Apted Aptly Downplays Wilberforce’s Faith in Amazing Grace

It would seem that there is a general consensus of opinion among critics (those writing from a Christian perspective as well as from a purely secular point of view) that Amazing Grace, the biopic film portraying William Wilberforce’s political battle to end the slave trade in the British colonies, does not do justice to Wilberforce’s vibrant Christian faith that informed that epic struggle.  Having seen the movie for the first time last night, and having read John Piper’s brief biography focusing succinctly on Wilberforce’s faith, I find myself agreeing with the critics.

Charlotte Allen, writing in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, February 23 observes:

It is rare that a Hollywood film takes up a subject like William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the British parliamentarian who devoted nearly his entire 45-year political career to banning the British slave trade. Alas, a lot of people watching “Amazing Grace,” Michael Apted’s just-released film, may get the impression–perhaps deliberately fostered by Mr. Apted–that Wilberforce was a mostly secular humanitarian whose main passion was not Christian faith but politics and social justice. Along the way, they may also get the impression that the hymn “Amazing Grace” is no more than an uplifting piece of music that sounds especially rousing on the bagpipes.

And the New York Times reported the following in its review of Amazing Grace on February 18:

As it happens, Bristol Bay Productions initially wanted a biopic focused on Wilberforce’s faith, “which is why I and a lot of other people didn’t want to make it,” Mr. Apted recalled. “I wanted to center the whole film on the anti-slave trade debate, and they agreed. To me it is about people who have a moral or religious sense of purpose and yet manage to operate in the world.”

Bob Beltz is an associate producer on the Amazing Grace project who recently updated William Wilberforce’s lengthy treatise, originally titled A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in this Country Contrasted with Real Christianity. I asked him if Michael Apted, the director of Amazing Grace, had been quoted out of context by the New York Times reviewer, to which he replied:

First of all, that’s a very inaccurate statement, even by Michael Apted (which I probably shouldn’t say). I sat in a meeting with Michael Apted when he was approached about directing the film. Six different times he was directly challenged that the faith element of this film was extremely important to us and would he honor that, and six different times he said, “Yes.” For some reason some of these guys are afraid to admit that somehow Christian faith really is the thing that makes the difference; and yet the film is so powerful in terms of portraying the fact that it was his faith, and his relationship with Newton, that really motivated him. The film really kind of plays out as a political thriller, but the message is quite clear, actually right down to an actual quote from John Newton in the film, where Newton says to him, “I only remember two things: that I’m a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

While the film is definitely worth seeing, it would seem that the producers had a much different vision of just how much Wilberforce’s faith would be on display in the film, as opposed to the vision of the director Michael Apted who clearly wished to downplay it.  But for the true story of just how Wilberforce’s Christian faith informed his struggle, I commend to you John Piper’s Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce. Beyond that, if you want to really invest yourself in understanding Wilberforce’s faith, read for yourself his very lengthy treatise on the difference between “professing Christians” and “real Christians.”  A link to the .pdf file is above.

If you haven’t already seen the movie, read Piper and Wilberforce first. What little of Wilberforce’s faith is on display on the screen will be magnified 1000 times by a true understanding of his faith.  And the book is always better than the movie, anyway.

Lessons from Timeless Truth

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

“Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously.”

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth…as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.”

Too many words have been spoken.  Who among us has the mind of Christ?

NFL sacks God at Super Bowl XLI

I’m almost certain I’ll be getting an email or a certified letter any moment now from the NFL’s attorneys. Seems I may have just violated a copyright law. How, you say? Read the headline at the top of this post. Do you see those two words “Super Bowl”? Turns out after 41 years the NFL has decided to crack down on the use of those two words.

But only if you are a Christian or an evangelical church. Your local sports bar can use those two words to help them sell a controlled-substance to already over-intoxicated patrons, but according the NFL assistant counsel Rachel L. Margolies, if you are an evangelical church planning to use those words in conjunction with “a message,” you’ve violated their copyright.

Ms. Margolies actually sent a letter to the Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianpolis demanding that they “cease and desist” from using the words “Super Bowl” in their advertising for a church fellowship! And, oh, by the way, you can’t ask people to contribute toward the purchase of snacks, because that is the equivalent of charging an admission fee. Oh, and one more thing: you can’t show the game on any screen larger than 55 inches!

It gets better. She also told the church that their plans to show an evangelistic video featuring Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy and some of his players talking about their faith in Jesus was also a violation of the NFLs new found rules! Says Margolies: “While this may be a noble message, we are consistent in refusing the use of our game broadcasts in connection with events that promote a message, no matter the content.” So when the marquee on the front of every local sports bar in the Detroit area invites people to come in and watch the “Super Bowl” (copyright violation!) on “Five Big Screens” (55 inches or less!) in order to consume as much of a legally controlled-substance as their metabolism can handle (or not handle), I suppose that is a message the NFL doesn’t mind having associated with their copyright?

This is already backfiring big time on the NFL. Google the words NFL letter churches and read the outrage. The Family Research Council is involved, and I suspect that soon enough we’ll be hearing from the American Family Association and Focus on the Family. This is clearly a case of the big bad corporation harassing churches. It is religious discrimination on display for even non-churched people to clearly see. Alexandra Pelosi estimates there are 80 million of us evangelicals in America. What if we sat out next year’s Super Bowl? What if we kept our television sets – no matter what the size – tuned to any channel other than the one on which “Super Bowl XLII” was airing? Do you think 80 million evangelicals boycotting one sporting event could adversely affect ratings enough to have a negative impact on ad rates?

Don’t think the NFL Commissioner didn’t think of that before I did. Big time backtracking from the NFL from someone higher up than an overzealous attorney is on its way.

Kerry: US is ‘an international pariah’

Senator John Kerry is in Davos, Switzerland participating in the World Economic Forum with other world leaders, including the former president and terror leader of Iran, Mohammad Khatami.

Kerry was asked if the United States had done enough to enage Iran prior to the election of Ahmadinejad, to which he responded:
“When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don’t advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy. So we have a crisis of confidence in the Middle East — in the world, really. I’ve never seen our country as isolated, as much as a sort of international pariah for a number of reasons as it is today.”

John Kerry has never let the facts get in the way of his Anti-American rhetoric. Never mind the fact that John Kerry voted WITH a unanimous Senate on July 25, 1997 on the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (s. Res. 98) which stated that the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”. Never mind the fact that the Clinton Administration never submitted the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification.

As for being ‘irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDs in Africa,” the Los Angeles Times said this on May 2, 2003: [The Bush Administration’s] commitment of $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS and two other diseases – tuberculosis and malaria – that often afflict AIDS patients would dwarf the $1.6 billion the United States now spends annually on the international health crisis. [LA TIMES]

Senator Kerry is pictured above signing an autograph for the former president of Iran, Mohammad Khatami. Khatmati spoke at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government late last year. During a Q&A session he justified Iran’s use of capital punishment for acts of homosexuality saying, “Homosexuality is a crime in Islam and crimes are punishable,” Khatami said. “And the fact that a crime could be punished by execution is debatable.” [HOTAIR]

How soon before America’s gay rights activists roundly condemn John Kerry for associating with a terrorist who advocates killing them because of their lifestyle? Don’t hold your breath.

By the way, Google the phrase ‘international pariah’ and you’ll see that it is a term used by communists and extremists around the world to characterize the United States of America and Israel.