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

Moody Publishers / 2011 / Paperback

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Product Description

* Has the good news of the biblical gospel been derailed by well-meaning believers over the centuries? Challenging you to accept no substitutes, Wax exposes six common contemporary versions of the gospel---therapeutic, judgment-less, moralistic, quietist, activist, and churchless---to clarify your understanding of the scriptural message of Christ and to empower you for ministry. 176 pages, softcover from Moody.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 176
Vendor: Moody Publishers
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.00 X 5.25 X 0.37 (inches)
ISBN: 080242337X
ISBN-13: 9780802423375

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Publisher's Description

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. This book exposes six common counterfeits (Therapeutic, Judgmentless, Moralist, Quietist, Activist, and Churchless) that would get us off track.

The goal of Counterfeit Gospels 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. So come, love the gospel, recognize and overcome the counterfeits, and be empowered for ministry!

Author Bio

TREVIN WAX is the editor of TGM - Theology, Gospel, Mission, a gospel-centered small group curriculum developed by LifeWay Christian Resources. He blogs at and is also the author of Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals. He has served in pastoral roles in churches in the United States and in Romania. His wife is Corina and they have two children.

Of all the weapons used in modern warfare, perhaps the one with the most destructive power is counterfeit currency. Take away the confidence and spending power of your enemy, and a major victory has been won. Trevin Wax uses this comparison to introduce Counterfeit Gospels. The point is quickly driven home: if the gospel one declares is missing any element, it is a counterfeit – close in representation and presentation but ultimately worthless. Such counterfeits fail to satisfy the soul due to their failure to build confidence in God, represent Him clearly, and build a unified community. The accurate genuine proclamation of the Gospel, by contrast, will declare the story of the gospel while announcing the good news found in Christ’s work of reconciliation in such a way that transforms those who believe its message into people who live the good news. To neglect the gospel story, gospel announcement, or gospel community will produce a counterfeit gospel.

Wax then proceeds to dissect the popular trends in evangelical gospel proclamation to examine whether such gospel presentations are genuine or counterfeit. There are some elements that are untrue to the story of the Gospel. The “therapeutic gospel” is one such counterfeit, as it confuses the spiritual symptoms with the true spiritual disease presented in an accurate telling of the gospel from Creation to Restoration. A thorough job is done demonstrating why such counterfeits are attractive, how they draw in the unsuspecting person in search of truth, and how they fail to live up to an accurate representation of the Gospel. This is not theological nit-picking; this is an even-handed analysis of the many ways that one of the most important themes of Scripture is presented. With so much at stake, clear analysis is necessary!

The gospel announcement is also counterfeited through a gospel that is quietistic – a presentation that focuses more on the church's existence for herself rather than the church’s existence for the world at large. Such a focus can lead to an isolationism that pits "us" against "the world" and retreats away from having any impact on society. Again, the realities of the accurate Gospel are shown to have societal-altering consequences from which the church cannot shy away. As with the counterfeits to the gospel story, the counterfeits are handled lovingly yet honestly.

The truth of gospel community is counterfeited by movements Wax calls "the activist gospel." These are well-intentioned attempts that focus on the results of the gospel message rather than on the impacting message itself. An activist gospel is seen when the presentation of the Gospel becomes little more than a springboard for cultural warfare. To be fair, the Gospel will confront culture; but the Gospel is much more than a plan for cultural reform.

At the conclusion, Wax does a great job not only summarizing the counterfeit positions, but holding out examples of an accurate gospel presentation. He calls readers to a bold proclamation of the gospel story so that its message is announced in a way that invites people into a community of transformed people seeking to live out the transformation God has accomplished in their lives. Counterfeit Gospels is highly recommended. It is a book for every believer – not just those who ‘formally’ preach, teach or lead group studies. This is necessary reading for anyone who has ever been asked, or anticipates being asked, about the “hope that lies within” them. – Charles Eldred,

Editorial Reviews

"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 R. Schreiner
James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"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, Raleigh, NC, and author of Breaking the Islam Code

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, Church-planter, and Pastor of The Journey

"This book is a winsome, creative, and compelling analysis 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, and author of No Other Gospel


"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 L. Akin
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"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 well as this one.

Matthew Lee Anderson
Blogger at and author of Earthen Vessels

"'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
Vice President of Research and Ministry Development, LifeWay Christian Resources

"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, and co-author of A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir



"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, 9Marks

 ""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

"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 believe in the gospel of Christ, then you should read this book. It will 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, l
Lead Pastor, East Point Church in Georgia, and author of Glory Road

"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
Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, and visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary


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