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October 1975 · Vol. 4 No. 4 · pp. 389–90 

Book Review

One Way: The Jesus Movement and Its Meaning

Robert Ellwood. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1973. 150 pages.

Reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

A faculty member of the University of Southern California, Ellwood here sketches the impact of the recent religious movement in North America, finding in it a recurrence of earlier cycles of revivalism in America.

Ellwood asserts that one of the characteristics of the revival-evangelicalism syndrome, “subjectivity (as) . . . the key to reality” (p. 18), is part of the current “Jesus movement.” He points out the impact of the early revival period on social aspects, particularly the stress on abolition of slavery and on prohibition, which also resulted in sharply identifiable life-styles. He also stresses the impact of pentecostalism, “a new way of experiencing Christianity” (p. 46) and of apocalypticism, “a sense of the closeness of the alternating world” (p. 47). This apocalypticism was illustrated by the Seventh Day Adventism whose millennarian views are not only a reflection of American religion but also helped focus it. These three strands—glossolalia, simple life-style, millennialism—are constants in the new religious groupings. Ellwood briefly sketches the history and {390} sociological patterns of contemporary groups, including The Children of God, Campus Crusade, Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, and various “Jesus” groups. He manages to maintain a strictly objective stance throughout.

A writer can usually be faulted on the basis of what is not included, and Ellwood makes an inviting target here. No mention is made of the Navigators, who are having an increasing impact, at least on Canadian campuses. Also, Ellwood appears to confine his comments to west-coast movements, or else how can he ignore the People’s Christian Coalition (publishers of the Post American)? A slight historical inaccuracy occurs when he gives the origins of the Hutterites as Switzerland (p. 98).

Unfortunately, the publisher’s copy editors failed to heed their job description. Typographical errors, missing sentences, and repeated sentences constitute annoying intrusions.

One Way is a convenient guide to the placement of the Jesus movement within the history of American religion.

Vern Ratzlaff
Mennonite Brethren Bible College

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