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Posts tagged ‘William Wilberforce’

‘Amazing Grace’ and the abolition of slavery


By Jerry Newcombe, CP Op-Ed Contributor| Thursday, January 19, 2023

Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/voices/amazing-grace-and-the-abolition-of-slavery.html

Ioan Gruffudd plays William Wilberforce, the 18th-century English abolitionist. | (Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films)

This month, January 2023, marks the 250th anniversary of the classic hymn, “Amazing Grace.”

The Museum of the Bible writes: “It was January 1, 1773. John Newton led his congregation down the road from the parish church in Olney, England, to Lord Dartmouth’s Great Hall to sing … and the hymn he wrote for this day was special. It spoke of his conversion, of his self-proclaimed wretchedness, and of the saving power of God’s grace. Since then, the words of ‘Amazing Grace’ have struck a chord with millions across cultures and generations, and its popularity has never wavered.”

The museum based in D.C. now has a section dedicated to the anniversary of this amazing hymn.

In the hymn, John Newton, a former slave-trader now converted, indeed describes himself as a “wretch,” who was amazed that God would extend His grace to one such as he.

He became a minister after his conversion, and one day, a politician came to visit him for personal guidance. That man was William Wilberforce, who had recently been converted to faith in Jesus.

Everybody should know who William Wilberforce was — one of the greatest Christian statesman of all time.

He was a longtime Member of Parliament, who worked tirelessly (with a group of like-minded associates that became known as “The Clapham Sect”) to end the slave trade of the British Empire and then to free all the slaves therein. By the time of his death in 1833, Wilberforce was successful. But it took him about half a century.

Author Dr. Os Guinness once said, “When Wilberforce died, he was described as ‘the George Washington of humanity.’”

William Wilberforce was born in 1759 and inherited considerable wealth which placed him among the landed nobility of England. He was indeed a polished gentleman, and he first ran for Parliament and won at the age of 21.

But not until his conversion a few years later did he begin to take life seriously.

After committing his life to Christ, he briefly dallied with the idea of leaving politics to serve God. But John Newton counseled Wilberforce to stay and let God use him in politics. Newton declared, “The Lord has raised you up to the good of His Church and for the good of the nation.”

I shudder to think about someone like Wilberforce seeking guidance today among some modern ministers, who might easily convince him that Christians and politics shouldn’t mix. But John Calvin Coolidge, an often-overlooked president, once said, “If good men don’t hold office, bad men will.”

Soon after meeting with Rev. Newton, God put it on Wilberforce’s heart to fight against slavery. Working to uproot it was a daunting task because the slave trade brought enormous wealth to those involved.

After much prayer, Wilberforce felt that this indeed was the very voice of God speaking to him, calling him to this important mission. He was also concerned by the godless immorality of the age. In 1787, he wrote in his diary: “Almighty God has set before me two great objectives, the abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.” (“Manners” would be comparable to “morals” in modern parlance.)

In an interview I once did with the late Chuck Colson, prison reformer and Wilberforce admirer, he told me: “[Wilberforce] stood up on the floor of the Parliament influenced by his new Christian conviction, took a stand that was enormously unpopular because all of the vested interest opposed him, including the government, and for 20 years he waged that battle.”

Kevin Belmonte, author of William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity, observes, “Wilberforce had to travel with an armed bodyguard.” But Wilberforce persevered — despite whatever personal cost he must pay.

Colson said, “One day in 1807 in a February snowstorm, the votes were cast to abolish the slave trade. While members of Parliament were jumping up and down for joy, they looked over and there was Wilberforce, head bowed at his desk, praying, thanking God for what He had done.”

But Wilberforce wasn’t finished. He then set out to emancipate the slaves, who, even after this vote, were still in chains throughout the British Empire. This was a battle to last for another 25 years.

Because of health problems, he had to resign in Parliament in 1825, but the movement he began to free all of the slaves in the British Empire continued without his direct involvement — and when he was already on his death bed, in 1833, he received word that the Parliament decided to free all of the 800,000 slaves throughout the British Empire.

Wilberforce is a great example of what Jesus can do through those fully committed to Him in whatever position in which He has placed them — when God’s “amazing grace” gets ahold of a life wholly committed to Him.

Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is the executive director of the Providence Forum, an outreach of D. James Kennedy Ministries, where Jerry also serves as senior producer and an on-air host. He has written/co-written 33 books, including George Washington’s Sacred Fire (with Providence Forum founder Peter Lillback, Ph.D.) and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (with D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.). http://www.djkm.org?    @newcombejerry      www.jerrynewcombe.com

Christians! We Don’t Live Under Caesar


waving flagWritten by Gary DeMar, Feb 1, 2016

URL of the original posting site: http://constitution.com/christians-we-dont-live-under-caesar

Every political year, religion becomes an issue. It’s been that way since the founding of our nation. There’s no escaping religion and politics. Everyone is religious. Every law on the books is an application of someone’s view of religion (the ultimate basis of a person’s belief system) and an expression of their view of morality.

What is the source of a person’s worldview, their ultimate commitment? It’s a question that’s rarely asked. And yes, atheists are just as religious as the most fundamentalist Christian. Atheists are fundamentalist materialists, and so-called Progressives are fundamentalist secularists. What they believe is fundamental to their worldview.

There are Christians who are calling on their fellow-Christians to disengage from politics or to acquiesce to the political status quo and suffer under its oppression because we are just wanderers in this world on our way to the next world. Secularists also want Christians to disengage, and will often quote Jesus’ words “to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

No doubt Christians prefer to live a quiet life, as the apostle Paul wrote (1 Tim. 2:1–4). They would prefer not to have to expend time, energy, and money to fight laws that one day could end up limiting their freedoms.

These instructions to the young pastor Timothy did not stop Paul from challenging political reprisals raised against him (Acts 22:23-30). He even appealed to Caesar in a time when the majority of Jews had no political standing (25:11-12). Paul made use of his Roman citizenship (22:28), something few Jews had, as we should take advantage of our own citizenship rights. Christians aren’t second-class citizens or subjects to a foreign power (at least not yet). We’re not devoid of a political right to act, either biblically or constitutionally.AMEN

What about the argument that we are to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:21)? First, this statement tells us that not everything belongs to Caesar. Second, Jesus also says that we are to “render to God the things that are God’s.” Caesar is equally obligated.

Third, we don’t live under Caesar, a king, or governors sent by a king (1 Peter 2:13-14). We live under the Constitution of the United States that gives us the right — as the First Amendment states — to speak, write, and assemble to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

It would not be inappropriate to render Matthew 22:21 like this: “Then render to the Constitution the things that are the Constitution’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”AMEN

The Constitution is our Caesar, and those who take an oath to uphold the Constitution must render to it. In addition, we have a right and duty to hold our elected officials accountable to their oath. And unlike most Jews in the Apostle Paul’s day, we have the ability to change our government (Caesar) every two years at the national and local levels.

Reverend Jacob Duché (1737–1798) and the First Prayer of the Continental Congress (1774)

There used to be a time when we did live a quiet and tranquil life because Christians engaged their world culturally and politically. The goal has never been to save the world through politics but to define civil government’s limited political role. Christians who refuse to engage politically by default turn over the reins of authority and power to those who believe in a secular theocracy where civil government becomes the new god, and the laws of this secular god are imposed on the citizenry.

What if a government starts molesting people for their beliefs or actions? What should a Christian do? The slave trade, the holocaust, and racial discrimination come to mind. The anti-slave trade was headed up by Christians. Study the life ofWilliam Wilberforce(1759–1833). So was the civil rights movement. Were Christians wrong to oppose these moral evils? Why was Israel judged if the people were not to be involved politically?: 

How the faithful city has become a harlot,
She who was full of justice!
Righteousness once lodged in her,
But now murderers.
Your silver has become dross,
Your drink diluted with water.
Your rulers are rebels
And companions of thieves;
Everyone loves a bribe
And chases after rewards.
They do not defend the orphan,
Nor does the widow’s plea come before them (Isa. 1:21-23).

Resistance movements like those practiced by Christians during World War II have been accepted as morally justified by nearly all ethical thinkers. Thomas Kineally’s Schindler’s Ark (later made into the film Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg) shows the highest praise for those who defied what was a “legal” government policy.

Corrie ten Boom and her familycome to mind:

“Corrie ten Boom has long been honored by evangelical Christians as an exemplar of Christian faith in action. Arrested by the Nazis along with the rest of her family for hiding Jews in their Haarlem home during the Holocaust, she was imprisoned and eventually sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp along with her beloved sister, Betsie, who perished there just days before Corrie’s own release on December 31, 1944.”

In Give Me the Children: How a Christian Woman Saved a Jewish Family During the Holocaust, Pola Arbiser describes how her nanny defied the law and hid her and her sister from Nazi officers. The Jewish community of survivors has described these resistors as “righteous gentiles” ((As reported in Catherine E. Shoichet, “Christian nanny hid Jewish family from Nazis,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution (August 27, 2003), E1 and E6. See Pola Arbiser, Give Me the Children: How A Christian Woman Saved a Jewish Family During the Holocaust (Altona, Manitoba, Canada: Friesens, 2003).)) or simply “Christian rescuers.” ((David P. Gushee, “Christians as Rescuers During the Holocaust,” Must Christianity Be Violent?: Reflections on History, Practice, and Theology, eds. Kenneth R. Chase and Alan Jacobs (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2003), 71.)) These actions were considered to be moral even though they violated Nazi Reich law.

When the allied troops liberated the death camps and saw the atrocities, the soldiers went into the surrounding towns and forced the citizens to walk among the corpses. It was happening right under their noses and they did nothing to stop it. That wasn’t the “tranquil and quiet life” Paul was talking about.

AMEN

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