Friday Five: Trevin Wax
Doing theology through fiction.

For today's entry in the Friday Five interview series, we catch up with Trevin Wax.

Trevin Wax is author of Clear Winter Nights. He currently works at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. He blogs regularly at Kingdom People.

Today we chat with Trevin about storytelling, influences, and conviction.

You've written, blogged, and spoke on theological issues. Now you dive into a work of fiction. What prompted this change in genre?

It's interesting how you phrased that question within a framework of moving from "theology" to "fiction." I think this question illuminates something in the way evangelicals tend to think about theology. We see it as the abstract explanation of propositional truth. This is one aspect of "doing theology," of course, but throughout Christian history, there have been plenty of believers who have chosen to do theology through fiction. One thinks of Dante, Bunyan, and Lewis. Going even further back, we see how Jesus' parables taught theology through story. Considering this long line of storytellers, I thought: Why not?

You've been impacted by the work of men like Chesterton and Lewis. Does their influence show up in Clear Winter Nights?

Yes, the fictional town (Lewisville) is a nod to C.S. Lewis, and Gil is named after Chesterton. Both men have shaped me, but I believe readers will find more of Chesterton's influence in this book than Lewis', primarily because the novel is about characters discussing big ideas, not an imaginative world like Narnia.

One of your characters, Chris, is a young Christian leader plagued by doubts. Was this a composite of folks you've counseled in the past?

Not just folks I've counseled. Some of Chris' love for debate is still a part of me. I love to take the contrarian position to see how well people can make a case for what they believe. I drove my parents nuts when I was a teenager! Some of his doubts are doubts that I've wrestled with. The father-issues Chris has is not something I've experienced personally, but I've talked with lots of guys my age who have faced those challenges.

Gil, the grandfather/pastor character, represents a firm, yet winsome way of engaging tough questions. Is he a good model for today's leaders?

I hope so. He's not perfect, as is clear in the book. There's pride and bitterness and many of the daily sins we face all our life. But he's also filled with wisdom and wit and wonder. Questions don't threaten him. He has strong convictions, but his grace toward others is stronger still.

If readers could take away one thing from Clear Winter Nights what would that be?

Conviction and humility can live together. You can be gracious, kind, and humble, and yet rock-solid in your beliefs. I hope skeptics find in Gil an example that is refreshing, and long-time believers find an example worth emulating.

Daniel Darling is vice-president of communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is the author of several books, including his latest, Activist Faith.

November 08, 2013
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