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A Practical View of Christianity (Hendrickson Christian Classics) Hardcover – October 30, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The current fascination with "virtue" is attested by the public's consumption of books such as William Bennett's Book of Virtues and Gertrude Himmelfarb's The Demoralization of Society. But the issue of virtues and public life has been around much longer. In fact, in the late 1700s William Wilberforce, a renowned British statesman and counsel to Prime Minister William Pitt, penned what would become one of the most eloquent statements concerning Christian civil responsibility ever written. Its influence extended across the Atlantic and into the following centuries. Among his many contributions to society, Wilberforce is best known for his efforts on behalf of slaves throughout the world, and in a very real sense he laid the ground work for the abolition of slavery in the United States. This annotated critical reissue of the first edition of Wilberforce's most influential work pays tribute to his legacy and seeks to restore Wilberforce to his rightful place in the cultural memory of the community worldwide. Kevin Belmonte not only preserves for us the text of this literary and cultural gem but he also provides the sources behind Wilberforce's numerous quotations from Latin, literature, and Scripture. An introduction by Charles Colson mirrors the ongoing relevance of Wilberforce's notion of Christian social responsibility.

About the Author

William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was a member of the British Parliament. He was also affiliated with the Clapham Sect, a group of Evangelicals who were active in public life. He was very instrumental in many social justice issues, including the abolition of slavery in England.

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Product Details

  • Series: Hendrickson Christian Classics
  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. (October 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598561227
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598561227
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Even though I am not at all a fundamentalist and usually stay clear of books that take a more "evangelical" stance, at the advice of a friend I decided to read this book, and I am glad that I did. Wilberforce obviously spent a great deal of time deciding what to say, and in finding examples to support his arguments, which are from biblical, literary and real-life sources. One of the most refreshing things about his style is that (unlike other Christian authors I have read) he does not feel the need to "talk down" to the reader or condemn them for not instantly believing something when they have been given no proof of its validity or even logic. He appeals to an educated audience and methodically covers a variety of topics that (hence the title) have many applications to real life. Most of the things that he argues make perfect sense and cause the reader to wonder how it is that they hadn't thought of it before. I also appreciate his passion- once can tell in many parts how strong his belief was, and it's easy to see how he could have been such an eloquent orator. The only thing that I disagreed with was his condemnation of plays and the opera, but this is probably because I am myself in training to be a professional musician.

In sum, I would say that this is an excellent book, and a good choice for the Christian that is tired of the lack of erudition and reason in modern devotional literature.
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Format: Hardcover
1. Introduction
William Wilberforce (1759 - 1833) was a member of the English Parliament for the County of York who dedicated his life to abolishing the slave trade. He once wrote that "Almighty God has set before me two great objectives, the abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners." This great burden laid on his heart throughout his life, and gave him little leave for rest. He believed that the two were related, for without the reformation of manners through addressing cultural malaise, it would be nearly impossible to abolish the slave trade.
It was within this context that Wilberforce wrote A Practical View of Christianity (originally titled A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Middle and Higher Classes in this Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity). He hoped to challenge the nominal Christianity of the middle and upper classes of England and to inspire the nation with a fresh view of a religion whose goal was not empty ritual, but transformation through Christ. The book sent a shockwave throughout the nation, and has been crediting with helping to start the second Great Awakening of England.
Wilberforce was a saint in every sense of the word. He restlessly fought for the abolition of the slave trade, presenting motion after motion for abolition, each in turn being thrown out by Parliament, until at last in 1807, Wilberforce's bill passed. Yet he did not stop with the abolition of the slave trade. Wilberforce dedicated nearly two decades thereafter to securing the complete emancipation of the slaves in England. With a circle of trusted friends known as the "Clapham Circle," Wilberforce proved how a small group can change history.
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Format: Hardcover
"A Practical view of Christianity."
This is a book to be treasured and esteemed highly. It is written in a way which catures your attention and give rise to many challenging thoughts. It is the book which changed the course of history 200 years ago and save the downfall of the British Empire. Another remarkable feature of this 200 year old book, is that it is so applicable for the world today, and has a message for every one personally.
Read it thoughtfully and you will be challenged and inspired.
Treasure this book and reread it often.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This review is for the Kindle edition, but should apply to the print version as well.

William Wilberforce is not widely known today except for those who have seen the movie Amazing Grace, but in his own day Wilberforce was one of the most widely admired (and perhaps one of the most widely denounced) political leaders in the world. Although others worked alongside him, he could be said to be the most influential figure in overturning race-based slavery.

This book lets us see the spiritual foundation of his powerful influence. Anglican through and through, he could also be described as an evangelical pietist. By the book marketing standards of his day, this book about the heart of Christian faith was a best-seller.

Two major benefits of reading this modern editing of his book have been seeing that:

1. Wilberforce's emphasis on Christian formation is powerful, featuring many of the same Scripture texts I emphasized in my recent book "Living the Full Bible." Wilberforce strongly attacks a presentation of Christian faith that deals only with assurance of eternal reward and does not deal with Christlike transformation. His emphasis is somewhat like that of John and Charles Wesley in his own time, but like theirs draws on the work of a select group of earlier Anglican, Puritan, and even nonconformist clergy.

2. Wilberforce's critique of the widespread conventional churchianity of his own day, particularly as practiced by the upper crust of society, is potent. He nails the thought patterns that produce complacent cultural conformity rather than ongoing spiritual and moral transformation.

Side Point: When William Wilberforce takes on the Unitarian-Deist clergy of his day (he wrote this in the late 18th century), he sounds like he is taking on the unorthodox scholars of our day. It is startling how little has changed.
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