Campus crusade and How forceful should we be with reformed faith

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by MichaelGao, Aug 4, 2010.

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  1. MichaelGao

    MichaelGao Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi all

    So campus crusade. Wondering about your views on it.

    Over here in New Zealand, its got a collegiate ministry called "Student Life". I have been involved with Student Life for the last 2 years of my degree.

    I realize that campus crusade is not very popular among reformed circles. And I myself have witnessed some of the shortcomings in their doctrinal shallowness and some arminian persuasions.

    They are definitely not rightly dividing the content of the gospel, but just to clear things up, when they go out to share the gospel on campus, they do bring up stuff like sin, but i guess the problem is misplaced emphasis: emphasis put on a relationship with Jesus being "exciting, relevant, and life changing", instead of the atonement. Definitely attempts to tone down the severe side of the story: oncoming wrath of God to unbelievers.
    I find no mention of eternal punishment or hell in the KGP (Knowing God Personally Tract).

    Having said all this, I really like that they are (not how they're doing it) pushing the great commission. I myself at times feel guilty about not being as bold with the gospel.

    I guess the question I want to ask is: Should I be constantly pointing out their flaws and getting into arguments about the differences? Because I have not been doing that, mainly because I am not a person who likes to get into arguments. Not very good at it either.

    This question can really be extended to further with every arminian we meet, should we be constantly trying to "convert" them? or should we just set aside the differences, and enjoy fellowship with one another and only bring them up in specific circumstances that requires it.

    Im not asking if I should be honest about what I believe, but if I should be forceful about it on others. Because if I should be forceful, then I would have to be getting into alot of long debates with most of the christians i know.

    Or more simply: can a calvinist commune and serve together with the less conservatives...or are the differences creating gaps that are too big to cross.
  2. JonathanHunt

    JonathanHunt Puritan Board Senior

  3. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    The problem with para church orgs is that they have no oversight. In Reformed churches those who aren't members of local churches in good standing can't take communion, and one reason is that they aren't subject to church discipline. Those kids in CC are acting without any legitimate spiritual supervision at all.
  4. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Take time to thoroughly understand why the Arminian influenced basis and method used by this organization does not faithfully represent Scripture.

    It's more than just not liking the organization or its approach.

    The Apostle Paul said that even when the gospel was preached with false motives, he rejoiced (cf Phil. 1:15).

    Thankfully, one does not have to understand deeper systems of doctrine in order to be saved. No doubt God uses wrong methods, and even the presentation of wrong biblical implications. There was good fruit in the life and death of the founder of this organization, and I have no reason to doubt he was a believer.

    The zeal, though wrong in focus, (e.g. decisionism) does challenge and put many of us to shame. That's I would tend to encourage, not discourage a new believer who was in this.

    But, I would also engage them. It's a serious thing to misrepresent God, and how He sovereignly saves. But that is something that comes with maturity, the gentle reproof and correction of the Word.
  5. Austin

    Austin Puritan Board Freshman

    For what it's worth, Darin Bufkin, the Director of Leadership for Student Life (CCC) in NZ is a Reformed Presbyterian. His church membership is at Stonebridge EPC in Perrysburg (Toledo), Ohio in the US. Stonebridge is by far the most solidly Reformed church in the EPC Midwest Presbytery (which comprises OH, MI, & IN). After several years on the field, the Bufkins recently applied with the EPC World Outreach (foreign mission) arm to be commissioned EPC missionaries. Unfortunately, Campus Crusade isn't very accommodating to denominational requirements and so their application was unable to be processed.

    Having been the pastor of the Bufkins home church, I can vouch for the fact that they are Confessional Presbyterians. (As a part of the application to be received as EPC missionaries, they had to subscribe to the Westminster Standards. Our session assessed their exceptions and found them well within the mainstream of what we here at the PB would consider acceptable.)

    As National Leadership Director, Darin's role includes the spiritual formation of CCC leaders and campus staff in New Zealand. While this doesn't necessarily imply that the CCC staff in NZ are or will be Reformed, I would hope that they would be growing in their understanding of the doctrines of grace at least through osmosis as they are taught from a Confessional perspective.

    I can also state that my experience of CCC when I was a student at the University of Arizona (1992-1996) was from a solidly Reformed perspective, as the campus director at the U of A was the solidly Reformed Clerk of Session at New Covenant EPC in Tucson, AZ. However, that said, it was my observation that this same campus director had a lot of difficulty from the staff under him as well as from above due to his theological convictions. After my graduation in 1996 and move to Mississippi to attend RTS, he was eventually evicted from his position after more than 20 years there because of his Reformed bona fides. From my perspective, this was highly ironic, as the ministry at the University of Arizona was one of the largest in the Western states, and its evangelism and discipleship protocols were widely imitated for their effectiveness.

    Thus, it would be my assessment that a) there are plenty of solidly Reformed folks in CCC, & b) that when the overwhelmingly Arminian/Dispensational 'higher ups' are forced to deal with those who adhere to Confessional Reformed theology they are often at odds with it.

    Of course, all of this is rather ironic, as CCC founder Bill Bright was a Presbyterian.

    I hope this helps. Shalom.
  6. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Your effort should be directed to, by, and with building up Christ's beloved: the church. What God built in the local church while I was in college, is still there today, and untold numbers of lives transformed by the full gospel. CC might still be around in name, but where are all those folks? Who has grown up and had their children grow up in CC?
  7. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    This goes a bit beyond the questions of the OP, but as was pointed out to me a few years ago, if you have any hope of reaching out to Muslims with the gospel, do NOT refer to your organization as "Campus Crusade." That will not go over too well. This may be the impetus for some groups having changed their name from CC to keep from being unnecessarily offensive.
  8. interalia

    interalia Puritan Board Freshman

    Not only yes, but you must; unless and until boundaries of broader Christian orthodoxy [as found in the Nicene, Apostles', Athanasian Creeds; Trinitarianism, etc...] are broached...then the gaps are too broad because the other party has taken itself out of the conversation.
  9. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    You have swerved into a very broad issue here, one for a thread by itself.

    It is helpful for reformed Christians to understand what they have in common with the catholic (universal) church, and with evangelical (protestant) communions. Dr RC Sproul, What is Reformed Theology? gives a good explanation and the context of this.

    But it's also important to understand the basis of reformed distinctives. They represent, confessed beliefs as to the teaching and practice of Scripture. The covenant community is "covenanted" together to serve God together in this world based on unity, grounded on confessed, agreed doctrine. That's because they understand them to be God's revealed will.

    This notion does not bind what are often referred to as "broadly evangelical" churches.

    So, do you commune with them?

    Primarily, your call and oath is to covenant with the covenant community, serving and being accountable there. Somehow, recognizing that God has placed people universal, worldwide, in other communions- even ones with substantially wrong doctrine (e.g. Arminian influence, dispensationalism, "low view" of the church, sacraments, etc.).

    God will likely bring you into relationship with many outside reformed chrisitianity, look to use those for the honor and glory of our Lord- engage them with the glorious truths of God's Word you know to be true! Don't avoid them.

    But do seek to prioritize living and serving the doctrinal truth you confess, and that will be in a covenant community, the unity of which is grounded on doctrinal unity. And if not exactly the doctrines you confess, get as close to them as you possibly can, supporting that with your presence, time, money, service and money.
  10. interalia

    interalia Puritan Board Freshman

    I am on board with this and find your elaboration helpful - my comment was in the context of an already-existing interaction where the question then is "to commune or not to commune?" Never should we let our guard down on Reformed distinctives and we should should always be ready to confront our "broadly evangelical" friends on errors in their theology in a spirit of love....but this has to be balanced with a sense of catholicity and even humility for our own errors. If one is minimally orthodox, as I stated above, then we cannot sacrifice a cordial relationship based on the fact they are not Reformed. We must treat them as brothers/sisters in the faith, and that relationship on a continuum of confrontation to challenge errors based on their level of biblical fidelity.
  11. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    There are a lot of general kind of questions, but thought a more detailed interaction might be helpful. These are general questions many struggle with:

    "Covenant community" implies people covenanted together to serve God in this world based on unity that is grounded in doctrinal agreement.

    All the while, recognize, God has communions that are disorderly, with wrong doctrine, etc. just like we read about in Scripture, e.g. Corinthians.

    The job of the Church is to represent God faithfully in accord with His revealed will, His Word, to the end of His Honor and Glory.

    Try, by God's grace, to look at everything in your life, including your contacts with Arminian influenced believers, from that standpoint.

    If God gives you that kind of abiding grace, it will become more of a delight seeing what God will do through you.
  12. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I know and supported a young man who, from a 5 point non-confessional congregation, went to serve with CCC. As he reported back in monthly newsletters I was increasingly disappointed and eventually appalled by some of what he thought ( and CCC promoted) was kingdom building. I wrote him a letter and explained why I was withdrawing my support and later had a lengthy phone conversation with him when he asked me to reconsider my withdrawal. I told him that if he changed over to a reputable church planting mission, and I was able, I would support him. The way they wasted money on silly "draw a crowd" events so they could get someone to fill out a "follow-up card" was disheartening. Doctrinally, easy believism stands out as one of the big problems for me. I can't rejoice because someone parrots a typed out prayer.
  13. MichaelGao

    MichaelGao Puritan Board Freshman

    Very interesting, I didn't know that the National Director was reformed, or that Bill Bright was even a presbyterian.

    And thanks Jonathan for your uncle's article, its actually not dated at all, I see exactly what he describes 30 yrs ago.

    And yes, I agree with you all that we must embrace those of the broad evangelical community as fellow partakers in Christ.
    When I was asking "can we commune" together, I was more of thinking, is it "possible" for Calvinists and Arminians sincerely enjoying a fellowship that is not hindered by doctrinal differences. So not a "should we do it" question, but more of a "does it ever happen" in our fallen world.

    I'd say it would be very hard if both sides are strongly convicted. In the little that I have seen, it feels like fully persuaded Calvinists and Arminians can never befriend each other, its like a cold war.

    I do believe there is no cause to hinder us from contending for the truth, yet I just feel its rather sad there is almost no way to establish brotherly harmony unless one abandons one's faith. Harmony seems a myth if you dont see eye to eye.
  14. Austin

    Austin Puritan Board Freshman

    RE: the question of "does it ever happen," the answer is "yes." As is the case with most every serious difference in philosophy or theology, the essential requirement is that both parties be willing to focus on what is most important, rather than on secondary or tertiary issues. As regards the issue at hand, that means that brothers in Christ must be willing to focus on Christ and Him crucified first, their common love for Jesus and His people second, and the Great Commission third. If other issues cause division, then these must be set aside in the interests of brotherly affection and the greater concerns of the Kingdom once those other issues are determined to be intractable and their discussion counterproductive.

    Now, before I proceed, let me remind everyone reading this that I'm not talking about soft-pedaling Truth. Neither am I talking about being "lowest-common-denominator" believers. What I'm trying to say is that in the interests of working together with brothers & sisters in parachurch ministries or simply as friends and fellow sojourners across denominational/confessional lines we need to have the humility to understand and accept that we are all "in process" and that it's okay to stop trying to "convert" them to our theological views.

    A few reflections:

    Michael Horton was once asked what new Calvinists ought to do. His response? Lock yourself in a closet for 6 months. Now, what he meant by this was that new Calvinists tend to get so excited talking about the so-called "doctrines of grace" that they exhibit precious little grace.
    Indeed, they tend to bludgeon everyone around them with theology. (I know, I've been that guy.) And if this weren't bad enough, when we fall into this trap, we most often don't really know what we're talking about. Sure, we may have a lot of proof-texts and rational arguments, but the roots of understanding haven't really sunk in to our hearts and minds yet in those early days. And so we tend to make enemies for ourselves and for our (correct) theological views, ensuring that our listeners will be turned off from Reformed theology, perhaps for life.

    Another thought is this: bear in mind that, though we may have a lot to contribute to a theological discussion, yet we still have much to learn, even from our Arminian brothers. SO BE HUMBLE. If a brother or sister in Christ has been walking with the Lord for 30 years, and I am a 2 years old believer, regardless of whether or not my theology is better than his, he still has an awful lot to teach me about practical life with Christ. SO the better part of valor is for me to shut up about theology and listen to his praxis.

    An example: I believe it was Dwight Moody who was once castigated for his theology and approach to evangelism. After enduring the assaults of his brother on theology, Moody responded, "Well, I prefer my way of doing evangelism to your way of not doing it."

    There is an interesting (and sobering) phenomenon that those of us who are more theological tend to be less evangelistic, and vice versa. I have dear friends who sincerely love Jesus whose theology is quite different from mine. And yet they are able to lead people to Christ much more effectively than do I. And they don't do it through "selling them a bill of goods." They aren't "setting them up for apostasy through false teaching." They are simply better at sharing Christ. They have a Spiritual gift of evangelism. In a perfect world (and one which we can approximate through humility and patience with one another), we would heed Paul's teaching such that I would love my brother's gift for evangelism while he loves my gift for teaching.

    A final thought: I saw that a few guys in the PB thread titled "who do you like to listen to" mentioned Adrian Rogers as a favorite preacher. That's fine. But this is the man who wrote a book titled "Why I Am Not a Calvinist." He was a "rank" Arminian. (Of course, now that he's been promoted to Glory, he's Reformed. :) But I'm sure that those who cited Rev. Rogers find that there are many gems in his Arminian dross. Much the same can be said for the influence of Billy Graham. Who among us can learn nothing from Luther? And yet we have disagreements.

    I would say that the relationships between the Baptistic and Reformed Calvinists is an example of how we can work together with those with whom we have disagreements. I could never serve in an ordained capacity with Mohler, Begg, Piper, Dever, etc. And they couldn't serve in an ordained capacity with Ligon Duncan, Sproul, Ferguson, Keller, etc. But do my Baptist brother's errors regarding the Covenant and polity mean that we can't work together for the Kingdom? Surely not. We just have to agree to disagree.

    I would say the same thing about those with whom we work in spheres like Campus Crusade, moral suasion in the civic marketplace of ideas, and so on.

    Sorry to be so loquacious, but as a P&R minister it seems that I have a terminal case of diarrhea of the mouth (as my deceased Daddy used to say). Shalom, y'all.
  15. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    I think we are zeroing in on something important, things commonly misunderstood as well.

    All Christians do have something vitally important with every other Christian- that is that God has chosen to redeem them, and adopt them into the Body of Christ.

    A Reformed Christian has that relationship with every other believer and has some basic doctrines in agreement with all other true communions of believers, that is with the catholic, universal, worldwide faith.

    A Reformed Christian shares many important doctrines with evangelicals (protestants) and those communions that hold to those historic, biblical truths.

    But the basis of fellowship for a Reformed Christian is a common confession of faith, doctrine, practice before the world because he thinks it is what Scripture confesses. That's the basis of unity.

    Broadly evangelical Christian communions do not hold that, and we reformed would say that is wrong because it stems from, among other things, a low view of the church. Rather than forming a basis for unity, it tends toward the opposite, which is individualism.

    But the deeper issue as one grows in Christ is both...
    loving everyone more (believer and even nonbeliever)
    worshipping God in spirit and in truth, more and more

    God requires of us both,

    To whom much is given, much is required.
  16. MichaelGao

    MichaelGao Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for these sobering reflections. Totally agree with Horton's comment. Sometimes we (immature reformed) really haven't truly understood what we claim to know. All we have understood is the logics of the intellectual side of an argument. Wisdom is justified by her children. By our lack of humility, we show that we have not yet attained that wisdom from above. Still alot of pride to mortify.

    On the issue of unity despite theological differences.
    I guess it comes down to heeding Paul: As far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Rom 12:18.
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