Prolific at present (and not only in America) are the false “Christian” teachings that promote a ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ faith that guarantees health, wealth, and happiness (if you do it right) and the notion that God doesn’t want his children to suffer but that sickness and trials must somehow be outside of his will or control. False teachers are not a unique product of America, nor are those who have fallen for this message that parades around in Christian clothing, but is actually nothing of the sort. Enter American Gospel: a film by Brandon Kimber in which he presents a well researched, brilliantly executed, gloves-off critique of those ‘different gospels’ which continue to deceive thousands.
Kimber doesn’t shy away from calling out the charlatans (the likes of Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Steven Furtick, Joseph Prince, Bill Johnson, and others). I’m grateful for his firm stance against those who are simply doing what Satan has been enlisting them to do for centuries; distracting people from the true saving gospel by putting their focus on a Jesus of their own making. There is a clear responsibility within the church to name these false teachers and call them to repentance for the good of all and to pray (and work) for the salvation of those who are trapped in these heretical movements. At the same time, Kimber is also a superb storyteller; bringing together real-life experiences, church history, Scripture, and some of the most helpful animations that I think I’ve ever seen to clearly define that which is true. American Gospel takes the time to tackle the issues head-on in artistic and articulate ways; while also presenting a clear message of justification by faith alone and an accurate picture of costly Christian discipleship.
The documentary features strong theological clout through contributions from men such as J. D. Greear, Matt Chandler, John MacArthur, Justin Peters, Mark Dever, Paul Washer, Michael Horton, and Steven Lawson. These men bring their usual passion for the truth of Scripture to their discussion of the worst parts of that which masquerades as Christianity, and their conviction is delivered with a meekness that exposes the issues while never stooping to degrade any individuals. I appreciate the clarity and conviction with which these learned men dissect the dangers and destroy the deception of the whole word of faith, name-it-and-claim-it, signs and wonders movement. And yet the whole presentation is so even-keeled and kind that I find myself thinking of people (who I know are influenced by some of these ideas) with whom I would be comfortable inviting to re-watch with me without them getting on the defensive.
A prominent interviewee threaded throughout the film is Costi Hinn, nephew of Benny Hinn, who has renounced everything to do with his family’s false gospel, and whose book God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies releases this month. Costi, more than most people, is qualified to speak to the prosperity, signs and wonders gospel as being a misreading of scripture which is unhealthy, broken, and ultimately not the gospel. In the film Costi says:
Today I hold no positions that are in agreement with my family, the Word of Faith theology, or the prosperity gospel. And the reason for that is, I’ve come to an understanding of the true gospel.
In every way that a documentary should be commended, American Gospel is educational without being dull, entertaining without being excessive, and edifying without mud-slinging or mockery. I thoroughly enjoyed laughing, cringing, and hearing from people who came to a saving understanding of the true gospel, while again seeing a clear, complete presentation of the gospel which is as much for me as it is for those who are still trapped in these unbiblical worldviews.
American Gospel is available for purchase as a digital download or physical copy through a number of sources, and it’s every bit worth contacting Transition Studios to request a group viewing license so you can show your entire church community.
[UPDATE: I’ve also recently noticed that there is a condensed 1 hour clip available at http://www.americangospelfilm.com/ if this suits your audience better]