It’s easy and dangerous to forget that Christianity is subversive. Early Christians subverted the power of Caesar, believing that Jesus, not Caesar, is Lord. The Caesars of Rome are long gone, but other Caesars have taken their place, clamoring for the worship that should belong to Jesus. In Holy Subversion Trevin Wax asks:
What would it look like today if we reclaimed the subversive nature of Christian discipleship? How would the royal announcement that Jesus is Lord change our mind-sets with regard to our churches, our families, our jobs? How can our allegiance to Jesus as King be subversive once again?
Wax applies these questions to six areas: the Caesars of self, success, money, leisure, sex, and power. Each of the Caesars are good in themselves, but can become idolatrous. Wax examines each area to help us understand where we can go wrong, and how we can push these good gifts back to their rightful place under the feet of Jesus. He then explores how our understanding of the subversive nature of discipleship should transform our evangelism.
As I read each chapter, I found myself marking lots of pages. Wax has the ability to be simple and profound at the same time. This is my favorite type of writing: one that blends theological insight with sharp pastoral application. Wax reminds me of some of my favorite Puritan writers, not so much in his writing style as in his ability to apply the gospel to life. They called the Puritans “physicians of the soul” because they were good at diagnosing and remedying ailments of the soul. That’s exactly what Wax does in this book.
We also benefit from the fact that Wax has lived and worked in Romania. This has given him an ability to identify cultural idols in North America that may not be as obvious to some of us.
I especially appreciate his insight into areas of idolatry that don’t get enough attention. We’ve all probably heard about the dangers of the idols of success, money, and power – although Wax is worth reading here as well. But I haven’t read a lot about the idol of leisure. I also appreciate that he deals with these issues at the individual and corporate levels. He pushes us to identify how these idols or Caesars can come to dominate our churches, and how we can subvert them before a watching world.
Holy Subversion a great book to read alone, but it would also be useful for groups to work through as well. It’s a good compliment to Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods. I highly recommend it.