The American Gospel vs. The Gospel of Christ
by Pastor Dan White
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A woman with terminal cancer faithfully watched Kathryn Kuhlman’s television program, “I Believe in Miracles” each week. She heard that the faith-healer planned to come to the Mobile, Alabama, auditorium for a faith-healing crusade. I the year was 1975.
Frederico Martinez, a deacon in my church near New Orleans, faithfully visited and ministered to the cancer ridden woman. She begged him to take her to Mobile to be healed.
Skeptical, Fred finally and reluctantly agreed to make the 145 mile trip to Mobile. He loaded up her wheel chair and made the trip to the Mobile Auditorium.
Kuhlman invited those who wanted healing to come forward. Fred wheeled her out into the isle and before he could descend a few rows to the front, one of Kuhlman’s officials stopped them and told them to go back. “The front is too crowded”, he said. Repeated attempts to go to the front for healing were likewise refused by the usher.
In the meantime, one man with crutches threw them aside and danced across the stage. Another in a wheel chair rose up and walked. Others fell backwards, “slain in the spirit,” and confessed healing of various and sundry diseases.
Fred’s friend began to cry. Fred wept. Her hopes and dreams were shattered. Disappointed and disillusioned, they left before the service ended and made the long trip back. She died a few months later.
NOTE: I received an email from a person who read this article and was there for Kuhlman's appearance in Mobile in 1975. This is the email: I was at the meeting in Mobile. I was healed of a number of things at the age of 12. I didn't want to stand up or go on stage, yet from that day, I have never gone to the doctors for those afflictions again "I was going twice a week for shots". No one touched me or asked me to do anything. Ms. Kuhlman asked me "what took you so long?" to stand up, that was it. The person you wrote about paints a poor picture of this woman whom you probably never knew. As for the others, I have my doubts. I to came from New Orleans to attend the service and hoped nothing would happen to me.
MY REPLY: I rejoice in that you were healed at Kuhlman's Mobile service. I nor anyone else can argue from a personal testimony like yours. I am sure others have similar testimonies. I suppose it is God's sovereign choice to heal some and not others. Yet, I still can't accept that it is right for those who get personally rich - I mean in the millions of dollars rich - off of the gospel.
Kuhlman amassed a fortune. In the 1970’s, her personal administrator, Paul Bartholomew, claimed she kept $1 million in jewelry and $1 million in fine art hidden away. He sued her for $430,500 for breach of contract.
In 1933, Kuhlman established the Denver Revival Tabernacle which seated 1,000 people. A great revival broke out in Denver, and in 1934, Kuhlman invited Evangelist Burroughs Waltrip, Sr. from Louisiana to preach at her Tabernacle.
On Valentine’s Day 1937, Waltrip’s wife received a notice that he was divorcing her. Waltrip deserted his wife and two young sons to pursue Miss Kuhlman. They were married on October 18, 1938.
Kuhlman knew all along that he was a married man with children and later claimed that her marriage to Waltrip was a spiritual breakdown. She also claimed at least once that she fainted during her wedding vows and never said the actual words and thus had not married Waltrip at all.
Kuhlman’s ministry suffered greatly in the aftermath. She decided to leave Waltrip in 1944 saying that she died to the flesh on the day that she left him and put aside the desires of her flesh so she could fully serve God.
Attacked by critics, she had to leave Denver and set up shop in Pittsburgh where she resumed her famous faith-healing ministry that grew into a world-wide phenomenon.
In 1972, twenty year old Benny Hinn attended a Kathryn Kuhlman event where he had a “profound spiritual experience.” In 1983, he founded the Orlando Christian Center with a few hundred members. It grew into a mega-church and launched him to capture a worldwide television audience.
Hinn talks and acts like Kathryn Kuhlman who died in 1975. She wore a white dress, and he wears a white suit. In an April 7, 1991 sermon, Hinn revealed that he periodically visits Kuhlman's grave and the grave of Aimee Semple McPhearson. "I felt a terrific anointing ... ,” he said. “I was shaking all over ... trembling under the power of God ... 'Dear God,' I said, 'I feel the anointing.' ... I believe the anointing has lingered over their bodies."
Aimee McPhearson was a forerunner of Kuhlman. In 1960, United Artists released a movie staring Burt Lancaster titled, Elmer Gantry, based on an unflattering historical fictional account on her life. In the autobiography of actor, Milton Berle, he said that he had an affair with her in 1930.
McPhearson built a 5,300 seat cathedral in Los Angeles, the largest church auditorium in California at the time. It was dedicated in 1923. She also built a 4.400 square foot mansion in Lake Elsinore, California, for herself that has a panoramic view of the lake in the Country Club Heights District, a resort development for the rich and famous.
Following the lavish lifestyle example of McPhearson and Kuhlman, Hinn left Orlando and bought a ten million dollar seaside mansion in a gated community on the California coast at Dana Point. He also relocated his headquarters from Orlando to Irving, Texas, near Dallas.
Hinn has never given a financial account of his ministry. Hinn and others like him are under a Congressional investigation led by Iowa Senator Charles Grassley.
Estimated reports show that Hinn takes in over $100 million a year including royalties from his books and tapes. He owns a private jet with annual operating costs of about $1.5 million and drives a Mercedes SUV and Mercedes convertible. He stays in $2,000 per night hotel rooms. He also owns a television studio in Aliso Viejo in Orange County, California, where he tapes his “This Is Your Day" show, one of the most-watched Christian TV programs in the world with viewers in 190 countries. Millions of viewers watch his program each night.
Financially, Benny Hinn is the world's most successful faith-healer. Benny Hinn lives the lifestyle of a billionaire. It's greed in the name of God.
Benny Hinn packs stadiums here and abroad for his free events called "Miracle Crusades." In 2000, a crusade in Kenya drew 1.2 million people.
And also, like those before him, his personal life is being called into question. In February, his wife, Suzanne, filed for divorce, and the National Enquirer, the magazine that broke the story about Presidential candidate John Edwards’ extramarital affair and his baby with Rielle Hunter, reported in July of this year that Hinn and Florida mega-church pastor, Paula White, are romantically involved. The Enquirer published pictures of the two evangelists holding hands in Rome. Both have denied an illicit relationship.
White has been thrice divorced and has a television program, seen on several Christian networks titled, “Paula White Today.”
Benny Hinn preaches the “prosperity gospel.” It is a message of health and wealth. No true Christian should be sick or poor. Christians will be rewarded with wealth and health in this lifetime if they believe, speak the word of faith, and plant seeds of faith in ministries such as his with their money. Further, if you are sick and poor, it is because you do not sow the seeds of faith with your money. It’s your fault that you are sick and poor. Not God’s fault. Christ wants you wealthy and healthy. This is the “American Gospel.”
Other notable pastors and evangelists preaching the “American Gospel” include Ken and Gloria Copeland, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Richard Roberts and his late father, Oral Roberts, and others.
The theology that drives this movement is typified in Hinn’s teaching “A Transfer of Wealth Is Truly on the Way” as posted on his website, He takes the story of Israel leaving Egypt in the Book of Exodus. The Israelites were given wealth and treasures by the Egyptians as recorded in Exodus 12:35-36.
The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
Hinn says, “Israel was given the wealth of the Egyptians so they might build the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Just remember, Israel did not go shopping in the wilderness. There was no place to shop. None of them were sick in the wilderness, for the Lord was their Healer. They did not need medication. Nor did they need hotel rooms. There were no expenses in the wilderness.
“God gave them the wealth of the Egyptians so they could build His Tabernacle!
“And the Lord will do the same for you. He will give you the wealth of the sinner so you can support the Gospel as it goes to the nations of the world.
“A wealth transfer is truly on the way!
“Recently I shared on “This Is Your Day” and in my letters something that I heard the Lord say to me during my prayer and study time. God said, ‘Tell my people to believe My Word, and if they believe My Word, there will be no loss! There will be a release of an anointing for the next twelve months that you have never seen before!’
“As I have said many times, why you plant and how you plant are crucial to the harvest you receive. As you give according to the kingdom principles, the Lord will reward you for your faithfulness to His glorious cause.
“The anointing for abundance is happening now, and I encourage you to be part of this anointing that is beginning to sweep around the world!
“As you give today (to Benny Hinn Ministries) for a historic harvest of souls, I will stand in agreement with you for an abundant financial increase in your life.
“Plant your most generous seed-gift today to carry the saving and healing message of Christ to lost souls around the globe! Sow a seed-gift with mighty expectation for today and the future!
“Then watch God open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so abundant that you cannot contain it!
“Be generous during this unprecedented 12-month prosperity anointing, knowing that you are planting into the fertile soil of this ministry as we continue to reach lost souls through crusades, television broadcasts, and mission outreaches around the globe.
“So give today faithfully. Give today with obedience. Give today with all your heart, with a cheerful heart. And God has promised not only to take care of you today and tomorrow, but also to trust you one day with the wealth of the sinner (in the coming great transfer of wealth to you).”
People in droves believe this “American Gospel” as evidenced by the enormous wealth of Benny Hinn and other notable “American Gospel” preachers.
Other key doctrines of the prosperity gospel, the “American Gospel” include “The Word of Faith.” Tenets of the Word of Faith movement include:
Faith's force is released by speaking words. Words are the most powerful thing in the universe because they are containers that carry faith or fear and they produce after their kind. Creative power was in God's mouth. He spoke and created the heavens and the earth. That creative power is in your mouth also.
You get what you confess. The vital key is confessing, or speaking aloud, and thereby, releasing the force of faith. You get what you say. The key to receiving the desires of your heart is to make the words of your mouth agree with what you want.
Never make a negative confession. The tongue can kill you, or it can release the life of God within you. If you confess sickness you get it. If you confess health you get it. Whatever you say you get. Faith is as a seed. You plant it by speaking it. The spoken word releases power for good or power for evil. Therefore, it is very important never to speak anything negative but only to make a positive confession.
The “American Gospel” promises to fulfill the American Dream. The phrase, “The American Dream” was coined by historian and writer, James Truslow Adams in 1931 in his book, The Epic of America. Born in Brooklyn, New York, to wealthy parents, he made a small fortune as an investment banker before turning to his love of history and writing.
Adams defined the American dream as “a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is not just a dream for motor cars and high wages, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."
The American dream means that we Americans can do anything we set our minds to accomplish. There is no limit to what we can achieve with education, skill, and just plain hard work. We can start a business, climb the corporate ladder for success, attain any prize, and achieve any goal.
The American dream means that we will be recognized by others for our achievements like employee of the month, teacher of the year, sales person of the year, and coach of the year, and on and on. Denominations even have a pastor of the year recognizing the pastor who had the most baptisms and most new members. The goal of the American dream is to make much of ourselves.
The “American Gospel” promises the fulfillment of the American Dream through the power of faith in God. However, you don’t have to work for it. You don’t have to achieve anything. You don’t have to accomplish anything. All you have to do is give an offering of seed-faith. God will bless that offering, throw open the floodgates of heaven, and pour out such a blessing that you will not have room enough for it (Malachi 3:10). And of course according to the “American Gospel,” the blessing that God always pours out is money - so much money that you don’t have room for it all.
This is not a bad exchange. Since God cannot lie and is bound to honor His Word, I can give $100 to God through Benny Hinn’s ministry or the thousands of other “American Gospel” preachers and churches out there, and God gives me back $1,000, or a high paying job, or a big return on an investment, or winning the lottery, or healing for my disease. Not bad at all. God’s blessings can be purchased for less than what it costs to buy groceries for a week.
Further, if I am faithful in my giving to God, I will receive the coming “Transfer of Wealth” when God will make those lousy rich sinners give us all poor Christians their wealth like Egypt gave their wealth to Israel provided that we plant monetary seeds of faith in Benny Hinn’s ministry and others like him.
I don’t have to work for wealth. I just plant my seed of faith through my offering and wait for rich sinners to hand over to me the keys to their mansions and yachts. It’s the American Dream on steroids. Popping a pill makes an athlete strong. Dropping a Ben Franklin in the offering makes me rich as long as I plant it as a ‘seed of faith.’
The “American Gospel” propagated by the rich and famous televangelists has seeped into the hearts of thousands of pastors and their church members like septic tank waste seeps into a well of pure water.
The “American Gospel” is not the Gospel of Christ. It is an enemy of the Gospel. It competes against the Gospel of Christ.
The Gospel means “Good News.” The Good News is “That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them”( 2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV).
The Gospel was born out of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. Jesus’ sufferings include His sufferings of a forty day fast followed by the devil’s temptations. He suffered rejection, injustice, loneliness, the loss of the temporal, the discipline of the Father through pain and suffering, the failure of success by this world’s standards, and ended with His horrible death on the cross.
It is written, “Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he learned obedience by what he suffered. And because his obedience was perfect, he was able to give eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9 NCV).
Thus, suffering has a place, an important place, in the Christian’s life. If Jesus leaned obedience through suffering, then we, His church, His people, learn obedience through suffering. Suffering makes sense for a Christian.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. It is a hard lesson for me to learn. When we suffer a loss in finances or health, when a loved one or family member is taken from us by death, our first reaction is “Why did You do this to me, O God? Why?“ And some turn against God mistakenly thinking that God does not love them because of the pain racking their emotions or bodies or because He has not changed adversity into prosperity.
But, only through suffering do we learn obedience. Like Michelangelo, the great sculptor, who took his hammer and chisel and made beauty come out of a block of stone, the Father takes His hammer and chisel and forms the beauty of Christ in us, the image of His dear Son (Romans 8:29).
What is the lovely image of Christ being formed in us? This image is pictured as fruit produced in us, the branches, attached to the vine of our Savior. The Scripture makes this plain in Galatians 5:22-24.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”
The Lord allows suffering in our bodies and difficult circumstances to prune away the “acts of the sinful nature such as sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry, i.e., addictions,...hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
So, the Lord is actually doing us a favor forming the image of Christ in us through suffering making us fit to be citizens in the kingdom of God both here and hereafter.
Such spiritual insight about the Gospel enables us to always be thankful to the Lord. In everything that happens both in the good times and in hard times, we know that we are enriched in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:5).
Thus, we can and should be thankful to God for everything that happens to us. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want (Philippians 4:6-7,11-12 NIV).
The secret of being content especially in adversity can never be had unless we see the work of God in our lives through suffering for the purpose of forming the image of His dear Son in us. Suffering is actually a work of God’s grace.
Consider the testimony of Joni Eareckson Tada. She broke her neck in a diving accident in 1967 when she was seventeen. She is a quadriplegic unable to even take care of her basic bodily functions. The accident makes no sense. It robbed a beautiful young teen of a normal life.
Only in Christ can her suffering have positive meaning and triumph. She testifies, “The greatest good suffering can do for me is to increase my capacity for God. The Lord is more interested in inward qualities than outward circumstances - things like refining my faith, humbling my heart, cleaning up my thought life, and strengthening my character. Heartache forces us to embrace God out of desperate, urgent need. God is never closer than when your heart is aching. Most of the verses written about praise in God's Word were voiced by people faced with crushing heartaches, injustice, treachery, slander, sickness, and scores of other bitter situations.”
And Joni asks, “If you have never known physical pain in your life, how could you appreciate the nail-scarred hands with which Jesus Christ will meet you?”
Today, at age 61, Joni unbelievably faces even more suffering. She has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The “American Gospel” doesn’t embrace pain, suffering, and financial difficulties. The “American Gospel” is based on the American Dream in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone.
On the other hand, the Gospel of Christ embraces pain, suffering, and loss. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred for Christ by Adolf Hitler, knew the Gospel of Christ. He said, “Christ calls us to come and die. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die to all of our affections and lusts and to abandon the attachments of this world.”
So, embrace suffering if God doesn’t heal you or if He doesn’t change your difficult situation. Know that through suffering God is refining you like fire refines gold. Desire “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).
When my love to God grows weak,
when for deeper faith I seek,
then in thought I go to thee,
garden of Gethsemane.
Then to life I turn again,
learning all the worth of pain,
learning all the might that lies
in a full self-sacrifice.
- John Reynell Wreford (1800-1881)
Pastor Dan White is the founder and pastor of North Columbia Church, Appling, GA. firstname.lastname@example.org
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