Though this reviewer does not agree with every point, this book is a 5 star because the Church needs to read it and take it to heart. We need a reformation in the Church and the nation. The American Gospel strips away the subterfuge of our other gods that keep us from repentance and the reformation we so much need.
A big problem in the Church is cultural Christianity. “Cultural Christianity allows people to claim the belief in God and yet live as if He doesn’t exist.” A cultural Christian does not embrace life change but they often will embrace Church programs.
Another problem is the relevant and progressive movements within the Church. “The progressive Church asserts that truth, especially that of the narrow gate and narrow road required by orthodox Christianity, is in fact relative. There is nothing more useless or uncertain than a Church with no foundation. However, it is the hallmark of both the relevant and progressive Church movements.” No foundation means that what we build will fall when the wind and waves beat upon it.
The American Gospel is Comfortable Christianity and Idolatry
Many mega Churches practice Comfortable Christianity so we can draw people. But to what gospel do we draw them? There is no gospel of comfort or relevancy in scripture, but rather a gospel that tells us to take up or cross daily and die. This means people living in America need to die to the god’s of comfort and man-centeredness. Comfort is one the major strongholds in the American Church.
Josh Lafferty says again and again in various words, the point of this life in Christ is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. After this we love our neighbor or win souls and disciple. Much of the church has forgotten to keep the main thing the main thing. We have substituted man-centered activity for knowing Christ intimately.
The Bride seeks intimacy with her lover. Seeking must be paramount believers lives, yet is missing in many churches. “A bride does not love her husband and others…Her affections are not divided. Thus, the primary call of the Church is to properly love the Christ and only then will she fulfill the Great Commission and suitably love the creation. When the order is incorrect, humanism is always the result.”
The American Gospel is Relevant and Progressive The Real Gospel Invites Death
We don’t need a gospel relevant to the culture or one that progresses. The faith does not progress according to Josh Lafferty, it only returns. “It returns to foundational truths,” The foundation of the Apostles and Prophets of the first century. “We don’t find new loves, we fight to keep our first love.” And again, “We were meant to be ever captivated by the person of Jesus Christ and committed to His cross even unto death.”
God has called us to covenant, and He set the terms. “If we are the Bride of Christ, we’ve made a vow to Him and His cross. Its standards are already set.” Church growth “begins with the message of the cross and culminates in the Bride’s perfection.“
American secular culture cannot reconcile the New Testament Christ with the Old Testament Yahweh, so the American Church constructed a new god, a progressive or relevant god. “This god so loves His creation that it would not in anyway require something of that creation.” Not obedience, or true devotion as in the whole heart of the “believer”, or sacrifice, suffering or cross carrying.
The American Gospel and the Cost of Worship
The author speaks of the rich young ruler willing to pay the cost of fellowship, but balked at paying the cost of worship. “The man’s primary problem isn’t His wealth. It is that he possesses other gods and is unwilling to sacrifice them to pay the cost of worshipping the one true God.”
That cost is our cross. Not just carrying it, but being crucified with Christ. Forsaking self-sufficiency and embracing intimate life changing fellowship with our Bridegroom God. Enduring the pain of being stripped of the futility of our own ways so we can embrace Him and let Him transform us. Then we are ready to make disciples. This keeps the gospel Christ centered rather than man-centered.
This is the real gospel. His cross is the marker of His covenant with us. Christ promises intimate fellowship if we take up our cross and follow. If the cross is not a daily walk, we can quickly succumb to deception. “The cross and Calvary is where the follower of Jesus lives.” For reformation of the American Church, she must return here with haste.
The American Gospel Versus God’s Presence
The American Church needs something that other nations have, a presence driven model of worship. If devotion to Christ is the number one target of the Church, then His presence will be among us. When we assemble, we should worship Him, not sing three songs that talk about us, then going on to the next thing in the program. “How have we arrived at a corporate worship model that instead devotes itself to the people? Scripture does not teach this.
“The Church’s primary mission is to create burning men and women who are wholly devoted to Jesus Christ. These are those who have given themselves to self-denial and have willingly taken up the cross and followed Christ up the hill. They have walked through the narrow gate and are committed to the narrow road. They’ve allowed Christ to take His rightful place on the throne of their heart…”
This reviewer has attended three mega Churches. In each case, they kept knowing Christ intimately the number one goal of the Christian life. Not that they use none of the presentations of the mega Church movement. The problem described here is not exclusive to the mega Churches. The Church in general moves away from whole-hearted devotion to Christ, though many Churches in the mega Church movement have the problems of which the author speaks.
The American Gospel produces a Counterfeit of The Bride
Another thought, this reviewer writes of this same problem but in different terms. That is why I understand The American Gospel is an important book for our times. The hope is that those ensnared will read it and see how far they have drifted from fidelity to Christ alone. So, this book is but one invitation God is giving today, but an important invitation. This is a message God is currently speaking through many voices. (One voice is in the Book Mystery Bride and Mystery Babylon written by Debra Webster and can be accessed on Amazon.)
The invitation is to come and die. That has always been the door into the true gospel along with the intimate covenant for which He paid in His blood. Yes, we can know Him. Knowing Him is the consolation of the dying and only in dying will we see Him and enter intimacy with Him. No wonder the enemy works so hard to stop this. God calls, and the Church can choose Christ again and again and again. For the Bride doing less is unthinkable.