A couple of months ago I put my name into this site, and then I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this short review. I was please to see that the book I received was by Trevin Wax, Counterfeit Gospels (Moody, 2011). I’ve always enjoyed Trevin’s blog, and I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him a couple of times. He’s a great guy and I’m thankful for the work he is doing for the church at Lifeway.
I was skeptical about Counterfeit Gospels at first, mainly because so many books on the gospel have been printed recently and I didn’t think that we needed another. But I really enjoyed this one in particular. Trevin’s writing style is engaging and personal. Many of his stories and illustrations I can relate to, which kept me reading. The book is broken up into three parts: (1) Story, (2) Announcement, and (3) Community. These three parts form the backbone of the biblical gospel. There is a story that culminates in Jesus (his life, death, and resurrection), an announcement that all people should repent and believe, and a community that gospel believers should be a part of—the church. Trevin frequently refers to this as a three-legged stool: the gospel story provides the context for the gospel announcement, which then births the gospel community. The best way to do evangelism, Trevin says, is to emphasize all three.
Within each part Trevin highlights two “counterfeits” that subvert the gospel. For part 1 there is the therapeutic and judgmentless gospels, each offering a counterfeit story/announcement/community. In part 2 Trevin mentions the moralistic and quietistic gospel counterfeits, and in part 3 the activist and churchless counterfeits. I won’t explain them here, but Trevin provides a helpful chart on pg. 210. All of the counterfeits are false gospels that ensnare the church. Thus the purpose of the book is to articulate the true gospel and to show how attempts to change it ultimately fall flat.
The implications of the gospel are far-reaching, so the church must get it right. Every generation will need to understand the biblical gospel and apply it to appropriate contexts. Trevin Wax has given us a great little aid for doing that in this generation, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read Counterfeit Gospels and recommend it to others.