"Don't confuse the gospel with the effects of the Gospel." writes Trevin Wax. Elsewhere he notes that, "…Christianity is not a scheme of morality, nor a plan for social and political change, and organizations which propose improvements along such lines are only 'tinkering with the problems. We may be made better men, but before we can face God we must be new men." So many churches today don't believe that the Gospel, as given in God's Word, is right for today. They think that it needs to be updated to fit our culture. Wax does a good job of analyzing the various counterfeit gospels of our day: the Therapeutic Gospel, the Activist Gospel, the Churchless Gospel…etc. he shows how many of these take one fact of the Gospel and preach it, mostly disembodied from the other essential truths that make up the Gospel. These people are, 'missing the mark' of the complete Gospel', which description, ironically, is one of the definitions of sin.
"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. They cost us less." And one might add, "they build up our church attendance". A small section, in the chapter on the "Churchless Gospel", caught my interest in particular. Discussed is the idea of some Christians who think that we should model ourselves on the practices of the early churches as the early churches would have obviously been more pure, more godly than ours. To these people Wax poses the question, "Which early church do you want to be like? Corinth? The church took pride in a man's incestuous relationship. Meanwhile, the worship gatherings were not being done decently and in order. Galatia? Paul was shocked to see that his church so quickly abandoned the gospel…"
I didn't like the reformed/amillennial bent of the book, the sacraments, true Israel…etc. are brought up. This is also evident where Christ is talked about, speaking of evangelizing, "Just talk about Jesus!......Jesus is not merely a means to an end, such as 'heaven,' 'a purposeful life,' or 'peace through trials.' Jesus is the end." What about God the Father? Christ has reconciled us to the Father, we have "access by one Sprit unto the Father, " - Ephesians 2:16-19, "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a anew and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil…"( Hebrews 10:19-22 NASB)See also, "Heb. 7:25, 2:10. Also, I did not particularly care for all of the movie references in the book, they seemed out of place, quite unnecessary.
But I do like the book overall. It is an interesting overview and critique of the futile attempts to improve the perfect Gospel revealed in God's Word. And now, to wrap this up, as usual, I'll end with one last quote from the book, "We must make clear that grace accepts us where we are, but that it never leaves us there."
Thanks to MoodyPublishers for sending me a free review copy of this book! (My review did not have to be favorable)