William Wilberforce regains his faith and works out his own salvation by ending the Slave Trade in the British Empire of 1797. We’ll discuss this and the several other Christian themes in Amazing Grace, the best Christian film you’ve never heard of until now.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:10:32 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:36:44 – Christian Themes in AMAZING GRACE
  • 01:32:29 – Listener Feedback
  • 01:42:02 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 01:49:45 – Lightning Round

Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound

Don’t let the name fool you: the film Amazing Grace is not about the making of the popular hymn; granted, songwriter John Newton is an influential character in the film, and his lyrics are a staple in some of the pivotal scenes. The plot of the film instead centers on William Wilberforce, an abolitionist in 18th-Century England (slavery wasn’t just a thing on our side of the pond, you know). The story really kicks off when William visits his old minister, the very same John Newton, for advice.

This image from AMAZING GRACE shows Albert Finney as John Newton.

William has to make a decision: either love God by walking humbly and meditating with Him or change the world by eradicating the use of slavery within the British Empire. The first option is peculiar since William some time ago – that is, before the action of the film starts – had lost his faith in God. As revealed in his conversation with the priest from his childhood, however, he is slowly but surely regaining his faith.

This comes at the unfortunate time of a budding political career, and to William, it would seem that the two paths are separate for a reason and never the twain shall meet. But William soon realizes, thanks to the overwhelming encouragement of his friends, that he can both follow God and change the world; furthermore, throughout the film, he realizes that the two are one in the same.

…and Grace Will Lead Me Home

This film has plenty to say about the Christian faith and how God intended that faith to be expressed (or worked out) in all aspects of life and not just on Sunday mornings. For example, William could have walked with God in his back yard only to leave Him there when came the time for political matters. In the onset of his renewed faith, William himself even said that he would rather sit on the wet grass and get lost in the wonder of God than go back to work.

Even still, as pious as that sounds, William feels the tug for something more – something beyond the private religion of his own back yard. This sentiment is confirmed when Wilberforce’s friend William Pitt (soon-to-be Prime Minister), says, “Surely the principles of Christianity lead to action as well as meditation.”

This image from AMAZING GRACE shows Ioan Gruffudd and Romola Garai as William Wilberforce and Barbara Spooner.

This echoes what James says in his epistle to the converted-from-Judaism Christian who were at the time scattered all about Palestine because of the persecution. It’s a popular trope in the Christian church: “faith without works is dead.” That is not to say, though, that we earn our salvation by our works; instead, once we put our continual faith in Jesus and His amazing grace, we are to outwardly express that faith not only by words but by action.

In the film, Barbara Spooner shows her faith by not eating sugar that has been produced by the slave trade. Thomas Clarkson shows his faith by supporting the American Revolution. John Newton eventually shows his faith by offering a detailed account of the “20,000 slaves” that haunt him even at his old age. The film then boils down to William Wilberforce ultimately showing his faith by, in no small way, eradicating the slave trade in the British Empire.

Each person, in their own way, by the faith that had been allotted to them, had furthered the kingdom of God. It started by making the right choices in small situations so much so that when the big situations came, making the right choice was already second nature. May it be so with us as we, too, further the kingdom of God however we can.

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a good way to use stories to soften peoples' hearts. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever.
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