Having gone through this vinyl-rippin’ exercise, I found myself thinking about the impact of this music on my own life, as well as the life of the American church. I find both impacts to be positive.
Personally, what is noteworthy about these pieces is that they fueled my own (very) mediocre musical talents. Not only were these great talents affirming the gospel but they were also affirming the expression of the gospel through my generation’s ‘heart music.’
Decades later, I appreciate the missionary work they did in reaching into a different culture than the American Church had not, up to this time, been able to penetrate. Today, Christian thinkers such as Ed Stetzer confirm the observation that American culture is finally being recognized as fragmented and those barriers are cultural: language, dress, behavioral norms, music, worldview, etc. Today, among those Christians sensitive to reaching people with the Jesus News, this is obvious. Back in the Day, no – not so much. The expectation was an Old Testament ethos: “The people need to come here to learn of the Lord.” That is, bring people to church and not only convert them to Jesus, but also ‘church culture.’ But the New Testament ethos is: “As you are going about your business, make disciples: convert and teach them how to live.” That is, go out, meet lost people, learn how to talk to them, and tell them the Jesus Story so they can respond.
I am reminded again of the Third Great Awakening in the United States. What we now know of as the “Jesus Freaks” was the engine to modern evangelicalism. Back then, it was clear – it’s supposed to all be about Jesus. “He’s the Real Thing” was, though bumper-sticker theology, still an indicator of the ethos of the time. Now, it is more confusing.
Ask your average un-churched, post-Christian, culturally engaged person what “Evangelical” means and you’ll get an answer about politics, ideology, or culture. Rarely will you hear, “an emphasis on the good news about Jesus.” Ask them to describe Jesus and you’ll probably hear: “loving, kind, gentle, wise, forgiving” – and they would be right, wouldn’t they? Ask them to describe an Evangelical and you will probably not hear any of those words. Something is wrong with that picture.
We’ve lost something from the days of the Jesus Revolution – not only the one during the 1970’s, but the even bigger one during the first century. Christ is now proxy for ideology and the gospel is something to run away from.
What have we done?