An Historical and Theological Analysis of Campus Crusade for Christ's Evangelistic Practice in Two American University Contexts
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This dissertation, an exercise in practical theology, consists of a critical conversation between the evangelistic practice of Campus Crusade for Christ in two American university contexts, Bryan Stone's ecclesiologically grounded theology of evangelism, and William Abraham's eschatologically grounded theology of evangelism. It seeks to provide these evangelizing communities several strategic proposals for a more ecclesiologically and eschatologically grounded practice of evangelism within a university context. The current literature on evangelism is long on evangelistic strategy and activity, but short on theological analysis and reflection. This study focuses on concrete practices, but is grounded in a thick description of two particular contexts (derived from qualitative research methods) and a theological analysis of the ecclesiological and eschatological beliefs embedded within their evangelistic activities. The dissertation provides an historical overview of important figures, ideas, and events that helped mold the practice of evangelism inherited by the two ministries of this study, beginning with the famous Haystack Revival on Williams College in 1806. Both ministries, Campus Crusade for Christ at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) and at Washington State University, inherited an evangelistic practice sorely infected with many of the classic distortions that both Abraham and Stone attempt to correct. Qualitative research methods detail the direction that Campus Crusade for Christ at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) and Washington State University have taken the practice of evangelism they inherited. Applying the analytical categories that emerge from a detailed summary of Stone and Abraham to qualitative data of these two ministries reveals several ways evangelism has morphed in a manner sympathetic to Stone's insistence that the central logic of evangelism is the embodied witness of the church. The results of this analysis reveal the subversive and pervasive influence of modernity on these evangelizing communities—an influence that warrants several corrective strategic proposals including: 1) re-situating evangelism within a reading of the biblical narrative that emphasizes the present, social, public, and realized nature of the gospel of the kingdom of God rather than simply its future, personal, private, and unrealized dimensions; 2) clarifying the nature of the evangelizing communities and their relationship to the church; and 3) emphasizing the virtues that characterize a new evangelistic exemplar who is incarnational, intentional, humble, and courageous.