As a former colleague of John Arkell I feel compelled to respond to his letter in the September issue of ET. While some object to the ‘Jesus Film’ on the grounds of idolatry, I appreciate that John has made a case against that objection. However, there are more subtle and dangerous problems with this production.
The video is produced by Campus Crusade for Christ (‘Agapé’ in the UK). This is a semi-Pelagian/Sandemanian organisation with about 20,000 workers world-wide.
Founded in California in 1951 by Bill Bright, Campus Crusade originally worked only among university and college students, but later broadened out to evangelise schoolchildren, professionals and the general public.
They are semi-Pelagian in that they do not accept that human nature has been totally corrupted by sin; man is therefore capable of a positive response to the gospel unaided by a work of grace.
Bill Bright has written that few would reject Christ if they only knew how much God loved them. He also believes that the average person does not need to be convinced that he should become a Christian, but rather to be told how to become a Christian (Come Help Change the World, Revell, 1970, pp. 46,48).
They also believe that bare belief in certain gospel facts is the same as conversion (this is Sandemanianism). A supernatural, spiritual work in the heart is not required. Also not required is the exposure of sin.
The emphasis is upon the person of Christ and the fact of his resurrection. People are urged to consider that, since these facts about Jesus are true, they should trust him with their lives.
Sin is mentioned, but not stressed. Campus Crusade does not like to be negative, and this is one reason for a lack of emphasis on sin. This follows through into the Jesus video.
It claims to be based on Luke’s gospel. I recommend that any who watch it read through Luke at the same time to see what has been left out. References to judgement are very thin on the ground.
Thus a distorted view is presented of the purpose of Christ’s coming into the world, the spiritual state and prospects of man, and what was achieved on the cross.
I was converted in 1972 as a result of attending a Campus Crusade Bible study on Romans. The others present assumed I was a Christian, but God took the truth we read in Romans and applied it to my heart, worked me over and brought me savingly to Christ.
I worked with Campus Crusade from 1974 to 1976 but left after receiving solid teaching about the true nature of the gospel. This was hard to do because I regarded all the staff, including John Arkell, as very good friends.
But it is also true that not all who have worked for Campus Crusade were real believers. A not insignificant number of them are now apostate.