Wax Steps to the Forefront of Cultural Conversations

Trevin WaxIn the run-up to the 2012 election when conservative candidates made gaffe after gaffe when talking about abortion, one of Trevin Wax’s Gospel Coalition blog posts, “10 Questions a Pro-Choice Candidate Is Never Asked by the Media” went viral, instantly making Wax one of the most influential Christian voices of his generation.

For Wax, writing is one of those things he “cannot not” do. “Whatever I do, writing will be part of it,” he said. “I would write books even if no one read them.” That no one would read them is unlikely, though, given that Wax is such a respected voice in Christendom.

Along with his popular Gospel Coalition blog, Wax is also a contributor to Christianity TodayThe New York Times, and Baptist Press. The author of four books, he now develops small group curricula for LifeWay Christian Resources and is working on a Ph.D. in missiology.

Much of his intellectual formation came from his 1999 session at Summit and, specifically, David Noebel. “It wasn’t that he taught me what to think on all these things; he opened my mind to learn how to think on all these things,” Wax said.

Wax came to Summit when religious pluralism was bubbling up as a hot topic. While so many popular voices were claiming no religion is superior to any other — nor does it have the right to claim to be — the open, honest discussion at Summit helped Wax sort out his own thinking at a time when he silently struggled with that question. “It ignited my intellect,” he recalled. “It helped me understand that ideas have consequences.” Having his “mind stretched” for two weeks at Summit laid the groundwork for future pursuits. Wax returned home to teach worldview curriculum and Understanding the Times.

During college, seminary, and several years spent in Romania, Wax became an avid reader — and not just of nonfiction. Books like The Brothers Karamazov and Les Miserables have shaped his understanding of God and the world. Though he’s written three nonfiction books, he recently released his first work of fiction: Clear Winter Nights: A Journey into Truth, Doubt, and What Comes After, a short dialogue between a grandfather and a young man struggling with his faith.

Seeing how personalities like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell gain influence by knowing how to talk to masses — even though their messages often run counter to what Scripture says — has pushed Wax to be more concerned with how Christians use storytelling to communicate the biblical worldview. “Ideas have consequences, and ideas don’t just come in nonfiction books,” he said. “This is an area that we need to do work in. You can make a case that Hollywood is more influential than Washington, D.C.”

Wax’s writing has already positioned him in the vortex swirling around many cultural controversies, but he stresses that it isn’t just leaders and writers who need to be involved. Wax points out that divisive cultural issues — like the marriage debate — require all of us to be thinking Christians. But he also cautions perspective: “Remember that political and cultural engagement are of great importance, but they are not of ultimate importance. Be able to maintain perspective and know that no matter what happens in the U.S., the Kingdom of God is going to go on.”