by Bill Carroll
What is this Jesus Movement the Presiding Bishop keeps talking about? I believe it is merely basic, New Testament Christianity, the effort to follow Jesus by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that all people may be reconciled to God and each other in Christ and so that God may reign on earth as in heaven.
The following was originally presented as part of a larger workshop at the Annual Conference of the Episcopal Cursillo Movement, held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City, October 27-28, 2017. The original version went on to feature material on the Holy Spirit and a call to discipleship. In order to simplify the presentation, I’ve omitted the biblical citations and footnotes, leaving (with one exception) only direct quotations from our Presiding Bishop. What I’d like to do with this piece is to try to summarize some of what he has been saying and invite a discussion about what I may be leaving out.
Since movements are bigger than any one person, we might also ask what we think the Jesus Movement means or ought to mean. Where do we see the Jesus Movement breaking out in our world, especially the local contexts where we live and work and serve and pray? A more complete version with footnotes is here
- The Jesus Movement is nothing new.
“The Jesus Movement is not new—it’s the deep roots of who we ARE. #episcopal”
“[W]hat we’re talking about is a community of people who are committed by their baptism, as baptized disciples of Jesus Christ, to live the way of Jesus.”
- The Jesus Movement is all about following Jesus (=discipleship).
“God came among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to show us the Way. He came to show us the Way to life, the Way to love. He came to show us the Way beyond what can be the nightmares of our own devising and into the dream of God’s intending. That’s why, when Jesus called his first followers he did it with the simple words ‘Follow me.’”
- The Jesus Movement is all about love.
“On these two—love of God and love of your neighbor—hang, hinge, depend ALL the law and the prophets. Everything Moses taught. Everything the prophets thundered forth about justice. Everything in the Bible. True religion. It’s about love of God and the neighbor. If it’s not about love, it’s not about God. This way of love is the way of Jesus. This is the heart of the Jesus movement.”
- The Jesus Movement leads to reconciliation and right relationship (God, each other, the earth).
“Now is our time to go. To go into the world to share the good news of God and Jesus Christ. To go into the world and help to be agents and instruments of God’s reconciliation. To go into the world, let the world know that there is a God who loves us, a God who will not let us go, and that that love can set us all free.”
“Racial reconciliation is just the beginning for the hard and holy work of reconciliation that realizes justice but really across all the borders and boundaries that divide the human family of God.”
“What is the Jesus Movement? We’re following Jesus into loving, liberating, and life-giving relationship with God, with each other, and with the earth.” (The Episcopal Church website)
- The Jesus Movement involves a Universal (Catholic) vision–ALL MEANS ALL!
“Jesus once declared, in the language of the Hebrew prophets, that God’s ‘house shall be a house of prayer for ALL nations’ (Mk 11:17). He invited and welcomed ALL who would follow, saying, ‘come to me ALL who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens’ (Mt. 11:28). We therefore assert and we believe that “the Episcopal Church welcomes you” – ALL of you, not as merely a church slogan, but as a reflection of what we believe Jesus teaches us and at the core of the movement he began in the first century. The Episcopal Church welcomes ALL. ALL of us!”
- The Jesus Movement involves mission and evangelism.
“I’m talking about a way of evangelism that is genuine and authentic to us as Episcopalians, not a way that imitates or judges anyone else. A way of evangelism that is really about sharing good news. A way of evangelism that is deeply grounded in the love of God that we’ve learned from Jesus. A way of evangelism that is as much about listening and learning from the story of who God is in another person’s life as it is about sharing our own story. A way of evangelism that is really about helping others find their way to a relationship with God without our trying to control the outcome. A way of evangelism that’s authentic to us. We can do that.”
- The Jesus Movement is itself dynamic and evolving.
“I really do believe we need to see ourselves as a movement—a Jesus movement—rather than as an institution. That’s what Jesus was about. He inaugurated a movement to make God’s dream happen. To see ourselves this way changes everything. It means our institutional configurations must be designed to serve the movement and not the other way around. The movement serves life. There is no life in serving the institution.”
“This is a way for our particular time. Each new age and each new generation must discern how it will faithfully live out the Gospel of Jesus. But this represents a way for this particular period of time, and nothing is final, nothing is settled except for the kingdom of God. We are a movement after all.”
- The Jesus Movement is meant to change the world.
“If you want to change the world, follow Jesus!”
“God came among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to change the world, to change it from the nightmare it often can be into the dream that God intends. He came to change the world, and we have been baptized into the Triune God and summoned to be disciples and followers of this Jesus and to participate in God’s work, God’s mission of changing and transforming this world. We are the Jesus Movement now.”