Friday, July 22, 2011

Campus Crusade for Christ Drops "Christ" from Name

Is this a case of political correctness, a "new and improved"re-make, or  another instance of our ever-changing language? ... from FoxNews (emphasis added):
Campus Ministry Drops 'Christ' from Name

One of the nation’s most prominent Christian ministries has decided to take Christ out of its name – a move that has generated cries of political correctness from within the evangelical community.

Campus Crusade for Christ International announced this week that it will change the name of its U.S. Operations to “Cru” in early 2012.

“We felt like our name was getting in the way of accomplishing our mission,” said Steve Sellers, the vice president for Campus Crusade, noting that the ministry will still be committed to “proclaiming Christ around the world.”

Sellers said researchers found that 9 percent of Christians and 20 percent of non-Christians were alienated by the name Campus Crusade for Christ.

The organization was founded in 1951 by Bill and Vonette Bright and today has 25,000 staff members serving in 191 countries. Bright died in 2003, but his widow offered support for the name change in a video posted online.

“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.”
Sellers said several factors were involved in the name change – including overseas sensitivities.

“Our name was becoming more and more of a hindrance,” he told Fox News Radio. He specifically mentioned the word crusade.

“It’s reverted back to some of its meaning related to the Middle Ages – forcing Christianity on different parts of the world,” he said.

As for removing Christ from their name, the Campus Crusade for Christ website states:

“We were not trying to eliminate the word Christ from our name. We were looking for a name that would most effectively serve our mission and help us take the gospel to the world. Our mission has not changed. Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name. We believe that our interaction and our communication with the world will be what ultimately honors and glorifies Christ.”

But that decision has created controversy within the evangelical Christian community – some taking to social networking sites and the organization’s website to voice their displeasure.

“Take Christ out, and you become just another crusade,” one critic wrote on the Campus Crusade website. “How repulsive can you get?” Another person wrote, “We are both appalled that you think you have to remove the name Christ from your name.”

“It is sad that an organization like Campus Crusade at least appears to have allowed themselves to be taken by the politically correct environment instead of acting counter culturally as Christ’s followers are called to do,” said Richard Hornsby, of Kansas City. “For an institution like Crusade to appear to cave to the same cultural pressure that leads school principals to harass or try to ban Christian groups from meeting on campus is incredibly sad. We expect the ACLU to intimidate small towns and schools by threatening to sue them. We don’t expect long-standing pillars of the Christian community to fold like this.”

Hornsby was actively involved with Campus Crusade at The Ohio State University when he was a college student. He said he was surprised by the name change.

“I immediately thought of Paul’s letter to the Romans, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,’” he said. “It may be that CCCI has good intentions behind the change, but on its face, this decision to drop ‘Christ’ seems like an attempt to hide or mask the core identity of the group.”

But Sellers defended the removal of Christ’s name from the title – and denied that political correctness was involved.

“It has nothing to do with political correctness,” he said. “It has everything to do with how we can be effective at what God has called us to do.”

“Most churches don’t have Christ in their name,” he said. “Hardly any other Christian organization has Christ in their name. People are making an issue out of something that isn’t the intent at all.”

Sellers 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.”

And he stressed that the mission of the organization has not changed.

“We are an evangelistic organization that is committed and has been committed and will be committed to proclaiming Christ around the world,” he said.

The new name, Cru, has long been used as a nickname for the organization on university campuses. Other than that, Sellers said Cru does not have a definition.

“Much like lots of brand names they don’t necessarily have meaning in and of themselves,” he said. “It is a name we intend to give meaning so that when people hear it they know that it’s a caring group of Christians who are passionate about lifting up the name of Jesus.”
Sarah Pulliam Bailey of Christianity Today offers more to the story (emphasis added) -- 
With the name Crusade, Sellers said people might conjure images of people being forced into something.

"We think the name of Jesus and his love is the most attractive thing on the planet, and to do anything to make it seem forced or that we're trying to cram it down anyone's throat is just not necessary," Sellers said. "We're constantly trying to eliminate things that are a barrier or obstacle.

"Since Cru began as a nickname at the local level in the mid-90s it has taken on much of the positive equity of the organization without any of the negatives," the organization said in a FAQ  posted on its website. "Like Google, Starbucks, and other abstract names, we expect to fill Cru with meaning as it embodies all that we are as we go to the world with the gospel." 

Campus Crusade is not the first organization to distance itself from the term. In 2000, Wheaton College removed its Crusader mascot and eventually became the Thunder. Only this year, the school unveiled a physical mascot, "Stertorous 'Tor' Thunder," a 2-person mastodon costume weighing 99 pounds (the largest mascot in the NCAA). In 2002, evangelist Billy Graham began using the word "mission" to describe what he always called "crusades." His son Franklin Graham and evangelist Luis Palau call their gatherings "festivals," while Greg Laurie uses "crusade."
This word "crusade", I think, makes all of us recall the ruckus President Bush (W) stirred up when he used the term in addressing the nation following the 9/11 attacks.  He said: "this crusade, this war on terror is going to take a while."  [Click here for transcript.] At the time of hearing his speech, I didn't even flinch at the word, interpreting the word as I think most people use it today: a heroic, monumental undertaking, campaign or struggle.

So, how does Merriam-Webster define "crusade?":
1: any of the military expeditions undertaken by Christian powers in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to win the Holy Land from the Muslims
2: a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm

Related to CRUSADE

But, Bush's use of "crusade" unleashed a firestorm of political correctness.  Here's a brief history lesson on it from Wikipedia in its entry of "Tenth Crusade":
The use of this figure of speech was criticized in Europe, and Arabic-speaking countries. Supporters of the President's usage of "crusade" argue that from context Bush had used the word in a military, non-religious sense, such as "The Great Crusade" which was the phrase used by General Dwight D. Eisenhower to describe the D-Day invasion of Europe to the Allied troops in his order of the day broadcast.[2]
They point to many modern dictionaries which define crusade (not capitalized) to include any vigorous action aimed at achieving a particular noble goal.[3][4] However, particularly in predominantly Muslim parts of the world, the term crusade produces the same sort of negative reaction as the term jihad does in much of the West.

Tenth Crusade

In the September 7, 2002 issue of CounterPunch,[5] columnist Alexander Cockburn authored an opinion column titled "The Tenth Crusade"[6] in which he numbered the conflict to follow nine medieval Crusades. In a Newsday article issued December 4, 2003, political commentator James Pinkerton cited two intermediate wars also called "Tenth Crusade." Pinkerton's renumbering of the conflict as the "Twelfth Crusade" has been overshadowed by references to the title of the Cockburn column.[7] Cockburn is thus usually credited with coining the term, which is almost exclusively used by critics of the US operations.
Who knew such a tiny, two-syllable word could ignite such an explosive argument discussion!  I guess Campus Crusade doesn't want to get pulled into the boiling cauldron.  "Crusade" is yet another word whose meaning has transmuted these days into something different.  Or, is it simply wanting a name that's hip?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gay Marriage & Homosexuality: Growing Normalization

I'm sure you saw last week's big news story of the state of New York having legalized same-sex marriage.  As a Christian, I have struggled for some time with the issue of homosexuality.  Having been a member of the Presbyterian Church / USA and then the Lutheran Church ELCA, this issue has followed me as I have attempted to retreat from society's gradual acceptance of gay marriage and the gay lifestyle.  Mind you, I believe a homosexual is no greater a sinner than I am.  If we accept Christ as Savior, we will both be embraced by Him when we enter into His kingdom.  But, my interpretation of the Faith continues to lead me to reject homosexuality and remain with the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. 

Still operating in my "church gypsy" mode, trying to find a church home in which to settle down, I am presently still running into this "hurdle."  I have visited numerous times a very nice ELCA church and have given serious consideration to joining, but I still choke on the homosexuality issue (... well, and also on some other leftwing ideology the ELCA has adopted over the years).  Over the past couple of weeks, I have been visiting another "contender" -- a United Methodist Church.  I have checked into the UMC's stance on homosexuality and gay marriage and am pleased that its policies are in alignment with my beliefs.  However, I do know that this is an issue that has been causing some contention within the UMC's ranks.  (Example: "200 Methodist clergy in Illinois defy church on same-sex unions.")

Today on The Christian Post, I read where the president of  The Southern Baptist Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, says that, because our society is seeing the normalization and legalization of same-sex marriage, we Christians need to start thinking about how we are going to deal with a changing culture and "even face the fact that they may lose a few from their flock."

Here's Nathan Black's story from The Christian Post (emphasis added):
Christians Need to Prepare for Normalization of Gay Marriage
Though many Christians are going to try to deny "the obvious," evangelical leader Dr. Albert Mohler believes gay marriage is going to become normalized.

"I think it's clear that something like same-sex marriage is going to become normalized, legalized and recognized in the culture. It's time for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that," he said Friday on the Focus on the Family radio program.

Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was speaking in response to the Obama administration's decision this week to stop defending the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act – federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman – in the courts.

Conservative groups and Christians have criticized Obama for going against his duty as president to defend the law.

"When a president takes oath of office, he's upholding ... defending the laws of the United States of America," said Mohler, who also noted that DOMA had passed as a bipartisan effort.

"The White House has clearly made a calculation that it can do this now with far less political risk than it could even two years ago."

Though Obama has always expressed his desire to repeal DOMA, his personal view on marriage had been traditional.

While on the campaign trail, running as the Democratic presidential nominee, Obama asserted his belief that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. He added, while being interviewed by Pastor Rick Warren, that "for me as a Christian, it's also a sacred union. God's in the mix."

Recently, however, he has stated that his views on gay marriage are "evolving."

The Obama administration has been pro-gay since taking office two years ago and Mohler noted that there has been a long trajectory on the issue of gay marriage pointing to this day.

With the Justice Department now pulling its defense of DOMA, pending legal challenges against the federal law will likely result with the nullification of DOMA, Mohler predicted.

"You can say, the cards are pretty much stacked against DOMA," he illustrated.

He warned that when Christians feel threatened, they have to be careful not to lash out with a predictable response.

The Southern Baptist made it clear that he was not saying that they are giving up. Marriage is still an institution Christians need to save, particularly in their own community. But Christians also need to start learning how to deal with the shifting culture and even face the fact that they may lose a few from their flock.

"I think we're going to be surprised and heartbroken over how many people are going to capitulate to the spirit of the age," he noted. "We're going to find now that there may not be as many of us as we thought."

Nevertheless, Christians must be prepared to make marriage one of the many topics where parents have to have "the talk."

"It's interesting now that the world is so morally upside down that when we talk about marriage we have to make a distinction between natural marriage – heterosexual marriage – and this new thing that people are calling marriage," Mohler said.

"We have to prepare our children to be in a context in which they're going to be in a playground with children who have two dads or two moms or who knows what kind of combination will come."

Ultimately, the worldview or the belief that God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman only makes sense if one understands the Gospel, Mohler pointed out, which raises a critical point:

"This whole situation reminds us that we are, first of all, to be Gospel people who are fellow sinners ... saved by grace, with the responsibility to share the Gospel with others."