If Christ isn’t in the name, how will I know it’s Christian?

Recently, long-standing evangelism non-profit Campus Crusade for Christ officially announced its plan to change its name to Cru. I admit the over-priced wine bar with mediocre cheeseboards was the first thing I thought of when I heard the news. But the second thing I thought was, Naturally, that’s what people call it anyway. So I didn’t think anything of it. I wasn’t freaked out because Christ is no longer in the name. For heaven’s sake, Christ himself said, “Be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves;” not, “Subtlety is a sin. Be as obvious and explicit as you can be because that’s how people will know you belong to me.” No. He said, “They will know you are my followers by your love for one another.” But yet again, people only see Christians calling their brothers and sisters names like “coward” and “repulsive” and griping at each other. That’s just great. (You can read more about how Christians are going to the mattresses here on Fox News’s report.)

I agree with Cru: they needed to drop “crusade” from the name. It certainly does recall The Crusades, an awful, dark, embarrassing time in Christianity, or at least medieval Christendom… I’ll let my historian colleagues correct my armchair claims here; but that is all the more to the point: popular perception matters; words have baggage, and it is naive to think we can simply plow through it. I will say, it does make it a bit ironic that crusade is the one word they’re keeping, even if it is a shortened version of it. Nonetheless, Campus Crusade for Christ is a dated (and long) name; hence why people commonly shortened it to Cru even before the official name change.

I agree entirely with Cru vice president Steve Sellers when he said it is “more important that the organization is effective at proclaiming Jesus than it is important to have the name of Jesus in the name of the organization.” The fact that people are chalking this up to succumbing to political correctness is evidence that they care more about the outside than the inside; more about appearances than heart; more about rhetorical positions than actually taking a stand. This kind of attitude common among Christians is sad. It isn’t a witness to the world, as Cru has been and continues to be; and it isn’t worthy of the calling we have received in Christ. It reminds me of how many Christians understand “Christian art.” But that’s another blog post for another day.

Part of thinking through our Christianity includes thinking before reacting, perhaps especially on social networking sites where we feel emboldened by our anonymity amid the mob and where instant gratification is part of the point. It also includes being mindful of passages like Matthew 10 and 1 Peter 3 when quoting Romans 1:16.

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6 Responses to If Christ isn’t in the name, how will I know it’s Christian?

  1. I honestly find the name Cru to be a hopelessly awkward attempt at being hip and relevant. I have never heard that name used for the organization, though, so that’s the perspective of one without an extant familiarity with the name. The moniker Campus Crusade for Christ, however, had come to be burdened with a great deal of political baggage that, I think, distracted from the good things the organization has done over the years. In that sense, the name change may also be seen as part of the growing trend of Christian groups attempting to escape the negative stigmas associated with Christian conservatism in America. Unfortunately, I believe these efforts look to outsiders like little more than a smokescreen. As you rightly point out, it is the actions of a group and not its name that are its truest definition. One way or another, I hope the transition is a beneficial one for the organization.

    • reneamac says:

      You make good points about hip-replacement smokescreens. I too hope the rebranding is beneficial overall. There’s lots about the organization’s methods I don’t like, but I believe they do a lot of good too.

      For anyone interested in more of Cru’s side of the story, visit http://www.ccci.org/cru.

  2. wretched1 says:

    I do not think that I’ve ever heard the organization called Cru. I read the press release on ccci.org the day it was announced and it states, “Since the mid-1990s, it [Cru] has been used locally on the majority of their U.S. campus ministries.” I searched Google on that day to see how prevalent Cru was. I found a few links – one in particular mentioned why they used the term on that particular US campus and the article was dated in 2005.

    Repeating that search today in an attempt to find that same link is much harder since the terms have hit the blogoshere, but including 2005 in the search terms narrowed things down a bit. I never found that page again (and I don’t keep a history of pages visited on my phone), but here is one from 2005 http://www.indiana.edu/~iuccc/talks/talks_2005.html A check with archive.org shows that the page looked like that long before the announced name change.

    And crupress.com (Cru’s publishing house) also goes back to May 2005 at archive.org

    Removing “2005” from the search term and just using (“campus crusade for Christ” “cru”) returned far too many hits to be of much use – about 140,000. Then it dawned on me to have Google only return pages w/o “campus crusade for Christ” in them but with a term like prayer [‘cuz everything is better w/ prayer:] (-“campus crusade for Christ” “cru” prayer)

    That search yielded http://wn.com/Cru_Prayer and about 4.6 million other prayer pages… surely not all of which are for Cru. But having Google return 100 results/page and skimming over many results pages, it would seem that 1000s of sites use this term in reference to “Campus Crusade for Christ”, even overseas.

    Since many Baptist churches have been rebranded, DBU can drop Baptist and become Nxt2PH 🙂

    • reneamac says:

      Next to Potter’s House… Yeah, I don’t see that happening. Ever. 🙂

      Meanwhile, it also looks as though Cru will be overhauling their website and logo; it’s nice the name change provides them this opportunity; both desperately needed updating.

  3. Adam Jones says:

    I agree with you and I’m glad you wrote this. My only complaint is that “Cru” is a stupid name. And, it seems like it’s short for “Crusade,” so they aren’t leaving the name “Crusade” behind very well.

    • reneamac says:

      You’ll find no argument with me there, Mr Jones. “Cru” doesn’t really say anything (except ‘short for crusade’). But I understand wanting a smooth transition to a name lots of people involved with the organization already use.

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