Swapping Questions with Mr. Wilberforce

Today marks the official opening of the latest Reading Classics Together book group at Challies.com: Real Christianity: Discerning True Faith from False Beliefs by William Wilberforce. (Am I allowed to start reading even though I have yet to see the movie Amazing Grace?)

The Introduction to the edition I’m reading is by Senator Mark Hatfield, a WW2 veteran and long-time Republican senator from Oregon, now retired, often called “the conscience of the Senate.” His endorsement comes as an example of a modern-day Wilberforce, living out Christianity in government service.

It’s been said of him, using Wilberforce’s words: “How careful ought I to be, that I do not disgust men by the inconsistency between the picture of a Christian which I draw, and which I exhibit!”

That sentiment rattles among all of us who wear the name of Christ, but feel uncomfortable when others look beneath our label to see what is really there.

Sen. Hatfield found that in Wilberforce’s life was “the resolve, early in his career, to focus legislative and personal agenda on building relationships....He sought to continue the incarnation of the Word in loving acts of mercy, justice, and charity to those around him, even if they were adversaries.”

So my interest is piqued. I’ll read on about Wilberforce.

I want to see what undergirded his conviction to abolish the slave trade and reform manners in England. What compelled him to take on the “grand malady” of his day, and how can we do so in our day? In what ways did he build relationships to be an incarnation of the Word?

Perhaps Chapter 1 (that's next week) will begin answering some questions. It's entitled “Inadequate Conceptions of the Importance of Christianity”—lofty words...I’m now peeking at the end of the chapter...Great indeed are our opportunities. Great also is our responsibility. And when finally summoned to the bar of God to give an account of our stewardship, what plea can we have to urge in our defense?

So not only will I have questions for Mr. Wilberforce, it looks like he’ll have questions for me, too.

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