I read that Charlie Chaplin once entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest and came second. The judges could not tell the true Chaplain from the fake Chaplin. Sadly, many Christians cannot tell a true gospel from a fake one. The danger is that if someone proclaims a false gospel then you will get a false Christian or a false sense of assurance or reinforced religiosity. If you preach a gospelette you get a Christianette. An incoherent gospel yields an incoherent mode of discipleship and spirituality. So getting the gospel right and guarding the gospel is imperative. Ultimately false gospels and half gospels do for the church what Hannibal Lecter does for vegetarianism. If you see them, warn everyone, rebuke the preacher, eject the unrepentant, restore the penitent, then teach the truth.
(a) legalism, with the constant temptation to reduce the gospel to a performance treadmill of works to try and win divine favour, turning God into an insufferable task-master;
(b) the prosperity gospel, with its idols of health and wealth, turning God into a cosmic slot machine who pays off if you pay in;
(c) civil religion, with its blasphemous syncretism of religion and nationalism, turning God into a military tyrant who absorbs the worst of our prejudices;
(d) moral therapeutic deism, with its projection of a distant god who expects nothing from us but radically intervenes when dog-whistled, turning God into an on-call therapist; and
(e) religious wrapping paper on progressivism, with its virtue signaling instead of real virtue; its ideational vacuity instead of robust confessionalism; its cheap grace rather than costly discipleship; and its crypto-marxism instead of a kingdom vision – presents us with “a God without wrath [who] brought men without sin to a kingdom without judgment through the ministration of a Christ without a cross.”