Counterfeit Gospels: A great Read about The Gospel

Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope
By Trevin Wax
Review by Steven King, MBA, MEd

Available at
Treasury Agents are taught to know the minutest nuances of a real dollar bill – that way, if exposed to a counterfeit – they will spot it very quickly. One might suspect that a Treasury Agent would be exposed to a variety of counterfeits to learn how to efficiently spot a forgery; however, a Treasury agent studies a real dollar bill with the highest scrutiny to understand its peculiarities. To learn deception therefore, requires a close scrutiny of truth.

Trevin Wax writes a magnificent expose demonstrating how counterfeits have invaded the biblical presentation of the gospel. Wax asserts that codifying the gospel as merely “good news” downplays its essence. The gospel is certainly good news; it is also a story of which to embark; it is an announcement to be exclaimed, which births a community to be experienced. If the gospel lacks any of these components – the variation erupts into a counterfeit which ultimately diminishes the gospel.

For instance, perhaps the most compelling discussion analyzes the horror of the church embracing a “judgmentless gospel.” The tide of modern theological heresy tends to revisit the universalism of the past and purports that all humanity is going to Heaven. At worst, this heresy makes God less than a good and loving deity who has promised to vindicate all good in the end. For God not to ultimately deal with evil would make him capricious and unloving. Biblical Christians can take great solace in the fact that God will eventually set all evil to right.

Masterfully, other counterfeits explored include:

The Therapeutic gospel – this counterfeit insinuates that mankind’s’ happiness is the ultimate goal of life. Sadly, God is diminished to little more than a cosmic vending service.

The Moralistic gospel – this counterfeit makes the gospel a spiritualized self-help strategy which appeals to a desire for universal morality. The major flaw of this view is to deny that the gospel changes lives instead of providing good advice for living.

The Quietest gospel – this counterfeit elevates the individual while diminishing the public proclamation of the gospel. Insulation from the world’s diversity is the outcome which steers Christians away from missional theology toward a type of tribalism.

The Activist gospel – this counterfeit attempts to elevate social ills, or at least a common cause, above the proclamation of Christ’s salvific work. In this schema, the church exists to deal with society’s’ maladies instead of pointing to the one who can change inequities of life.

The Churchless gospel – this counterfeit is perhaps the most frightening (and the discussion which impacted this writer the most) as it negates the necessity of the church. Whether this is the natural development of franchising the “McChurch” idea – or the outgrowth of entitlement run amok – many have abandoned the church and have become “churchless” Christians. Heed the clear warning against this counterfeit: the church is not optional but is a corporate accountability center for collective growth.

Each counterfeit is analyzed with a twist: Why is it appealing? In the spirit of “the best defense is a good offense,” Wax enables his readers with steps to defy the counterfeit directly.

Christian leaders, educators, and pastors will benefit from this timely work and will enjoy Trevin’s personal anecdotes and the colorful way he utilizes movie analogies throughout his discourse. Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope provides ample scriptural references at the end of each chapter to stimulate additional study.


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