Good news clubs and their critics, part 4: My conversation with Eric Ceynar: Intrinsic Dignity is an opponent of the Gospel message itself, not only these clubs

Previous part:
Good News Clubs and their critics, part 3: Is calling the child a sinner a way to deny his inherent worth/ intrinsic dignity?


I propose that Eric Ceynar, who writes under the name Intrinsic Dignity, has a problem with the gospel message itself, and therefore with CEF, as they give the gospel to children.

For evidence I will link to a blog entry where me and Eric (Intrinsic Dignity) converse in the comments. About the article there, the blog I will link to, No Longer Quivering, is for escapees of a cultic religious group, but some of the articles is on other things said and done by religious people. I find the article misleading: The worst problem is a link to, not a CEF-related page at all, and calling it CEF teaching. It also seems to have several sources, but almost all can be traced back to Eric Ceynar (Intrinsic Dignity) and his claims. As such, I do not link to it for agreement, but because I and “Intrinsic Dignity” starts a conversation in the comments. (The conversation is shortened here, but you can follow the link for the rest.)

Me: 1) it seems that the article links actually covers very few original sources of criticism. Most websites and video clips seem to trace back to Intrinsic Dignity.
The link to a written lesson of Saul’s incomplete slaughter have no relevance to CEF – it is not a CEF lesson.
2) on the accusation that GNCs are out to influence what is legal in regards to separation of church and state: CEF was founded way before the school prayer and church/ state controversies in America. There is nothing in CEF material that say clubs should be held in schools, not elsewhere. CEF clubs are held in more than a 100 countries, only one of which has that particular separation of church and state view.
3) The “information” on goodnewsclubinfo and its video clip is even more slanted. It gives the impression the clubs are about sin, but every Good News Club lesson, without exception, talk of God’s love and of salvation. Every message about sin ends with sin being trumped by what Jesus did.


Intrinsic Dignity:
I’ve heard Retha’s response before. It is to the effect that all the talk of sin, obedience, punishment and Hell are perfectly justifiably as long as it is “balanced” with a 1:1 ratio of salvation, forgiveness, redemption, and grace. Of course, there isn’t an easy way of quantifying the alleged “positives” when they are tied so closely to a put-down. To the effect of: “Even though you don’t deserve it, God’s loves you…”
But the very notion of “balance” making it OK is a total sham. Is it OK to tear somebody down if you subsequently build them up? There’s a name for this: “traumatic bonding.” It’s how cruel people maintain control over their victims — by alternately abusing them and showing affection to them…


Me: I think the most telling part of your message is: “But the very notion of “balance” making it OK is a total sham.”
From what you said, I get the impression that you do not just find the CEF methods focused on the wrong things. You seemingly dislike the basis of the salvation message, seeing it as “traumatic bonding.”
But for traumatic bonding to take place, some abuse need to take place. It is not abuse for the doctor to tell someone that he has a dangerous disease and need a certain medicine. It will be traumatic bonding if the doctor infects him with diseases and heals him from them.
Likewise, if the teller of the gospel story causes children to sin so they need forgiveness; or if (s)he lies and no sin stand between us and God, then the teller of the message is doing traumatic bonding to herself or himself when (s)he is alternatively nice to the children and alternatively causing them to sin and blaming them. But if the message is true, regardless of what the teacher does, then it is not traumatic bonding.

Is the message of being made by God (100% positive) in His image(100% positive), loved by Him(100% positive), doing sin(negative, but changable), Jesus thinking that we are worth everything to rescue ((100% positive -He thinks we are to die for), and this rescue meaning that His followers will be sinless again one day with him(100% positive, positive trumping negative), a 1:1 “balance” of negative and positive messages? Not in the least. It starts positive. It ends positive for eternity, which is way longer than the partly negative middle. The middle is only partly negative, because we are still worth the life of Jesus even then.
As I said on my Afrikaans blog: “A Ferrari that is not in running condition, and will cost several thousand dollar to repair to perfect, is not a piece of junk. It is something worth spending thousands of dollars on. We were worth spending the life of Jesus on.”
If you see that message as essentially negative and harmful, that makes one of us. If, on the other hand, you affirmed that the message of creation, sin and salvation is good, but the CEF way of telling it is not always wise, we could have agreed.
You are also the only one, between the 2 of us, who see the message of obedience to God as essentially negative.
How many of the video clips in the article above can be traced back to Intrinsic Dignity?


Intrinsic Dignity: (Note that he does not answer how many of the links in the article can be traced back to him. He repeats the misleading idea of overstating the sin messages, and not mentioning the other messages)

Retha, there is a profound difference between telling someone that they have a terrible disease and telling someone that they are a terrible person. “Your heart, the real you, is sinful….” CEF deliberately diminishes children and strips them of their dignity, and then says that they can become worthwhile only if they internalize a sin-obsessed formulaic creed (you know it — the “ABCs of salvation”). This is traumatic bonding, not medical treatment! “Even though you don’t deserve it, I love you. Love me back, or I’ll punish you!”… [misleading arguments by giving numbers of references to sin, by every time he can relate the topic to sin in his imagination, compared to exact mentions of the word grace – not all the times that the topic relate to God’s grace and love in the mind of someone who understands the gospel.]


Me: You seem to make 2 separate arguments, which almost contradict each other:
The one is the proportional argument, made by comparing the amount of times the word sin appears with the total amount of words, or with, for example, appearances of the word grace.
The other is the argument that proportion does not count, any mention of sin should be counted as putting down the child regardless of what message surrounds it.
On the first argument, I find you utterly misleading:
[I gave evidence, available in the page comments, why I find him misleading. This I fleshed out in other parts of this series.]
On the second argument, I flat-out disagree. This is not an argument against CEF, but against the simple message of salvation. Sin erasing or even damaging our intrinsic worth is simply not a Christian idea. We dislike it when a valuable thing is treated badly, because it is a valuable thing. Even more so with sin: Every human has a very valuable life, and some are lived far from right, and in ways that damage other valuable lives.
And in all those things you cannot see, from the first lecture I had in the first session of CEF-related training (they had me memorize Matthew 18:1-14 before I learned the wordless book), to the practices of the CEF 3 months trained people (starting quality affordable preschools and after-school care centres –in my country schools come out between 12h00 and 14h00 depending on the age of the child, but many parents work to 17h00 or later –, helping a child who was out of school for months to catch up, warning children and parents and speaking to the police about a suspected paedophile in the neighbourhood…) who taught me to work with inner city children, I learned to value and respect children. To put it in your words, the CEF-trained people taught me to respect their intrinsic dignity.

In short, Eric Ceynar hates and puts down CEF because he hates the gospel, and sees it as “traumatic bonding.” For Eric Ceynar (Intrinsic Dignity), the one way the Good News Clubs would satisfy him is if they stopped talking of Jesus, salvation, and following Christ. He is against children hearing the gospel.


Next part:

>> Good News clubs and their critics: Part 5: Katherine Stewart


About Retha Faurie

Attempting to question everything, reject the bad and hold fast to the good.
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