I’m usually not a fan of “Christian” movies. I am usually the opposite of a fan. So I’m surprising myself here. But after a few people recommended the movie, American Gospel: Christ Alone I decided to take 2 hours and give it a watch-see.
The trailer made me wonder if it was a “hit piece” on the prosperity gospel. I don’t think I would be too against something like that since I also abominate the prosperity gospel (borrowing some language from John Piper’s famous sermon clip). On more than one continent, I have witnessed the very real harm that that false teaching does to people.
However, a hit piece has some limitations. For one, those kinds of things usually preach only to the choir, as it were. They aren’t designed to convince the unconvinced. And only those who already agree will actually watch it. And, it would make it less crucial to me; why spend 2 hours of your life being said choir?
That was probably more than you wanted to know about my hesitation with this movie before watching it. But I am happy to say that this movie was nothing like I thought it might be. It was so well done! So good.
A few of the merits of this movie are:
- A clear, powerful, biblically-saturated affirmation of the true gospel. This part made my heart sing!
- A gracious, clear, truthful, also biblically-saturated calling out of “other gospels”.
- A good word about how the Roman Catholic Church is wrong on the gospel, and why the call for a unity of sorts between Evangelicals and Catholics is short-sighted.
- A generous use of video clips of false teachers while they are teaching “other gospels” and false ideas.
- A helpful explanation of the dangers of these false gospels, loaded with rich personal testimony (e.g., from guys like Costi Hinn).
- A helpful naming of names.
That last point causes a lot of well-meaning Christians to bristle. Every time I have dropped names of false teachers during a sermon I have received negative feedback (usually in the form of emails and text messages on the Monday after). And I understand: to some, it feels unkind to do that.
However, as a pastor, I think it is far more unkind to not warn people about false teachers. And besides, I can rest on the example of Scripture, where names were definitely named (see 1 Timothy 1:19-20 for e.g.). You can name a name in love.
This is a very good and helpful movie, and I hope many Christians will take the time to watch it. Watch it if you agree with the prosperity gospel. Watch it if you disagree. Watch it, even if you feel you have benefitted from some of the teachers it calls out. You will learn something, and I think you will be edified in the true gospel.