It’s not just the misuse of the Gospel to sell the consumerist ‘American dream’. Nor the way that politics and religion have become so intertwined in a state that was designed to prevent that happening. A W Tozer wrote in 1953,”The religion so common in the United States today, which confuses Caesar and makes Christianity and Americanism one and the same thing, has resulted from a blind misunderstanding of the whole Christian position. It has no justification in the New Testament.”
Those of us who love the USA have been watching with a mix of horror and despair as we observe the havoc being wrecked by the racism that was a major cause in the death of George Floyd, and the riots in reaction to it.
Are We Witnessing the End of the USA?
When this has been added on to the fear, death and economic destruction caused by Covid, it seems as though the US is in deep trouble. Are we witnessing the end of US hegemony in the world? Are we witnessing the end of the US as we know it? Some will wish that it were so. For them the end of the US is good news – although they have no idea what the world would be like without the US. For me and many others, we are watching the decline of the US with a growing sense of dread. Is there no good news?
An astonishing documentary film on Netflix at least partially answers that question. American Gospel is a two-hour film and a fascinating exposé of the prosperity gospel – which it shows as no Gospel at all. But the documentary is much, much more. Most of all it tells us what the real good news is. John Piper, Jackie Hill Perry, Matt Chandler, Julius Kim, Ray Comfort, Paul Washer and many others give us great good news! It’s a long time since I have seen a film that could make this Scottish Presbyterian raise his hands and shout hallelujah like the most fervent charismatic!
The Prosperity Gospel
The prosperity gospel is not the good news that America needs. Yet it is in American soil that it thrives the most. What is the prosperity gospel? Let me share it as I have experienced it in Scotland. I was at a meeting where the preacher declared “why have a Mini when God can give you a Rolls Royce”. She then went on to talk about ‘sowing seed’ before passing round a bucket and saying that if we put £10 in, we would get £100 back.