February 10, 2010

John Newton; From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken

To start my one book a month resolution I finished reading John Newton; From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken in January.

This is a fantastic book, I can't speak too highly of it!

Considering the huge influence Newton had on the modern evangelical Christian world I was surprised at how little I knew about his life (see other thoughts about his life here). While his most famous influence was in writing Amazing Grace, he also was one of the ministers who started the evangelical revival of England in the 18th Century; he mentored William Wilberforce who led the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade and on a note closer to home he also was the person who insisted that a chaplain be placed on the convict ships coming to Australia

John Newtons life is itself compelling, but Aitken writes in a conversational manner which makes it very easy to read. Aitken used many of the letters and diaries that Newton wrote within the book, so we often hear from Newton himself how he felt at a certain time in his life or about different issues.

Aitken has also done his historical homework. He explains why Newton would act in a certain way that seems so foreign to a modern reader, without making excuses for questionable decisions/behaviour (especially at the beginning of Newtons life).

I admit towards the end I got a little lost in the larger chucks of Newtons writing (the 18th century turn of phrase is so different from our own!) and when Aitken was discussing Newtons theology, but most of the time I couldn’t put the book down. In fact I was so engrossed while at the airport waiting to be picked up, that my Aunt honked her horn for several minutes to get my attention. I was completely unaware and kept reading until someone else near me had to tap me on the shoulder.

It is quite a thick volume, but being so easy to read I was able to get through it surprisingly quickly.

This is a story of a real person, who God called to himself and the change that takes place because of that. A compelling read, I think all Christians would benefit from reading more about Newtons life.

(I read the soft cover version which has a much more aesthetic cover picture - but I couldn't find a picture of it)

1 comment:

Kacie said...

I think I'd like this book and have read several reviews of it recently. I don't know when I'd get around to it, though! Too many in my book stack already.