Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Searching for a Real Faith: Review of Clear Winter Nights

Last year on this date, I posted a review of this book on Below is the text from that review. An earlier, more personal, version of the article can be found on Following review are some quotes from the book I had posted to Facebook while in the process of reading the book.

Believable novel examines a millennial's crisis of faith 
Clear Winter Nights: A Journey into Truth, Doubt, and What Comes After is one of those rare books which examine Christianity in a thoughtful way. It is a bit different in that it is touted as “Theology in Story,” and is about a young man who has a crisis of faith.

Examining theology through novel is not exactly a… well… novel approach. But doing it well without being cheesy is difficult. Trevin Wax is up to the challenge. His attention to detail gives the reader the impression he is present, watching the events as a semi-omniscient fly on the wall. And, while not being afraid to tackle some deep issues, Wax is also not afraid to let the reader come to his own conclusions. Nor does he attempt to tie everything up in a tidy bow at the end of the story. The characters feel real, and the story is believable.

The book follows a few days in the life of Chris, who is on the verge of marriage and becoming a leader in a new church being planted. However, Chris’s doubts, exacerbated by revelations about his father, cause him to break the engagement as he reexamines his faith. He ends up visiting his grandfather, Gil, an retired preacher who is recovering from a stroke, and his honesty about his doubts sparks a lengthy conversation over a few days.

The book has much to say to millennials who are wondering about their faith, and to those in older generations who are seeing the church change. There is a paragraph in the book which meaningful to parents and grandparents of millennials, and hopefully many who read it, from every generation, will take it to heart. Near the end of their time together those few days, Gil says to his grandson (p. 129),

I’m proud of the young man you are becoming. You’ve come face to face with some devastating sin and hypocrisy. You’re asking big questions and wrestling with important things, and there’s no shame in that. You want to own your faith, not satisfied to go through the motions of a faith you’ve inherited. That’s admirable, if you ask me.

For millennials who may be reading this review, know that many in older generations admire you when you honestly wrestle with the truth. Keep being real.

Quotes from Clear Winter Nights:
“Truth is not a formula… Truth is a Person.”
“No Christian who truly understands grace can feel superior to anyone else. Grace shatters any sense of superiority.”
“A Christian is not defined by the sins of the past or the struggles of the present but by the vision of the future.”
“The world says, ‘Be true to yourself.’ King Jesus says, ‘Be true to your future self.’”
“The true rebellion is in the heart of the Christian who follows King Jesus by swimming upstream against the current of the world.”
“Don’t trust in your strength, because there is such a thing as pride. Don’t despair in your weakness, because there is such a thing as forgiveness.”
“Authenticity isn’t accepting your sins. It’s admitting your sins and then being true to the person King Jesus has declared you to be.”

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