photo courtesy of Yaletown Photography
April 2nd, 2023
The latest book that has inspired me is written by my colleague Bruce Hindmarsh, who is professor of Spiritual Theology, and of the History of Christianity at Regent College. Written in collaboration with Craig Borlase, a New York Times, Sunday Times, and international ghostwriter, the book is Amazing Grace, Nashville, Tennessee by W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tenn., 2023.
The book makes us aware that the abolition of slavery and at the same time the radical ethical change of the aristocracy, as urged by the member of the British Parliament, William Wilberforce, was actually more ‘radical’ than the Reformation itself.
It reminds us how radical a change is required of our secularized “Evangelical Christendom” today.
What resonates is that we are all sinners and have fallen from grace. Each of us is like John, and if we don’t recognize this, we are not understanding God and His grace.
Studying the hymns and their stories deepens our understanding, not only of another generation, but also of good theology. Horrific to own slaves, horrific to be active in the slave trade; it was as if they actually committed murder themselves, as so many died prematurely. Bruce has a microscopic view of history and every detail counts. He does an excellent job of presenting not only the story of Newton, but also understanding the whole culture of Newton’s world.
It brings to mind how much belief and acceptance of the existence of God was so interwoven through society. They didn’t necessarily live in obedience, but at least there was some acknowledgement of our Father. Today we don’t have that same kind of acceptance, but it is through music that we can help bring that back. It is in our DNA to be worshippers, in the Imago Dei, and music brings it out of us even when we are not aware. I occasionally have visitors who bring a musical instrument when they come to see me. They play hymns for me, and I love to listen to the tunes. What I find remarkable is that often fellow residents will come to my door to listen. The music envelops them. One of my neighbours has dementia and is generally quite distant from our conversations, living in her own little world. Yet the hymns bring light to her eyes and colour to her cheeks. For a time, she becomes much more engaged in our community.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a soul like me,
I once was lost but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed.
This book will certainly inspire you as it has me.