Fresh New Books: Trevin Wax on Counterfeit Gospels

I love book dedications, you know, the few words at the very beginning of a text that record in whose honor the manuscript was written.  Books are such an obsession for me that I don’t just love the main body, but the ephemera–the introduction, acknowledgements, dedication, and more.

For example, authors typically disclaim that though some have reviewed the book, all errors are their own.  The funniest admission of error I’ve ever read was from Oliver Crisp, who said in a book about Jonathan Edwards that all errors belonged to an earlier version of his temporal self.  But I digress.  One of my favorite dedications comes from Tim Keller, who said in his Counterfeit Gods dedication to his three sons that they can spot a counterfeit.  The Keller boys are not alone in this regard.  So can Trevin Wax.

Wax is an editor at LifeWay Christian Resources of a fantastic-looking curriculum.  His latest book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope (Moody, 2011) displays this discernment in spades.  I really enjoyed Trevin’s work to show variations on the true gospel: the therapeutic gospel, the judgmentless gospel, the activist gospel, the churchless gospel, and so on.  This is writing and thinking that the church needs.  Trevin writes with passion and clarity, and I commend his work to you.  This would be great material for a small group Bible study.

Trevin shows that he understands the times.  In his section on the judgmentless gospel, he writes that

“The judgmentless gospel may be the most attractive counterfeit being proposed today.  The entire tide of our culture is turning toward a type of pluralism that would deny the reality (and even the need) for divine justice.”

He is, of course, spot on. There is much more like this in the text.

Trevin offers a metaphor for the gospel as “three-legged stool” that has stirred up some discussion on the blogs (see here and here).  I think the dialogue is constructive, and metaphors can be tricky things.  It is clear from material like this that Trevin believes that the gospel announcement, as he calls it, has the preeminence in our witness (and “gives birth” to the church).  I commend that view.  Though all won’t agree with every idea he puts forth–and what book merits total agreement from all readers?–readers will find this a provocative, discerning, and generally helpful text.


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