Cru’s “Social Justice Bible Studies”
Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) has been faithful to God’s Word during much of its history. This hasn’t been the case in recent years, however, as the social justice movement and theological expressions of it have taken over the organization. In a series of “Social Justice Bible Studies” published by CRU, we can see the disastrous effects of using Critical Race Theory as a lens by which to interpret culture and Scripture.
In Galatians 1:6, Paul wrote to the Galatian believers, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.” The “gospel” Cru presents in the series of studies linked below is “different.”
- Here is the Cru webpage that gives users an initial presentation of the series.
- Here is Cru’s PDF of the entire series.
Much in this series of studies sounds correct. God does care about the oppressed. He is a God of justice who opposes mistreatment of people and groups. Moreover, God is a righteous judge who will punish oppressors. Christians are to care about the oppressed and are to work to eliminate abuse.
These themes, however, are not properly framed. Lies are spread more effectively when packaged with truth. On the webpage introducing the study, the word justice and its derivatives appears thirty-five times. In the PDF, it appears no less than ninety times. On the webpage, mercy appears twice and grace is absent. On the PDF, mercy shows up 7 times and grace twice.
This series of studies recasts humanity’s most pressing problem as being one of a human oppression against human victims, rather than rebellion against a holy God. These first two quotes appear on both the webpage and in the PDF.
Though God created man to exercise dominion over the earth and reflect his divine justice, man sinned. Since then, the world has been rampant with injustice and oppression. Amidst the injustice, God tells us that he will remove those who oppress so that they may “terrify no more.” [See Ps. 10:18, where the word translated oppress can be rendered terrify.]
Without defining the term biblically, the series hones in on “injustice” as what offends God the most.
Humanity was given the mandate by God to rule over the earth. Just as God’s rule is just, so should man’s rule be just. Unfortunately, everything has broken since the fall. This brokenness is particularly salient in the way in which men abuse their power; the Bible calls this act injustice.
Having recast humanity’s core problem, the series goes on to recast God’s plan of redemption primarily in terms of a justice-themed narrative. Certainly justice is involved in God’s plan in a big way—but not in the way the study emphasizes. God, being holy and just, was obligated to punish sin. He created people to have fellowship with Him, but they rebelled. God’s holiness and justice demand that sinners be punished, but His love and mercy compel Him to direct His wrath for sin against His innocent, sinless Son, whom He sent to be executed in man’s place. Because Jesus appeased God’s wrath and justice, He paved a way for people to come to God and be forgiven for their sins. Contrast this to what we read on the first page of Study 3 on the PDF.
God brings an end to injustice by breaking into history in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus announces the arrival and coming of the dominion – the Kingdom – of God. While on Earth, Jesus brought rescue to the physically and spiritually oppressed. He also prepared the way for his final coming, which will bring all that is awry into order. Redeemed by Christ, it is the responsibility of the Church to seek justice until he returns.
The study goes on to reinforce the idea that Jesus was on a “justice mission.” It does this in its discussion of Luke 4:16-21, where Jesus described his mission by quoting from Isaiah. Verses 18-19 quote from Isaiah 61:1-2—but not verse 2 in its entirety, for during Jesus first coming He would not bring ultimate judgment, or “vengeance.”
Especially noteworthy is the fact that Isaiah 61:1 does not mention the oppressed specifically, while in Luke 4:18, Jesus did. The reference to the oppressed in Luke 4:18 actually sounds like a quote from Isaiah 58:6, but Luke 4:18 isn’t primarily about physical oppression. Bible scholar William Hendriksen indicates that seen alongside Jesus’ references to the captives and the blind, we readily can identify those to whom our Lord was referring when He used the term “oppressed.” Jesus might have explained it this way: “When I said that the blind receive recovery of sight, I meant that this takes place when they are set free from the oppression they had been enduring [while in captivity] in Satan’s dark dungeon.”1 Thus, the mission of Jesus was not one of justice, but of mercy and grace for those who were oppressing Him! As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just [Christ] for the unjust [sinners, every member of humanity] that He might bring us to God.”
It’s true the study goes on to highlight Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity’s sins and His being the target God’s wrath on sinners’ behalf (see the first page of Study 3 in the PDF). Yet, unfortunately, in the context of this series that so forcefully hammers the themes of oppressors and the oppressed from a social justice perspective, this comes across as an afterthought. Earlier, on the very same page, we read,
Freeing captives is at the very heart of our faith. Jesus humbly suffered oppression in order to free those bound in captivity, and he suffered injustice so that we might receive mercy. The only thing that can sustain our motivation to do justice humbly and selflessly is seeing the mercy we received in Christ with greater and greater clarity. The more our hearts grasp Christ’s selflessness and humility, the more we will humble ourselves to serve the oppressed.
There’s an element of truth here, but the element does not keep Jesus’ mission from being remolded into one of human “justice” rather than divine mercy and grace. Not surprisingly, if the church doesn’t understand Jesus’ primary mission, it won’t understand the church’s primary mission either.
Instead, Cru places a different gospel “front and center,” and in so doing obscures and overshadows the biblical gospel. May we have discernment to see this kind of slight-of-hand wherever it exists.
Exposing Cru material has inspired a cover up operation within the organization, as can be seen here. Yesterday, Ministry Partner Development coaches at Cru were told that exposed material was not true. The screenshot below is from a Cru Workplace staff group.
We are making a difference simply by shining a light on what Cru leadership has been supporting. Will you help us continue to expose the Social Justice Movement and its affect on Christendom? Support our movie at http://enemieswithinthechurch.com/.
Come to our conference on October 18-19 and hear experts talk about the social justice movement, and what you can do about it! Register at https://standagainstmarxism.com/.