While Wendy and I were away in the USA recently to speak at the Newfrontiers Mid-West Celebration, we built in a few rest days, so I took Jonathan Aitken’s magnificent biography of John Newton, From Disgrace to Amazing Grace. I am sure I will be including it on the book reviews page of this website in the not too distant future.
Brilliantly told, with all the pace of a novel, it unfolds the substantial drama of a man rescued from all kinds of excesses, including being the captain of a slave ship with all its associated evils but discovering grace and the glorious salvation which Jesus provides.
The story of his great hymn Amazing Grace is also highlighted, together with his remarkable links with William Cowper, William Wilberforce and others which make for fascinating reading. It even includes quite a story of his falling in love aged 18, with Polly aged 13, and subsequently enjoying their 40-year marriage. Storms at sea, experiences of slavery and ultimately the battle to end slavery all combine to make a thoroughly absorbing read.
Whenever I am asked if there is one book above all others that I would recommend to Christians, I struggle between JI Packer’s Knowing God and John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. This time I chose IVP’s 20th anniversary edition of John Stott’s famous book and so enjoyed reading it again. My original paperback copy is fairly beaten up so it’s great to have the recently published hardback.
Here’s a quote:
‘It is God Himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God Himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God Himself who, in the person of His Son, died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took His own loving initiative to appease His own righteous anger by bearing it His own self in His own Son when He took our place and died for us. There is no crudity here to evoke our ridicule, only profundity of holy love to evoke our worship.’
Not only full of magnificent truth, it also communicates such a worshipful tone that ones heart is nourished and moved in reading it. If you have it, it’s certainly worth reading again. If you haven’t, why not? Go and get it!