Counterfeit Gospels Review

Book Review: 

Imagine you are taking your first trip to the United States. As a tourist, you decide to stop in a local shop to get a gift. After paying for the gift, the cashier gives you a $15 dollar bill. You continue on your way not realizing that you have just been given a counterfeit bill. It is only later that you are told the bill is a fake. But how were you supposed to know. You were only a tourist. You were not familiar with the dollar. But what if you were handed a counterfeit of a greater importance; of ultimate importance? How would you spot it? How would you know?

Counterfeits are only recognizable when we know the real thing. Even when we know the real thing, counterfeits can be very hard to spot. In his book, Counterfeit Gospels, Trevin Wax uncovers and exposes the top six counterfeit gospels that are plaguing the church today. These six counterfeits are the “therapeutic, judgmentless, moralist, quietest, activist and churchless.” Throughout the book, Wax shows us why these counterfeits are appealing to us while at the same time teaching us how to counter them. These counterfeits attempt to rob God of his glory and our joy. Only the gospel can satisfy our deepest longings. Wax writes “a counterfeit gospel will always leave our souls impoverished at just the point we should be enriched. Counterfeits leave our hearts and affections for God depleted at just the time we should be overflowing with passion to share the good news with others” (pg. 13). Thus, Wax doesn’t just expose counterfeits, he shows us the real thing; the true gospel.

Wax presents the gospel as a three-legged stool, story (meta-narrative), announcement (about Jesus) and community (God’s people). He writes, “Each leg of the stool is important because each relates to the other two. The gospel story provides the biblical narrative necessary for us to understand the nature of the gospel announcement. Likewise, the gospel announcement births the gospel community that centers its common life upon the transformative truth of Jesus Christ. Though the New Testament authors generally use the word ‘gospel’ when referring to the announcement of the crucified and risen King Jesus, a closer look reveals that they never separate this announcement from the backstory that gives it meaning—nor the community that the announcement births. So the gospel is like a three-legged stool. Cut off one of these legs, and the whole thing tips over” (pg. 17). Three chapters are set apart to explain and teach the gospel in this manner. The gospel is on full display.

Wax does a great job of bringing clarity to the gospel in a world full of counterfeits. He has the ability to walk the reader through a clear presentation of the gospel. He also does an excellent job of exposing the counterfeits. This is a tremendous resource for our culture today.

Overall, Counterfeit Gospels is very, very good. Counterfeits are costly and dangerous, and I am thankful for Wax’s discernment into our culture’s counterfeits. Pick this up and read it. Marvel at the gospel.

I received this book free from moody publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.