The latest Christian marketing ploy is a "new" workout program called Body Gospel. That's right, I am not making this stuff up. When I first saw it advertised on television I could hardly believe it. This post could easily turn into a long rant, so I will try to articulate a few of my greatest concerns about this product.
First of all, the name choice bothers me. The word gospel has a very sacred meaning (or at least it should) in the Christian context. Now, I realize in the Greco-Roman world this term originally carried a political rather than spiritual meaning. However, the Gospel writers took this term and gave it a new, more profound meaning when they employed it to refer to THE good news regarding Jesus Christ. Therefore, I think we tread dangerous waters whenever we imply that there is any other good news anywhere close to being as important as THE good news. Saving money on your car insurance, or perhaps loosing some weight through a workout and diet program, is indeed good news. But this is not gospel, and by calling it such I think we diminish the importance of the gospel.
Second, this product is another example of an unnecessary product that is a replica of similar products on the market. This product was created to capitalize on the Christian subculture which likes to buy "Christian" products. This phenomena deserves a post (or series) of its own, but that is for another day. Their material claims, "Body Gospel is different because it has a variety of workouts. There's muscle conditioning, cardio, stretch, resistance training, circuit, and the foundation of the workout is God." Let me reiterate that this product is offering nothing new. There are an endless number of diet and exercise program out there, all with their own claim to fame. Furthermore, they are implying that other programs might not allow a Christian to workout to the glory of God because they are "secular" and not labeled Christian. Hogwash. I don't need Christian running shoes, Christian vegetables, Christian sweatbands, Christian hiking boots, a Christian water bottle or any other product or service to understand the importance of caring for my body (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Why don't we use the creativity God has given us to generate new ideas rather than repackaging a Christian version of what has already been done.
Finally, this product is yet another example of the distortion caused by the prosperity gospel. They claim, " [...] with Body Gospel, if you believe, you will succeed." They are implying that if you have enough faith, you will meet your weight and fitness goals. This is simply not true. The Bible never promises that we will succeed at everything we do. Secondly, we must recognize that our definition of "success" might be different from God's plan. I am not saying that God doesn't want you to loose weight, it is certainly possible that one way you could be honoring God in your life right now might indeed include eating better and exercising. However, we must move away from the sense of entitlement with which many Christians approach God. He is not a vending machine. You cannot simply say the right words and have enough faith with the expectation that God must give you what you want.
So, go for a long walk. Join the local gym. Play some ball with your kids. Pull the dusty workout program off the shelf you bought last year. But don't feel like you need this product to have a "Christian" workout.