Last night I attended an advance screening of a new movie to be released February 23. It's called Amazing Grace, and it's the true story of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the member of Parliament who successfully led the way to the abolition of slavery in Great Britain.
Wow, this is a wonderful movie. You need to see it when it comes out. The acting is incredible, especially by Ioan Gruffudd (Wilberforce) and Albert Finney (John Newton). The scenery, locations, costumes, and supporting actors are all very good too.
As a Christian, I appreciated the fact that it's not a cheesy movie. The characters come off as real people, not caricatures. Yet Biblical themes of social justice, redemption, and friendship permeate the movie and inspire courage and faith. The movie also made me want to read the history of the abolition movement in England.
A key moment in the film is when Wilberforce, recently converted to Christ, thinks he must choose between praising God and changing the world. His good friend William Pitt (later the Prime Minister of England) persuades Wilberforce that he can do both. This is true for all of us who follow Christ. The Christian life is not just lived on Sunday. The dichotomy we sometimes make between "sacred" and "secular" is false. We glorify God as we get involved in the world and bring light into the dark places around us. Work, play, social action, family life, study, and more are holy activities. Our creation mandate is to bring all of life under the Lordship of Christ. Wilberforce did that, and so should we.
The slave trade was one of the dark places that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries. But I learned last night that there are still an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. So we, like William Wilberforce, can choose to do something about this slavery. Go here to learn how you can get informed and involved.
Amazing Grace, like Luther, Chariots of Fire, End of the Spear, and a few other films, proves that people in the faith community can make outstanding movies and communicate Christian truth in a realistic way. To make sure it succeeds, however, please see this movie and invite others to see it. It does not have the usual Hollywood machinery and money behind it. Go here to see the trailer and find out more about Wilberforce and the movie. It's a great website.