Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation studies the music of the Jesus movement and its role in shaping American evangelical spirituality. I begin by analyzing the emergence of Jesus music in the contexts of the economic systems of evangelicalism and mass media. Next, I examine how anti-rock critics and Jesus music artists differed in their beliefs about the theological functions of music. The second half of the dissertation analyzes how through Jesus music and pop worship Jesus movement participants developed and distributed a new evangelical spirituality based on ‘feeling’ or experience. This aesthetic embrace of experiential, musical spirituality allows for people with varying levels of church involvement, theological stances, and activism to claim a common label of evangelical. I argue American evangelicalism is as much a spiritual culture of experience built on musical consumption as it is of a theological heritage. This spiritual culture is built not on symbolism or functional ritual but on consumer identity and its accoutrements. Evangelicals built their own edifices of meaning around the experiential, physical aspects of Jesus music, crafting a new rubric for Christian worship with lasting social, political, and theological implications: how they process information (their epistemology), how they discern authority and authenticity (their phenomenology), and how they establish truth (their theology).

Artists and figures examined include Larry Norman, Love Song (Chuck Girard, Fred Field, Tommy Coomes, John Mehler, and Bob Wall, and Jay Truax), Phil Keaggy, Selah (Joy Strange and Cynthia Young), Blessed Hope (Bill Bradford, Dave Rios, David Burgin, Don Kobayashi, and Jim Golden, DeGarmo and Key (Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key), the Maranatha Singers, Andrae Crouch, Keith Green, Charlie McPheeters, David Noebel and Bob Larson.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Patrick Burke

Committee Members

Todd Decker, Darren Dochuk, Alexander Stefaniak, Paul Steinbeck,


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/27y7-k004