Freaking on Jesus: A look at the Christianity of the early 1970’s


We are formed in our youth. We are formed by our parents’ instruction and example, by our teachers, our friends, our culture, and our religious affiliation. We typically don’t know to what extent this happens, or how deep it goes, until later in life, and then only if we care to know. As a youth I was immersed in, and formed by, the evangelical/baptist/fundamentalist culture of the 1970’s. I was affected by both a love and a wariness. Although I was not directly involved in the Californian/Calvary Chapel/”Love Song”/Jesus People kind of Christianity, I was influenced by them more than I knew.

That “hippy” Christianity, one of long hair, wide collars, bellbottoms, and tripping on Jesus, was meant to confront the western world of that time in terms that would speak to that culture in its own language. In many way it worked. The culture was reached, and so was the Church. Within Catholicism, which was watching closely, grew a felt need to strip away the old and usher in the vibrant new — a new that consisted of folk music and more playful rubrics. But accommodation took its toll. This was true in Protestant culture as well. I saw church services go from the formalism of my grandparents time, to the laissez faire of today where church services are more like rock concerts and preachers try hard to be un-stuffy and hip. For better and for worse, sometimes much worse.

Below are videos of that crucial era of modern Christianity where the seeds were sown for what we experience today, and for what we assume and take to be normal for worship, preaching, the language of the gospel, and how to do church. It is fascinating to see something that is so distant in some ways from us today and yet so utterly contemporary.

Although I have moved away from this version of Christianity in many ways (or am trying to) I still love the fundamental passion and simple Christ-focussed nature of it. That is something I never want to lose.

I’m curious if any readers experienced this kind of Christian experience, and what you think of it now.