Counterfeit Gospels Review

Book Review: 

Sometimes in order to fully understand a complex concept, like the gospel, it is helpful to contrast the concept with its alternatives. In theology there is a discipline of study known as apophatic theology. Here theologians describe God by understanding Him in terms of ideas that are in contrast to his character. For instance, God is infinite - not finite or God is immutable - he does not change. Both of these attributes are examples of an apophatic understanding of God's character where God is best understood by contrasting what He is not.

Essentially, Trevin Wax has expertly engaged in an apophatic study of the gospel. He has properly defined the entirety of the gospel and contrasted this gospel with six counterfeits. After having read this book the reader has a richer appreciation for the true gospel, because he or she sees the true gospel in contrast to all of the false gospels that are being promoted today. In Counterfeit Gospels, Trevin Wax reveals the true beauty of the gospel, which shines like a flawless diamond of the best clarity and cut in comparison to all the counterfeits.

Though I have read many books about the gospel during the last couple of years, no book has so clearly crystalized the picture of the gospel as Counterfeit Gospels.

Trevin Wax contrasts the true gospel with the counterfeit gospels by explaining three aspects of the gospel and offering two counterfeits that corrupt each of these aspects. He illustrates these three aspects by providing the image of a three-legged stool, where each aspect plays a critical role in keeping the "gospel" stool balanced. The three aspects of the gospel are as follows: the gospel story, the gospel announcement, and the gospel community.

According to Wax the gospel story is corrupted by the therapeutic and the judgmentless counterfeit gospels. The gospel announcement is corrupted by the moralistic and the quietist counterfeit gospels. The gospel community is corrupted by the activist and the churchless counterfeit gospels.

With each counterfeit gospel, Wax deftly defines the counterfeit, demonstrates how it corrupts the true gospel, explains the different forms that this counterfeit might present itself, discusses the attraction of the counterfeit, and then offers ways to counter the counterfeit. He then closes each chapter with scriptural truth that defends the biblical gospel, exposes the counterfeit, and equips God's people to counter the counterfeit.

Structurally speaking this book has an accessible and ingenious outline that helps one grasp the true gospel and see how the counterfeit gospels pervert the truth. Not only does one appropriate gospel understanding, but one also apprehends the urgency and importance of gospel studies after having read Counterfeit Gospels. Seeing the outcome and bankruptcy of the counterfeit gospels gives the reader a deep urgency to defend gospel truth and engage false teachers with gospel truth in an informed and confident manner. Counterfeit Gospels may very well be the corner piece of the gospel puzzle that makes all other pieces fall into place and gives clarity to all other gospel studies that a student of the Word might pursue.

Not only does this book equip us with gospel truth, but it spurs us to participate in God's mission. Wax exhorts his readers, "A gospel that does not lead to mission is no gospel at all, for the biblical gospel reveals the heart of our missionary God...The gospel is a story to be entered, an announcement to be proclaimed, and it births a community to be experienced (Wax, 211, 218)."

Find this book at Many thanks to Moody Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book!