Campus Crusade for Christ: What's in a Name?

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NIV)

Campus Crusade for Christ, one of the world’s leading evangelistic ministries, is changing its name.

Apparently the passage of time and changing cultural sensitivities have made its old name – in place since its founding on the campus of UCLA in 1951 by Bill and Vonette Bright – a liability. “Campus” evokes images of youth and enthusiasm and institutions of higher learning. But, in the ensuing 60 years, the ministry had expanded into business, military and international venues, so the campus identification was deemed too “limiting.” The word “crusade” evokes hurtful images of Muslims being killed by Christians – not a good thing at a time when Muslims are killing Christians around the world. And “Christ” – well, in our age of radical secularism – enough said.

The good news is the organization’s new name, “Cru,” doesn’t evoke any images at all, (except perhaps that of a rowing team if you merely hear the word and don’t see it). It is the handle now used by many students when referring to the campus ministry. Happily, it’s abstruse enough not to offend anyone.

Avoiding giving offense is important to the ministry. According to Steve Sellers, Cru’s U.S. Vice President, more people are willing to listen to their message about Christ if His name is not included in the ministry’s name. Go figure.

Millions of people around the world have been favorably impacted for Christ since the organization’s inception. My wife and I are included among them. I was first exposed to the ministry in 1967 at Florida State University when I stumbled into a “College Life” meeting being held in the lobby of a dormitory. A student was sharing his testimony about how Jesus had changed his life. Having recently invited Christ into my own life, I lingered behind to learn more. Soon, I joined an “Action Group” Bible study and later spent most of a summer at the organization’s international headquarters at Arrowhead Springs in California attending the “Institute of Biblical Studies.” Along with other students, I shared the Gospel door to door in the riot torn area of Watts in Los Angeles, as well as on the beaches and in other neighborhoods. My wife worked with the ministry in a summer project in Ocean City, New Jersey, sharing the Gospel with whoever would listen. She, too, became active in the campus ministry at FSU. I walked her home after a College Life meeting and, as they say, the rest is history.

Over the course of time, we became increasingly involved in the campus ministry and assumed leadership roles in our own small way. We took seriously Bill Bright’s invitation to help change the world by “confronting” people with the claims of Christ (in the late 60′s and early 70′s, it was all about “confrontation.”) Dr. Bright was a man of great humility and gentleness who appeared to be anything but confrontational. He radiated the love of Christ in his own life, but he was bold and he never hesitated to share the Gospel with anyone with whom he came into contact, from heads of state to the lowliest student on campus. And he exhorted all of us involved in the ministry never to be ashamed of the Gospel and to boldly proclaim Christ wherever we were to whomever would listen. Our lives have been eternally and positively imprinted by our experiences with what is soon to become known as “Cru.”

That’s why Campus Crusade for Christ’s name change comes as a shock, not only to us, but to many others who were involved with the ministry. Eliminating “Christ” from the organization’s name seems incongruous and bewildering to those of us who believe that there is no other name under heaven by which we are saved. Christ himself declared that He is the only way to God and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6). His name will always be a rock of offense and a stumbling stone to those who are put off by his claims of deity and the narrow path to salvation He proclaims. It will ever be so until He comes again in glory.

Meanwhile, I would urge this very effective ministry to rethink its decision. And, along with others, I would say as charitably as possible, “For the love of Christ, please, don’t give up His name.”

Ken Connor is the Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC, the former President of the Family Research Council, and a nationally recognized trial lawyer.

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