“American Gospel: Christ Alone” Film Exposes False Teachings of the Prosperity Gospel Movement
For far too many American and global Christians, the “prosperity gospel” is all they know of Christianity. For far too many Christians, what the Scriptures actually teach about the law and the gospel is almost entirely unknown.
Their leaders and influences are complete charlatans, such as Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and Joel Osteen. As Mike Horton showed years ago, for many Christless Christianity is Christianity. It takes other forms too, but the “health and wealth” message is perhaps its most garish form.
In the recently released film American Gospel: Christ Alone, director and producer Brandon Kimber tackles this topic and related questions. Is Christianity really about “being a good person”? What is salvation? How are people saved, and what consequences does this have for their life? What has Oprah to do with Christianity? For that matter, what has Norman Vincent Peale to do with Christianity?
This is a full-length film exposing the message of false teachers such as Benny Hinn through video clips and interviews with his nephew Costi Hinn, who grew up in that world and has repented of it and now embraced historic and biblical Christianity. It also features an exposition of the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), in Christ alone.
I was aware of the church growth movement and of course of some of the aspects of the health and wealth movements (which the film connects as part of the “American Gospel”), but I was naïve about some of the features of the so-called prosperity gospel, some of the tricks the so-called “faith healers” use, and just how extravagantly they live. Hearing from Costi about growing up in the movement and amidst its excesses, lies, and abuses was eye-opening.
The film traces the history of the health and wealth movement, which I found helpful. Listening to the stories of those who were taken in by the movement and have now emerged to embrace the biblical understanding of the good news is encouraging and a sobering warning about how influential and harmful the “American Gospel” really is.
Editor’s note: American Gospel: Christ Alone director and producer Brandon Kimber interviews numerous respected theologians and pastors in this highly informative exposé on the prosperity gospel movement, including Michael Horton, John Piper, Bryan Chapell, Matt Chandler, and the author of this article, R. Scott Clark.
R. Scott Clark is professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California (Escondido, California) and the author of Recovering the Reformed Confession (P&R, 2008). For more content from Dr. Clark, please visit heidelblog.net and rscottclark.org.
Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God's Story by Michael Horton
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