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John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace Paperback – May 31, 2013
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Most Christians know John Newton as the slave ship captain who famously converted to Christ on the high seas and then penned one of the greatest hymns of the faith: ?Amazing Grace.? Less well-known is Newton?s significance in his own day as an evangelical icon, great preacher and theologian, and important influence on abolitionist William Wilberforce. In this fascinating biography, Jonathan Aitken explores many facets of Newton's eventful life story, helping readers better understand his remarkable conversion and passionate fight to end the slave trade. The first modern account to draw on Newton's unpublished diaries and correspondence, this colorful and historically significant portrait provides fresh insights into the life and legacy of one of the most important Christians of the 18th century.
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One powerful appeal for me in purchasing this biography of Newton was when I read the brief history of the author Jonathan Aitken. His own past sinful life experience qualifies him, as no other author, to identify with John Newton the sinner who was regenerated by GOD's power. Just search the Foreword by Philip Yancey about the Aitken's own fall from grace and note how this adds real heart-beat and emotions known by himself to enable Aitken to qualify as writing about the transformation experienced by a sinner into a saved by grace saint.
I repeat, this is such an easy read, so well written by Aitken who became an award-winning author. He and Newton both discovered in "abysmal depths the first steps toward redemption."
It has romance, intrigue,edge of your seat "can't lay it down" "rip-roaring reading" and a real-life look at some of the mysterious ways and methods GOD has used to reach the kinds of people we would be ready to vote "Guilty!" after our first look at them.
I cannot see how anyone would or could be disappointed in this 356 page fantastic book!
Newton's early dissolute life is well-covered in this book: a troubled childhood, a quick mind given over to blasphemy and atheism in his wild youth, and his dark years as both slave and slave trader. Newton's conversion (and many narrow escapes) is well-documented, and his turning to God is portraying as the agonizing, deep process it was--there are no sudden changes here, but continual pitfalls and setbacks in a man who slowly turned into a great warrior for the Lord.
For those with a calling to the ministry, Newton's struggles with ordination and his following career as a pastor will be of great interest. Newton was innovative, lively, inclusive, and gospel-centered as a pastor. It is not to say that his ministry did not have great struggles and stumbles, but his attitude and perseverance will likely inspire readers. Some of the machinations and historical aspects of the society in Newton's time will be of great interest to lovers of history.
The aspects dealing with abolition and the writing of "Amazing Grace" might seem brief to some readers expecting to find those items front-and-center, but honestly, John Newton's life is exemplary for his larger-than-life conversion story and preaching as much as it is for his more well-known accomplishments.
Aitken's book starts a bit slow, but finds a livelier rhythm when it comes to Newton's ordination and subsequent ministry. The depth of the book is quite excellent, with many of Newton's correspondences and diaries mined for context and to show just how committed Newton became in the service of Christ. This is a book worth sticking with, as readers will be rewarded with an insight into a man who was one of the great redemption stories in his generation, and many generations to come.