A few weeks ago I ordered Lonnie Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher. It arrived yesterday and I watched it last night. I don’t want to discuss the technical aspects of the film at all. I want to address its message.
Beginning in the Jesus Movement in the early 60’s, Lonnie became very influential in the beginning success of Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel movement, as well as John Wimber’s Vineyard movement, of which I am a part. After a long season with a powerful impact on the church, he was exposed as gay. Then he was methodically removed from visibility. He was eventually fired. Then rejected and ostracized. And now he is effectively written out of the histories of both of these movements. He died of AIDS in 1993 at the age of 43.
What more can be said? I realize that this documentary in many ways is sympathetic to Lonnie Frisbee and critical of those who rejected him. However, this has been my observation about the church as well. It is no surprise. It is disturbing but predictable. What more can be said? The documentary provoked today’s cartoon.
But one of the things this video left me with was the very real fact that even though the Vineyard has written him out of our history, he is a part of our foundational roots. The issue of being gay in the church is a very real issue today, one I wish to address and deal with, and this video suggested to me that the Vineyard might be one of the places to do this well.