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William Wilberforce (1759–1833)

Autor(a) de A Practical View of Christianity

30 Works 1,207 Membros 7 Reviews

About the Author

Image credit: Photo © ÖNB/Wien

Obras de William Wilberforce

Amazing Dad (2010) 27 cópias
Christianity and Politics (2004) 6 cópias


Conhecimento Comum



At age 26, William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a British reformer and member of the House of Commons (1780-1825), experienced a transformation in his Christian faith.

On October 28, 1787, Wilberforce recorded that God had set before him two objectives: to end the slave trade and improve public morality.

To help reshape the culture, he wrote a book originally titled "A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System...Contrasted with Real Christianity" (1797). This instant bestseller went through 15 editions in Britain and 25 in the US and was translated into five languages by 1826.

In it, Wilberforce contrasts authentic Christianity with cultural Christianity. An authentic Christian allows the Word of God to transform his life, while a cultural Christian does not. They may go through the motions of being “good,” but their priorities are comfort and acceptance by society.

When cultural Christians speak about their faith, “you will see how little of their Christianity has anything to do with the faith taught by Jesus. Everything becomes subjective. Their conduct is not measured against the standard set by the gospel. They have developed their own philosophies, which they attempt to pawn off as Christian faith” (Wilberforce, 21).

Authentic Christians, on the other hand, work out their faith.

"Carefully studying the Bible will reveal to us our own ignorance of these things. It will challenge us to reject a superficial understanding of Christianity and impress on us that it is imperative not to simply be religious or moral, but also to master the Bible intellectually, integrate its principles into our lives morally, and put into action what we have learned practically” (22-23).

In sum, biblical Christians study the Bible and incorporate its teaching into their attitudes and actions.

Wilberforce explains that cultural Christians are ignorant about how the Holy Spirit operates in a person’s life. They think they can be moral on their own, whereas only through the Holy Spirit can people live as authentic Christians.

"[T]he Bible teaches that the state of mind most conductive to our true condition is one of humility and recognition of the extent of our flaws. We are told that in order to live in a way that pleases God, we need to aggressively fight against our natural tendencies toward arrogance and self-importance. Any natural advantages we might have over another, or any progress in virtue, should be viewed as the work of God in our lives" (Wilberforce, 85).

A person can only conquer the power of the sinful nature through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Society Needs Authentic Christians

Wilberforce states that without citizens with a vital, authentic faith, the nation will sink into an immoral morass.

"Political decay can thrive under cultural Christianity, but authentic faith will bring it to a sudden halt. As things stand at the present moment, we need authentic faith desperately. If we do not pursue such faith as a nation, not only will we not experience the great benefits that such faith brings, but we will also be in danger of losing the blessings we enjoy as a result of such faith in the past. We are headed toward a society that incurs the multitude of evils that result from living with no religion at all" (Wilberforce, 156).

"It feels as if we live in a world in which a brood of moral vipers has been hatched that are waiting to unleash themselves on the world...All attempts to restore or protect the values and morals that have made this nation great will be in vain without the restoration of a vital Evangelical Christianity" (Wilberforce, 161-162).

This change needs to start, says Wilberforce, with the local clergy and the restoration of the education system, which now totally ignores the promotion of morality and vital Christianity.

"We battle a culture that is out of tune with God, a personality shaped outside the influence of the Holy Spirit, and an unseen universe in which powerful evil forces are allowed to exercise a degree of autonomy until Jesus Christ returns" (Wilberforce, 182).

Only authentic Christians are equipped for this battle.
… (mais)
Newton_Books | outras 2 resenhas | Feb 2, 2024 |
This carries the godliness of a puritan, the fire of a parliamentarian, and the practicality of an activist. The language is a little...colonial? But even if you don't have time to look up the words, the point will come across. The book is overflowing with wisdom at every turn, and is extremely relevant for our age.

The book is free on kindle as well as on podcast, but I mostly listened by podcast. There are versions which have been updated with modern language.

Here's one excerpt about how things got the way they are:

"Christianity especially has always thriven under persecution. At such a season she has no lukewarm professors; no adherents concerning whom it is doubtful to what party they belong. The Christian is then reminded at every turn, that his Master’s kingdom is not of this world. When all on earth wears a black and threatening aspect, he looks up to heaven for consolation; he learns practically to consider himself as a pilgrim and stranger. He then cleaves to fundamentals, and examines well his foundation, as at the hour of death. When Religion is in a state of external quiet and prosperity, the contrary of all this naturally takes place. The soldiers of the church militant then forget that they are in a state of warfare. Their ardour slackens, their zeal languishes. Like a colony long settled in a strange country, they are gradually assimilated in features, and demeanour, and language, to the native inhabitants, till at length almost every vestige of peculiarity dies away."

William Wilberforce is most famous for his success in ending slavery in the British empire, as well as his association with John Newton the author of Amazing Grace.
… (mais)
christian.c.briggs | 1 outra resenha | Apr 15, 2021 |
this book reflects the evangelical Christianity which inspired William Wilbrforce, his 'manifesto' as a Christian politician. Although his style of writing is not the easiest to understand nowadays, it reflects the high political language of his day, and it was these people he was aiming the book at. It is an interesting treatment of Christianity and politics, and also nominal vs true Christianity. Many of the things he spoke of in his day are still very relevant in the present day, in many ways human nature and political issues do not change. Not many books quite like this one, and it is worth reading as a great insight into the man who is so often spoken of, but not read.… (mais)
matthewgray | 1 outra resenha | Mar 29, 2021 |
Excellent and encouraging
quadzero | Mar 4, 2015 |


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