Two days ago, an organization that I am very familiar with, announced that it is changing its name. The organization: Campus Crusade for Christ. The new name: Cru.
Before I begin this discussion on the significance of this name change, let me just say that I have high regard for the ministry that Bill Bright started back in the 1950’s to help fulfill “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20) in the U.S. and around the world. I was intimately involved in this ministry in both high school and college, and to a more limited extent, after college. Campus Crusade for Christ had a very deep and positive impact on solidifying and growing my relationship with Jesus Christ. Or perhaps more accurately, the people involved in this ministry had, and continue to have, a lasting impact on my life.
So how did I feel when I heard the news of the name change this morning? Honestly, my reaction was, “Really? You have got to be kidding!” And the more I researched the change and the reasons behind the change, the more I became convinced that this is nothing more than another crest in the new wave of political correctness and cultural relevance which is infiltrating and diminishing the distinctiveness of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Being a wine aficionado, my first thought was one of wine, and wondering if the name was in some esoteric way connected with the “New Wine” of Christ and the New Covenant. “Cru” is a French term associated with vineyard classification. “Grand Cru Classs’ ” is a wine term designating a top-rated vineyard in Bordeaux, one of the “great growths” or the best of the best. A Cru Bourgeois is a wine of more common origin and character. So you can understand, perhaps, my initial confusion. Probably the leaders of Campus Crusade are not as versed on wine as I am (which in my opinion is to miss out on a great many spiritual lessons to be gained from wine which are replete in scripture. But that is a post for another day). And as if that is not enough, CRU also stands for Climatic Research Unit, that ignominious organization out of the University of East Anglia who gained world-wide attention last year for the emails sent out to encourage the falsifying of climate data in order to support the whole Global Warming hoax. By the way, I do believe in ultimate global warming, but as outlined in II Peter 3:10!
Now, for the crux of the matter. Why the name change? According to CCC’s press release, it is to “increase relevance” and “overcome existing barriers and perceptions”. OK. So a name change may be in order. Nothing new here. Organizations and companies do that all the time (though usually after a merger or buyout). But let’s examine what is behind this a little more closely. The most obvious deletion from the current name is the word “Christ”. An organization whose stated purpose is to help fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ is afraid that mentioning His name may be a hindrance to fulfilling it? That is like the President recalling all of our overseas ambassadors and diplomatic corps of the United States State Department and telling them, along with the Secretary of State, that from now on (due to ongoing threats and misconceptions and so as not to give offense) they will no longer be known as representatives of the United States of America, but rather, “The U”. Not to try to make such a big deal out of the obvious omission of the name “Christ” from the org name after over 50 years, but I heartily disagree with the U.S. Vice-President of Campus Crusade for Christ, Steve Sellers, when he said, “Our name is really for the benefit of others” and “Ultimately, it’s not about our name, but how we live out our mission everyday.” Or, in other words, what’s in a name anyway? By the way, in our next modern translation of the Bible, why not let’s all agree to change Jesus’ title to CEO and His disciples to Vice-presidents. Peter could be Vice-President of Jewish Relations. Paul could be the Vice-president of World Mission Outreach. We could even make Thomas the new VP of Apologetics, now that he has finally been straightened out and learned his lesson as to who Christ really is!
Scripture has much to say about the importance of a name. The first and most crucially important being that a name represents the person; who they are and what they are. Many of our family names were, in fact, derived from who the persons were and what they did. For example, names like Shoemaker, Armstrong, Brightman, Foreman, Goodman, Abramson, and Johnson were derived from compound words which described a trade or trait of the person named, or who they were descended from. Just so, Scripture tells us that God is the source “from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name”. (Ephesians 3:15) Jesus Himself was given His name because “you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) And then again just two verses down, “and they shall call His name Immanuel, which means “God with us”.” In fact there are over 700 references in Scripture to God’s name and the name of His Son-the importance of this name and what it means- that it stand and not be profaned. Jesus was given a name above all names, “God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11) Jesus Christ is, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come” (Ephesian 1:21) Is this really the same Christ whose name this organization wants to drop because it is “an obstacle to people hearing”? Do they not remember the words of the Master in the context of His instructions to His disciples who were going out to fulfill the Great Commission, “And you will be hated by all on account of My Name” (Matthew 10:16-23) The Apostle Peter echoed this in I Peter 4:12-19 where he says in verse 14: “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed”, and in verse 16: “but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God”. But perhaps that is it. We want to all “just get along” as Rodney King famously said. We don’t want to “offend” anyone, but rather be approachable and likable. We want to avoid being “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” even though Jesus is. (Romans 9:33; I Peter 2:8 ) If that is what we have come to, then how can we truly represent Him?
The dropping of the “Campus” portion of the name is understandable to me since their ministry has indeed expanded well beyond just school campuses. I traveled overseas on a mission trip to Russia in the early 90’s to minister to orphans with a Campus Crusade for Christ team, so I am well aware that the work of this organization extends far beyond high school and college campuses. The dropping of the portion of the name “Crusade” however, is another story. It is a kowtow to political correctness, and self-admittedly done so so as not to “offend Muslims”. As if Muslims in America really understand or even remember the Crusades. And why do we need to make a de facto apology for something that occurred nearly 1000 years ago on another continent? Besides, the name change to “Cru” is only for the United States, a historically Christian nation with a small minority Muslim population of only about 7 million in a country of 310 million; less than 3%!
That CCC would enlist paid consultants to help “re-brand” the ministry is a testimony to how much the American Church has bought into the whole corporate marketing model. (I come from a Fortune 500 corporate background!) I still distinctly remember the gifted Bible teacher, Crawford Loritts (a former CCC staff member and now Senior Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia) bringing a message in which he said, “The Greeks turned Christianity into a philosophy, the Romans turned it into a religion, but we (Americans) have turned it into a business.” Space does not permit further discussion of the slick marketing campaigns, high pressure fund-raising tactics, and worldly-wise, corporate style approaches of which I am well aware have been used extensively by Campus Crusade for Christ in recent years. I got so fed up with it that I asked to be excluded from their mailing list. That the leadership unanimously approved the name change shows just how far group-think can go in decision-making, even in Christian organizations.
This whole affair underscores, in my opinion, the larger problem which is occurring more and more often in churches and para-church organizations across our land: an attempt to make culturally relevant the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in so doing, to lose the power and distinctiveness that go along with being called by His name, and calling others to the name of Christ.