Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Book Review: John Newton: The Liberator by John Pollock

This is the first of several reviews I will write in the following weeks on missionary biographies. I suppose I’ll keep them shorter, because if I tell you all about their lives then you won’t need to read the biographies. Maybe I’m the only person who had no idea that this writer of “Amazing Grace” was a slave trader before coming to Christ, writing incredible songs, and working to help end the slave trade. But wow, what an amazing story of God’s transforming power!

Newton was totally a bad dude, though he had been raised to know the truths of Christianity and live in them. But working on various ships and then entering the slave trade took its toll, and by all means he was the basest of base men. I appreciated this particular biography because it highlighted the miraculous ways the Lord worked to preserve Newton’s life. I mean, literally there were multiple times when he unquestionably should have died. But yet. The Lord lavished His grace and mercy, having other plans and uses for Newton. 

Pollock focuses mainly on Newton’s years as a slave trader, with only about a fourth devoted to his life and ministry after he began living for Christ. I would be interested to read more about how he helped in the fight against the slave trade. I didn’t think the book was written terribly well, and this distracted me a bit, but it was an easy and quick read. I enjoyed learning about Newton’s life, and I was struck by the incredible mercy of the Lord in rescuing Newton from his life as a slave trader. What amazing grace we have been extended!

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