We recently saw this movie at our local theater. It was well done with professional acting and cinematography. Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in the “Chosen” plays Lonny Frisbee, who later was involved with the Vineyard Churches. Kelsey Grammer plays the role of Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, which was a focal point in the beginnings of the Jesus Movement Revival. Greg Laurie, was a youth who became pastor of Harvest Church, one of California’s largest. The movie focuses on these three main characters and the “Hippy” generation that experienced spiritual awakening among multitudes across America in the early 1970’s. It includes many facts detailed in documentaries of Billy Graham, Jesus Music, Contemporary Christian Music and other films about this period. Of course, there are perhaps millions like myself who experienced it personally and can testify as witnesses and participants.
It was a revival characterized by spontaneous gatherings of youth, “hippies” who were drawn out of the drug culture to an ecumenical, (meaning: nondenominational, nonsectarian, all-embracing, all-inclusive) Christian faith centered in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The movie highlights the significance of new music, Christian rock and contemporary worship music, in reaching that generation which became so widespread it is a distinct music genre today. So great was the Revival many secular rock artists of that period were influenced and sang of Jesus message of love, peace, unity and forgiveness. Another theme was the clash of traditional church practices with the influx of unchurched youth who were accepting “Jesus” without the rituals of traditional denominationalism. For example, it was traditionally appropriate to dress up and wear your best clothes to church; church was a solemn gathering of established hymns and piety; the worship service was primarily focused upon a professional minister’s teaching/sermon. When these new Believers were Spiritually awakened to the person, supremacy and transforming power of Jesus and His word, He alone became the centrality of their Spirit lead worship. Moreover, scripture said nothing about dressing up for church, or it being exclusively solemn, without rejoicing or extravagant praise. Scripture did not support teaching as the sole preeminent leading of the Holy Spirit.
We found the movie interesting, historically accurate and compelling with the life changing message of Jesus. It is rated 7.8 on IMDB which is quite high for a “Christian” film. At one point Pastor Chuck is confronted by the youth who are so desperate in their search for truth. He realizes the power of desperation in seeking and finding Jesus as your all and it changes him as well. The movie credits the Jesus Revolution as possibly being the greatest revival in American history. There is no question of its impact upon the American church since and continuing today.