Is there something sinister in the Campus Crusade name change?

You may have heard a couple of weeks ago that the worldwide ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ is changing its name to “Cru”.  I heard it mentioned briefly on the news but didn’t know much about the rationale.  One thing I heard that was instructive was that founder Bill Bright’s widow Vonette said a name change had long been in the works and that Bill had been supportive of it.  Having recently learned what fears name changes can spark, I was reluctant to judge CCC until I heard more.

I hear some believers are afraid CCC is throwing Christ overboard since they’ve dropped His name.  That’s hard to imagine for a ministry which has historically been so driven to evangelize.  Can anyone say “Jesus Film”?  Now I’m learning that donors are dropping their support of individual Cru missionaries for no other reason than that their organization has changed its name.  If these men and women are still doing the same work and have been faithful, that’s ungodly in the middle of an economic perfect storm where more and more faithful servants of Christ are being forced from their mission fields due to insufficient support.

John Piper has done the Church a service with this incisive assessment: 
Since Campus Crusade for Christ announced (and explained) that it will change its name to Cru, some donors have withdrawn support from Crusade staff. I am writing to say: That’s not a good reason to withdraw your support.
Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Glenn Beck ridiculed the change as he wadded up the report and threw it away. His entire focus was to attack the wimpy people who avoid using the name Christ for fear of giving offense. The problem with Beck is that he cared nothing about dealing with the real problems created by the name “Campus Crusade for Christ.”
    The problem was not “Christ”. The problem was the limiting word “campus” (when CCC ministers to millions that have nothing to do with any “campus”) and “crusade” (which for millions of people has one main connotation: Medieval crusades against Muslims). Beck’s approach is not responsible journalism but careless hype for the religious right.
  2. Bill Bright was moving toward a name change much earlier, and Vonette Bright approves of the change that is being made.
  3. The fact that one of the earliest names for the Christian Movement in the New Testament was the fairly innocuous “The Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22) did not imply that these radical followers of Jesus were ashamed of the Name (Acts 5:41).
  4. The fact that “in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26), does not signify that the disciples were ashamed of “Christ” in the years before the Antioch mission.
  5. The fact that the church I serve is called Bethlehem Baptist Church does not mean that I value being a Baptist more than being a Christian. Nor should the Christ-exalting faithfulness of any church be judged by the absence of “Jesus” or “Christ” or “Christian” in the name.
  6. There is no parachurch movement or denomination where all the leaders are equally theologically astute or articulate or solid. Therefore, our alignment with, and support for, missionaries and churches should be discriminating. No one should be assumed as doctrinally sound because of being a part of any organization. Neither should we assume they are unsound. The individual is key to what the individual believes. In our support of missionaries at Bethlehem we are far more concerned with their personal beliefs and commitments and practices than we are with the organization they are connected to.
  7. In my judgment Campus Crusade seems to be more doctrinally awake and sound today than in decades gone by. But in the end that is not decisive when it comes to whether I would support any particular Crusade staff. What the staff believes is decisive in the end.
  8. Therefore, I encourage you: Don’t drop your support from Crusade staff simply because the organization made a decision you disagree with. That would be like saying to a fellow-soldier on the frontlines: I’m not giving you any fire-cover because I don’t like the new name the Colonel gave to your unit. Is the soldier faithful and fruitful? That is the decisive issue.

Author: Keith Rohrer

Husband, Dad, Grandpa, Gospel-lover, churchplanter, pastor, woodworker, biker.

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