American Gospel is a Christian documentary series designed to define the gospel biblically and promote biblical faith in Christ. Both of the full-length documentaries in the series are written and directed by Brandon Kimber and released by Transition Studios. A distinctive feature is that both documentaries are presented without the aid of narration, relying instead on snippets of engaging interviews, cut with clips of teachers and preachers in action. The views of a diverse group of pastors, teachers, churchgoers, authors, celebrities, and Presidents are juxtaposed to present a defense of biblical faith in contrast with distorted versions of Christianity.
The first film of the series, American Gospel: Christ Alone, was released in 2018. American Gospel: Christ Alone addresses an important question: “Is Christianity defined by Christ plus something else, or by Christ alone?” The film shows how a large segment of the professing church has allowed the American dream to distort the true gospel of Christ. The result is that no longer is Christ alone being preached, but charlatans now preach a message of “Christ + something” such as wealth, health, prosperity, good works, or miracles. The resulting admixture of truth and heresy is very “American,” but not at all biblical.
After laying the foundation of what the biblical gospel is, American Gospel: Christ Alone exposes the false teaching of prosperity theology and the Word of Faith movement. Interviewed in the documentary are some well-known Christian leaders such as Matt Chandler, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, Nabeel Qureshi, and Steven Lawson. Also on camera are testimonies from several believers whose lives have been drastically changed by grace through faith in Christ alone. One such testimony is from Costi Hinn, a nephew of Word of Faith guru Benny Hinn.
American Gospel: Christ Alone warns of the danger of a Christless church—a church people attend in order to feel good about themselves. It rightly concludes that an emphasis on moralism—as opposed to the grace of God—leads people to either pride or despair. The film also emphasizes God’s sovereignty and counters the hermeneutic that sees the Bible as being all about us, rather than about Christ and His work on our behalf. Along the way, American Gospel: Christ Alone gives some practical tips on how to spot false teaching.
The second documentary in the series, American Gospel: Christ Crucified, was released in 2019. The film “explores how the paths of post-modernism and progressive Christianity lead to a different gospel, and a god created in our own image” (from the official website). A predominant question in the film is “Did God kill Jesus?” That is, “Was the cross God’s idea? If so, isn’t that cosmic child abuse?” Those questions and others are answered in various ways by evangelicals, progressives, emergent church advocates, and secular humanists.
American Gospel: Christ Crucified features interviews with Voddie Baucham, Jr., Alistair Begg, former ZOEgirl singer Alisa Childers, 9Marks president Mark Dever, and former CrossFit spokesman Russell Berger. Notably, the film also includes extended interviews with influential members of the progressive Christian community, including Tony Jones, who is considered a co-founder of the emergent church movement. The two sides, evangelical and progressive, receive about equal time, and viewers gain insight into the thinking of both.
American Gospel: Christ Crucified tackles some weighty subjects, such as universalism, perennialism, postmodernism, homosexuality, hell, and the various views of the atonement. The filmmakers spend some time on vocabulary because certain words—holy, atonement, and faith, for example—are defined differently in different theological camps. God’s attributes are another main focus of the film: God’s sovereignty, love, goodness, justice, wrath, jealousy, omnipresence, immutability, and more are considered in relation to our ability to truly know who God is.
The American Gospel documentaries are well-made, engrossing apologetic tools. In confronting prosperity theology and progressive theology, two major threats to biblical Christianity, the filmmakers have provided a wonderful service to the church.
Both films are available on DVD and for streaming online. A free one-hour version of American Gospel: Christ Alone can be viewed on YouTube. The filmmakers have also made available a free downloadable study guide workbook.