Friday Five Interview – Trevin Wax

September 17, 2010

Today I’m honored to chat with Trevin Wax, a popular blogger,  associate Pastor at First Baptist Church in Shelbyville, TN, and author of the new book, Holy Subversion.

Trevin is a frequently contributer to publications, such as Christianity Today. He is currently working on a second book,Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hopes.

Trevin received my bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Theology from Emanuel University of Oradea in the country of Romania, where he was involved in mission work in several village churches from 2000-05. He received a Masters of Divinity at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.

1) You’re recent book is titled, Holy Subversion, can you explain what you mean by this term?

1. Yes, the title is meant to catch your eye. The words “holy” and “subversion” do not typically go together. There are two ways to understand the word “subvert” or “subversion.” The first definition refers to “overthrowing” or plotting the downfall of a kingdom.

The second way that “subverting” something is commonly understood refers to “undermining” or “pushing something back down into its proper place.” In the book, I use the term “subversive” in the second sense. Most of the time, the idols in our lives are not bad things. They are good things that have become idolatrous because we have placed them above God himself. The goal is not merely to destroy our idols, but to return the gifts of God to their proper place where they can be enjoyed once again to the glory of God.

So our job as Christians is first to identify and unmask some of the often-unnoticed idolatries that seek to muzzle our message and demand our allegiance. Then, we must think through specific ways in which the Church can counter our culture by subverting its prevailing idolatries and pushing them back to their rightful place, under the feet of Jesus.

2) Popular evangelical methodology says that we need to be like the culture in order to win them over, but it seems your book is a bit of a push-back against that. Do you think in our attempts to blend in, we diminish our ability to make a difference?

2. There is no way to solidly critique the idolatries of our day and not run up against current cultural manifestations. There are two poles moving through this book – the Church as a counter-culture that provides an implicit critique of the culture we live in, and the Church as a culture-creating institution that actually displays a culture of its own. At times, the critique of culture comes out. Other times, it’s the church as its own institution, creating a new way of life for the world to see, a way that stems from the power of Christ’s resurrection.
3) I’m sensing a movement back to more expository, substantive preaching in our day. A tilt back toward an emphasis on doctrine. Is this a trend you’re seeing and if so, why?
3. Yes, and I think it’s a good move. Doctrines matter because they reflect truth about who God is and what he has done. The reasons for the trend toward doctrinal, expository preaching are too many to list here. At a fundamental level, Christians still believe God speaks to us through his Word and so we shouldn’t want to mute or muzzle his message to us.
4) You’ve been blogging and writing since 2006–how has the experience enriched your ministry?
4.  I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was six years old. When I started blogging (back in 2004, and then regularly at my current site in 2006), it was just a hobby that helped me keep up my writing skills.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine challenged me to wake up and realize that the blog was an important extension of my ministry. The blog is like writing, or speaking, or any other avenue of communication. The goal should be to serve others well in the name of Christ and bring glory to his name.

5) You spent significant time doing ministry in Romania. What did that experience teach you and how has it informed your work and ministry today?

5. For five years I served in Romania, a formerly Communist country where evangelicals were the minority. The majority of Romanians were Orthodox, but most were Christian in name only. So there were clear lines of distinction between evangelicals and the rest of society. Once we returned to the American South, we discovered the situation was completely reversed. I was ministering in a context in which everyone seemed to be Baptist, but the name was just a name.

So living in one context as part of a beleaguered minority and then being thrust into a different context where we were part of the “majority” opened our eyes to the way evangelicalism mirrors the world in the West. Holy Subversion is an attempt to call the Western church away from cultural captivity, and to shine light on the blind spots that we often miss.