The temptation when writing a book like Counterfeit Gospels is to focus on everything wrong with everyone else. I didn’t want to write that kind of book, as it didn’t strike me as particularly constructive.
Instead, I thought long and hard about the doubts and struggles of people in my congregation. I also looked within my own heart to see the kinds of counterfeits that appeal to me in one way or another.
Ultimately, I narrowed the list to six counterfeits. Then, I sought to hold them up to light of the biblical gospel in a way that exposed their flaws and made them less attractive to us.
Below is a list of counterfeits I considered. I’m interested to see which ones you think are most prominent. Take the poll below and let me know the six you would have chosen. Then, leave a comment telling me why you made the choices you did. I’m curious to see how your choices line up with the six I put in the book.
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.