OpEd: Why Dropping ‘Christ’ Is Not Sign of Retreat for Campus Crusade

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Phil Cooke


“It’s not a Christian organization if Christ isn’t in the name.”

I hear that one a lot. In fact, I’ve heard it in relation to Campus Crusade for Christ
changing their name recently. Some people are upset that they seem to
have dropped the “Christ” part, when in fact it was the “Crusade” word
that caused them trouble with certain international outreaches.

everyone’s a critic, and they had to get upset about something. Campus
Crusade announced its name change
two weeks ago to “CRU.”
For those outside the organization, “Cru” is an informal nickname that
their campus staff have called themselves for years. It has enormous
equity among what’s probably the largest outreach in the organization—not to mention their next generation of leaders—and among the five final
name choices, they made that selection.

Like “CRU” or not, one of the biggest criticisms has been the tired line that “It’s not Christian
if you take “Christ” out of the name.” Some have even called them
“cowardly.” My take? That criticism, while probably made by well-meaning people, could not be more false. Using that argument, 90 percent of
churches wouldn’t be Christian and the “Billy Graham Evangelistic
Association” wouldn’t be Christian—along with about a million others—including Christian colleges and universities.

And dropping
the word isn’t a sign of retreat, it’s a sign of advance. After all,
what’s the point of having a word like “crusade” or even “Christ” in the
name if leading with that actually closes the door to sharing that very message?

I saw a movie workshop at a Christian media conference recently actually called “If ‘Christ’ isn’t in the movie, you can’t call it a Christian film.” That’s equally preposterous.

I wish people—even well meaning ones—would find out the real
information before criticizing name changes—particularly from
organizations that have long track records of success and integrity. I
wasn’t personally involved in the name change, but I know they spent
years agonizing over it, praying and doing their homework. They know
that a name can either open a door or shut it.

There are legitimate reasons to debate names and name changes.
Provocative challenges like calling people cowards for taking “Christ”
out of the name isn’t one of them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the name change and the issue in general.

Phil Cooke has produced media programming in more than 40 countries
around the world. He’s also a founding partner in the commercial
production company TWC Films, which produces national advertising for
some of the largest companies in the country. TWC Films produced two TV
commercials for Super Bowl 2008 and was selected to unveil the
revolutionary new electric Chevrolet Volt. You can find him online at

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Phil Cooke and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charisma editorial staff. To read a differing opinion by Michael Youssef, click here.

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