An Investigation of the Dark Gospel of Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Clubs
The precursor to the Good News Club was born in the early 1920s, shortly after World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, both of which traumatized the national psyche and lent credence to fundamentalist criticisms of German higher criticism, secularism, and liberal notions of the basic “goodness” of human nature.  Both Protestant fundamentalism and the Ku Klux Klan gained widespread public appeal among significantly overlapping support bases in the early 1920s, reaching their peak in the mid- 1920s, when fundamentalists nearly succeeded in expelling modernists from two large mainstream Protestant denominations and from Princeton Theological Seminary. Founder J. Irvin Overholtzer was decidedly on the fundamentalist side of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, and he was determined that CEF would be equally steadfast.  In his 1955 book The Children’s Home Bible Class Movement, Mr. Overholtzer listed seven criteria for his movement, three of which referenced fundamentalism. As Mr. Overholtzer traveled from city to city, he deliberately contacted “fundamental” pastors and churches, organizing them into dedicated volunteers.  In the 1940’s, Mr. Overholtzer’s wife Ruth — a graduate of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) — took on the role of writing Good News Club’s first set of curriculum.  Ruth was strongly influenced by Biola dean and professor R. A. Torrey, one of the most famous evangelists of his day and editor and co-author of the widely influential The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth (1910-1915), which gave early 20th-century “fundamentalism” its name. Describing her experience of being one of Dr. Torrey’s students, Ruth wrote: “How could any of us who had the privilege of hearing this author at eleven a.m. each weekday morning teaching from his own book, ever, the rest of our lives, be ‘foggy about the fundamentals’?  I was a blotter soaking up great Bible truths.” Significantly, Ruth credited Dr. Torrey’s teachings as forming the inspiration for the “Good News Club” lessons she authored: “[T]he great doctrines of the Bible which I had studied under Dr. Torrey began to form themselves into simple doctrinal lessons for children.”  Indeed, it is not difficult to trace many of Good News Club’s dark gospel themes — including the provocative declaration “we all deserve to die” addressed (it is critically important to note) to an adult audience — to Dr. Torrey’s sermons and writings.
History of the Good News Club Fundamentalist Roots
Fundamentalism -- the defining characteristic of CEF
  Reuben A. Torrey, editor of The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth   
J. Irvin & Ruth Overholtzer
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