched to discipleship,
equipping their saints, and care for their members. They then
became known more as a "teaching church." Thus, the
seven-day-a-week ministry became a passion. By the 1990's even
the smaller churches of 500 to a thousand found it easy to
implement the pattern and to have a program for every day of the
In the meantime many pastoral staffs faced several burdens.
First, newcomers were entering the church everyday of the week at
some morning, afternoon, or evening program. According to George
Barna's growth estimates "80% was just church migration."
The staff was having a hard time tracking where these people were
spiritually especially if they only attended and never considered
membership or ministry. Secondly, the church growth resulted in a
large increase in the demand for counseling and care ministries.
As pastors got more involved in their lives, they found too many
of these "church hoppers" were not clear about their
faith in Christ.
One care and assimilation pastor explained it like this,
"There has been no contrite heart, or repentance, or
spiritual transformation. They come in for a quick fix change to
save their marriage or solve a problem with their kids or another
relationship. But they are like II Timothy 3 they have not
experienced the power of God in their life or understand how He
can change their life. They might as well go to a secular
counselor and get one of those self-help programs."
At Saddleback Valley their ministry goes around a four-part
life development process that uses a baseball diamond for an
analogy. Getting to first base means coming to a personal faith
in Christ. After that each base leads to the development of
growing, serving, and sharing Christ. Pastor Rick Warren has
written a church classic for the 1990's titled The Purpose Driven
The single greatest purpose of the church and perhaps the most
important paragraph of this book is the issue of where each
person will spend eternity and how they will get there. This
author's pastor said, "Paul, this is my greatest burden for
each person in our congregation." Throughout the history of
the church and in every generation it has been the concern of the
ages. Even the Apostle Paul said, "I could wish that I
myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my
brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel." (Romans
At no time in history has the message that "Jesus Saves"
been better communicated than in the 20th Century. While it's no
longer on the Burma Shave signs, the idea of conversion and born
again is continually in the media. Even Larry King and Barbara
Walters know how to ask the questions about Jesus Christ as the
Savior. In the summer of 2000 ABC's Peter Jennings promised a
personal search for Jesus. However, he only consulted the
scholarly scoffers of the repugnant Jesus Seminar. After all, the
idea that Jesus is the only way to heaven has come under
During the last half of the 20th Century, the world has become
a village; and we have become next door neighbors. While some
have different gods, our expectations and doctrines have a degree
of similarity. If we are a good person and treat our fellow man
with kindness, and we are sincere in our religion, then surely we
will end up in the same place with some kind of eclectic god.
Beside he or she might really be the same god with different
Another confusing religious discrepancy is the difference
between the Christians and the non-Christians. Among those, who
profess a faith, their lifestyle, their morals, and their divorce
rate isn't any better than the non-believers. In fact everyone
has friends, who do not attend church and are extremely well
behaved. They are faithful to their family and friends. They are
honest in their work and to their employer. In what they say and
do one could not find a more genuine friend or a better person.
In the eyes of the world they may even be preferred to those so-called
"hypocrites" that are seen in churches. How we wish
that some kind of Shechinah glow would surround the believers
rather than the clouds of doubt. The clarity of the issue is
jumbled even more within the Christian church itself.
At this point in his closing the author would like to veer
from the third person to his personal experiences. My family
background is Lutheran and Catholic. Anytime that I attend a
funeral, I continually hear, "Well, he (or she) was baptized
and confirmed so we think he's in heaven." The minister or
priest usually adds some religious standards such as attendance,
service, confession, and some sacraments. In the end the deceased
either deserves or should get into heaven.
As I grew older I attended and belonged to other Protestant
churches. They usually had a strong message about God's love and
forgiveness. I was discipled not to be too judgmental because
God's mercy extends to all people. I was told, "Don't be too
critical of sin since God loves sinners." A faith was
encouraged that a loving God would not be too harsh because hell
is a place reserved for people like Hitler and Stalin.
Also, along my spiritual journey I found that the evangelical
or fundamentalist churches were the best at emphasizing salvation.
Their message is simple that heaven is a free gift. One only
needs a sinner's prayer just inviting Jesus into their heart. By
repeating the preacher's or Sunday School teacher's words they
can be guaranteed eternal life. The fundamentalists usually
include a public declaration of faith such as raising a hand or
going forward at an alter call. Believer's baptism is, also,
accepted as a public witness of faith. But, the method is in
question whether by sprinkling or immersion. Then, is the
immersion once or three times forward or backwards?
When I first realized that Jesus Christ was the way to
salvation, I wanted to tell everybody about it. Some were
persuaded to say a prayer. Others had a polite interest and a
passive agreement with my witness. No one cussed me out or yelled
at me for talking about it. Over the years some are still
involved in a church today, while others lead well-mannered
lives, however they are too busy for spiritual matters. Recently,
an African-American pastor pointed out to me that Jesus only
harvested one-in-four in the sower and the seed story.
As I grew spiritually I, also, realized that witnessing needed
the work of the Holy Spirit. I clearly backed off on my efforts,
while telling myself that I was trying to see the Spirit do a
work. Meanwhile, I was trying to sort out what part comes from
man and how much of the saving of mankind belongs to God.
I have arrived at the conclusion that the 20th Century church
and the parachurch organizations have given the wrong "assurance"
to people. They have placed too much emphasis on the "I have
decided to follow Jesus" and "my" personal
testimony. They have centered on "the choice" and
"the decision" to become Christian. Consequently, so
many testimonies start with "I" did something to get
closer to God.
While 95 percent of Americans say they believe in God, there
is a wide discrepancy between their actions, and their attendance
at worship, and their obedience to the Scriptures. There is also
a large falling away by those, who at some time showed a
spiritual interest or make a profession of faith. I'm afraid that
the dropout rate may be larger than the faithful followers of
Christ. Some might classified them as "nominal," or
"carnal," or "lukewarm" Christians.
I fear that too many people have an assurance that they are
going to heaven because they said a prayer at a church, or at a
rally, or in front of a television, or with a Christian. Others
proclaim their church membership, or that they follow the Ten
Commandments. Some even mention a Sunday School attendance pin,
or throwing a stick in the fire at a church camp out, or throwing
their rock music in a trash can, or a God and Country award from
the Boy Scouts, or that they raised their hand at a meeting. They
major on what they did will get into heaven.
I like the words of Bernard A. Weisberger on the matter, who
said, "Once, the salvation of a soul had been a miracle,
recorded in God's book of life. Now, it was a nightly crowd
performance registered on cards."
Heaven, eternal life, salvation, redemption, the life
hereafter is based totally on what Jesus Christ did on the Cross.
His death, His blood payment, His sacrifice is the only
acceptable payment for our sins. The Apostle Paul wrote in
Philippians Chapter 2 (verses 10 & 11) that at the judgment,
"Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father." To me it is pride and
vain glory for anyone to make any claim that they did something
to get saved. Even our faith should come after Jesus is praised
for what He did on Good Friday. This being the case then all the
glory goes to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy
Spirit. The only thing we get credit for is being a sinner saved
While this is not intended to be a disclaimer to the final
paragraphs, all those religious activities are fine and may well
confirm one's faith and give them assurance. And while salvation
comes only through the blood payment by Jesus Christ on the
Cross, God is a personal God, who has created each person with
unique and individual characteristics. He, also, directs His
works and thoughts toward each human being so that they may come
to know Him personally. As the Psalmist said, "Thou art
acquainted with all my ways....and hast laid thy hand upon me."
(139:3) Nevertheless, I sense that the smartest, and the wisest,
and the most brilliant people haven't been able to write, or say,
or sing, or scratch the surface of His indescribable greatness in
dealing with the billions of people, who are alive and who were
ever born. I trust His promise that He has worked in the life of
every person in history so that all have had an opportunity to
Believers are aware of the mercy and grace and compassion that
gave us this undeserved salvation, and we enjoy the overwhelming
blessing that accompanies this relationship in Christ. We realize
Christ's sacrifice covered our selfishness, and our self-centered
overestimation of our value. While we evangelicals, who were born
again, don't understand why the Holy Spirit moved upon us, our
gratitude goes beyond words. With glad hearts we humbly hope that
all the glory goes to God for driving us to the foot of the Cross
and for the resulting work that changed our lives.
As I have researched this history and particularly the last
three decades my heart is lifted up in thanksgiving for the
privilege of being in Christ during these events. I have sat
under the preaching of Knute Larson, John Teevan, Dan Allan, and
others. I have been inspired to tears by the singing of the
Gaithers, Sandi Patti, Larnell Harris, and others. I have been
enriched by the teachings of Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell, Hal
Lindsey, and others. I have been edified by the witnessing
courses of I Found It, Equipping The Saints, Evangelism
Explosion, the Christian Life and Witness, and others. I have
been blessed by Christ Renews His Parish, FCA conferences,
Promise Keepers, and others. It has been an honor to work on the
Jesus project, the Billy Graham films, his Crusades, and others.
Most of all I have loved being in the local church, the "bride"
The local church and particularly my church Grace Brethren on
West Main in Ashland, Ohio has been where God has intended my
spiritual growth to take place. I have had pastors, who have
loved me and who have watched over my soul to equip me for
service. I have had the pleasure of serving as an elder, a member
of the building committee, a school board member, and a Sunday
School teacher. I have had the joy of giving my tithes and
offerings to the budget and the ministry goals of this church.
Many of my dearest friends have a common bond in Christ at our
church. Most of all I have been blessed by the music and the
preaching to worship my Lord and my Savior weekly at this church.
Throughout my teaching career I was forced to evaluate numerous
textbooks. I came to the conclusion that single author texts
usually missed some topics and information. Now that I have
written and researched this book, I did what I never thought was
a good practice - a single author text. However, this book is
intended to a "supplement" not your basic survey
textbook. Consequently, I admit that areas may be lacking or some
topics are excessive. I see that three chapters on the 20th
Century take up almost half the wordage. Nevertheless, I will
accept any criticism or suggestions for inclusions.
Secondly, this nation has had so many Christian, who made an
impact, yet they were not recognized for their faith. This past
February on the same Saturday Tom Landry and Charles Schulz died.
In the newspapers almost nothing was said about their tremendous
Christian testimonies, but plenty was written about the coaching
and the comics. This happens so often. I know I have failed to
include some wonderful Christians. Again, please give me
Finally, I must thank my former students, who wrote hundreds
and in the thousands of those "dreaded" research papers.
We both disliked the work, but I know it was good for the
learning. I learned a great deal about research and how to write
the stuff. I, also, appreciate those who have read parts of this
manuscript and given me suggestions. This list includes: Dan
Allan, Doug Denbow, Ken Cutrer, Sherm Brand, Joe Maggelet, Wes
Collins, and all those friends, who kept asking "how's the
book coming." Thanks, also, goes to Jon Hall, Kevin McQuate,
and Tim Sinchok, who helped make this into an eBook and a CD-ROM.
And last, my wife, who sat across from me at her sewing machine
creating wall hangings and quilt blocks, and lovingly encouraging
me when I got stuck with those writer's blocks.
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