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

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

by John G. Turner

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

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.)

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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

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Product Details

The University of North Carolina Press
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6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
This book contains many virtues, including Turner's meticulous attention to the larger historical setting. At every point, he deftly weaves the story into the wider tapestry of post-World War II American social, cultural, and intellectual history.--Grant Wacker, Duke University

Jason C. Bivins
"[A]n important contribution to the study of American evangelicalism, filling a large gap in the current literature."--(Jason C. Bivins, North Carolina State University)

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