Book Review: Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax

February 25, 2012

Have you been looking for a clear, biblical answer to “What is the gospel?”  Then Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope by Trevin Wax is for you.

Wax sets out in this very readable book to clear up the confusion on what the gospel actually is by identifying the gospel and contrasting it with common counterfeits.

The gospel is presented using the imagery of a three legged stool.  Each leg of the stool is essential or the stool falls over.

Often Christians have targeted only one of the three stools.  This over emphasis of one to the neglect of the other two has contributed to the rise of the counterfeits.  The three legs are:

1.  The Gospel Story

The gospel story is the scriptural narrative that takes us from creation to new creation, climaxing with the death and resurrection of Jesus (p. 16).

2.  The Gospel Announcement

The announcement centers upon Jesus and what He has done to reconcile us to God.  Our response to this announcement is to repent of our sins and put our trust in the work He has accomplished on our behalf (p. 16).

3.  The Gospel Community

God has commissioned the church to be the community that embodies the message of the gospel (p. 17).

Together these three legs form the stool of the gospel.

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 (p. 17).

The book is broken down into three parts.  Each part is one of the legs of the stool.  Within each part are three chapters.  The first chapter of each part provides a helpful discussion of the particular leg of the gospel stool.  One could read only those chapters and leave with a solid grasp of the gospel.

But there is more.  Each part includes two more chapters.  Each of these chapters presents a counterfeit to that part of the gospel stool.  These counterfeits may be attractive and resemble the real thing, but each of them can lead one away from the gospel truth.

Here are the counterfeits listed under the particular aspect of the gospel that it counterfeits.  This list comprises the table of contents and the parts and chapters of the book.

1.  The Gospel Story

A.  The Therapeutic Gospel

B.  The Judgmentless Gospel

2.  The Gospel Announcement

A.  The Moralistic Gospel

B.  The Quietist Gospel

3.  The Gospel Community

A.  The Activist Gospel

B.  The Churchless Gospel

Sometimes after reading a book, I am left wondering if the time invested was worth it.  Not with this book.  I am thankful that Wax has gifted the church with this resource.  It is a book that I recommend be added to the reading list for those who stand in the pulpits and for those who sit in the pews.  Read it.  You’ll thank me later.

You might be interested in checking out some of the other reviews of this book:

As of the time of this writing, you can purchase the book from these online sites for these prices.

Frank Gantz

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A Christian who is a member of FirstBoynton in Boynton Beach, FL. A husband, father & grandfather.