Thursday, January 20, 2011

Counterfeit Gospels

In a posting over at Kingdom People entitled "Which Counterfeit Gospels are Most Prevalent Today?", Trevin Wax shares several of the counterfeit gospels he considered while writing his book Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope.

Therapeutic Gospel: Sin robs us of our sense of fullness. Christ’s death proves our worth as humans and gives us power to reach our potential. The church helps us find happiness.

Formalist Gospel: Sin is failing to keep church rules and regulations. Christ’s death gives me an agenda, so I can begin to follow the predescribed forms of Christianity.

Moralist Gospel: Our big problem is sins (plural) and not sin (nature). The purpose for Christ’s death is to give us a second chance and make us better people. Redemption comes through the exercise of willpower with God’s help.

Judgmentless Gospel: God’s forgiveness does not need to come through the sacrifice of His Son. Judgment is more about God’s goodness, not the need for human rebellion to be punished. Evangelism is not urgent.

Social-Club Gospel: Salvation is all about finding fellowship and friendship at church. The gospel is reduced to Christian relationships that help us enjoy life.

Activist Gospel: The kingdom is advanced through our efforts to build a just society. The gospel’s power is demonstrated through cultural transformation, and the church is united around political causes and social projects.

Churchless Gospel: The focus of salvation is primarily on the individual, in a way that makes the community of faith peripheral to God’s purposes. The church is viewed as an option to personal spirituality, or even an obstacle to Christlikeness.

Mystic Gospel: Salvation comes through an emotional experience with God. The church is there to help me feel close to God by helping me along in my pursuit of mystical union.

Quietist Gospel: Salvation is about spiritual things, not secular matters. Christianity is only about individual life change and is not concerned with society and politics.

If there are counterfeit gospels afoot in the Episcopal Church, my experience suggests that we tend to gravitate towards the Therapeutic, Judgmentless, Social-Club and Activist Gospels.

You can take a poll on Trevin's website to indicate which six out of these nine you think are the most prominent here.


Trevin said...


It's good to see your comment about the context you serve in. That's an interesting point to make. Different denominations and churches may swerve to different errors. Thanks for the link!

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks for commenting, Trevin. I enjoy your blog and I pray God's blessings on your ministry.

The Underground Pewster said...

Bryan, I agree with your assessment. I hear one or the other every Sunday. Sometimes they are all combined into one mixed up jumbled up game that I am still looking for a grand unifying name for but right now the best I can come up with is something I call "The Word Scrabble."