Other posts on this blog–see here and here and here–have discussed the dark gospel of Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Club. This post reviews troubling content from a much wider sample of CEF’s Good News Club curriculum.
The Club’s curriculum is a 5-year-long series of weekly Bible stories—about 120 in all—most of which are drawn from the Biblical books and/or characters of Genesis, Jesus, Paul, Moses, King David, Daniel, Joseph, Joshua, Esther, Elisha, Elijah, and Judges. Each 60-90 minute lesson is interwoven with presentations of the “Gospel” according to the so-called “Wordless Book.” The “Wordless Book” refers to the colors gold, black, red, white, and green, which respectively symbolize heaven, the child’s sin nature, Jesus’s shed blood, righteousness, and growth. Each Bible story is divided into sections; and in between each section, the lesson draws a parallel between the preceding section of the Bible story and one of the “Wordless Book” themes. Most lessons also feature didactic exercises, memory verse quizzes, songs, games and prizes, all designed to reinforce the lesson themes.
The Club’s dominant theme is sin. Its 5-year curriculum includes over 5000 references to sin, compared to less than 2000 references to “love.” Spread over 120 one-hour lessons, a child can expect to hear a reference to “sin” approximately every 90 seconds.
Each lesson uses a black heart to vividly symbolize a child’s inner self. The black heart impresses children with a deeply personal sense of their own inadequacy and sordidness. “You were born with darkness in your heart because of sin,” says one lesson on blind Bartimaeus. “Your heart (the real you) is sinful from the time you are born,” exclaims a lesson on the golden calf.
The Club frequently reminds children that they are “deceitful,” “dishonest,” and “desperately wicked.” A lesson on Cain and Abel warns: “your heart is very sinful…. You may think you’re pretty good, but when God sees your heart He sees it is full of sin.” Another lesson on Jacob and Esau declares: “Others may think that you are a good person, but God knows what you’re really like on the inside. He knows that deep down you are a sinner—you were born that way.” “God says none of us are good,” explains a lesson on God’s omniscience. Even the concept of redemption is used to deprecate children. “As Jesus hung on the cross, God punished him for your sin and your deceitful heart.”