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Kevin Belmonte: William Wilberforce

 

Kevin Charles Belmonte, William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2007).

Renewed and worthy attention has come to the eighteenth century history-making British politician William Wilberforce, through the popular film Amazing Grace. Kevin Belmonte was the historical consultant for the film and in this book has given his readers a fresh biography on Wilberforce that focuses on his advancements of social justice and on his moral and political achievements. He has divided the segments of his presentation into the major themes of Wilberforce’s lifework, following each topic chronologically to its termination, and then backing up chronologically to pick up the thread of the next topic. The reader must wait until the latter part of the book before learning about Wilberforce’s endearing relationship with his own family. While this literary segmentation assists the reader to learn of his political accomplishments, it hinders the reader from seeing the humanity of Wilberforce as he strove to integrate family and vocational passions.

There can be no question that Wilberforce lived a life that is worth emulating. He did not hold his personal wealth to himself, but seemingly gave liberally to all who asked as well as regularly supporting worthy charities. He did not cloister himself to a life of ease or debase himself with the frivolous parties of high-society, but labored relentlessly to end the human suffering of slavery; he did this with the passion of one who had received a divine mandate. His conscience was not seared from the plight of those who were out of his natural sight. Wealth did not impress him and social ambition seemingly did not tempt him.

The emphasis that Belmonte made in his biography on Wilberforce is that which is the humanitarian effort of his political record, how Christian conviction influenced his political ambition and agenda. He highlighted the ethical obligation of Christians to be politically active and to advocate legislation for social justice. While the book tends to bog down in a few places, with too much detail and too many unfamiliar names and places for the average 21st century reader, it remains significant to its essential message. Wilberforce continues to challenge us—“I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18b NIV).

Reviewed by John R. Miller

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Category: Fall 2007, Living the Faith

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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