Thoughts of a former evangelical Christian

CEF drops “Hell” from its online Wordless Book presentation

In Child Evangelism Fellowship on March 18, 2013 at 4:54 am

My most compelling motivation in bringing public scrutiny to bear on the severity of Child Evangelism Fellowship’s (CEF’s) curriculum is to prompt CEF to make changes to that curriculum. It affects millions of children every year. I suffered as a child from its harshness. I wish for other children to be spared.  Children deserve to be loved, cherished, and nurtured.  They don’t deserve to be shamed and despised and belittled.  They deserve to live.  They do not — as CEF’s curriculum appallingly states — “deserve to die.”

Now — at last! — there is a small hint of “good news.” This month, CEF –for the first time — dropped the word “Hell” from its online Wordless Book presentation. The appropriately titled “Gospel Dark” page previously looked like this:


“[T]he punishment for sin is to be separated from God forever in a place of suffering…a place called Hell.”

This month, CEF dropped the words “in a place of suffering…a place called Hell” from the “gospel dark” script.  This is an incremental improvement in a still stunningly negative script:


No more explicit Hell. Hell is now implicit.

Of course, CEF has much, much more to do, including a complete soul-searching reexamination of the reductionist salvation-as-a-formula, punitive & self-abasing theology behind the “Wordless Book.” It is time for the broader evangelical community to reexamine — and ultimately challenge — the same theology.

Some will mock this minor edit.  But I applaud it, small though it may be.

  1. It is a step with many more to go.

  2. I wish I knew what happened during your childhood that was so psychologically damaging. I realize that some people are too harsh and definitely shallow when they talk about sin and future judgement. I have been able to talk to children for almost 40 years about these things and never have I seen any negative damage. It appears to me that your war is not just with CEF, You are fighting Christianity and the Bible. The Gospel can’t be re-written because you had a bad experience. Please observe how much sin is affecting children today as we see children killing children right in our school buildings. An honest explanation of the evil that is in the world and a gracious explanation of God’s love and how God has prepared a way for us to overcome sin is the only way to deal with the situation.

    • Alex, much of the damage is hidden to evangelicals. Children want to please. A child suffering from religious abuse is typically not old enough to understand, much less articulate, the cause-and-effect relationship between their abuse and suffering. A child, and Christians in general, are not allowed to question religious authority or teachings. If they do, they will be admonished, shamed, or otherwise pressured back into unquestioning faith. A child is not allowed to even consider the thought that Christian thinking, rather than their own self, is so terribly flawed. And Christians in general are expected and/or pressured to project joy, even when they are miserable, because to express misery always raises questions about one’s spiritual condition. In short, to be a Christian you are not allowed to “be yourself.” So it is no wonder, then, that you say that you have never seen any negative damage. Kind regards, Intrinsic Dignity.

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