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Searching for Real Faith - or No Faith at All What happens when a young Christian dealing with disillusionment and doubt spends a weekend with an elderly, retired pastor? They talk. And no subject is off limits. Clear Winter Nights is a stirring story about faith, forgiveness, and the distinctiveness of Christianity. Through a powerful narrative and engaging dialogue, Trevi Searching for Real Faith - or No Faith at All What happens when a young Christian dealing with disillusionment and doubt spends a weekend with an elderly, retired pastor? They talk. And no subject is off limits. Clear Winter Nights is a stirring story about faith, forgiveness, and the distinctiveness of Christianity. Through a powerful narrative and engaging dialogue, Trevin Wax shows the relevance of unchanging truth in an ever-changing world. When his life comes apart, will the center hold? Chris Walker has everything. A career, a beautiful fiancée, a promising ministry opportunity, and a faith instilled in him from a young age. But when a revelation about his family comes to light at his grandmother’s funeral, Chris finds himself facing questions he didn’t even know he had about…well, everything. Fighting a battle within and without from those that don’t understand his sudden doubts, Chris seeks refuge in a weekend with his grandfather to ask the tough questions and sort through the issues where faith meets life and disillusionment collides with truth. For those searching for the historic Christian faith that is relevant to life today, or for those who believe that a completely new faith is called for, this stirring tale is a deep and powerful exploration of what being Christian has meant and still means today.


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Searching for Real Faith - or No Faith at All What happens when a young Christian dealing with disillusionment and doubt spends a weekend with an elderly, retired pastor? They talk. And no subject is off limits. Clear Winter Nights is a stirring story about faith, forgiveness, and the distinctiveness of Christianity. Through a powerful narrative and engaging dialogue, Trevi Searching for Real Faith - or No Faith at All What happens when a young Christian dealing with disillusionment and doubt spends a weekend with an elderly, retired pastor? They talk. And no subject is off limits. Clear Winter Nights is a stirring story about faith, forgiveness, and the distinctiveness of Christianity. Through a powerful narrative and engaging dialogue, Trevin Wax shows the relevance of unchanging truth in an ever-changing world. When his life comes apart, will the center hold? Chris Walker has everything. A career, a beautiful fiancée, a promising ministry opportunity, and a faith instilled in him from a young age. But when a revelation about his family comes to light at his grandmother’s funeral, Chris finds himself facing questions he didn’t even know he had about…well, everything. Fighting a battle within and without from those that don’t understand his sudden doubts, Chris seeks refuge in a weekend with his grandfather to ask the tough questions and sort through the issues where faith meets life and disillusionment collides with truth. For those searching for the historic Christian faith that is relevant to life today, or for those who believe that a completely new faith is called for, this stirring tale is a deep and powerful exploration of what being Christian has meant and still means today.

30 review for Clear Winter Nights: A Journey into Truth, Doubt, and What Comes After

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    A book for Believers - and for those who want to believe. I wouldn’t even say you have to be a Christian, but that might help. If you’re basically interested in following your own whims in life, more strength to you. But avoid this book if you’re like that. This book won’t convince you to believe logically - because this is about the Way of the Heart, though as a story it is no-nonsense in its approach and can be a real tonic for your soul. And it won’t immerse you in religious thinking (it’s much A book for Believers - and for those who want to believe. I wouldn’t even say you have to be a Christian, but that might help. If you’re basically interested in following your own whims in life, more strength to you. But avoid this book if you’re like that. This book won’t convince you to believe logically - because this is about the Way of the Heart, though as a story it is no-nonsense in its approach and can be a real tonic for your soul. And it won’t immerse you in religious thinking (it’s much more of a book about human caring!); but it will introduce you to a square-peg-in-a-round-hole type of oldtimer who is happy he sees things differently than the World does. An old guy who doesn’t think a one-size-fits-all saccharine-hearted congregation Is for folks who think outside of the box, like him. He is a man who won’t be railroaded into a herd mentality. He’s happy to be different. But he has a Heart of Gold. And oblivious to his blood pressure, goes the extra mile. But you know, no matter what happens, Gil is no sucker for extras in life. Like zany multiple viewpoints on a talk show, new gadgets to make his life better, or pills to add extra innings to his fading life. Nope. He’s happy being plain old cantankerous Gil. And he’s more than happy to keep stuck with the Faith of his fathers. Being about Grandpa Gil’s age, I relished his crusty old mannerisms and innate decency. But of course it’s not all roses to read -because it does touch on thorny issues - and you’ll have to grapple with them. And old Gil ain’t anything like me! Its action tugs you into his worldview, and reasons with you passionately... It’s not a book to relax into. But it does have its own down-home Southern charm, and the author’s ear for dialogue is sharp. There’s no place for the miraculous here, for it’s a no-nonsense type of read. As a kid I found myself spiritually uplifted by the mystical High Anglican ritual I was brought up in. But it’s not like this here. This is basic, no-frills Southern dialectics. It’s plain and simple polemics. The prose here is lean and sharp, and it’s not an easy read for dreamers - like I so fatally have been. No - it’s refreshingly astringent. Astringent like the Word: bitter to the taste, but sweet in the soul, as the Apocalypse of John says. But if its author’s hard work will have paid off for you - if you feel alive and intellectually invigorated afterwards - for then you’re one of the lucky ones for whom it will have been a worthwhile book. It’s no cakewalk, but it works if you let it work. And it worked for me. It’s a good, solid read. And it’s definitely a book for the young, questing questioners in your life!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Havebooks Willread

    I received this book as a gift and was afraid it would be a little too. . .obvious. And it was. Yet I thought it was a worthwhile read for all that. I think what I liked best about it was that it was real and honest. In coming to our own faith (rather than some handed-down faith) we all have to ask the tough questions and maybe even go through a period of doubt and I'm glad this author wasn't afraid to ask the tough questions, even if the storyline was sometimes cheesy and obvious. I had two favor I received this book as a gift and was afraid it would be a little too. . .obvious. And it was. Yet I thought it was a worthwhile read for all that. I think what I liked best about it was that it was real and honest. In coming to our own faith (rather than some handed-down faith) we all have to ask the tough questions and maybe even go through a period of doubt and I'm glad this author wasn't afraid to ask the tough questions, even if the storyline was sometimes cheesy and obvious. I had two favorite messages from this book. NUMBER ONE: The reminder that "This is the Christian life. It's war" (107). Oh how easily we forget this. I think I want to put these two sentences in vinyl above my kitchen sink to help me remember! :) NUMBER TWO: I was intrigued at the four options the main character felt like he had as he struggled with his questions. 1) slipping into hypocrisy as he realized he could not live up to the ideal christian life, 2) giving up on faith all together, 3) turning religion into an impersonal intellectual exercise (again bc he couldn't live up to the ideal in his own mind) or 4), the really tough choice, really living his faith. Okay, and there was one other undercurrent that resonated with me. Chris had a strong, older male mentor, his grandfather, who he could go to for wisdom. Such a sage man this character was! We all need an older mentor to help us through these times when we're asking the tough questions. Glad I got to read this one, and even more glad that it was part of a "thank you gift" (along with a 12-pack of Pepsi, lol) from some new friends. I think they are starting to "get me". :D

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joel Jackson

    Trevin Wax has picked up on a grand tradition in theological expression in his book, "Clear Winter Nights." The book follows the story of Chris Walker who has recently graduated college, is part of a church planting team, and is about to marry the girl of his dreams. Entering into this ideal picture of the Christian life in American is the revelation that his father has been living a lie and the divorce between Chris' parents, that occurred some years prior to the story, is his father's fault in Trevin Wax has picked up on a grand tradition in theological expression in his book, "Clear Winter Nights." The book follows the story of Chris Walker who has recently graduated college, is part of a church planting team, and is about to marry the girl of his dreams. Entering into this ideal picture of the Christian life in American is the revelation that his father has been living a lie and the divorce between Chris' parents, that occurred some years prior to the story, is his father's fault instead of his mother's. In addition, Chris' grandmother has recently passed away and as the story opens his grandfather has a stroke. Because of these circumstances, Chris goes through a crisis of faith, he begins to question the foundations of his belief. The majority of the book explores Chris' crisis as he discusses his beliefs with his grandfather who is a retired minister recovering from a stroke and the death of his wife. In their discussion, they approach many theological issues that pertain to the post-modern Christian. They explore pluralism, sexuality, homosexuality, death, suffering, betrayal, forgiveness, reconciliation, evangelism, and healing. All of this exploration is done in the midst of an allowable doubt. Christians should allow themselves to struggle through the questions that come from being a faithful person who interacts with a fallen world. All believers should read this book and allow themselves to explore the issues. Each of us may or may not agree with the conclusions of the text, but each of us has an opportunity to doubt and then grow through our doubts to become better disciples of Jesus Christ. I received this book as part of Multonomah's Blogging for Books Program.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alexis Neal

    Would-be church-planter Chris Walker is having a crisis of faith. The recent discovery of his estranged father's repeated infidelity has left him reeling. Between his father's hypocrisy and his own conflicting ideas of truth, religion, and morality, Chris doesn't know where to turn. Before he knows it, he's broken off his engagement to Ashley and is considering backing out of the church plant he's been involved with. Then, on New Year's weekend, he finds himself on the doorstep of his recently b Would-be church-planter Chris Walker is having a crisis of faith. The recent discovery of his estranged father's repeated infidelity has left him reeling. Between his father's hypocrisy and his own conflicting ideas of truth, religion, and morality, Chris doesn't know where to turn. Before he knows it, he's broken off his engagement to Ashley and is considering backing out of the church plant he's been involved with. Then, on New Year's weekend, he finds himself on the doorstep of his recently bereaved grandfather, a retired Baptist minister currently recovering from a stroke. Over the course of their many conversations, Chris begins to work through his doubts and questions about faith, truth, sin, and forgiveness. For some time now, I've enjoyed reading Trevin Wax's posts on the Gospel Coalition blog. So when the opportunity arose to review his new work of fiction, Clear Winter Nights , I was pretty stoked. Unfortunately, as is often the case with Christian fiction, good theology does not always walk hand in hand with good storytelling. Not that it's all bad, mind you. There are some definite strengths to the story. The protagonist, Chris, is a very common type in the church today. He wrestles with the exclusivity of the gospel in the face of other faiths, struggles to reconcile the Bible's uncompromising teaching on sexual morality with his affection for and commitment to his gay friends, and questions the nature of religion and truth. He clearly reads a lot of Rob Bell, is what I am saying. And, like so many who find themselves confronting doubts like these, he is dealing with the very real emotional aftermath of personal betrayal by someone he loved and admired--someone who claimed to believe in the Christian faith, and yet who nonetheless acted in a deeply sinful and hurtful way toward those who trusted him. At times, Chris does feel a bit like a caricature rather than a complex character, but given the book's 'Theology in Story' descriptor, he may be intended to be more of a parable than a fully-drawn, realistic picture of a human being. (The 'Theology in Story' label also explains why the book is long on theology but short on story--it was intended to be that way. Which means I shouldn't--and won't--ding it for the lackluster nature of the story.) Indeed, the familiarity of Chris's character makes the story immediately and clearly applicable for most readers. We all know people like this, and many of us have been there ourselves.  Chris's grandfather, Gil, is a bit more three-dimensional. Sure, he's the old Baptist minister, solidly rooted in the faith, who is called upon to help his erring grandson overcome his youthful doubts. There's a measure of cliche inherent in the character. But Gil is not perfect--he struggles to remain content despite his declining health and strength, the adjustment to retirement after a life of pastoral ministry, and the still-fresh grief at the loss of his beloved wife. Sometimes, he loses his temper, and his weakness and dependence on others frustrates him no end. He doesn't always know what to say to his grandson, though he cares about him deeply and is concerned about his doubts. But there's a cookie-cutter quality here, too--many of his responses to Chris's questions feel slightly canned. He trots out the same arguments that we've heard so many times, and these arguments, though true and theologically sound, are unlikely to chase away the doubts of the Chrises of the world.  Indeed, the theology here is orthodox and clear, and Wax is addressing a situation that is extremely relevant for Christians today. But I don't know that the theological arguments are presented in a way that would, so to speak, convert the uninitiated. In other words, I already agreed with Gil's points before he defended them; if I disagreed with him, I don't know that I would have been persuaded to change my mind. Fortunately, the book avoids the inauthentic 'epiphany' moment--Chris isn't suddenly and miraculously cured of his doubts, but merely begins to engage with them in a healthier way. And in the end, it seems that his grandfather's life and example and attitude have proved as influential as his arguments, if not more so. Ultimately, the biggest weakness of the book is that it's just ... not that good. The writing is clunky and prone to hyperbolic and overly poetic language ('Chris felt a wave of joy crash into a shore of guilt', etc.), and Wax is more fond of telling than showing--he keeps the reader constantly apprised of Chris and Gil's respective emotions and their reactions to one another. This may be a function of Wax's inexperience as a writer of fiction--the 'show, don't tell' rule doesn't really come up as much in the nonfiction context. Indeed, pastors and those who write pastoral works are called upon to 'tell'. It may be that with additional experience in fiction, Wax will develop a more nuanced style of writing. At the end of the day, the story (such as it was) felt like a vignette you'd read to a bunch of youth group kids--one of those cheesy parables about peer pressure or whatever, that illustrated some biblical truth. Heck, he even includes the same sort of discussion questions. But Chris's struggles are much more representative of the college or post-college Christian, not the junior high or high school student. Maybe the book would be of use to college students (in the early years), who are being exposed to such doubts for the first time; I suspect most older, more mature readers would be unmoved by the rather simplistic method of addressing their questions. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Bowers

    I wanted to read this book because I was intrigued by the concept of “Theology in Story,” as it says on the book’s cover. Clear Winter Nights largely consists of conversations about faith and life between a retired-pastor grandfather and his college-aged grandson. I think there is value in this book, but the writing style put me off. It is very simplistic and not “literary” at all. I felt like the author had a checklist of all the issues he wanted to insert into the story and was marking them of I wanted to read this book because I was intrigued by the concept of “Theology in Story,” as it says on the book’s cover. Clear Winter Nights largely consists of conversations about faith and life between a retired-pastor grandfather and his college-aged grandson. I think there is value in this book, but the writing style put me off. It is very simplistic and not “literary” at all. I felt like the author had a checklist of all the issues he wanted to insert into the story and was marking them off one-by-one as he wrote. There are just too many topics covered in rapid-fire succession over the course of 147 pages. The book’s greatest strength is probably the extensive “Conversation Guide” in the back. I can see this book as providing material for discussion in a high school youth group or college-aged small group. Disclosure: I received a free Advance Reading Copy of this book through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    [Note: This book was provided free of charge by WaterBrook Multnomah Books in exchange for an honest review.] This particular book, written by a Christian minister in Middle Tennessee [1], is marketed as "Theology in Story," and that is a fair way of describing this book's contents, which are a deep theological and philosophical conversation between a grandfather (retired pastor Gil) and his searching grandson trapped in his own doubts and righteous indignation (Chris). At 150 pages, this particu [Note: This book was provided free of charge by WaterBrook Multnomah Books in exchange for an honest review.] This particular book, written by a Christian minister in Middle Tennessee [1], is marketed as "Theology in Story," and that is a fair way of describing this book's contents, which are a deep theological and philosophical conversation between a grandfather (retired pastor Gil) and his searching grandson trapped in his own doubts and righteous indignation (Chris). At 150 pages, this particular novel, which begins with Chris in a period of crisis where he is not sure about education, about his desire to work in the ministry of a church, and where he calls for a break in his engagement with a lovely and faithful fiance named Ashley. The rest of the novel takes places over several days when Chris is taking care of his grandfather, who has suffered a stroke and is deeply lonely after the death of his longtime wife. The book as itself manages to deal with topics such as grace, open-mindedness, God's moral standards on sexuality (particularly relevant to our times), and the hypocrisy of Christians through history. It is to the author's credit that the book itself does not shrink to discuss the failings of Christians throughout history even as it presents the obligations of Christians to live according to the Bible's commands. Specifically, the book presents a mostly baptist perspective, and looks at the statements of "King Jesus" and not necessarily the whole corpus of biblical law (absent is any serious discussion of the Sabbath, for example), while including a few hymns, a paen to the need to respect all human beings, sinners of whatever stripe, as beings created in the image and likeness of God, and some high praise for Augustine's Confession. Like many novels of this stripe, there will be some people who appreciate its obvious apologetic aims and others who will think the plot and dialogue a bit too tidy and neat. Nevertheless, for its topical relevance in the lives of many believers familiar with broken families and problems of trust, this book ought to have some appeal. Given that many young people retain a moral worldview based on the claims of Christianity but are upset over the widespread hypocrisy and moral laxity of many churches, this book's aim to seek a robust faith that is grounded on both grace (both from God and with each other) as well as righteousness ought to strike a strong chord with its intended reading audience. One aspect of this novel that is highly worthy of commentary, given my own writings, is the fact that this particular novel plays on the concept of the "dark night of the soul." The struggle for genuine faith in a world of corruption and sloth is a serious struggle that many believers face. This novel is merely one of a series of works, both fiction and nonfiction, that seek to challenge believers about their faith and its practice in a corrupt world, looking at the obligations for graciousness and righteousness, a difficult balance to maintain. Nevertheless, for those who wish to attempt that balance between faith and practice, between loving God with all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves, despite the bad examples around us and the slanders we face, this book should provide some encouragement. [1] http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/author...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    Chris is struggling with his faith and wondering what he truly believes. One icy weekend he goes to visit his grandfather who is a staunch Baptist pastor. They have deep conversations with no topics off limits. Chris discovers that his faith is renewed and is able to face life again with courage. This is a must read for any Christian facing challenging questions.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leanne Koren

    Terrible This book has no mystery, no plot, no meat. Extremely boring. I got several chapters in and began skipping chapters like crazy. Didn't feel like I missed a thing. Very disappointed. Terrible This book has no mystery, no plot, no meat. Extremely boring. I got several chapters in and began skipping chapters like crazy. Didn't feel like I missed a thing. Very disappointed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tim Chavel

    I bought this book because the author's dad and I were college friends. I had also read a couple of the authors articles and blogs, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/t.... Knowing Trevin's dad I knew the book would be a good read. It turns out it is an excellent read. It is a novel with great spiritual truths. The story is about a young men who is struggling with his faith and moves in with his sick grandfather to help care for him. The grandfather is a retired pastor. I highly recommend this I bought this book because the author's dad and I were college friends. I had also read a couple of the authors articles and blogs, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/t.... Knowing Trevin's dad I knew the book would be a good read. It turns out it is an excellent read. It is a novel with great spiritual truths. The story is about a young men who is struggling with his faith and moves in with his sick grandfather to help care for him. The grandfather is a retired pastor. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to grow in their faith. I trust you will enjoy the "Clear Winter Nights" quotes below: Just bring the right person to the right place at the right time for the right meeting, and everyone would be stronger. ~Trevin Wax You can’t hold on to a childlike faith if you don’t grab hold of a grownup every now and then. ~Trevin Wax I guess sometimes you have to stand still to really see. ~Trevin Wax I may be a little more limited than I would like, but I’m finding if you put your limitations to good use, they’re like the frame around a portrait. They enhance everything around you. ~Trevin Wax Your very existence is only because of grace. To be is to be graced. ~Trevin Wax So Christianity is about giving up? No, it’s about giving in. Giving in to God. Handing your heart and life over to Him and casting yourself on His mercy alone. ~Trevin Wax Why manage in the dark when you can thrive in the light? ~Trevin Wax Chris didn’t remember much about Third Baptist as a kid. But in hearing his mom and grandparents reminisce and tell stories, he was impressed by how well the people knew one another. Really knew one another. Struggles were out in the open. Sin was dealt with privately and publicly. These people loved one another, and their love was tough. There were grudges and catfights and all the kinds of things you expect wherever people live. But through all the stories, Chris could sense the genuine love these people had for one another. ~Trevin Wax Who you are in Christ matters more than what people think of you. ~Trevin Wax 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. ~Trevin Wax The true rebellion is in the heart of the Christian who follows King Jesus by swimming upstream against the current of the world. ~Trevin Wax You may feel alive when you go with the flow, but any old dead thing can float downstream. ~Trevin Wax The world says, “Be true to yourself.” King Jesus says, “Be true to your future self.” ~Trevin Wax Augustine was awed by the truth that God reveals Himself to us. Listen here: “And, when You are poured out on us, You are not thereby bought down; rather, we are uplifted.” ~Trevin Wax Listen to this [from Augustine] about his sinful past. “You were always by me, mercifully angry and flavoring all my unlawful pleasures with bitter discontent, in order that I might seek pleasures free from discontent. But where could I find such pleasure except in You, O Lord – except in You, who teaches us by sorrow, who wounds us to heal us, and kills us, that we might not die apart from You.” ~Trevin Wax The greater your acknowledgment of your sinfulness, the greater your appreciation of God’s grace. ~Trevin Wax Gil put his hand on top of Chris’s, closed his eyes, and quoted Augustine from memory. “Lord, You called and cried out loud and shattered our deafness. You were radiant and resplendent. You put to flight our blindness. You were fragrant, and we drew in our breath and now pant after You. We tasted You, and we feel nothing but hunger and thirst for You. You touched us, and we are set on fire to attain the peace which is Yours. Amen.” ~Trevin Wax We don’t believe the gospel because it’s helpful. Or because it’s prettier. Or because it’s our upbringing. We believe the gospel because it’s true. Not just a preference but true. Truth about the way the world works. ~Trevin Wax Proselytism is about getting someone to change from one religion to another. Evangelism is proclaiming the evangel – the gospel. It’s an announcement. ~Trevin Wax Whoever says we should just keep our faith to ourselves and not evangelize – they’re really saying we ought to follow their instructions and not King Jesus. That is the height of arrogance, in my mind. Trying to be over Him. ~Trevin Wax People rarely fail to evangelize because of their intellectual questions. Failure to evangelize is almost always a worship problem. It’s not that we don’t know what we ought to be doing. We do. We’re just not doing it. That’s a sign that we’re not overflowing with worship. Whenever you are completely taken with something or someone, you can’t help but talk about it. Love can’t stop talking about the beloved. Fix the worship problem, and evangelism starts coming naturally. ~Trevin Wax The old, old gospel is the newest thing in the world; in its very essence it is for ever good news. ~Charles Spurgeon No one ever woke up and decided, “I want to have a bad temper.” Or “I want to be addicted to pornography.” You don’t always choose your temptation, but you do choose your behavior. ~Trevin Wax We are not defined by our temptations. We are defined by our redemption. ~Trevin Wax Every conversion is a miracle, a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. ~Trevin Wax You know, Jeremiah 31. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Isn’t that a glorious promise? That God won’t ever bring up our sin again? Takes a lifetime of determination to get that truth planted in your heart. We commit to memory. God commits to forgetfulness. ~Trevin Wax I’ve fought my entire life to find my worth and value in what Christ has done for me, not in what I do for Christ. ~Trevin Wax He hoped Chris would put all his troubles in eternal perspective, placing his questions and doubts on the scales of eternity in order to see how one’s vision for the future affects one’s actions in the present. ~Trevin Wax Come, for creation groans, Impatient of Thy stay, Worn out with these long years of ill, These ages of delay. Come, for love waxes cold; Its steps are faint and slow: Faith now is lost in unbelief, Hope’s lamp burns dim and low. Come, and make all things new; Build up this ruined earth, Restore our faded Paradise, Creation’s second birth. ~Horatius Bonar

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Wiley

    Introduction The past decade has not been exactly produced a good amount of "Christian Fiction" books or novels. I hardly ever even browse the fiction section at Christian bookstores, mostly because I have no interest in Amish love stories or allegories/life stories, the kinds that have weak applications to biblical truths. I don't think "every" modern-day Christian fictional book has been a train wreck, but I certainly haven't been impressed with some of the New York Times' bestselling books tha Introduction The past decade has not been exactly produced a good amount of "Christian Fiction" books or novels. I hardly ever even browse the fiction section at Christian bookstores, mostly because I have no interest in Amish love stories or allegories/life stories, the kinds that have weak applications to biblical truths. I don't think "every" modern-day Christian fictional book has been a train wreck, but I certainly haven't been impressed with some of the New York Times' bestselling books that have some kind of Christian connection. Here are three that come to mind: 1) The Shack - I listened to the audiobook version, and really thought it was an intriguing plot for a while...but once the story introduced "God" in the shack, I was very irritated. Not to mention the clear inferences to a very anti-institutional, anti-doctrinal mindset that Young was trying to convey. This was not helpful to the Body of Christ, perhaps even heretical. 2) The Harbinger - This was another audiobook I listened to within the past couple of years. And another doctrinal dud. While I must admit that the mysterious character to the book with ancient hidden messages was somewhat intriguing, there is no excuse for such poor usage of the Bible, particularly in the book of Isaiah. This was just another "Bible Code" disaster. 3) Blue Like Jazz - This book was my favorite of the three mentioned (not fiction in this case, more of an autobiography). Donald Miller is a much better writer to be sure. However, this book was still very weak foundationally. It's not your typical Christian book, a little course at times, but it helps the listener wrestle with problems of doubt and hypocritical Christianity. For those that read this book, I would heartily recommend the book I have previewed and will review in this post: Clear Winter Nights. Clear Winter Nights Now that I have made my rant, let me introduce Trevin Wax's Clear Winter Nights... Chris Walker is a recent college graduate, he's engaged, and is about to start the thrilling journey of working with a new church plant. Everything's wonderful, but really, it's not...From his college courses on religion, Chris is starting to have doubts about his faith. Why is so great about Christianity, anyways? This hits home to Chris, as his father was as hypocritical as they come. Before long, tragedy strikes his family with the death of a loved one. This situation leads Chris to spending a night with his grandfather, Gil. It just so happens that Gil is a retired, Baptist preacher. By now, Chris feels so distant from God and wonders if Christianity is even true. I invite you to enter into grandfather Gil's home for a few days and wrestle with your questions about God, the exclusive claims of Christ, the social ills and blessings that have resulted from Christians in times past, everything. Pros & Cons Trevin Wax does an excellent job of taking several contemporary "hot topics" relative to Christianity in today's culture and providing biblical solutions within his slim, 147-page novel. A majority of the book deals with Chris's conversations with his grandfather, Gil, and in those talks, issues such as religious pluralism, homosexuality, heaven and hell, and works vs. grace in salvation. For certain, one of the biggest praise for this book is how careful Wax expounds on Scripture through the gracious, grandfatherly figure that so many of us can probably relate to in our lives, but in the book it was, of course, Gil. This book is proof that you can be conservative in doctrinal usage while writing in a novel format. Another great aspect of this book is in Wax's portrayals of his characters. There are so many "Chris Walker's" in the world, I would submit. He's the young 20-something, college graduate who, though raised in church, has several questions of doubt regarding faith. Plenty of readers will find a little bit of themselves in Chris Walker, I certainly did. His grandmother, Gil, as mentioned above, is very loving, gracious, and patient, but at the same time, he is presented as an imperfect, Baptist pastor, who doesn't have it all together. One word could define Gil: a sinner saved by grace. Chris's father, Chris Sr., is an all-too-common example of the hypocritical Christian figure - the kind of person who goes to church on Sundays, but abuses his wife Monday-Saturday. Other characters are important and well-described too, but in summary, this is a wonderful strength of the book. Everybody can part of themselves in one or more of these characters, which leads to the relevancy of the Gospel's saving power. While I do not have a great critical eye in novels, I would suggest one. A significant amount of this book is dialogue between Chris and Gil, thus, some readers might find Clear Winter Nights a little dry. Personally, I found it to be quite intriguing since I have a great burden for young Christians that have questions of doubt about faith and Christianity. But I also know that everybody has different burdens and tastes in genres. Conclusion Trevin Wax's book, in my opinion, can be described as a Blue Like Jazz type of book (one that might especially appeal to younger audiences about questions and concerns pertaining to Christianity and church hypocrisy) but unlike Donald Miller's book, Wax provides much greater substance. There are good answers to all of these questions people wrestle with, and throughout Clear Winter Nights the reader is given several reasons why churches can love all people in the world and still hold true to biblical convictions. Clear Winter Nights is scheduled to hit bookstores (hard-copy and digital) September 17, 2013. "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review." See also: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/t... http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/blog/2... http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalo... http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/author...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Theodore (Ted)

    Story is powerful. Think about your conversation at dinner last night. Regardless of what you talked about, how did you talk about it? Chances are high your conversation—like mine—consisted of a string of stories that moved your group from point a to point b. "I had this friend in high school..." gets us to "The other day I..." then another "Today in english class..." and finally, "That reminds me of an article I read..." We communicate in story because it's the way we live life. Our life is a sto Story is powerful. Think about your conversation at dinner last night. Regardless of what you talked about, how did you talk about it? Chances are high your conversation—like mine—consisted of a string of stories that moved your group from point a to point b. "I had this friend in high school..." gets us to "The other day I..." then another "Today in english class..." and finally, "That reminds me of an article I read..." We communicate in story because it's the way we live life. Our life is a story, and so when we communicate, naturally we do so with story. Similarly, it should come as no surprise, then, that story is one of the best ways we receive information as well. Because we ourselves live and communicate in story, it is easy to identify with a character, situation, or result. As we do, our minds subconsciously undergo the same journey as those we hear or read about—internalizing their story and their message. This is why the "Theology in Story" concept Trevin Wax uses for his book Clear Winter Nights is such a wonderful concept. Taking theology—which has typically been relegated to didactic prose—and breathing fresh life into it by providing a context, a character, a story. Through the use of narrative, Wax, in Clear Winter Nights, interacts with and speaks to difficult topics like the exclusivity of Christ, hypocrisy in the church, marriage & divorce, faith and reason, homosexuality and more. Wax drops us into the life of Chris Walker, a recently engaged soon-to-be college graduate. The recent news of his father's affair (which occurred years earlier, and caused his parents' divorce) and four years of questions from his unbelieving professors has Chris beginning to wonder if their questions and his doubts are starting to make sense. Within the first few pages, we see Chris give in to his doubt—breaking off his engagement and abandoning a church plant team. All this sets the stage for the main focus of this quick and encouraging read—Chris's weekend with his aging, widowed grandfather, Gil. Wax's book provides a front row seat to the dialogue that occurs between this doubting millennial and his grandfather, a retired pastor. Dialogue & Story When judging a work of fiction, dialogue is typically the first and best indicator of its quality. If the spoken word doesn't have the ring of authenticity, the words and story around it will fall flat as well. It doesn't matter if the story is a sweeping epic—if the hero can't communicate, we won't believe in or identify with his character. Instead, the best dialogue doesn't call attention to itself, but instead fades to the background as it pulls readers further into the story. The latter is what we see in Clear Winter Nights. Comprised largely of dialogue, the book sings with authenticity. The back and forth between Chris and his grandfather, Gil is natural—rarely feeling forced. For most of the book, I found myself lost in the argument and story rather than trying to determine who was saying what. While dialogue is a good indicator of a good book, it cannot hold the book together on it's own. If there's no reason for the dialogue, it won't make sense. The majority of the book consisted of theological and philosophical discussion between Chris and Gil, but Trevin did a great job of placing their discussions into context as well. The narrative elements present where aptly chosen to emphasize the discussion at hand. Target Audience At the outset, I wasn't sure who the book was targeted towards, and while, in some sense, it's for all Christians living in this distorted post modern world, the book is extremely well suited for late high schoolers and college students looking for straight answers to tough questions. Students who are simultaneously being told (by the world) to be true to themselves and (by their Church) to be true Christ. Students looking for a reason to hold on to the faith of their parents or to respond in faith in spite of their parents' lacking faith. A Helpful Tension Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is the untidy ending. Instead of wrapping the story in a bow, leaving us and Chris will all the answers, Wax presents the truth and encourages the reader to come their own conclusions. In this way we're further encouraged to identify with Chris because we don't know whether or not ultimately marries his fiancé, helps with the church plant, or if he even holds to his faith. What we do learn is that faith is a fight, and just because it's hard or we have doubts doesn't mean it's worth leaving by the wayside. One of the strongest pages in the book comes as a result of Gil finally revealing his own weakness and struggle to his Grandson. Amidst a bar and after Chris storms out, Gil, in a notably pastoral moment, reveals his own brokenness. "Faith is war" he declares, weary from a life of battle, "But we must go on, trusting in Christ's ultimate victory." Conclusion The reason we connect with story—especially stories of redemption—is because our hearts, minds, and souls long, themselves, for THE story of redemption. Is this not why we connect with Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings? For in them we see glimpses of God's story of grace. While I'm not putting Wax's Clear Winter Nights on par with the works of Lewis or Tolkien, I do applaud his use of narrative to convey truth. If you or a student you know are/is doubting faith, I encourage you to take a look at Clear Winter Nights. I pray you will be encouraged as Wax's story faithfully shows Christ to you.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    This is a short book dealing with many of the questions young people (and sometimes older people) have about God, faith, and the application of the Scriptures to current issues and popular secular thinking. It also deals with disappointment in other Christians/family members. It's a pleasure to read, yet gives you much to think about. A very worthy book. This is a short book dealing with many of the questions young people (and sometimes older people) have about God, faith, and the application of the Scriptures to current issues and popular secular thinking. It also deals with disappointment in other Christians/family members. It's a pleasure to read, yet gives you much to think about. A very worthy book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tzigane Monda

    This is a great read! Very thought provoking and shows how Gods unchanging truth is relevant in a world that is always changing. “No Christian who truly understands grace cane feel superior to anyone else. Grace shatters any sense of superiority.”

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    The important things to know about this book is that it isn't really a novel - it's an apologetics book with the concepts taught as a conversation between a young man and his grandfather. It is theologically solid, but kind of dry and boring. It could have been so much more. The important things to know about this book is that it isn't really a novel - it's an apologetics book with the concepts taught as a conversation between a young man and his grandfather. It is theologically solid, but kind of dry and boring. It could have been so much more.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    This book is worth your time! I loved all the theology that was discussed in story form. This was definitely a book that challenged me to dig deeper and to be able to personally defend my faith with out giving shallow, vague answers!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ginger

    Great insight into being torn between ones faith and ones life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence

    I enjoyed reading this book with a believable story line and realistic characters. The Theology in story came across powerfully, with a few commonly held modern myths dispelled in the conversations between Chris and his grandfather, Gil. Good book to read on any cold, clear, winter night.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Norman Falk

    A book I guess I needed to read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brent Rosendal

    The message of this book was captivating however the telling of the story wasn't the best. Even so I enjoyed the book a lot. The message of this book was captivating however the telling of the story wasn't the best. Even so I enjoyed the book a lot.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brendon

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. Gil and Chris (Gil’s Grandson) are each struggling through their own issues – Chris’s loss of faith in Christianity and Gil’s loss of independence after his recent stroke as well as loss of his life partner. Laced within their struggles is a brilliant, amazing, and profound conversation about faith, love, and life. I was very hesitant during the first chapter. For me the character of Chris seemed un-relatable (he was engaged DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. Gil and Chris (Gil’s Grandson) are each struggling through their own issues – Chris’s loss of faith in Christianity and Gil’s loss of independence after his recent stroke as well as loss of his life partner. Laced within their struggles is a brilliant, amazing, and profound conversation about faith, love, and life. I was very hesitant during the first chapter. For me the character of Chris seemed un-relatable (he was engaged at a very young age and had a strong community of faith while growing up) and a little irritating in his interactions with Ashley. However, the second chapter on blew me out of the water... It was like I was 20 again struggling with many different issues in my life and figuring out where and if faith fit. Many of the points and questions Chris has in the first half of the book (all religions have similar moral codes but boiling every religion down to moral codes is disrespectful to each religion, why does religion and faith bring about bigotry and hate, how can multiple religions coexist, who can I talk to about this when my perceptions of Christians are closed-minded and unaccepting – in a different way than Gil explained closed-mindedness). The chapter on evangelism rang true to me and I think is why it is hard to have interfaith dialogues of any kind. It’s not natural or easy to talk about faith with those who do not share the same faith AND then invite them to join your faith. There’s a lot of underlying power and oppression (especially in America) going on there but even putting that aside... How can one faith justify superiority (the truth) over another? A good point that is made is that we all have chosen out religion because we believe it to be the truth – that is undeniable. Also, Christ did charge us with spreading the Good News to everyone. The question comes: how are we able to talk about our faith and Christ without ‘pushing it on others’? Something that was mentioned that I think could be expanded upon is talking (evangelizing) through actions of love. Let’s show Christ’s love by showing our love for everyone. The hardest chapter for me to read was chapter 8 when Chris brings up his best friend from childhood Chase who identifies with the LGBT community. It’s no surprise where the Christian church stands on LGBT rights and it’s pretty ingrained into church doctrine. The conversation about how Christianity and the LGBT community intersects is always challenging and brings up many themes of power and privilege. The Christian church has fixated on such a small doctrine while ignoring man many others (picking and choosing certain rules to remain in power) (and maybe this is me critiquing the church with my Christian ideals – ch. 7). To that point, Christ preached that humans and the church have been following ‘man-made’ rules for so long that we forget why and we forget the Good News. Christ proclaims that the most important commandment to follow is to love your god with all of your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. I believe this notion gets lost a lot in the structure of religion but is start to reappear in faith. While I don’t fully agree with some of the resolutions Gil and Chris come to, I appreciate the mention that Christ never condemns the LGBT community but rather condemns immoral lust across all relationships. The end of the book was exactly what it needed to be: recognition of the ongoing battle of faith and the many questions that come with it. Chris figured a lot of things out with his grandfather but ultimately learned that a life of faith is hard. I think this is a great resolution because doubt in faith I think is more common that the individual perceives. We think most of the time we are the only ones going through doubt and crisis and that it is not okay... but it is completely okay and normal. The study questions at the end of the book were also meaningful and helpful. I appreciated how the author formed these questions for open discussion and did not include any leading questions. For example, the questions about Christians and the LGBT community asks the readers perspectives on Christian doctrine leaving it open for meaningful socially just conversations. I think this book would be an amazing addition to a teen/young adult church/faith group with a facilitator to talk about many of these questions. I think teen/young adult age is a prime age where folks start questioning their values and their faith. As the author says through the character of Gil, “ You want to own your faith, not satisfied to go through the motions of a faith you’ve inherited.” On to my rating: 4/5 stars It was a compelling reading for me since I went through a profound time of doubt of my own faith and I still ask many of the questions that Chris and Gil struggle with throughout the book. The story was easy to read and engaging. I would recommend this book to anyone of Christian faith, especially those who have many questions and critiques of the church.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andy Gainor

    Nice little story. Read in college.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lynette Karg

    A novel approach to apologetics, excuse the pun, and as such is more accessible than an apologetic book. An interesting story and interaction wrestling with questions and doubts many people will relate to and therefore may benefit from reading this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brock

    This review was first published on the blog www.castrobabble.blogspot.com I received this book as an advance reading copy and was excited to read it as it was advertised as a "Theology in Story," which piqued my interest. The author, Trevin Wax, is a graduate of Southern Seminary, a former missionary/pastor, and currently working as the Managing Editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources. The book's plot unfolds as the protagonist, Chris, a 22 year old man, goes through a crisis o This review was first published on the blog www.castrobabble.blogspot.com I received this book as an advance reading copy and was excited to read it as it was advertised as a "Theology in Story," which piqued my interest. The author, Trevin Wax, is a graduate of Southern Seminary, a former missionary/pastor, and currently working as the Managing Editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources. The book's plot unfolds as the protagonist, Chris, a 22 year old man, goes through a crisis of faith initiated at his paternal grandmother's funeral. Chris' had always blamed his mom for the divorce that happened 9 years earlier, but when his father no-shows the funeral, Chris' cousin drops the bomb that pulls the wool off his eyes. His father was not the man he thought he was and even worse, "If his father could fake his faith so well all those years, maybe the faith itself was false." Chris begins to question his faith. Enter Chris' grandfather, Gil, an 80 year old retired pastor. When Gil has a minor stroke, Chris is enlisted by his mother to go help him out. The majority of the book consists of theological and reflective exchanges between Chris and Gil. I had trouble with the story as a fiction narrative, finding in particular, the exchanges between the grandfather and grandson coming off too contrived and their diction too similar as if they were on the same peer level. Additionally, the book's conclusion was too abrupt because it certain things too unsettled me; Chris' father, his girlfriend, and more importantly at the end book, I wasn't convinced that Chris truly understood the gospel. On another note, there were a couple of moments that I thought Wax did a brilliant job capturing the emotion of the moment. My favorite was the bar scene (I won't spoil it!). Although, the exchanges between Chris and Gil didn't arise naturally, the content of their conversation was good and Gil gave solid wise advise. On a personal note, the book reminded me of how I came to faith. A dear and faithful saint who was 81 years old shared the gospel with me when I was 21 years old. Through her faithfulness in carrying out the Great Commission, the Lord unblinded my eyes to the gospel and I ultimately came to faith bowing my knees to King Jesus! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Multnomah Book Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Hamsher

    Clear Winter Nights says it is "Theology in Story". It does deliver on theology, but not so much on story. What I liked: It was a short read --only 147 pages, 11 chapters. I liked that the story included a wise grandfather who shared Jesus' love with his grandson (the MC), taking time to talk through all the grandson's doubts and questions. This grandfather character was nicely developed. The Conversation Guide, at the back of the book, has wonderful questions, broken out by chapter, for the reade Clear Winter Nights says it is "Theology in Story". It does deliver on theology, but not so much on story. What I liked: It was a short read --only 147 pages, 11 chapters. I liked that the story included a wise grandfather who shared Jesus' love with his grandson (the MC), taking time to talk through all the grandson's doubts and questions. This grandfather character was nicely developed. The Conversation Guide, at the back of the book, has wonderful questions, broken out by chapter, for the reader. The questions are like a self-study and refer to what the MC is going through and asks the reader related questions. Ex. "Have you ever been through a dark night of the soul when you felt separated from God? If so, what was it like?" What I didn't like (CONTAINS SPOILERS!): The entire book was dialog on theology. The author on his website mentioned "The Shack" and that he wanted to try to write fiction (his normal is non-fiction), so I thought I'd give "Clear Winter Nights" a try, but the story is not very interesting. It mostly contains theological dialog between the MC, his fiance, and his grandfather. There's not much to hold the reader's attention. The MC has internal struggle about his beliefs and he talks about them. And talks. And talks. No action. No resolution -- not even at the ending. I didn't really like the MC. He breaks up with his fiance. His constant banter back and forth with his grandfather sometimes seemed disrespectful. He drinks, sometimes looks at porn, and is very negative about Christianity, but claims he's been a Christian since childhood. Basically, he is a confused just-out-of-college student, who cynically questions everything. (This got old for me.) The story was so everyday, like a dialog between me and my family. In fiction, I want some action. I also want to be shown things, not told. I like to learn things about the character as the story progresses, not be told right up front. Ex. "Chris was a gentleman." Show me how by his actions, don't tell me. The gem of the book, The Conversation Guide, is at the back. Had I known it was there, I might have enjoyed the book more, but the front of the book never mentions it. Too bad. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Angela Barthauer

    What do you do, what do think, to whom do you turn and where do you begin when you have started to lose faith in the belief system you've always known? This is the crux of the theme of Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax. The book is an easy read and makes use of the fictional novel format to attempt to present the limitless concepts of God's love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. There are even discussion questions in the back of the book for use with a small group or a friend with whom you can hone What do you do, what do think, to whom do you turn and where do you begin when you have started to lose faith in the belief system you've always known? This is the crux of the theme of Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax. The book is an easy read and makes use of the fictional novel format to attempt to present the limitless concepts of God's love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. There are even discussion questions in the back of the book for use with a small group or a friend with whom you can honestly explore questions of doubt and faith. In the previous paragraph, I say "attempt to present" because I'm not certain that questions like this can be explored adequately in a novel. I think they have to be lived. A few times the author references why Chris (the protagonist) may be experiencing a season of doubt, but it felt like secondhand information. There was no emotional pull behind it. While I felt this was the basis of the whole plot, I was detached from caring why Chris would doubt in the first place. Maybe experiencing some of these situations as they happened instead of trying to convey the feelings later would have helped. Overall, I came away from the book with the perception that the author himself may have never experienced the level of doubt he was trying to portray through his character. I could definitely be wrong in this, but in matters of faith, grace, doubting and the Abba's love, I do not believe you can write about that which you do not know. I felt the author has a firm grasp on the grace and love, but perhaps not the depth of despair you feel when you begin to question everything. Although this sounds like a negative review, I do not want to leave it there. I do believe this book could be used as a great discussion starter for Christians. But I think it would just be a place to begin. The discussion questions contain no Biblical references and from my own experience, the Bible and prayer that is determined to break through to some type of answer are the best life jackets for surviving a "dark night of the soul".

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    Chris Walker seemingly had it all: fresh out of college, engaged to the perfect girl, business opportunity lined up, team member of a church plant, then some family secrets came out at his beloved grandmother's funeral and everything fell down around him. He had been entertaining some doubts already about his faith in God and the religious culture he had been raised up in, but when his foundation crumbled beneath him he knew he had some serious thinking to do. At the same time, his grandfather n Chris Walker seemingly had it all: fresh out of college, engaged to the perfect girl, business opportunity lined up, team member of a church plant, then some family secrets came out at his beloved grandmother's funeral and everything fell down around him. He had been entertaining some doubts already about his faith in God and the religious culture he had been raised up in, but when his foundation crumbled beneath him he knew he had some serious thinking to do. At the same time, his grandfather needs his help for a few days and the opportunity to have some time away from things looks like a great idea. Little does Chris know that as much as he needs some uplifting during this time of his life, so does his grandfather who is recovering from a recent stroke. Having grown up in church and being raised by a Christian mom and Grandmother, I completely relate to Chris' crisis of faith. My husband and I were also youth leaders in our local church and walked many teens and their parents through this rite of passage time and time again. Growing up means looking at things through your own eyes, and more often than not things aren't as pretty as you thought they were. There is nothing wrong with asking questions for yourself. Wax states, "You're asking big questions and wrestling with important things, and there's no shame in that. You want to own your own faith, not satisfied to go through the motions of a faith you've inherited." In this book, Chris' grandfather has his own issues that he is working through and I enjoyed his point of view as well. As young people, we somehow buy into the misconception that our elders are supposed to have it all together. This book provided an accurate glimpse into the battle that every Christian wages with in his or her own mind and provides hope that answers can be obtained. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Originally appeared on my blog at www.littlelovelybooks.com Chris Walker is fresh out of a college. He has a pretty finance and is on track to be a part of a new church plant. All seems to be going well when he receives news about a loved one at his grandmother's funeral. This news shakes his faith to the point that he doesn't think he even believes anymore. He offers to help take care of his ailing grandfather for a weekend and in spending time with his (former) preacher grandfather, he's hoping Originally appeared on my blog at www.littlelovelybooks.com Chris Walker is fresh out of a college. He has a pretty finance and is on track to be a part of a new church plant. All seems to be going well when he receives news about a loved one at his grandmother's funeral. This news shakes his faith to the point that he doesn't think he even believes anymore. He offers to help take care of his ailing grandfather for a weekend and in spending time with his (former) preacher grandfather, he's hoping to have some of his questions answered. For such a short book, this one took me quite a while to read. It wasn't a terrible book but at only 147 pages, it still seemed to drag. I'm honestly not sure I would have finished it had it not been a review book. The writing was quite simple and I prefer pretty complex sentences. The dialogue seemed both stilted and unbelievable. Chris was overly respectful to his grandfather and then equally too open. I found that both odd and annoying. I enjoyed how being in his grandfather's house helped him deal with some of his doubting. He remembered why he had chosen the Christian life style to begin with to a certain extent. I have no problem with his doubting - that was refreshing. The problem I had was the way the ending was summed up so quickly. It seemed that the important part of the story was told over and over and then it just ended. What was told as a 147 page book was basically just a one off conversation....Granddad why do you believe? What do I do if I'm doubting? I think that someone who enjoys strict theology and theological debate with enjoy this one immensely and I loved the point of the story. I just didn't quite enjoy how the story was told. The family dynamics between Chris and his grandfather was heart warming but it wasn't quite enough to make me really enjoy the story as a whole.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Clear Winter Nights is a novel that contains a story intertwined with Christian theology mixed in the plot. The main character, Chris is doubting his faith in God and what he actually truly believes. His college professor has contributed into his countless questions about is God really who He claims to be. He is also so torn that he calls off his engagement to fiancé, Ashley. He recently lost his grandmother and a few months later his grandfather, Gil has a stroke. He chose to move in with his g Clear Winter Nights is a novel that contains a story intertwined with Christian theology mixed in the plot. The main character, Chris is doubting his faith in God and what he actually truly believes. His college professor has contributed into his countless questions about is God really who He claims to be. He is also so torn that he calls off his engagement to fiancé, Ashley. He recently lost his grandmother and a few months later his grandfather, Gil has a stroke. He chose to move in with his grandfather to assist in his daily watch and care. His grandfather was also a pastor for many years. Gil and Chris debate and have major conversations about faith and God throughout the whole book. I would recommend this brilliant book that enclosed theology throughout the story. I liked how Trevin Wax was very creative in presenting the message of Christianity. I immensely loved how he addressed many common questions that people have about having faith in God. I also loved the risky aspect of discussing homosexuality in the storyline and it was very eye-opening on how to still be friends if someone comes out. I also connected with the deep father wound that Chris had against his dad and I believe numerous people will be able to relate to. Overall, the book was a great read about someone who is doubting their faith in Christ and how they dealt with and overcame it. If you’re seeking a wonderful book on Christianity that is relevant in today’s times, then read this book! “I received this copy of Clear Winter Nights for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Liz Terek

    Chris Walker is a recent graduate with more questions than answers. As so often happens, family secrets come out during his grandmother’s funeral. Although Chris is set up to have a beautiful soon-to-be wife & a future in ministry, he finds himself at a crossroads of sorts. A retired minister, Chris’s Grandfather lovingly deals with Chris’s confusion. What follows is the story of Chris’s questions & his having to sort through the mire of life to find answers. He embarks of a journey of re-discov Chris Walker is a recent graduate with more questions than answers. As so often happens, family secrets come out during his grandmother’s funeral. Although Chris is set up to have a beautiful soon-to-be wife & a future in ministry, he finds himself at a crossroads of sorts. A retired minister, Chris’s Grandfather lovingly deals with Chris’s confusion. What follows is the story of Chris’s questions & his having to sort through the mire of life to find answers. He embarks of a journey of re-discovering his faith & his love for God. Trevin Wax is a well-known person in Christian media. He explores theology through story in ‘Clear Winter Nights’ & identifies this on the cover. In all, he did a fabulous job of delivering a believable, relatable character. Any Christian honest enough to admit it has had doubts at one time or another. Funerals are often times for reflection so it makes perfect sense that his questions & secrets come to light there. Chris’s Grandfather plays the minister part perfectly. He doesn’t come right out with answers per se, but spoon feeds Chris pertinent information until it clicks. Good mentors are familiar with this way of teaching. Mr. Wax has written other books but they were nonfiction in genre. He has developed a beautiful talent for the written word & readers will be blessed to have him continue to create Christian fiction such as this one. Definitely a 5 star book, look for it at retailers in the fall. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dan Glover

    This book falls within one of my least favourite sub-genres of literature, personal conversation-fiction (not sure if that's an official genre or not), so I didn't have very high expectations for it. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Trevin Wax's job at doing this genre well. This book is mainly a running conversation between an early twenties Christian young man and his 80ish year old former Pastor and very wise and winsome grandfather. The young man is questioning the truth and This book falls within one of my least favourite sub-genres of literature, personal conversation-fiction (not sure if that's an official genre or not), so I didn't have very high expectations for it. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Trevin Wax's job at doing this genre well. This book is mainly a running conversation between an early twenties Christian young man and his 80ish year old former Pastor and very wise and winsome grandfather. The young man is questioning the truth and livability of the Christian faith in light of some postmodern goo he received from his religion professor at college as well as some old fashioned relational issues with people he cares about but who reject some of the truth claims and moral stances of biblically faithful and orthodox Christianity or who have acted hypocritically and hurt him. Due to some (believable) life circumstances, the young man and his grandfather end up spending a New Years long weekend together and all the young man's doubts and questions come out and are lovingly, winsomely and confidently answered by his grandfather, but always within the context of a genuninely caring relationship and never in a condescending way. This book is strong on not giving typical or expected patt answers and almost never is the conversation clunky or wooden. This book is as strong in its example of how to relate to people who are genuninely questioning the Christian faith as it is faithful in the answers it provides to the questions. I recommend heartily.

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