The premise of this entire presentation is centered on the concept that “God is love.” The speaker reiterates over and over this particular phrase in order to support each of his points, being sure to emphasize only this attribute. He further claims that God sent Jesus in order to show and demonstrate this love while making it clear that the world is in need of it. He even goes as far to say that the “Christian story” began with the announcement that God is love and he sent his son to show it to the world.
After repeatedly establishing the sole attribute of God and his purpose for sending Jesus, the speaker then deduces the implications of the love he mentioned before. Freedom, as he calls it, does not come along with love, but is necessitated by it. Love is not even an option without freedom, and freedom is choice. Additionally, there are consequences to making the choice to resist this love, although these consequences are never mentioned.
When rhetorically asking the audience what God is like, the speaker gives what he thinks are a few common answers that people would give in response to that question, casting them all in a negative light. He concludes them by saying that “that’s not the good news. The good news is better than that.” This good news that he speaks of is once again that God is love and God is good. Expounding no further, he leaves it simply as that.
Finally, the speaker finishes of his presentation with what he thinks Christians should be. According to him, the foremost thought that should come to people when they think of Christians is how loving their God is. Because God is love and he sent Jesus into the world to show his love, Christians should always be known firstly for their love.
While this presentation sure sounds appealing, identifying it as a counterfeit is no difficult task even though most of what the speaker said was primarily true. God is love. He did send his son to show his love to the world. Christians should be known for their love. However, it is not the pieces he included that disqualify this presentation from being a full gospel message, but the ones that are blatantly and intentionally excluded.
The first part of the three-legged stool, as Wax calls it in Counterfeit Gospels, is the gospel story. This story, according to the speaker, is that God is love and he sent his son to the world so it would know his love. The redemption part of the story is quite obvious, but what is not quite as clear is exactly what the world is being redeemed from. The focus is completely on God’s goodness and love, leaving his judgment of human sinfulness and rebellion out of the mix entirely. Oddly enough, the speaker details the gospel announcement in the exact same way, disregarding the need for God’s justice.
The description of believers is perhaps the most fooling incorrect aspect of the gospel the speaker presents of all and perhaps the most grievous. If Christians are only significantly remembered for their love, what really separates them from the rest of the world? Without the escape from any sort of judgment, there is no grace involved in this love. Therefore, the love of the Christian kind cannot be so different than that of what many other groups claim to have. Lines dissolved, Christians start to blend in with the rest of the world, claiming to have nothing unique.
The culmination of the entire presentation is a judgmentless gospel where there is nothing to be redeemed from. God sounds like a great loving friend but no more. He has nothing substantial to offer that could actually restore a life. This gospel is a hopeless one without the impending judgment of mankind’s sinfulness.