Lesson 34B Preview: Michael Haykin Audio Lecture on “William Wilberforce”; John Gerstner Video Lecture on “Puritanism in England and New England
From Wikipedia we learn, “William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833) was a British politician, a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire (1784–1812). In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807.”
Our first presentation is an audio lecture from the church historian, Michael Haykin. As you learned previously, Dr. Haykin is currently Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The lecture is titled William Wilberforce: To Be a Truly Religious Man (click here), and suggests Dr. Haykin’s evangelical, Calvinistic Baptist perspective.
Dr. John Gerstner, who needs no introduction by now, lectures next on Puritanism in England and New England. Click on the title for the video player page.
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A Quote for Your Consideration: It is true that of all the church bodies which have left the papacy, it is precisely the Lutheran Church which is accused of retaining many papal abuses and of having been the least successful in cleansing itself. It is pointed out, for example, that in our church priestly clothing, church ornamentation, pictures, altar, crucifixes, candles, confession, the sign of the cross, and the like are still apparent. But, my friends, whoever regards these innocent things as vestiges of the papacy knows neither what the papacy is, nor what the Bible teaches. The very fact that the Lutheran Reformation was not aimed at indifferent adiaphora, but retained those things which were in harmony with God’s Word, shows that it was not a disorderly revolution, but a Biblical reformation. — C. F. W. Walther
The above remarkable quotation is provided by the Rev. Paul McCain at his blog Cyberbrethren.
Questions for Discussion:
1. Dr. Haykin argues that the early Anabaptists “committed a dreadful error”. What was it? How did this error relate to the purpose of his presentation on Wilberforce?
2. Why did John Calvin write letters to Elizabeth I? What lesson for Christians today does Dr. Haykin extract from this habit he had of writing to her and other European leaders?
3. John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, was a “despised preacher”. Why? How did he influence Wilberforce? What was the impact on British history of Newton’s relationship with Wilberforce? In discussing these years of Wilberforce’s life, Prof. Haykin discusses what might have happened if Wilberforce had gone to John Wesley for spiritual guidance. What is the point he is making?
4. In 1825 Wilberforce stepped down after a long career as an MP that had commenced in 1780. Prof. Haykin points to a surprising statistic to reveal how much Parliament had changed in the years since Wilberforce had first been elected. What was it?
5. Note Dr. Gerstner’s opening prayer to his lecture. Does anything stated in his prayer distinguish it from a prayer that a Lutheran pastor might deliver? How does his Calvinism shape his prayer?
6. How did the Puritans view children relative to participation in the “Kingdom of God”? How was their perspective different from Luther’s and Calvin’s according to Dr. Gerstner? What faults does Gerstner find in Luther on this issue?
7. For Puritans, are the baptized children of believers in the Covenant of Grace? That is, are the children regenerated in baptism?
8. Charles Hodge “was a leading exponent of historical Calvinism in America during the 19th century” [Wikipedia] and discussed by Dr. Gerstner in his comments on children and baptism. What was Hodge’s position as compared to Jonathan Edwards? Who said and why did he say of children, they are “little vipers”?
Glossary of Names and Concepts: