The Jesus Experience gives a broad overview of the history of Christianity in different parts of the world. While these documentary-style episodes are not quite on the same scale of entertainment as Chicago or Catch Me if You Can, The Jesus Experience squeezes in quite a bit of information.
The Latin American episode begins with a cultural immersion into the indigenous way of experiencing Christianity. It shows the development of the faith from the time of the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries. Experts, mostly United States Latino theologians and historians, give their additions to the accounts of the past. The audience is presented with major points such as the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the story of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador, and the impact of the Pentecostal movement.
The North American episode begins with the Puritans landing on what is now the East Coast of the United States of America. These individuals were seeking religious freedom. One of the highlights of this episode comes in the revelation that religious pluralism was introduced early in U.S. history. This episode also touches upon the Black experience of Jesus as well as the Canadian experience, though it does not differentiate between French-speaking and English-speaking Canada. It also does not differentiate between the American experience of the East Coast and that of the Southwestern United States, which had very different Christian beginnings leading to a continued differentiated “Jesus Experience” in this country.
How The Jesus Experience can be used:
The Jesus Experience
cannot present an in-depth look at any one topic in the 45-minute time allowance. Because of the time constraint, many questions are left in the viewer’s mind.
The Jesus Experience should not be used for a low-key fun-filled Friday evening, or something to be playing in the background as other activities are happening. It should not stand alone as the culmination of “The Jesus Experience.”
Because we are part of the continuing “Jesus Experience,” The Jesus Experience (the film) can be used as a springboard for discussion with a Small Christian Community, a group gathering to learn more about Christianity, or a group or individual seeking to enrich their own Christian experience. Each episode can also be broken down to discuss or reflect upon sub-topics.
Overall, I recommend The Jesus Experience but advise that it be viewed as a place to begin, because we continue to add to the Jesus Experience!