Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope
(Moody Books, 2011)
What if the biggest danger to the church of Jesus Christ is not blatant heresy, the moral failures of church leaders, persecution, the rise of Islam or the loss of our rights? What if the biggest threat is counterfeit gospels within the church, ways of thinking and speaking about the good news that lead to a gradual drift from the truth of Scripture?
The gospel is like a three-legged stool. There’s the Gospel Story – the grand narrative of Scripture (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration). Within that overarching framework, we make the Gospel Announcement about Jesus Christ (His perfect life, substitutionary death, resurrection, exaltation). The gospel announcement then births the Gospel Community: God’s church – the embodiment of the gospel, the manifestation of God’s kingdom.
A counterfeit gospel is like a colony of termites, eating away at one of the legs of this stool until the whole thing topples over. In the book, we look at six common counterfeits (Therapeutic, Judgmentless, Moralist, Quietist, Activist, and Churchless) that would get us off track.
My goal in this book is to so deepen our love for the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ that we would easily see through the many counterfeits that leave us impoverished. I hope you’ll read the book, love the gospel, recognize and overcome the counterfeits, and be empowered for ministry.
“I am grateful for this book because it aims to make sure we are talking about the same thing when we talk about the gospel. Trevin Wax wants to be sure we are all on the same page – which is to say, God’s page.”
- Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church, from the foreword
“As wrong food, however nice-tasting, can threaten bodily health, so defective gospels always threaten spiritual health. Wax offers a bracing, health-oriented review of current defective gospels in order to wean us off them. Here is good medicine for the church.”
- J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College
“‘What is the gospel?,’ may seem an odd and perhaps unnecessary question. It’s not—it is an essential question that needs more, not less, discussion today. In Counterfeit Gospels, Trevin Wax has provided an essential tool for churches serious about the gospel and its implications.”
- Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research
Perhaps the single greatest need in the contemporary church is for Christians to understand the gospel and its counterfeits. Our lost and broken world is desperate for such clarity. Trevin gives it to us with this clear and compelling book about the nature and implications of the greatest story ever told.
- Darrin Patrick, author of Church Planter, pastor of The Journey
“The biblical gospel of the atoning death and glorious resurrection of Jesus saves. Counterfeit gospels that leave out the bloody cross and neglect the empty tomb damn. It really is that simple. Trevin Wax makes crystal clear which one is true and which ones are false. Unfortunately, this book is a much needed corrective in an age seduced and deceived by imitations of the real thing. Eternity hangs in the balance when it comes to the gospel. There is no margin for error.”
- Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“My super-talented friend, Trevin Wax, joins a growing number of younger evangelicals who are calling the 21st Century church away from moralism and back to the gospel. He rightly understands that the gospel doesn’t simply ignite the Christian life, it’s also the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day. Therefore, we must be clear on what the gospel is or else we will conk out. I pray that this excellent book will help you come to a better understanding of the length and breadth of the gospel so that you will be recaptured every day by the ‘God of great expenditure’ who gave everything that we might possess all.”
- Tullian Tchividjian, senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL and author of Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels
“When the devil cannot get a church to explicitly deny the gospel, he pits one part of Scripture against another and then nudges the church to change the gospel’s shape ever so slightly–to re-configure it, to re-interpret it, to re-shade it. But Wax calls the devil’s bluff. His Counterfeit Gospels surveys the landscape of these subtle reconfigurations, affirms what’s true in each of them, and then helps us to separate the real thing from the imitators. A very helpful and insightful work.”
- Jonathan Leeman, editorial director for 9Marks, author of Reverberation
“This book clarifies the message and mission of the church as much as any book in print today. It is rich in both insight and illustration, very-thought provoking and very readable. I can’t imagine a more helpful description of, and prescription for, contemporary evangelicalism. Return to the Gospel!”
- J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church, author of Breaking the Islam Code
“In Counterfeit Gospels, Trevin Wax does a great job of showing the many ways we subtly counterfeit the gospel and why we do so. His diagnosis of six common counterfeits is fair, insightful, and helpful. Like a good gyroscope, his book helps keep us on the right path. But even more admirable than his keen evaluation is the way he lays out a full-orbed and robust view of the gospel that includes story, announcement, and community. If Christians and the church would just understand this, we would not be tempted by so many counterfeits and thus miss out on the real gospel. I hope Counterfeit Gospels gets a wide reading; its message is needed.”
- Jim Belcher, author of Deep Church
“Trevin Wax has served the church by identifying and critiquing many false gospels that threaten to ensnare us. But this book does so much more. Wax helped me love the gospel of Jesus Christ more deeply, and I pray that God will do the same for you through this excellent work.”
- Collin Hansen, editorial director, The Gospel Coalition; co-author, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir
“In a world filled with ‘different’ gospels, Trevin Wax reminds us of the call to ‘guard the deposit’ that is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If you teach, preach, share, or even believe in the gospel of Christ you should read this book. It will undoubtedly remind you to maintain the simplicity and clarity of the gospel message that has been entrusted to us. I was both challenged and encouraged.”
- Anthony Carter, lead pastor, East Point Church, Atlanta, GA
“Evangelicals are rightly asking today, what is the gospel which we believe in and proclaim? Trevin Wax in this wonderfully readable and irenic book helps us sort out the issues, showing us that the gospel announcement is truncated if one does not understand the gospel story and if the gospel is not fleshed out in our churches.”
- Thomas Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Seminary
“This book is a winsome, creative, and compelling analysis both of the pitfalls of a non-gospel or less-than gospel Christianity, and a description of a full-orbed gospel Christianity.”
- Josh Moody, pastor of College Church, Wheaton, IL, author of No Other Gospel
“Trevin Wax has done the church an important service by exposing the subtle deceptions that have trapped countless people within the church. Few topics are more important than the Gospel, and few books help us see what makes it uniquely challenging and powerful as this one.”
- Matthew Lee Anderson, MereOrthodoxy.com and author of Earthen Vessels
“Trevin helps us identify the greatest threat that exists in the church today: complacency about the Gospel which turns into a false counterfeit Gospel. With all the remedies in the Church for so many problems, it is easy for the Gospel itself to get lost in the sea of self-help empty counterfeits? Trevin, with great clarity and engaging style, reorients us to the true Gospel by contrasting it with so many Trojan horses. A great book to hand to ninety-percent of the people in the pews today who have lost focus on what the Gospel is really about.”
- C. Michael Patton, Reclaiming the Mind Ministries
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