Pres. Trump used a variety of terms for the confused, factious movements in his stand-strong Mt. Rushmore speech: “angry mobs,” “Cancel Culture,” “totalitarianism,” “dangerous movement,” “new far-left fascism,” “left wing cultural revolution,” “radical ideology,” “bad, evil people.” They are all apt, but I prefer “left-wing cultural revolution.”
I lived through the second-half of Jesus Revolution of the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, though I was not a leader of it, just a participant. We were the antidote to the drug-addled radicals back then. Though separated by decades, this left-wing version today is still an evil counterfeit of the Jesus Movement, much like the old-school radicals were. We Jesus people, still very much alive, see the parallels, and it’s time to speak up. History is repeating itself.
Here are five clear signs that tell us why the current version is a counterfeit.
First, it is anti-Christian. Karl Marx: Religion “is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness” (emphasis original). Whatever its manifestation–Woke, BLM (the movement, not the generic statement “Black lives matter”), the ironically named Antifa, the Democrat Party, or the left generally, the revolutionaries today do not promote the biblical God in their actions. In fact, they defy him, even though they often throw around the word “justice” and quote a few biblical verses out of context. But justice without a deep study of the Word can be twisted to mean whatever the left-wing power brokers say it does.
In contrast, the Jesus People talked of nothing but God. We gladly carried our print Bibles around; we put on them cool leather covers, sometimes with swords on them (the sword was a symbol of the Word of God). Bible studies sprang up everywhere. It was a genuine Bible revival. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). His church goes beyond communism or anything else. It is not linked to an economic ideology. It is built one soul at a time, from the inside out. As for justice, we developed Bible-based church programs to meet the needs of hurting people. They’re still going strong. This is the biblical way to care for the poor. There is no need for a massive governmental redistribution of tax dollars and gigantic government programs.
Second, the left-wing cultural revolutionaries suppress free speech. As Trump accurately said in his Mt. Rushmore speech: “In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished.” College students insist on safe spaces. PC culture has been building over decades, and the web makes the attack against nonconformist speech intense.
Those of us in the Jesus Revolution engaged in debate because we wanted to spread our message. And when we encountered opposition, which happened often, we had to figure out ways to counter their views. But we never dreamed of shutting down free speech. We believed in “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
Third, the left-wing cultural revolutionaries are neo-Marxists and anarchists. They intend to spread chaos with the purpose of confusing people and then controlling them. Neo-Marxists preach a counterfeit kingdom on earth, but with a strange Marxist god. Frederick Engels: “We shall see that the kingdom of God, the capital of which is the New Jerusalem, can only be conquered and opened after arduous struggles with the powers of hell.” Their fake gospel of the kingdom of God on earth has never worked. The counterfeit, though sounding so pious, damaged and deceived millions of people.
In contrast, the Jesus Revolutionaries didn’t think of grabbing political power and certainly not by rioting and looting. I can’t imagine that we would have deployed twitter mobs back then, if we had had the web. The Jesus People are still alive, and we are not banding together in twitter mobs today. Back then and still today we simply want to see God’s kingdom come down on earth, true, as it says in the Lord’s Prayer, but only by seeing lives transformed by God from the inside out. The biblical kingdom of God has come only in partial power glory right now, and it is advanced only by the gospel of salvation, not the gospel of socialism.
Further, many of us respectfully studied Scripture, and it made us very conservative. We advocated for the oppressed and the poor, but without neo-Marxist illusions and false promises. We easily discerned it to be a counterfeit. Many of us in fact denounced and competed against it, if only in discussions. It was intuitively revolting to us. We could see, just as our nation’s Founders saw, that Scripture teaches liberty, but only under God.
In the 1980s, after growing up, many of us gladly voted for Reagan because we could perceive that he would chase away the confusion that dominated the previous 15 years and forge a saner path. He was a relief from the chaos. Trump is a replay of Reagan, despite the personality differences. The radicals are once again hell-bent on tearing the nation down; Reagan and Trump (and the Jesus People today) are heaven sent to build it up. Yes, Reagan really did say twice, “Make America Great Again” in his “kick-off” (his term) speech (11:40 and 19:10) with the Statue of Liberty in the background, on September 1, 1980. This background imagery parallels the Mt. Rushmore background and speech (though Reagan was a much more rhetorically polished speaker than Trump).
Fourth, the left-wing cultural revolutionary mobs have been toppling statues unilaterally, with no discussion. They have been burning and pillaging and destroying the local economy in dark-blue cities. They were not far off from Marx’s recommendation when he wrote approvingly of the proletarians: “they destroy imported wares that compete with their labour, they smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze.” In eerie parallels, the radical revolutionaries of the past sometimes damaged buildings and often disrespected police officers. Those lawful heroes were called “pigs!” Nowadays, it seems to me the violence is much worse. More police officers are being killed in a short span of time. The whole thing is evil and built on lies (see the fifth point).
Here’s why we Jesus Revolutionaries never dreamed of committing violence. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Those who destroy are on the thief’s side. Those who promote life, abundant life, are on God’s side. And now, if we decide to remove statues, let it be done after rational talks and with full appreciation of their historical contexts. Only afterwards and only if necessary do we place some of them in museums.
Fifth, confusion and ambiguity and distorted facts rule over and feed the left-wing cultural revolution. Postmodernism and deconstruction thrive on ambiguous language and fluid definitions. As one example, here is the equivocation about BLM:
Black lives matter.
No one disputes that. They are made in God’s image.
Black Lives Matter
That set of words sounds exactly the same, but they have different meanings. The neo-Marxists manipulate the ambiguity and bully the unthinking crowds. They claim that if people don’t support the movement, then the people don’t support the generic statement. Wrong. I support the first statement, but not the second one.
Since we Jesus followers value the truth–a theme spread throughout Scripture–let’s counter one more distortion with facts. In 2019, how many unarmed black suspects were killed?
And many of them resisted arrest and fought the police officers.
In the same year, how many police officers were killed in the line of duty by felonious acts?
In 2020, as of July 10, 37 officers have been killed by gunfire or vehicles as weapons (not their own crashes).
What do we make of those facts? Let’s stop over-reacting and burning down buildings and the economy when a bad incident occurs here and there. And let’s stop believing the false narrative of systemic racism in police departments.
Time to wrap this up.
In my corner of the church world, there is frequent talk of another revival, another Jesus Revolution, on the horizon. Perhaps. But the church is confused right now. Do we really want to bring in new converts when the Millennials who now lead the churches wallow around in equivocation and are tempted by an evil neo-Marxist cultural revolution and often cavalierly dismiss Scripture or know very little about it or reinterpret it in strange ways?
However, on the positive side, the old Hippy Movement–where the literal opium of the masses dominated–was countered by the Jesus Movement. And so maybe the left-wing counterfeit today will be opposed by a new Jesus Movement. Who knows? Maybe some of the leaders and many of the rank-and-file in the evil counterfeit will repent and join the true movement, like so many did in the 1960s and 1970s.
Let’s pray this is so.