A Libertarian Film Review of Jesus Revolution

A Libertarian Film Review of Jesus Revolution

Libertarian Country |

Photo Credits Lions Gate Entertainment

Whether you're a devout Christian, skeptical agnostic, or die-hard atheist, Jesus Revolution is an inspiring story for any fan of American counter-culture.

Based on a true story, Jesus Revolution follows the partnership of Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie), a young Pentecostal evangelist vagabond from the burgeoning hippie mecca of Haight-Ashbury, and Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer), an ordained pastor of Calvary Chapel Church in Costa Mesa, California.

Not to be left out, the film features young Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney), founder of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, where he encounters Lonnie Frisbee during a drug-induced panic attack, inspiring him to embark upon a quest for higher truth (like many young Ginsberg-reading rebels of the day).

Jaded from LSD's broken promise that psychedelic drugs would lead to enlightenment, many disenchanted hippies turned away from their guru Dr. Timothy Leary and set their hopeful eyes on Christ, giving rise to the Jesus Movement, a movement that might not have blossomed without Pastor Chuck Smith taking a chance on free spirit Lonnie Frisbee.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score (as of the time of writing) is a whopping 99%. The film resonated with Christians--many of whom came to faith during the Jesus Movement--and other curious observers.

For me, the true story outshines the cinematography of this movie. The writing ping-pongs from emotionally profound to anticlimactic, feeling more like a high school musical than an artfully crafted symphony. Though the direction and dialogue fall flat at times, the film's overall message was poignant: What if Christians behaved more like Christ?

In the gospels (the first four books of the New Testament in the Christian Bible), Jesus is portrayed as a man who befriended tax collectors, sinners and other social outcasts, citing their need for grace and acceptance in a world that rejected them.

In the 1960s and 70s, the rebellious, long-haired, burned-out, dirt-stained hippie was the modern-day tax collector; the social outcast, the pariah.

In the film, Pastor Chuck Smith speaks about the doors of his church, reminding the congregation they are always open and work both ways. Insulted, some of the flock stand up and walk out, refusing to take fellowship with a group of hippies visiting the church.

The short scene captured a stark reality plaguing Christianity. Many Christians hold resentment and hatred in their hearts, ignoring Jesus's command to love their neighbors.

According to Scripture, the church must address and confront sin, which is like yeast (sin) that spreads through the dough (the congregation) if left unchecked. Some have misinterpreted the parable to mean denying access or removing sinners from the church. But the objective is to restore, not to ostracize. In Luke 5:31-32, Jesus says, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Without being preachy, Jesus Revolution holds up a mirror to the modern-day Christian, allowing them to observe their reflection and see how much it resembles Jesus and His ministry. The film is a call to action in a divided world. Do we reject and dismiss those we find differences with or break bread with them? That's the question of our time.

Directors Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle revitalize the spirit of the Jesus Movement in their 2023 film Jesus Revolution. Though a bit dry around the edges, this pie is worth sinking your teeth into. It's a great jumping-off point for anyone wishing to delve into the intricacies of the 60s-70s revolution--or Christian theology.


A Libertarian Perspective

Naturally, a Libertarian Country film review is incomplete without a political observation.

What's great about this story is how it came to fruition. An unlikely pair link with a similar objective and organically build a movement with voluntaryism, community, consent and a lack of coercion.

The government didn't need to step in and decree new laws or mandates to unite the people of the Jesus Movement. No force was utilized. It is an observation of free association and how ideas--whether we agree or disagree with religion--can blossom and bring forth the componentry and cooperation necessary to build something.

The Jesus Movement is libertarian philosophy effortlessly--yet perhaps unknowingly--put into practice. It is free market economics, bringing people of all different backgrounds together to offer a product. In the case of the Jesus Movement, the product offered is eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, and people are free to fill their cups or walk away. It is their choice.

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