Cru: Taking Crusade & Christ Out of Their Name

In a rather mind-boggling display of irony, the Christian organization responsible for producing the “JESUS” film has decided that having Christ in their name was just too much for the sensibilities of the modern world.  Campus Crusade for Christ, founded by Bill and Vonette Bright in 1951, will henceforth be known as “Cru.”  I couldn’t make that up if I tried.

The ostensible reason from changing this venerable and well-known para-church group to Cru was because the word “Crusade” apparently alienates a lot of people.  Okay.  If that is the case, then why change your name to “Cru,” which I think are the first three letters in the word CRUsade?  This makes absolutely no sense, but there always seems to be a justification for these continual bows to modern, anti-Christian culture.  In fact, Steve Sellers, Campus Crusade for Christ’s Vice President, in arguing for the name change, said:

“We felt like our name was getting in the way of accomplishing our mission,” . . . noting that the ministry will still be committed to “proclaiming Christ around the world.”

How do you suppose that the powers-that-be at CCC realized that their name was causing so many problems in evangelizing on college campuses throughout the world?  You guessed it — an opinion poll.  It seems that polling data confirmed that 9% of Christians and 20% of non-Christians found the name — Campus Crusade for Christ — offensive.  Apparently less than 10% of those polled who identified as Christians (whatever their definition of Christian may have been) and only 1 in 5 non-Christians who were polled were enough to sway Campus Crusade for Christ to ditch their name. 

I’m still not quite sure how their mission of “proclaiming Christ around the world” will be more effectively accomplished by taking Christ out of their name.  And, when I say Christ, I really mean Jesus.  There is something about the Name of Jesus Christ that will always be offensive to non-believers.  After all, isn’t Jesus a stumbling block and a stone of offense?  We certainly wouldn’t want to offend anybody with the Name that is above every other name, now would we?  What’s next?  Removing crosses from our churches and replacing them with globes.  But, I digress.

Sensing that the name change might not go over well with followers of Christ, Campus Crusade for Christ Cru brought out a big gun in defense of the seemingly indefensible — Vonette Bright, who along with her late husband, Bill, co-founded Campus Crusade for Christ.  I’m not sure if Mrs. Bright said the following or it was just spun re-phrased by Vice President Sellers:

“When Bill Bright started the organization, he told his wife that someday they would have to change the name,” Sellers said. “As early as the late ’70s and ’80s he was looking at making the name change.” (article here)

Considering that Bill Bright died in 2003, a good 20 years after Mr. Sellers claims that Bright was looking at a name change, one could conclude that either Bill Bright was extremely slow in his decision-making process or that he did not think that Campus Crusade for Christ was a hindrance to proclaiming the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

But, when we become so concerned with being liked, then we begin to water down the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That may or may not be our intent, but that is where we end up.  Said Sellers:

“Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name.”

What could be more overtly Christian than the Name of Jesus Christ?  For Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ), being that overt is apparently just too much in a post-modern, post-Christian world where popularity has become the new standard for measuring Gospel “success.”  But, if popularity is a barometer of fidelity to the Gospel, then a certain church in the Houston, Texas area would be our model for a faithful Christian witness.  Alas, it is not.  Or for Cru, maybe it is.

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
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7 Responses to Cru: Taking Crusade & Christ Out of Their Name

  1. Job says:

    Well, The King’s College, which is owned and run by Campus Crusade for Christ, hired Dinesh D’Souza to run it a few years back. In addition to the fact that D’Souza’s education seems to be limited to a Bachelor’s degree in English, and also that he has absolutely no experience as a pastor, theologian or seminarian, D’Souza is cagey about whether he is Roman Catholic or Protestant, as well as the level that he believes in – or is willing to countenance a belief in – evolution. So, the name change is merely a reflection of what has been going on with that organization.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Job,

      I was not aware of The King’s College situation with D’Souza. Doesn’t surprise me in the least. We have supported a few church members on individual mission trips with Campus Crusade for Christ, but I was not personally involved when I was in college and am not an ardent supporter. I’m not sold on all of CCC’s methodology and/or theology, so their latest move will make me even more skeptical of the organization as a whole. Hope you are doing well. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the information and your thoughts. Have a great week and God bless,

      Howell

  2. Someone ought to point out that the Southern Baptist Convention doesn’t have the name of Christ in its name, either, but the only hassle seems to be with those who think that “Southern” and/or “Baptist” should be removed.

    Seems to me Baptists oughtn’t throw any stones in CRU’s direction.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Bob,

      As one who is adamently opposed to changing the name of the SBC, I was entirely comfortable in commenting on Campus Crusade for Christ’s name change to cru. As I shared with Job, I am not a huge fan of CCC’s methodology and/or theology, even though I am not opposed to supporting church members who have participated in overseas mission trips with the organization. I think that CCC’s changing its name or the SBC changing its name is akin to McDonald’s changing its name. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I maybe in the shrinking minority on that, especially with the prevailing winds in the Convention coming out of places like Raleigh and Louisville. However, that is a post for another day. Good to hear from you and hope things are well with you in AL. God bless,

      Howell

      • Ambrose Massaquoi says:

        It may help to have a background to Campus Crusade for Christ around the world. While the US ministry kept the original name for 60 years, the organization has been known by different names in other parts of the world for years. In English West Africa, for instance, the ministry is known as Great Commission Movement. Canada has Power to Change. In much of Europe, it is called Agape, and in Eastern Africa, it goes by LIFE. Many Asian countries have kept the original name, and it is worth noting that Campus Crusade for Christ is still the international name. Nowhere has the ministry shied away from boldly proclaiming Christ because “Jesus” was not in the name.

      • Howell Scott says:

        Ambrose,

        Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts about Campus Crusade for Christ. While CCC maybe known by other names in different countries around the world, it is well known as Campus Crusade for Christ here in the United States. While “Jesus” was never in the name, Christ was. I can’t speak for any other cultures around the world, but when you start dropping “Christ” from a name that is as well known in Christian circles as McDonald’s is in fast food circles, there is a perception that Campus was capitulating to culture. That the V.P. of CCC acknowledged that they did a survey, suggesting that how people felt about the name influenced their decision to change the name, was not one of the strongest arguments that one could make for becoming “Cru.” That being said, we have supported Campus Crusade for Christ missionaries in the past and I certainly hope that God will continue to use the organization to reach the young men and women on college campuses throughout the world with the Gospel of Christ. Thanks again and God bless,

        Howell

  3. Pingback: The Top Blog Posts of the Week | SBC Today

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