It was a joy to read Piper’s biography on William Wilberforce. I decided to include some biographies in my reading cycle and I was so glad I did. I learned so much from his life.
Against great obstacles William Wilberforce, an evangelical Christian and a member of Parliament, fought for the abolition of the African slave trade and against slavery itself until they were both illegal in the British Empire.
Many are aware of Wilberforce’s role in bringing an end to slavery in Great Britain, but few have taken the time to examine the beliefs and motivations that spurred him on for decades. In this concise volume, John Piper tells the story of how Wilberforce was transformed from an unbelieving, young politician into a radically God-centered Christian, and how his deep spirituality helped to change the moral outlook of a nation.
As world leaders debate over how to deal with a host of social justice and humanitarian crises, a closer look at Wilberforce’s life and faith serves as an encouragement and example to all believers.
- What made Wilberforce tick was a profound biblical allegiance to what he called the “peculiar doctrines” of Christianity (20).
- He lacked time for half the good works in his mind (21).
- For the good of society, the good of society must not be the primary good (24).
- He was a radically God-centered Christian who was a politician (25).
- The Bible became his best-loved book and he learned stretches by heart (33).
- He wrote in his diary, “God Almighty has placed before me two great Objects, the Suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners [morals]” (35).
- Wilberforce brought together evangelistic zeal and concern for social justice (44).
- Six years later in 1800, on his forty-first birthday, as he rededicated himself to his calling, he prayed, “Oh Lord, purify my soul from all its stains. Warm my heart with the love of thee, animate my sluggish nature and fix my inconstancy, and volatility, that I may not be weary in well doing” (48).
- His presence was as fatal to dullness as to immorality (61).
- He speaks of “self-denial” exactly the way Jesus did, not as an end in itself, but as a means to the highest pleasures (66).
- He wrote, “The true Christian…knows therefore that this holiness is not to precede his reconciliation to God, and be its CAUSE; but to FOLLOW it, and be its EFFECT” (73).
- Never minimize the central place of God-centered, Christ-exalting doctrine; labor to be indomitably joyful in all that God is for us in Christ by trusting his great finished work; and never be idle in doing good – that men may see our good deeds and give glory to our Father who is in heaven (Matt 5:16).