Saturday, April 30, 2011
“Christians and non-Christians are often drawn to counterfeit gospels. Even those of us who have walked with the Lord for many years may be inclined to accept cheap imitations of the truth. Why? Because they are easy. They cost us less. And they make us popular with people whose opinions matter to us.” – Trevin Wax from Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope
One of the common things a tourist runs into in a big city is counterfeits. You can purchase a counterfeit Rolex for only a fraction of the cost of a real one. For a small investment, the tourist can own something that looks like what millionaires wear on their wrists to keep time. However, it may look like a Rolex and even have “Rolex” stamped on it, but ultimately it is a counterfeit. It lacks the same structure, design, durability and internal components of a real Rolex. It fails to hold up the same way an authentic Rolex will.
I’m afraid Rolexes are not the only thing being counterfeited today. A plethora of so-called “gospels” are passing themselves off as the true gospel. None other than Rob Bell’s controversial best-seller “Love Wins” is just such a counterfeit. Shortly after reading it I learned of a new book titled “Counterfeit Gospels” by Trevin Wax. Wax develops curriculum for the SBC with Lifeway. Being a fellow Southern Baptist myself, I excitedly nabbed a copy of his book and dug into it. I found it refreshing and challenging.
Wax begins by laying out the basics of the true Gospel with the illustration of a three legged stool. Each leg represents a critical part of the Gospel and if any one leg is removed then the stool falls. These three legs are the “The Gospel Story”, “The Gospel Announcement” and “The Gospel Community.” Each counterfeit insidiously attacks one of the three legs of the true gospel.
Wax identifies six specific counterfeit gospels: therapeutic, judgmentless, moralistic, quietist, activist and churchless. The therapeutic and judgmentless attack the Gospel Story. The moralistic and quietist attack the Gospel Announcement. Finally the activist and churchless attack the Gospel Community. Wax begins the study of each counterfeit with a chapter dedicated to the particular “leg” of the stool, then follows with individual chapters to each attack on it.
The book offers an approachable depth that helps the individual believer see through the many counterfeits invading the church today. I believe it is essential reading for any church leader and believer in Christ. Leaders must make sure they avoid perpetrating a counterfeit and believers must be sure they do not fall into the trap of following one. Wax’s work is scholarly and detailed. It’s not a book you’ll plow through in a day or two, but one you will slowly wade into that will lead you to look into your own faith, the faith community to which you belong, and the Christian faith as a whole.
My biggest concern is that the authentic Gospel is becoming rarer in the 21st Century. Wax expresses a deep love and understanding of the Gospel. Each chapter concerning a counterfeit offers advice on “countering the counterfeit” which will help those who find themselves embracing something other than the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The stakes are high. The Apostle Paul said:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)
Those are strong words from the Apostle Paul when he dealt with a counterfeit gospel in Galatia. The stakes are high. The eternal fate of souls is determined by how one embraces the Gospel. Paying a large sum of money for a Rolex and finding out later that it is a counterfeit is a tragedy. Investing your faith in a gospel message and finding out later it is a counterfeit is the greatest tragedy in life. Wax’s book will help readers discern the real from the counterfeit in an effective way. It is perhaps the most relevant book I have read outside of the Bible since becoming a Christian.
Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.