I’ll admit – I was a little intimidated when I picked up a copy of Trevin Wax’s book, Holy Subversion. Not because Trevin is intimidating, but because of the high quality of his blog. Whenever you get something posted on Kingdom People, it’s probably not going to be a video of a cat playing the piano. It’s going to be content-driven – a reflection on a Puritan prayer or a rehashing of an 800 year old book. Something weighty.
What I found in Holy Subversion had the quality of Trevin’s blog, in that there were no wasted words. Everything in there was meaningful and intentional; logical, well thought-out, and well put together. But I also found it to be really, really readable. I appreciate that alot.
Here’s the basic idea: The early Christian statement, “Jesus is Lord,” was more than just a summation of their faith. It was a statement to their culture. In a day when the popular saying was “Caesar is Lord,” these Christians had an allegiance to Jesus that subverted the systems of their time.
Trevin likens that to the situation today, where our allegiance to Jesus once again requires us to subvert the systems of the world. He’s organized his ideas into chapters that deal with a specific area of life in which Christians are to live subversively. But whereas it was primarily the political system that those first Christians had to fight against, the systems of today are in many ways much more subtle and therefore more difficult not only to identify but to fight against.
The systems of today include things like leisure, entertainment, and money. And this is another strong part of Trevin’s book. I don’t know how many times I think about living subversively in the area of entertainment. Sure, there are the obvious things like not watching pornographic movies, but as Trevin points out, the culture tells us that we need to be entertained all the time. To live subversively, then, is to realize the proper place of entertainment in the life of the Christian and to seek to make it so in our own experience.
But Trevin doesn’t just leave these things in the realm of the theoretical; he includes action steps with each and every system in order to begin to live subversively. In this, the book becomes very pastoral. And while I might not fully agree with all his points of action (and that may be because I’m just a worse person than he is), it forces me as the reader into the arena of the practical.
The other thing I most appreciated about the book is the way Trevin chose to actually engage the historical nature of Scripture. That is to say, he helps us get into the mindset of the early church, understanding the nature of the systems of the time. It does a great deal to further our knowledge of context, though that wasn’t even his main point in writing (so far as I can tell).
It’s a book you should check out. You’ll be challenged. Alot. And if you don’t take my word for it, he’s got a stinking endorsement from JI Packer.
Click here if you want to order your own copy of Holy Subersion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals.