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Today I’m starting a new series on my YouTube channel called Radical Bible which aims to do Bible study in a prophetic, profound and a bit provoking way. The first episode is about people having sex in church pews and what to do when ministry gets messy.
My documentary about community life in the Jesus Army – Everything in Common – is almost complete. It still needs some sound mixing and small fixes, but in a month’s time I will release it on my YouTube channel. I have shown the film to some friends here in Uppsala and many have become inspired and fascinated by this kind of living by watching it. Here’s a snippet where some Jesus saints explain what community life means to them:
The people that have joined me on my trips to the Jesus Army have become dramatically inspired as well during the visits. Just seeing community of goods in practice makes so many disciples thirst for it. Asking people to “come and see” where we live, as Jesus did (Jn 1:39) is a simple but effective way to catalyst a movement.
Many communities have historically been quite isolated, which really isn’t a necessary component of community of goods but a natural consequence of many of them being rural due to their means of sustainance as well as skeptical to communication technology due to their values of simplicity. (more…)
As the Holy Spirit filled and renewed a small Baptist church in Bugbrooke, central England, during the mid-1970’s, many miracles occurred. When I visited the Jesus Army last year, Huw Lewis told me and my friends Hillevi and Emil about some healings that he saw, including a man whose sight was restored when he was baptized. He also shared his reaction to seeing a demon being cast out the first time and how the whole church was stunned by the presence of the Lord:
This footage is from my upcoming documentary Everything in Common. It was originally planned to be released last year, but I’ve been busy with book writing and finishing my studies. Now I have time to finish the documentary though, the first live screening will be here in Sweden on a conference that I’m co-organizing on Christian community life in April. I hope to to be able to publish it on YouTube shortly afterwards, there are some music licensing stuff that I need to deal with.
The documentary is about the community of goods that is being practiced at the Jesus Army: how it works, how it impacts people’s lives and what other churches can learn from it. Here’s an epic teaser trailer for the film:
The Jesus Fellowship Church, a.k.a. Jesus Army, was born out of a mighty work of the Holy Spirit through a small Baptist chapel in Bugbrooke, central England, during the late 60’s and early 70’s. The Holy Spirit loves to do miracles, and so the book Fire in Our Hearts by Simon Cooper and Mike Farrant that describes the history of the Jesus Fellowship records multiple miracles.
During a charismatic meeting on a Saturday evening in the chapel, one boy suddenly took his glasses off and exclaimed that he could see perfectly all of a sudden. A lady was healed of a deformed hand and a man’s gums were healed. A man called Mick had been mainlining a lot and had several ulcerations and scars all across his arms. When he emerged from the water during his baptism, all the marks were gone!
A woman called Carol once stood up at a meeting and declared prophetically “Mim is going to get baptised in the Spirit – tonight!” She was referring to her friend and the very same evening Mim was indeed spiritually baptised and started to speak in tongues. Carol’s dormitory was invaded by beetles, so she said “I rebuke you beetles in the name of Jesus!” – and they vanished. (more…)
The Jesus movement in the 1970’s impacted Sweden quite a lot. Lonnie Frisbee and other American Jesus hippies visited the country, multiple communities called “Jesus houses” sprung up, and Jesus people were evangelizing in the streets and parks. People like Ylva Eggehorn, Stefan Swärd and Ulla Österjö-Jansson arranged Jesus conferences and Jesus marches – no wonder they were called Jesus freaks.
In my hometown of Uppsala, a theology student called Hans Sundberg were impacted by the Jesus movement and started to evangelize. Once, he was sharing the Gospel in the street together with some Christian friends, when an Iranian man who believed in Baha’i started to argue with them. Hans argued back, and their discussion went into sort of a stalemate until Hans’ friend Maria started to speak loudly in tongues. Hans was initially a bit embarrassed (after all, the Bible says that nonbelievers will think that we are lunatics if they hear us speak in tongues (which it is right about)), but he then realized that the Iranian man understood everything Maria said. She was speaking farsi, about how Jesus is the only way to God and salvation. Hans saw prophetically how an arrow came out from Maria’s mouth and gently hit the heart of the Iranian man with peace and eternal life.
Meanwhile, a small Swedish town called Surahammar (which means grumpy hammer) was struck with a youth revival as the Jesus movement came to town. Youths from the local Pentecostal church gathered daily in a bakery to pray, study the Word and then hit the streets to evangelize and heal the sick. One of the kids involved in the revival was Simon Ådahl, who after refusing military service due to theological reasons became a musician and, eventually, a prophetic evangelist. You can read more about him here. (more…)
Right now I’m on a train with my friend Hillevi, heading for Copenhagen. Tomorrow we will go through Germany and the Netherlands and finally arrive in the United Kingdom on Sunday morning. The reason we’re going there is to visit the Jesus Army, a church that has inspired me more than any other church. Why is that? Here are seven reasons:
1. It’s Jesus’ Army
The Jesus Army, or Jesus Fellowship Church as it is formally known, was birthed in a charismatic movement of the 1970’s called – you guessed it – the Jesus movement. And this Jesus focus isn’t just rhetoric or branding – these people are really passionate about Jesus and really try to live like He did (1 Jn 2:6). Like Anabaptists, they have Christ-centred theology and Christ-centred lives. That’s always something you want to see in a church.
2. They practice community of goods
While having a focus on Jesus is something most churches claim to have, community of goods is really rare. Even though it is clearly described as a Biblical way of following Jesus in Acts 2:44-45, most Christians haven’t even tried it. Having everything is common, is uncommon. The Jesus Army however has had their New Creation Christian Communities for around 40 years, and today hundreds of people pool their money and resources so that nobody lives in poverty and nobody in luxury.
3. They have ethical, social businesses
To finance the community and the charities of the church, these Jesus people run businesses like Goodness Foods and Good Timber which are very good, ethical and sustainable. Everybody get the same wage, all the profits go to charity and many of the businesses focus on creation care through organic products, renewable energy etc. It’s really amazing what the Holy Spirit can do in the commercial world.
When I visited the Jesus Army in the UK last year I filmed a lot – eight hours of footage to be exact – and already then I planned to make a documentary about their community of goods, where they share everything just like the apostles in the book of Acts. Then I found out that some Swiss brothers and sisters had decided to do the same and made an awesome documentary called Living in Community. At first I thought that meant that I didn’t need to do my documentary but still, I had eight hour of footage to do something with. So…
GET READY FOR AN AWESOME, SPIRIT-FILLED DOCUMENTARY THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND, COMING THIS SUMMER ON YOUTUBE
In a world filled with consumerism, individualism and atheism, a mighty Jesus revolution arises that practises community of goods. The Jesus Army is centred around 40 community houses where disciples of Jesus share a common purse so that nobody is richer than anyone else. When watching Everything in Common, you will get insight in how this is possible, what the people involved think about it and how you can start practising community of goods.
Everything in Common – coming to YouTube Summer 2015.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. (Acts 2:44-45)
Yesterday, me and my friend Frida arrived in Kettering, England, to visit one of my favourite churches, the Jesus Army. As I’ve pointed out several times before, the Jesus Army is one of the very few examples of when the Jesus hippies of the 70’s organized themselves in their own church instead of joining existing churches, and this has made them able to sustain the radicality, fire and passion for God that characterised the Jesus revival. What is most noticable is that the Jesus Army practices community of goods just like the apostolic New Testament church, something that unfortunately has become very rare among Protestant Christians.
You see, cessationism is sadly not just a doctrine of the margins within the Protestant movement, but a key factor in how both Luther and Calvin viewed Scripture. While claiming that they based their theology on Scripture alone, they deliberately ignored large parts of the Bible that didn’t fit with their theology. Cessationism is generally defined as the idea that miraculous gifts have ceased with the apostles, but within Protestantism we also teach that the community of goods we read about in Acts 2 and 4 ceased with the apostles.
With cessationism, you basically are your own god who make your own bible. Jack Deere, a former cessationist, writes in Surprised by the Power of the Spirit how he didn’t like fasting very much, so he claimed that fasting has ceased with the apostles as well. After all, there are not so many people fasting in the later books of the New Testament. But the problem is of course that the Bible never says that anything – miracles, community, fasting or whatever – would cease with the apostles, and so cessationism is just a way for Christians who claim to be Bible-believing to have a reason not to believe in all of the Bible.
Hippies aren’t always popular among evangelical Christians. Mark Driscoll has famously said: “Some emergent types want to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. […] I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” I do agree that Jesus wouldn’t shop shoes or be a Buddhist, but He surely would be able to beat up. In fact, that’s what they actually did with Him on Easter.
The hippie movement emerged in the 60’s and 70’s in the United States and spread quickly to Europe and other parts of the world. It was a youth movement with international influences that emphasized love, peace and understanding, freedom and environmentalism, music, sex and drugs. It was influenced by eastern religions and sparked both new age occultism and the sexual revolution. These latter bits make it understandable why Dricoll doesn’t like hippies very much.
However, in the early 70’s thousands of hippies were saved in what is simply called the Jesus Movement, or the Jesus People Revival. They protested against both drugs and occultism, saying that we should “get high on Jesus” and be baptized in the Holy Spirit instead, but they preserved the hippie passion for peace, justice and a simple lifestyle. Over 100 000 Jesus hippies lived together in communal houses, they were preaching the Gospel in the streets and on the beaches, and many miracles happened as they prayed for the sick and prophesied.
I’ve written several times about the Jesus Army, a charismatic, evangelical church in the United Kingdoms that is known for its active evangelism and social work. It is one of the extremely few churches I know of in Europe that practices community of goods, where everybody share everything so that there is no longer any rich nor poor. Around one quarter of Jesus Army’s members live this way in around 60 community houses that are called New Creation Christian Community. The Jesus Army is mainly a house church movement, where people gather for worship in the community houses or other homes, but during the last decade they have also built Jesus Centres which are places for social ministry to help immigrants, homeless people and others.
I’m very inspired by this church! It’s a remnant of the amazing Jesus hippie revival in the 70’s and a church that is very similar to the Biblical church of Acts, that also was a house church movement that practiced community of goods. Today, I got a confirmation that it’s possible for me and my friend Frida to come and visit the Jesus Army in August. It’s the second time I’m visiting the Army and I’m so excited! My dream and prayer is that the Holy Spirit will use me to plant more Jesus churches, in Sweden and elsewhere.
To celebrate this, here are some central documents from Jesus Army’s website, describing who they are:
The Jesus Fellowship Church, which is also known as the Jesus Army, is an evangelical Christian church with a charismatic emphasis and Baptist roots. The church aims to be a contemporary expression of historic Christianity. It is orthodox in doctrine, and upholds the established Christian creeds. Details of the church are listed in the UK Christian Handbook and the English Church Census. It is linked with other churches and groups in the UK and overseas through the Multiply Christian Network, and is a member of the Evangelical Alliance UK.
Lonnie Frisbee was an amazing Jesus freak. Being a key figure and informal leader of the Jesus People Movement in the 60’s and 70’s, his impact on Western Christianity is huge. With his long hair and beard he tried to look like Jesus himself “because there’s no one else I want to look like”, he preached on the beaches to his hippie friends that the Holy Spirit is even better than LSD and brought thousands of them to church.
The Jesus movement spread rapidly across California, US and the world, but most churches closed the door for them – after all, they were hippies. A church that did welcome them though was Calvary Chapel led by Chuck Smith, not because he was a hippie, nor because he wanted to become one, but because he liked them.
While Chuck emphasized Bible studying and evangelical values (which Lonnie thought was awesome) Lonnie himself was a holy roller. He cast out demons, spoke in tongues, healed the sick and prophesied loudly. He proclaimed himself to be a prophet and a mystic, and the whole Jesus Movement became a radical charismatic movement.
In 1980 he visited John Wimber‘s Vineyard church and released the youth into full scale charismatic renewal, which had a huge impact on Wimber himself and the whole third wave charismatic renewal. In John Wimber: The Way it Was, John’s wife Carol Wimber shares how important Lonnie was for the Vineyard, and she has some awesome testimonies from a trip to South Africa she, John and Lonnie made where they literally saw the blind and lame being totally healed when they imparted the power of the Holy Spirit to them.
God has been speaking to me about the Jesus Movement the last couple of months, and I’m planning to do some deeper research of this renewal when I get the time. For you who aren’t aware of it, it sprang up mainly among saved hippies in the 60’s and 70’s and spread from the US to Europe. The Jesus People, or Jesus Freaks as they gladly called themselves, were passionate charismatics who preached the Gospel in the power of signs and wonders while many of them also were pacifist peacemakers and radical supporters of social justice – many of them practiced community of goods. In other words, it was a Holy Spirit Activism movement!
As I read and watch clips about the Jesus Movement, I get the impression of a theology that is in all ways charismatically evangelical, but expressed in a very attractive and simple way. A review of a book about the movement simply dubbed it “sweetness”. I like that! The Jesus Freaks were radical, zealous and crazy, but above all that also very sweet.
I encountered this sweetness in another context two days ago in Stockholm, Sweden. My friend had invited me to a prayer meeting that he hosted together with a travelling team from Iris Global. Iris Global is, as those of you who follow this blog should know by now, also a movement that combines signs and wonders with social justice, and these folks were no exception.
As I’ve written before, evangelical pastor John MacArthur has recently organized a conference called “Strange Fire” and will publish a book by the same name, where he argues that the majority of the charismatic movement is a crazy, heretic, demonic mess. As I’ve gone through what MacArthur said at the conference I’ve realized that the event really lives up to its name. Here are the top seven strange Strange Fire statements!
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in John MacArthur’s Opening Address (marccortez.com)
- Not All Charismatics Bark Like Dogs (sacredprofane.wordpress.com)
- ‘Strange Fire’ Conference: Oh, MacArthur… (amyhopefrancis.com)
- John MacArthur’s #StrangeFire And Arlene Sanchez Walsh’s Latino Pentecostal Identity (politicaljesus.com)