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John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace Hardcover – June 7, 2007
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"A new life of John Newton is a fitting celebration of the bicentennial both of Newton's death and of the abolition of the slave trade, Wilberforce's triumph in which Newton played a key role. Master biographer Jonathan Aitken is in fine form, sympathetic, insightful, scholarly, and vivid, and his book, like its subject, must be rated spectacular."
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College
"A riveting historical account of the life of this notorious eighteenth-century sinner who was dramatically saved by God's grace. This book should be required reading for any person who loves history, loves the song, and is serious about following Christ."
—Jack Kemp, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; former U.S. Congressman
"A rip-roaring adventure, a passionate romance, and an astonishing journey of faith all in one. I knew the story well, but this telling made a deep impression on me."
—Os Guinness, cofounder, The Trinity Forum; author, The Dust of Death and The Last Christian on Earth
"Jonathan Aitken has written such an intimate account of one of the great saints of God that I can now say I have been mentored by John Newton!"
—Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, A Church Distributed, Longwood, Florida
"Jonathan Aitken's fast-paced, well-researched, and detailed book shows why Newton was such an important figure. This is a book to read, ponder, and read again."
—Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
"A fresh, insightful, and inspiring account of this great figure. With that rare skill of a superb biographer, Aitken brings Newton to life for a new generation of admirers."
—Alister McGrath, Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education, King's College, London
"In careful and colorful detail, Aitken resurrects this nearly forgotten giant of the faith and establishes Newton in his rightful place as one who has altered the course of western history."
—Robert Lupton, President, FCS Urban Ministries, Atlanta
"Skilled biographer that he is, my friend Jonathan Aitken has brought to life one of eighteenth-century England's most influential Christians. The story of amazing grace both in the life of Newton and in the song that has become the Christian national anthem."
—Charles Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview
"Only God could take a vile slave trader and turn him into a useful instrument in abolishing the slave trade and igniting a gospel revival, the flames of which are burning still. The story of Newton's life inspires all who seek to follow the path of Jesus today."
—Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School; General Editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture
"John Newton not only wrote one of the greatest hymns of all time-he lived one of the greatest stories of salvation."
—Rodney Stark, Author of The Rise of Christianity
"Even more amazing than Newton's life with all its drama and color is the reminder of how completely revolutionary is God's agenda to change the world his own way and through imperfect, broken people. Newton is just another entry to God's long resumé of his amazing grace in changed lives."
—James MacDonald, Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois; author, Vertical Church
"An informed, authoritative biography of the man who played a critical role in helping William Wilberforce abolish the slave trade. His life story is absolutely spell-binding. I could not put the book down."
—Armand M. Nicholi Jr., M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Author of The Question of God
"Jonathan Aitken has written a book that, enriched by fresh research into unpublished papers, will enhance his reputation as one of today's foremost biographers."
—Michael Green, Author, Theologian, Former Canon Missioner of Holy Trinity Church, Raleigh, North Carolina
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Top customer reviews
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.