Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America

Overview

Founded as a local college ministry in 1951, Campus Crusade for Christ has become one of the world's largest evangelical organizations, today boasting an annual budget of more than $500 million. Nondenominational organizations like Campus Crusade account for much of modern evangelicalism's dynamism and adaptation to mainstream American culture. Despite the importance of these "parachurch" organizations, says John Turner, historians have largely ignored them.

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Chapel Hill & London 2008 Hardcover 304 pages. Hardcover, no dustjacket. Brand new book. RELIGION. Founded as a local college ministry in 1951, Campus Crusade for Christ has ... become one of the world's largest evangelical organizations, today boasting an annual budget of more than $500 million. Nondenominational organizations like Campus Crusade account for much of modern evangelicalism's dynamism and adaptation to mainstream American culture. Despite the importance of these "parachurch" organizations, says John Turner, historians have largely ignored them. Turner offers an accessible and colorful history of Campus Crusade and its founder, Bill Bright, whose marketing and fund-raising acumen transformed the organization into an international evangelical empire. Drawing on archival materials and more than one hundred interviews, Turner challenges the dominant narrative of the secularization of higher education, demonstrating how Campus Crusade helped reestablish evangelical Christianity as a visible subcult Read more Show Less

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Overview

Founded as a local college ministry in 1951, Campus Crusade for Christ has become one of the world's largest evangelical organizations, today boasting an annual budget of more than $500 million. Nondenominational organizations like Campus Crusade account for much of modern evangelicalism's dynamism and adaptation to mainstream American culture. Despite the importance of these "parachurch" organizations, says John Turner, historians have largely ignored them.

Turner offers an accessible and colorful history of Campus Crusade and its founder, Bill Bright, whose marketing and fund-raising acumen transformed the organization into an international evangelical empire. Drawing on archival materials and more than one hundred interviews, Turner challenges the dominant narrative of the secularization of higher education, demonstrating how Campus Crusade helped reestablish evangelical Christianity as a visible subculture on American campuses. Beyond the campus, Bright expanded evangelicalism's influence in the worlds of business and politics. As Turner demonstrates, the story of Campus Crusade reflects the halting movement of evangelicalism into mainstream American society: its awkward marriage with conservative politics, its hesitancy over gender roles and sexuality, and its growing affluence.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A familiar presence at universities, Campus Crusade for Christ exemplifies for historian Turner the type of nondenominational "parachurch" organization that has contributed to the surge of evangelicals' political and social influence since the mid-1970s. Bill Bright founded Campus Crusade, focused chiefly on evangelism, at UCLA in 1951; in his 50 years as president he turned it into a worldwide organization. Turner, a professor of American history at the University of South Alabama, uses Bright's story to dig into the early postwar roots of evangelicalism, including its ties to conservatives, anticommunism, use of sales techniques, painful split from fundamentalism, ambivalence towardcharismatic Christians and unresolved tensions with mainstream American culture. Most interesting are the influence of Henrietta Mears, director of Christian education at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, on Bright's generation of evangelicals, and Campus Crusade's counteractivism at Berkeley in the 1960s. By the end of the book, Bright remains an enigma, but Turner's chronological account is a thought-provoking glimpse into the trajectory of modern evangelicalism as it moved toward its current involvement in national politics, opposition to abortion and gay marriage, and explosive growth in developing countries. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Christianity Today
Turner's deeply researched narrative belongs on the shelf of anyone thinking and writing about evangelicalism in the public square. . . . Indispensable.
Library Journal

Turner (history, Univ. of South Alabama) presents a meticulous and well-documented account of Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), the University of California ministry for students he created in 1951, as a vignette of the thoughts and actions of American evangelical Christians in the second half of the 20th century. Through this periscope, he considers many developments in American evangelicalism, including an ever-increasing focus on sales techniques, political ties with neoconservativism, the split between Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals, and changing emphases on women's roles in Christian ministry. Turner presents Bright realistically, seeking to view him neither in an entirely negative nor in an entirely positive light. Throughout, he proceeds logically from beliefs and concepts to the logistics of implementation and the American population's reactions to CCC (in particular) and evangelicalism (in general). While this work is invaluable for investigating the history of this organization, it is not as successful in relating this vignette to the larger picture of 20th-century American evangelicalism. Recommended for special collections.
—Dann Wigner

From the Publisher
"An excellent analysis of postwar American evangelicalism. . . . Well-written, thorough, carefully researched, and engaging."--Religious Studies Review

"A useful supplement for courses on American Christianity. . . . We need more books like Turner's to deepen our understanding."--Church History

"Sheds new light on the past half-century of religious life in the United States, and the author is to be commended for developing the history without becoming either defender or mocker of the subject. . . . Exceptionally well done . . . it deserves a wide audience of professional and amateur historians alike."--Maryland Historical Magazine

"Crisply written and well-crafted. . . . An important contribution to a new generation of evangelical historiography."--Journal of Southern History

"Carefully researched and well-written. . . . An informative and erudite book that will be welcomed by students of American religious history--The Alabama Review

"[An] intelligently contextualized biography. . . . Turner has done a wonderful job of bringing Bill Bright out of the shadow of Billy Graham and thereby greatly enhancing our understanding of the new evangelicalism."--The Journal of American History

"Anyone who wants to understand modern American evangelicalism and its impact on the nation's culture and politics will find Turner's book informative and rewarding."--Georgia Historical Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807831854
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2008
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John G. Turner is assistant professor of history at the University of South Alabama.
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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. God May Choose a Country Boy
Chapter 2. Campus Ministry at America's "Trojan Horse"
Chapter 3. Sibling Rivalries
Chapter 4. The Conservative Impulses of the Early 1960s
Chapter 5. The Jesus Revolution from Berkeley to Dallas
Chapter 6. The Evangelical Bicentennial
Chapter 7. America and the World for Jesus
Chapter 8. Kingdoms at War
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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