Published on October 19th, 2013 | by David Housholder

Light and Darkness in California. #0249 Life & Liberty

This weekend was a weekend of deep spiritual contrasts in Southern California.

Two hours ago, I was out at the end of the Huntington Beach Pier on my surfboard. We were participating in a “paddle out” in memory of Chuck Smith, one of the main leaders of the Jesus movement.

Just take some time and let the slideshow below run…. It will give you the vibe of the event.

Traditional to do this in memory of surfers who have died, this may have been one of the biggest paddle outs….ever..

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Have a look at the video put together by Calvary Chapel North Long Beach (see top of the page).

This is the size (sample pic below) more typical of the handful of memorial paddle-outs I’ve attended. Compare to the pictures above!

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The mood was euphoric. Grateful. Warm. Inclusive. You didn’t have to be a Christian to take part fully today. People in the massive circle of surfers spontaneously shouted out encouraging Bible passages, phrase by phrase, with the hundreds of voices responding in unison….

I can do.


All things.


Through Christ


Who strengthens me.


AMEN! (Followed by massive splashing of each other in a collective fountain of water)

This went on for quite some time, pretty much until we ran out of memorized Bible verses; punctuated by spontaneous group singing of the tunes of the movement:

Contrast this with what was going on up on the other side of Los Angeles, at Grace Community in the San Fernando Valley.

A big crowd of serious theologians, overwhelmingly men, met at John MacArthur’s church for the “Strange Fire” Conference.

Strange fire john macarthur

Whereas the Jesus movement looked for ways to include people whom the church was not including (hippies, ’68 flower child counter-culture, etc), MacArthur’s movement seems bent on figuring out how to exclude a large majority of us Christians from the movement we are already in.

MacArthur is using this gathering to promote his book which more or less condemns all of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity (about a billion people) to the realm of false teaching. He calls us misguided at best and perhaps even likely in league with evil forces.

The contrast could not have been greater. One city. One weekend. Two polar opposites. Light and darkness.  Inclusion and exclusion. Euphoria and Judgementalism. Scruffy “Jesus freak” enthusiasts. Groomed theologians.

I’ll leave you with a song from the Jesus movement. Look at the pics from the early 70’s. A movement that shaped and re-mapped Christianity in North America:

Listen for Papa Chuck’s unique voice in the middle of the song….

A generation after the Jesus Movement, the light is still shining brightly. Free food on the beach afterwards. “Love ya, Brother” from strangers as the most common greeting. Grateful people waiting in line to sign his massive “thank you Chuck” card.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it…

-The Gospel of John

And rainbows appeared between the pier and the congregation in the water…

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Grow your church in Word and Spirit:

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About the Author

David Housholder

Believes that a spiritually-awakened non-coercive voluntary society is possible. Author of a number of books. Surfer/Snowboarder. Pastor of Robinwood Church in Orange County, California.

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