Book Review: Counterfeit Gospels (Wax)

The word “gospel” has become a sort of filler word in Christian subculture; phrases like “gospel-centered” or “keep the gospel central” are regularly thrown around in conversation. Trevin Wax identifies that all “gospels” are not created equal.

Counterfeit Gospels seeks to identify the various counterfeits which can so subtly take the place of the one true Gospel and expose them for what they truly are. So why’s this such a big deal? In using the example of how counterfeit money affects an economy Trevin Wax writes, “[b]y imitating the genuine, the counterfeit money creates confusion and typically distorts the value of the real currency. The counterfeit works because it mimics the real deal so well that customers and businesses spread the fake money until even [entire] governments are affected” (p.12).

Buying in to counterfeit gospels prove extremely dangerous, and even potentially damning, because we are subtly putting something else uppermost in our affections instead of Jesus Christ. The danger lies in the fact that we are so often drawn to these counterfeits, intentionally or unintentionally:

“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. The cost us less. And they make us popular with people whose opinions matter to us. Yet a counterfeit gospel will always leave our souls impoverished at just the point we should be enriched.” (p.13)

With this danger in mind, Trevin Wax identifies six primary counterfeits he has seen plague people (within and outside of the church), and offers continual refocusing on how these counterfeits distort and fall short of the life-giving Gospel of Christ.

As I read through the pages of his book it was easy to identify how I had fallen for some of these lies and how burdensome it had been for me putting my hope in these false promises. The danger and temptation to turn to things apart from Jesus Himself is very real, and an important step in avoiding counterfeits–just like it is in currency–is to educate yourself on them. The more you know about what a counterfeit looks like, sounds like, and offers to you (essentially how it differs from the real thing) the more equipped you will be to fight against it with the authentic.

This book is extremely life-giving for me and has helped me see areas in my life I have not been following the biblical (and only) Gospel of Christ. I would highly recommend it for any reader serious about following the Gospel laid out in the pages of the Bible and who wishes to share this burden-lifting, life-giving gospel with others who do not have it.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes by Moody Publishing. I was not required to post a positive review and the views expressed in this review are my own.

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