Monday, April 9, 2007

Amazing Grace, Amazing Life

Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted theologian stated that faith that does not bring about social change is not real faith. Christians have forgotten about the power of the Gospel, the power that was exhibited by people like Bonhoeffer, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Newton and William Wilberforce. Instead we are drawn into a half hearted faith by some that not only doesn't expect Christians to be socially active, they condemn those who are.

Historically, despite what many would have you believe the church has been the catalyst for social change. No place can that be seen better than in the slave issues facing Christians in positions of power during the mid to late 1800's. There is a new movie coming out which will highlight this featuring the influence of John Newton, author of the song Amazing Grace and a former slave trader, and William Wilberforce, a member of the English Parliament. The movie is receiving critical acclaim and is expected to be a tremendous hit at the box office.

For a long time I have been a fan of John Newton. I have studied his life and find it remarkable. I hope the movie will touch on the powerful story of change God brought into the life of Newton. One of the things not commonly known about Newton is that while he was a slave trader, he also lived for a short period of time as a slave in Africa. It was while listening to the jungle beats that he came up with the song Amazing Grace, one of the most recorded songs in history.

The question is, for those who lean to the fundamentalist side of things, are you so caught up in your fundamentalism that you forget about the need to have our lives be a testimony to the power of the grace God has given us. The truth is, there is something to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, are you doing it? In other words, is there a testimony of your life as to the amazing grace God has provided by your own willingness to address the social evils that exist in the world? Or, is it possible that you are so caught up in your belief system that there is no evidence of the power God gives? Do you care and love your neighbor as much as yourself? Or, are you just making noise like a loud clanging cymbal?

Then there is the liberal approach many follow. Is there evidence in your actions that God is the creator of change? Do others see Christ through your actions and do you give him all of the credit? Do you stick to the concepts that Jesus presented, that he is the only son, and no one gets to Heaven except through him?

There are lessons to be learned from Amazing Grace. William Wilberforce and John Newton lived out their faith. Their faith had a dramatic impact on those around them, and ultimately the planet. They stood for social justice, while at the same time, giving Christ the credit. When looking at these two Christians it is virtually impossible for the Christian skeptic to say that Christians haven't made a difference. It is about time their story got told on the big screen. Hopefully the box office will be packed with individuals who are willing to learn, and then themselves be instruments of change.

I am including several links to check out, check them all out, and watch the videos. A little over a year ago I was moved to do a video with my wife singing Amazing Grace. That video was dedicated to John Newton. I am still pleased with the effectiveness that video has had. I am pleased with the story it tells, plus I think my wife does a great job on the song. Don't just watch her video though; watch Steven Tyler from Aerosmith pay tribute to the song. Then click on some of the links and see the atrocities of slavery that still exists.

Movie Trailer

Mary Jane Furches Sings Amazing Grace

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith Sings Amazing Grace

Tommy Emmanuel Australian Guitar Phenom plays Amazing Grace

Chris Tomlin, My Chains are Gone and Amazing Grace

Victor Wooten Great Bass Guitar Solo of Amazing Grace

Links of Interest (Note some of the following are PDF Files) :

Official Web Site For The Movie

Abolishing Slavery How Slavery Still Exists And We Can Make A Difference

The Amazing Grace Faith Guide

The Gilder Lehrman Collection, online history and exhibition of original documents related to Amazing Grace

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