Must Christians be politically correct?
A name change at Campus Crusade for Christ begs the question.
Early next year, Campus Crusade for Christ will simply be known as “Cru” – the nickname already given to it by most student members. In evangelical circles, the global college ministry is being criticized for bowing to political correctness.
Not so fast. Many of us can learn from Cru’s example.
Followers of Jesus Christ bear a message that by nature will offend. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,” (John 14:6 – NKJV).
Did you catch that? Jesus himself makes clear that he is man’s only hope to have sin forgiven, the only way to be made right with God, the only way to heaven.
That means every other truth claim is wrong. And exclusive truth offends.
However, Christ also compels his followers to be “wise as serpents, harmless as doves,” (Matthew 10:16).
In other words, be smart about the way this exclusive truth is conveyed. The message itself may offend, but the manner in which it’s delivered need not.
The word “crusade” no longer means what it did in the 1950s, when Cru was founded. Now it connotes military conquests by European Christians fighting to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslims in the 11th to 13th centuries.
It’s a word that gives unnecessary offense to some people, preventing them from even hearing the message of the gospel.
Cru is wrestling with an age-old challenge more Christians should take seriously: How do we declare a message that by nature is offensive, yet not needlessly offend those who must hear it?
Cru is not alone in this. Wheaton College long ago retired its Crusader mascot, and evangelist Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, conducts “festivals” worldwide, not his father’s namesake “crusades.”
Jesus’ command to be “wise as serpents, harmless as doves” creates a tension playing out locally in Coeur d’Alene these days, where hundreds have signed petitions asking officials to remove a Hindu idol statue now on display as part of the city’s public art program.
I’d like to see the elephant-like Ganesh idol removed.
But I’d also like more Christians to be known as those who are for Jesus Christ, rather than as those who are simply against everything else.
For now, city officials say they’ll ignore requests to remove the statue. So the idol’s presence is a talk point – an opportunity to share the truth about Jesus Christ. I pray more Christians in Coeur d’Alene take that opportunity, whether they spend energy fighting the statue or not.
Could it be that a more worthy opponent is the elephant in the room with many, if not most, Christians? The hard truth is that it’s easier to point out what is obviously wrong, than to wisely, intentionally and sacrificially stand up for Jesus Christ.
Some say Cru has gone too far in its effort not to offend unnecessarily. After all, the group not only dropped “crusade” from its moniker, but also “Christ.”
Fair enough. The new name is ambiguous. But the notoriety of Starbucks and Google suggests ambiguity in a name can be overcome.
And anyone concerned that Cru may be backing off its mission to make Christ known on campuses worldwide just doesn’t know Cru that well.
I have just one question for Christians distressed by the “political correctness” of Cru, or Franklin Graham, or the city of Coeur d’Alene.
We Christians are good at opposing stuff. But do people also know we’re for Jesus Christ?