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Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope

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  • Posted July 3, 2012

    It isn’t often that I don’t fly through a book. I l

    It isn’t often that I don’t fly through a book. I like to immerse myself in its pages, and leave a day or two later. There are only two reasons I don’t do that -- one is because I don’t like the book, or secondly, it is so filled with truth I can’t read it quickly or I’ll miss something. Counterfeit Gospels was the latter. Each chapter brought eye-opening revelations about how things have always been done and how the Bible presents truth.

    Using the analogy of a three-legged stool, Tevin Wax explains major components to the Gospel: Story, Announcement, Community. When I saw the subsections of this book, I wondered how someone like me, raised in the church, educated in Christian schools, and VBS teacher could get much out of this book. I was pleasantly surprised as the author tackles some of the most prevalent themes in American Christianity.

    For instance, in discussing sharing the Gospel, he makes the point that it used to be that every person in the United States was aware of the basics of the Bible. That is not always the case in this post-modern age in which we live. He explains it is important that we explain the why of needing a Savior. To someone like me who knew John 3:16 before I could read, it is hard to imagine people who didn’t grow up looking at flannelgraph pictures of Adam and Eve covered in fig leaves talking to a snake, but there are people who don’t realize that God created a sinless world and that because we sin we have fallen short of God’s plan. The author of Counterfeit Gospels states that unless the problem is known (which started in the Garden of Eden) then how does one realize the solution (Jesus.)

    While he tackles six false gospels that permeate our society (therapeutic, judgmentless, moralistic, quietist, activist, churchless). He explains why each one of these cannot be the true Gospel by bringing story, announcement and community into each one of these ideologies.

    The one I really appreciated was the chapter on the activist gospel. He told the story, which to me was chilling, of a church that fought against the sale of alcohol in their community. When the ballot was brought before voters, and the county remained “dry”, a deacon said it was the best victory their church ever had. Really? While I won’t get into the debate of alcohol, if your church sees politics and activism as more important than people being saved, baptism, or discipleship, are you a church or a political party? I’ve seen so much activism in churches in the last few years, I sometimes wonder why those churches don’t remove the cross and replace it with a ballot box behind the altar.

    This is a great book, and I recommend it to everyone, both new Christian, and those who have been in the church most of our lives. I promise you, though, if you take this book seriously, and you should, you will find yourself challenged as to if what you are believing is the Gospel God intended, or if it has been slightly distorted by what people have decided the Bible should say.

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  • Posted May 29, 2011

    Know the Real Thing to Spot the Fake

    Counterfeit Gospels asks the question, "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?"

    This book has given me several "aha" moments as the author defines what he calls counterfeit gospels and outlines how each distorts the truth of the gospel. According to Wax, there are six main counterfeit gospels being taught in the church today and shows the reader how, like good counterfeit money, each sounds biblical on the surface but a closer look reveals a detour from truth. Just as an expert in detecting counterfeit money recognizes the fake because he is so familiar with the real thing, we are encourged to know the truth of scripture well so that we recognize the false teaching when we hear it.

    In each chapter Wax defines the counterfeit and the different forms it takes with enough truth mixed in to make it seem credible but in fact undermines the church, leading to a lack of confidence in presenting the message of the gospel with clarity and conviction. One thing that stood out to me is why we are so easily enticed by the counterfeit gospels when we should know better. According to Wax, "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." It wasn't easy to read, but it's true.

    By the time I finished this book, I felt a new resolve to spend more time in the Bible to develop a deeper confidence in the truth of the gospel so that I'm not unwittingly drawn into the counterfeits. This is a book I recommend to any Christian who wants to do the same.

    I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher but the opinion of it is my own and was not solicited, nor was a positive review required.

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  • Posted May 7, 2011

    Every Christian leader and every Christian needs to read this book

    Counterfeit Gospels is one of those books every Christian leader - and every Christian should put on their "required reading list". It pulls no punches and will probably convict (offend?) everyone who reads it at some point within its pages. Trevin Wax tackles one of the most important questions the Church is struggle with today: namely, "What does it mean to be a Christian?" The heart of Christianity is the Gospel, but there is so much uncertainty and disagreement among Christians leaders (and Christians in general) over what "the gospel" is, it leads to disagreement over what it means to be a Christian.

    Wax identifies a three-pronged approach to understanding and sharing the gospel: The Gospel Story, The Gospel Announcement, and The Gospel Community. He identifies six different counterfeits in this book: The Therapeutic, The Jugmentless, The Moralistic, The Quietist, The Activist, and the Churchless Gospels, first identifying what the real Gospel is and then disarming each of these counterfeits. I'll be honest to tell you I was convicted during my reading of this book that I've fallen sway to varying degrees to some of these counterfeits, and I believe any honest believer would find themselves hard pressed not not find themselves in the same boat. If you're comfortable in your understanding of The Gospel and how you live your Christian life then this book probably isn't for you, but if you want to honestly examine whether your beliefs measure up against the truths of Scripture then take the time to read this book and contemplate the truth found within its pages. This is a definite 5/5 stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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