On this program Shane Rosenthal talks with writer and director Brandon Kimber about his American Gospel documentary series. His first film, American Gospel: Christ Alone, explored the problem of moralistic preaching and issues related to the prosperity gospel. His new documentary, American Gospel: Christ Crucified, focuses on the nature of Christ’s atonement and presents a running dialogue between advocates of progressive forms of Christianity with a variety of more traditional Reformation perspectives.
Brandon Kimber: I was watching a lot of my friends in youth group go off to college, and because they didn’t have a solid grounding in scripture, they didn’t understand the gospel because they weren’t hearing the gospel. They would come back with these progressive ideas of Christianity. I slowly started to understand that when you aren’t grounding people in the scripture, they’ll get challenged and they’re going to go down one of two paths. They’re either going to become an atheist or they’re going to go toward this “progressive” version of Christianity, which I wouldn’t really call Christianity. It’s basically, “I deny all the core essentials and doctrines of the gospel, but I’m going to hang on to some vague form of the moral teachings of Jesus. My gospel is ”Just love people,” and “Making the world a better place.”
Term to Learn
“Preaching of the Reformation”
Protesting against a special sacrificing priesthood, sacramentalism, and papal teaching authority, the Reformers asserted the primacy of the word of God as present in Scripture, sermon, and sacraments. Early Reformers designated themselves simply “the preachers.” The preaching of the word was proposed as the instrument through which justification comes about and the Holy Spirit is given. The Reformed tradition especially extolled preaching as the primary function of the ministry.
The high value set on preaching as characteristic of the Reformation was exemplified by Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. A close alliance between the biblical word and the preached word was observed through the expository sermon, closely following the scriptural text. The original esteem for preaching the word has never been lost in Protestantism.
(Adapted from Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion, s.v. “preaching”)