Friday, August 08, 2008

Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ

Who were the people most influential in your coming to faith in Jesus?

For me, it started with my parents. They took me to church every Sunday at the Lutheran Church around the block from my home during my childhood days in Cincinnati.

Martin Luther and the Lutheran Church gave me a strong doctrinal foundation. But it was Bill Bright and his Campus Crusade organization that injected passion and personal application into my Christian faith, especially during my years as a student at Ohio University.

Aside from Billy Graham, no person has impacted the spiritual landscape of America--post World War II--than Bill Bright. Plenty of books have been written about Graham, but few about Bright. Correcting this oversight is John G. Turner who has produced what looks to be an excellent read in his work, Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America.

If you're like me, your knowledge of Bill Bright and Campus Crusade comes from your few years of experience at college. Turner though provides the big picture-- how Bright started Crusade, it's growth, and the troubles along the way.

Turner isn't shy about critiquing Bright and his organization. According to Christianity Today:
Indeed, Turner admits in the introduction that some Crusade insiders who reviewed the manuscript "in some cases vehemently disagreed" with his conclusions. But Turner's book succeeds precisely because he recorded the first-hand observations of so many Crusade insiders...

"While I respect Campus Crusade for boldly and aggressively pursuing its objectives," Turner writes, "I also highlight the ministry's period anti-intellectualism, its infatuation with large crowds and statistics, and the messy ways Bright connected his mission to partisan politics."
Bill Bright and Campus Crusade has influenced my Christian faith in so many ways, nearly all for the good. Turner's history and analysis looks interesting.

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