American Gospel: Christ Crucified (unrated)
American Gospel: Christ Crucified follows writer and director Brandon Kimber’s 2018 American Gospel: Christ Alone film. Here is my review of that film. Whereas the first film compared and contrasted biblical Christianity with what is referred to as the “prosperity gospel”, the second film looks at biblical Christianity and progressive Christianity.
Like the first film, the second film features interviews (most recorded specifically for the film), as well as video clips of proponents of both biblical Christianity and progressive Christianity. The film effectively uses graphics of scripture passages in particular, to illustrate the issues being discussed. The film touches on a number of topics, with a key one being the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus. Those who support this doctrine point to scripture texts to show that this is a biblical doctrine. Those that oppose the substitutionary atonement of Jesus refer to the doctrine as a form of “cosmic child abuse”.
I was familiar with many, but not all of the individuals who were featured in the film. The film uses excellent editing by Kimber, as it moves quickly from one speaker to another, graphics of the topic being discussed, scripture texts, etc. Among those that defend biblical Christianity in the film were Alisa Childers, author of the new book Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity, John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, Michael Horton, Stephen Nichols, Constance Troutman, Steven Lawson, Paul Washer, Voddie Baucham, Phil Johnson, Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, Bryan Chapell, Trevin Wax, and many more. We also hear more from Russell Berger, who appeared in the first film.
There is a significant difference between the first film and the second film. For American Gospel: Christ Alone, all of the film’s requests for interviews from the prosperity camp were ignored or rejected. For American Gospel: Christ Crucified, four individuals from the progressive and humanist side of the debate agreed to be interviewed by for the film. The filmmakers allowed those individuals to express their opinions about scripture, even though they disagreed with what they believe. I feel that this added significantly to the film, as I found the opinions of Bart Campolo, Tony Jones, and John Williamson and Adam Narloch of The Deconstructionist Podcast valuable in making the film a helpful apologetic tool for Christians to understand the thinking of those who identify as progressive Christians. The film also features numerous clips of progressive Christians such as Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Nadia Bolz-Weber and others.
One other proponent of progressive Christianity that was profiled in the film was the Franciscan friar Richard Rohr. I first read about Rohr in Michael Kruger’s excellent book The Ten Commandments of Progressive Christianity. See my review of the book here. We see Rohr in numerous interviews, some of the them with Oprah Winfrey, discussing his concepts of dualistic thinking and of a “Universal Christ”, which is different from the Jesus of the Bible.
The film includes music from Alisa Childs, who was formerly a member of the contemporary Christian band ZOEgirl.
The film, though nearly three hours in length, would be a helpful tool for an adult Sunday School class at your church. You can rent American Gospel: Christ Crucified from Amazon Prime Video for just $2.99. Here is the official site for both of the American Gospel films.