Friday, January 31, 2014

Crusaders, Hopefully for the Last Time

Two brief reflections on this article.

1. "Crusaders" has always been a dreadful mascot for any Christian institution, most particularly a Baptist Bible college. The article suggests that abandoning the Crusader moniker is due to an increasingly global society rather than Baptist theology and history. I prefer the principled argument over the pragmatic.

2. Wheaton College went through a similar switch several years ago. Then-President Duane Litfin framed the issue rather helpfully, as a clear matter of principle:
It was not until I became aware of how offensive the image of the Crusades is to large segments of the world that I was forced to take another look at these historical events, and what I discovered was anything but ideal. Christians massacring Muslims; Muslims massacring Christians; Western Christians killing Eastern Christians and vice versa. We are hard-pressed to find anything in these disastrous waves of fighting that our Lord might have approved, despite the fact that the conflict was ostensibly carried out in His name. Try, as I did, reading up on the Crusades, searching for anything with which you would be willing to identify; you will find it an eye-opening exercise. It is little wonder that so many view these unfortunate historical episodes so negatively...

[Some might respond that] that the cross is offensive too; are we going to abandon that? To which, of course, the answer is no. We will stand or fall with the scandal of the cross. But we must not complicate that scandal by introducing our own scandals into the equation, scandals that may block others from seeing Jesus in our midst...

I have become convinced that making this change is a simple matter of faithfulness to Christ.


Don Johnson said...

Can I offer a contrarian viewpoint? (Not that I much care about this one way or another. I have a bigger problem with the whole concept of intercollegiate sports for Christian colleges... what does it really do that actually benefits the college? Doesn't make sense to me.)

However, most historical mascots have something offensive about them if you read up on the history. Spartans, Trojans, etc... a bloodthirsty lot. How about Vikings? (At least Packers is kind of innocuous, eh???)

It seems that the 'offensiveness' of these names is somewhat contrived. There are either elements of nobility or warlike ferocity in the mascot name which is why they were chosen in the first place. Sports is a kind of war, battle metaphors abound in the reporting of them.

The controversy isn't limited to Christian colleges as I'm sure you know. Should all sports teams who have something historically suspect in their mascot's past change their names? I tend to resist change, but I can't get worked up about this one way or another. I think that schools changing their mascot for one reason or another is fine. They can do what they want. It just seems to be too much anxiety over something that has very little meaning.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ben said...

Of course, contrarian viewpoints are always welcome here. But I would have expected you, perhaps more than any other likely commenter here, to hold fast to the Fundamentalist principle that Baptist institutions ought to contend for the faith by clearly separating from any appearance of affiliation with or endorsement of a false religion.

It would seem that I'm to the right of you on this one.