I have recently begun reading “A Practical View of Christianity” by William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a British Politician and member of the House of Commons in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and first published the book in 1797. He fought for many years to pass numerous pieces of important legislation in the House, chief among them were the abolition of the slave trade and the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire. The 2007 film “Amazing Grace” Directed by Michael Apted showcases the campaign to end the slave trade. As a student at IMPACT 360, I had the wonderful opportunity to see this film before it was released to the public.
The film inspired me to consider something I had never thought about prior to that point: practicing politics as a profession, especially to the end of accomplishing things that would honor God. I can confidently say, that the film “Amazing Grace” peaked my interest in the practice of politics in America, so much so, that upon graduating from college, I spent a semester in Washington, DC as an intern in the United States Senate. Prior to seeing the film, I had never thought of politics as a part of my life. Yet, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in our nation’s capital. I helped my Senator research pieces of legislation and I certainly felt a sense of calling and significance to the work I was doing. However, something was still missing from my experience, something that I have not been able to pinpoint until reading this book by the great Abolitionist leader Wilberforce.
The realization first comes from the preface of this edition of the book, written by Charles Colson. He writes, “William Wilberforce is a great hero of mine, because I have come to see the same thing he saw: that you can’t get rid of social scourges without the reformation of manners” pp. xvi
Wilberforce believed that God had set before him two goals “The suppression of the slave trade, and the reformation of manners”. But Colson points out that Wilberforce and his friends believed that the one could not happen without the other. That without changing a society’s beliefs, their actions would never change. And without changing the way people lived, it would be near impossible, and in many ways useless to change society’s laws.
This realization is important to consider. Like Mr. Colson, I have come to see things just as William Wilberforce saw them. Without efforts to reform the moral actions of the people in our society, we have no hope of seeing the evils of our day vanquished.
Because of this truth, there lies before us a great task. It is a daunting task to change culture, and one should not dare to do it alone. It would require a vast network of likeminded individuals, who would commit to training and supporting each other in the task. Moreover, such a task would take time, and would require deep changes to the individual citizenry. This is why IMPACT 360 is such an important organization. IMPACT 360 exists to produce Christ centered servant leaders. These leaders will go out into the world, and see it changed. They will venture to places that need manners reformed. These leaders will make deep impacts on the lives of the people in their communities. They will see people’s hearts and minds changed, which will open the door for the social scourges of our day to be overturned.
I highly recommend the 1996 publication of the book A Practical View of Christianity published by Hendrickson Publishers.
Mark Heath InauguralClass IMPACT 360