Professed faith in Christ does not mean that one will never doubt the faith. Doubts are a normal part of the Christian walk. But for some, these doubts can lead to despair or a season of resistance and walking away from the faith. Although this common struggle is discussed on blogs, in articles, and on biblical counseling websites, I do not recall ever reading the theological answers to our doubts in story form. That is until I read Clear Winter Nights: A Journey into Truth, Doubt, and What Comes After by Trevin Wax.
After completing the daunting task of writing four non-fiction books, and his daily work of managing and editing Bible study curriculum, Wax has written his first fiction book about the struggles of a young man and the faithful teaching and instruction of his grandfather.
Trevin Wax is on the site today giving us a glimpse inside the book and why it was written:
How would you describe Clear Winter Nights?
Wax: It is a fictional book that focuses on dialogue about important issues related to faith. So the issues discussed are non-fiction, but the story itself is fictional.
Why did you decide to write a novel?
Wax: It’s more of a novella, a brief novel, since it’s about half the size of a normal novel. I believe it’s important for us to be not only critics of culture, but creators of culture. Fiction communicates truth in a different way than non-fiction. This book gave me an opportunity to draw out the beauty of truth through narrative, characters, and dialogue.
Have you always had an interest in fiction?
Wax: When I started writing as a kid and a teenager, I told stories. So, in some ways, this book is taking me back to my roots. I’ve always loved reading fiction.
What is the central theme of the book?
Wax: The theme is grace. How grace overcomes hypocrisy and betrayal. How grace overcomes skepticism and doubt. How grace impacts our journey through trial and temptation. How grace seasons the way we discuss the most important issues of our day.
Do you relate in any way to the main character who struggles with doubts about the faith?
Wax: I do. When I was a high school and college student, I wrestled with some of Chris’ doubts and issues. I also tend to be stubborn and argumentative, and Chris can be that way at times, even when he thinks he may be wrong.
Who or what inspired your characters?
Wax: We were hosting a group of college students in our home every week at the time I began writing the book. I’ve found that a lot of college students wrestle with what they’ve been taught and are trying to determine whether or not they will truly “own” their faith or walk away. That struggle forms the basis for the character of Chris. The grandfather in the story is a composite portrait of three grandfather figures who have made a profound impact on my life. I also sought to incorporate the winsomeness and wit of apologist G. K. Chesterton throughout the dialogue.
As we’ve established, a main theme is doubt. Do you think this is a common struggle for Christians?
Wax: Yes, but we’re not always open about our doubts. We tend to think the church is a safe place for people with doubts, but that’s not always the case. Part of my goal with this book was to bring those doubts out into the open so they could be discussed from a grace-filled posture.
What do you hope readers will walk away with after they read?
Wax: Renewed confidence in the truth of Christianity and a model of dialogue with doubters that is loving, winsome, and uncompromising.
Who is this book for?
Wax: I hope skeptics and doubters will be challenged by the conversations to “doubt their doubts.” I hope Christians will enjoy a stirring story that provides a model of how to have truth-filled, grace-soaked conversations with those who are doubting. (I especially think young Christians – twentysomethings – will resonate with the issues discussed.)
Anything you would like to add?
Wax: The relationship between truth and grace. As people who believe Jesus is the Truth, we can give the impression that we believe we are better than those who do not know Christ. But the beauty of grace is that none of us are good. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Grace levels the ground at the cross, leading us to have humble and grateful hearts. Looking up to God for salvation should keep us from ever looking down on others.
Do you have plans to write a second novel?
Wax: We’ll see how this one does first!
Trevin Wax is Managing Editor of The Gospel Project, a small group curriculum developed by LifeWay Christian Resources. A former missionary and pastor, Wax is a popular blogger (Kingdom People) and a contributor to Christianity Today and other publications. His most recent books are “Counterfeit Gospels” (Moody, 2011) and “Holy Subversion” (Crossway, 2010). He has a book in Romanian, Exil si Intoarcere (2012) and Gospel-Centered Teaching releases in October 2013. Trevin and his wife Corina and have been married for almost eleven years. They have three children: Timothy (9), Julia (5), and David (newborn).