Skip to main content

Newton on the Christian Life






Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke

Many Christians know the name John Newton by the perennial hymn ‘Amazing Grace,’ but what they do not know is that Newton’s life is quite a remarkable story.  Tony Reinke, in his new book on Newton entitled, Newton on the Christian Life, writes with clarity and encouragement for all those wanting to know Newton more and to see in his life a devoted follower of Christ.  The book delves into his shipwreck of a life in the slave trading industry and also his work with William Wilberforce, but focuses more acutely on how Newton saw the varied Christian life, from its sorrows to its joys.

What is often not known about Newton is that he was an extraordinary pastoral letter writer.  Reinke notes, “Newton’s superb letter-writing skills, marked with spiritual clarity, self-deprecating wit, vivid metaphor, motive-piercing acuity, and insights of blazing glory, all help to explain why Newton’s pastoral influence spread far beyond the village of Olney, beyond the city of London, beyond the eighteenth century, and now guides modern-day pastors in culturally sophisticated places like Manhattan. If Keller and Packer are right, Newton should be named among the most skilled pastors in church history (27).”  Although his sermons might not have been exciting or life-changing, his letters to everyday parishioners were practical theology at its best, taking their cues from the Scriptures and experience.  Reinke points to the all-sufficiency of Christ for all of life as the central aim of Newton’s letters (31).  One of the most powerful things about Newton’s letters are his keen sensitivity to get to the heart of matters with compassion and directness, a combination that is rare today.

The all-sufficiency of Christ is central to Newton’s thought.  At the end of his life as he visited with up and coming preacher William Jay, Newton tired from life said, ““My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior (56).”  The greater abundance of grace found in Christ outweighs any heaviness in regards to sin and transgression.  Greater grace abounds because Christ abounds.  Further, Newton taught that at the heart of biblical faith was the divinity of Christ.  Newton wrote, “Christ incarnate is the full revelation of God in the flesh. This truth is so important that no matter how religious you are, if you are without Christ, you are without God—an atheist (Eph. 2:12) (58).” 

If you want a sure guide to the life of Newton, the way he saw the Christian life, this book is for you.

Thanks to Crossway for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

The Paraclete Poetry Anthology, Edited by Mark S. Burrows

Bringing words to life on a page is hard work, and no work is harder than poetry.  Poets take the visceral, the mundane, and the disjointed and frayed things of life and put them on their head.  This new anthology of poetry put out by Paraclete Press and edited by Mark S. Burrows, takes the best poetry of today and brings together old and new poems from these gifted creators.  You find poems from Scott Cairs, SAID, Phyllis Tickle, and others.  The collection stems the span of 2005-2016 and includes both religious poems and themes, as well as themes covering a broad swath of topics.

One of the beauties of this collection is the array of poems that the anthology includes in its pages.  One poem in particular stuck with me as read through the collection.  Anna Kamienska is a wonderful Polish poet who interacts with the wider lens of faith while looking carefully at the world we live in.  She says in her poem named Gratitude, (44)

A tempest threw a rainbow in my face
so that I wanted to…