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Amazing Grace: The Story of William Wilberforce

Amazing Grace: The story of how William Wilberforce, John Newton and Olaudah Equiano stopped the English slave trade in the early 19th century.

Another subtitle to this movie could be: How a British production company produced an uncannily evangelical film. If you haven’t seen Amazing Grace, go to your local theater this week and see it. It’s not likely to be in theaters for long. It’s not the most riveting action packed film in the world and at over two hours it drags on in places.

As a low production budget film, it is excellent on several counts. The main one being its fairly accurate portrayal of the faith of William Wilberforce and how he was initially torn between a calling to the ministry and political life as a member of the British Parliament at the turn of the 19th century.

The best lines of the film for me were delivered by the abolitionists sent to recruit Wilberforce to the cause, “Mr. Wilberforce, we understand you’re having problems choosing whether to do the work of God or that of a political activist. We humbly suggest, that you can do both.”

But this is not intended as a review. Pro-life advocates have long held Wilberforce as a patron saint of sorts. Here I want to outline how a “Model for Reformation” in the life of Wilberforce. The obvious parallel between Wilberforce and the modern pro-life movement is how the two are set apart by almost exactly 200 years – February 23rd, the films release date, being the 200th anniversary of the initial legislation against the slave trade. The full ban on slavery did not take effect in Great Britain until July 26th, 1833. Ironically, Wilberforce died of influenza three days after the news reached him.

On a side note, most people don’t know that today, even at a conservative estimate, there are 27,000,000 slaves worldwide. This is far more than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. For more information, I encourage you to check out the excellent web site: www.williamwilberforce.com

A lot of people also don’t know that William’s son, Samuel Wilberforce, debated with Thomas Huxley, criticizing the theories in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.

Here again, there are obvious parallels to the debate over abortion — the murder of hundreds of millions of children in our lifetime — the greatest holocaust in world history.

We see in the British anti-slavery campaign a slow toil fraught with seemingly endless setbacks. Almost all hope seemed lost during the Napoleonic Wars, when members of Parliament argued that a withdrawal from the slave trade would guarantee a French dominance in West Indian plantation profits.

Wilberforce still plodded on with only a handful of supporters. According to Wikipedia.com:

A change of tactics, which involved introducing a bill to ban British subjects from aiding or participating in the slave trade to the French colonies, was advised by maritime lawyer James Stephen in early 1806. It was a smart move, as the majority of the ships were, in fact, now flying under American flags and were manned by British crews, sailing out of Liverpool. The new Foreign Slave Trade Act was quickly passed and the tactic proved successful. The new legislation effectively prohibited two-thirds of the British slave trade. This was in part enabled by Lord Nelson’s victory at the Trafalgar which had given Britain the sea power to ensure that any ban could be enforced.

What this did was to hit the slave trading industry in its most vulnerable spot — its profits. With the money of the slave trading lobbyists cut off, Parliament was able to proceed to pass a more universal Slave Trade Act just a year later.

We see a modern parallel in the federal law, the Born Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) and other federal and state legislation that limits the abortion industry. Such laws are flouted and violated at every turn by killing chains such as Planned Parenthood and others such as those owned locally by Dr. James Scott Pendergraft. If we will simply keep pressing our advantage, it may be possible to shut down many if not most of the clinics who perform dangerous surgery as an outpatient procedure.

In the meantime, the negative press generated by abortuaries that routinely violate health and medical codes, doctors who delivery viable babies alive and leave them to die, and other atrocities, can work in favor of turning public opinion. This strategy of enlightening the public to what is really happening can work. Even if we put only a small dent in the abortion industry due to litigation, we can change public opinion. Even “pro-choice” Americans draw the line at infanticide. Yet most are unaware that abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason.

The tactic should proceed as follows:

1. The public will be made aware that actual infanticide is going on in these killing places. Abortionists will be prosecuted.
2. A variety of other health and medical code violations in these killing chains will be publicized. Abortionists will be prosecuted.
3. Public sentiment against abortions of viable unborn children will rise as stories of premature birth success stories are published.
4. State by state, second and third trimester abortions will be outlawed as infanticide.
5. State by state, abortion can be pushed back to the original intent of Roe v. Wade, which is to limit abortion to the less than three percent of all abortions currently procured for the so-called “exceptions.”
6. A Constitutional Amendment banning all abortion will be enacted.

I have heard many pro-lifers hold a hard-line against this type of “incremental” approach as cowardly compromise and an accommodation with the culture of death. I myself am sympathetic to this viewpoint. However, what we need to be aware of is the vast amount of money taken in by the killing chains owned by Planned Parenthood. These resources are used in lobbying and the creation of false polls, such as those by Planned Parenthood’s Alan Guttmacher Institute, which effectively maintain the status quo distortion of “a woman’s right to choose” even though a vast majority of Americans support a ban on second and third trimester abortions and abortion in the first trimester as a matter of convenience.

Another thing that convinces me that we are at a pivotal point, is the number of recent news stories that are systematically exposing abortion — at least in the latter stages of pregnancy — as infanticide in the national consciousness. I believe that this is the work of God now moving through the Holy Spirit to change the American consciousness. Our “ground troops” need to seize our advantage even while the “air support” is still striking. I also find it significant that many of these stories are focusing the nation’s attention on Florida and especially Orlando and Miami.

A British newspaper recently carried the story of the huge number of babies who are surviving late term abortions and a current move is under way to rewrite abortion laws in that country. I encourage you to go to this link and check out the comments – all by Europeans who are mostly “pro-choice” — that show that this is pushing people slowly but surely toward a pro-life position.

Another story that astonished Americans was the Miami, Florida baby born at 20-weeks who survived even though she weighed less than one pound at birth. This baby was actually younger than Baby Rowan who was left to die in an Orlando killing center owned by James Pendergraft.

As William Wilberforce was forced to alter tactics in order to win, we must now seek to break the back of at least one-third of the abortion industry and cripple their financial resources. Once the “abortion-for-profit” killing places are limited, we will be better able to work on changing the hearts of churches. The initial step can be won a lot sooner than most people think. We actually have cut the abortion rate by one-third in America due in part to the efforts of Crisis Pregnancy Centers and street activism. With public opinion on our side, we could gain further ground if we will keep pressing our advantage.

What is most amazing to me is that in April 1791, when Wilberforce introduced the first Parliamentary Bill to abolish the slave trade, it was easily defeated by 163 votes to 88. Yet Wilberforce continued to move bills throughout his career until on February 23, 1807, a bill limiting slave trade was carried by 283 votes to 16.

We can expect to see much the same turning of the tide in the pro-life effort if we will only remain faithful and settle for nothing less than a total outlawing and criminalization of abortion without exception or apology.

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Comments

Your comments are welcome!

The reason I tell Christians to run out to the theaters to see Amazing Grace is that this is what we must do if we want to see more films that glorify God -- we must vote with our wallets. Much of a films success is driven by its first weekend. I attended a special screeing in which all the tickets were bought by the Florida Family Policy Council. Evangelicals have figured out that if we will support such films, more will get made. It's all about selling movie tickets.

Amazing Grace grossed $4,054,542 as a limited release in only 791 theaters. Compare that to the number one film opening over the weekend -- The Number 23 at $14,602,867 in 2759 Theaters. Simple math tells us that it compared favorably to the number one film.

Posted by Jay Rogers on 07/11/2020 11:01 AM #

You know, I'd love to support this film in the theater, but to be honest, with kids, it's virtually impossible to break away for a film.

Plus theaters are unbelievably expensive these days, and truthfully, I miss the options for rewind and subtitles that dvds grant you.... :)

Posted by December Sun Blog on 01/03/2007 12:44 PM #

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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Why Creeds and Confessions? (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 219 pages

Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy

Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.

Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.

Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.

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The United States of America 2.0: The Great Reset (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!

Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification

In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.

By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!

“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l

Running Time: 40 minutes

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In the Days of These Kings (Book)

Perfect-bound Paperback — 740 pages

The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

The overarching message of Daniel is that Jesus the Messiah is even now ruling over the nations. He is the King of kings. Daniel tells us that Messiah’s kingdom will advance in the whole world from “generation to generation” (Daniel 4:4,34). Christ’s dominion is “given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:22). Our purpose then is to see “all people, nations, and languages … serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:14,27).

This comprehensive work offers a fascinating look at the book of Daniel in preterist perspective. Great attention is paid to the writings of ancient and modern historians and scholars to connect the dots and demonstrate the continuity of Daniel’s prophecy with all of Scripture.

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