The early songwriters, musicians and performers were the unwitting prophets of the Jesus Movement. Unwitting, because, by and large, they were unaware of the importance of their role in this movement. Ask them. They will tell you they were just doing what they had to do. The song was laid on their heart. They had to write it. And once they wrote it, they had to sing it; and once they sang it, they had to talk about it. Thus, not only were they the prophets of the movement, they were, in effect, the preachers (though most of them would deny that).
This is very unusual when you think about it. None of these people went to seminary. They were not ordained to preach. Actually my wife, Marti Fischer and Larry Norman were the most prepared of the group, having completed two years of study at Hal Lindsey’s J.C. Light and Power House in Los Angeles. But no one had a degree and no one was ordained.
There was no one in charge of content. There was no stamp of approval. Given this, its amazing that the truth was preserved as well as it was. That is a testimony to the reality of the Holy Spirit. To be sure, there were some deviations and some cults formed, but by and large, things stayed on track with the scripture.
That is why we look to these original Jesus music people as the prophets of the movement. That is why we are turning to them at this time to speak once again into this day and this culture. Prophesy is a spiritual gift. Once you have it, you always have it. These people were gifted and called to what they did. (Listen to Randy Stonehill’s interview.) Look at the body of their work. You will find songs that call people to consider the truth about Jesus and songs that keep reminding believers of what is important to their faith. These are the prophets of the movement, still going strong today, and why we are calling upon them to speak into today’s reality.
Nancy Honeytree sang how she stands clean before the Lord, I sang about asking the Lord Himself to tell you why He hung on a cross, and then Noel Paul Stookey answered that question years later, “A man on a cross paid the ultimate cost for the love of it all.” And on it goes through album after album of songs that make the truth real to our lives and our current situation. Yes, these are the people who epitomized the best of the best of a movement that blew fresh air through the Church and society in general.
So once again we are bringing these voices together to speak ultimately to the next generation. The Millennials have been handed the torch. We, the older, wiser pioneers need to come alongside and support them. Who knows that this might be the last generation before the Lord returns. That’s what we thought 50 years ago. We’ve been thinking that ever since.