Real Christianity: An Introduction
By William Wilberforce
Author, Real Christianity
The following excerpt is William Wilberforce’s original introduction to his book, Real Christianity.
Author’s Apology: What I Am Attempting to Accomplish
It has been my desire for several years to write to my countrymen on the subject of faith.1 I have been unable to do so until now because of the demands of my position and my poor health. For a long time I have looked forward to the possibility of some season of less demand that would enable me to devote my whole attention to this task. I had hoped for a time when I would not be interrupted by other business, in order that with undistracted attention I might be able to write in such a way that my work would be worthy of the effort a reader might take to read it. It finally became obvious to me that such a season might never come. Therefore, I have taken what free time I have had to undertake this objective instead of being able to give it the kind of attention for which I had hoped. In light of these circumstances, I apologize for any lack of quality that has resulted from this approach.
Regardless of how you might feel about the quality of the writing, let me assure you that what I have written in these pages has not been approached without great care. The subject addressed is of such importance that I have carefully researched, questioned, and repeatedly reflected on all that you will read.
Someone will undoubtedly make the objection that because I am not a theologian, I am not really qualified to address this subject. If I need to defend myself against such an objection, I could point out that other writers have done the same. But instead of doing so, I think it should be enough to point out that all of us have the obligation to do whatever we are able to do to promote the welfare of our fellowman. If you love someone who is ruining his or her life because of faulty thinking and you don’t do anything about it because you are afraid of what others might think, it would seem that rather than being loving, you are in fact being heartless.
I would suggest that faith is everyone’s business. The advance or decline of faith is so intimately connected to the welfare of a society that it should be of particular interest to a politician. Furthermore, the fact that I am not a member of the clergy might help people be more open to what is said in this book. No one can accuse me of writing what I write because I have been motivated by self-interest or theological prejudice.
Enough apologies and justifications; let me get on with the task at hand. Here is what I am going to attempt to accomplish in writing this book.
I’m not going to attempt to either convince skeptics or answer the questions unbelievers always seem to ask, but rather point out some of the problems with the beliefs and actions of those who already claim to be Christians. I’d like to attempt to contrast what we see in the lives of many, perhaps most, who make this claim with what I understand the Bible teaches about what it means to believe in Christ. I am disturbed when I see the majority of so-called Christians having such little understanding of the real nature of the faith they profess. Faith is a subject of such importance that we should not ignore it because of the distractions or the hectic pace of our lives. Life as we know it, with all its ups and downs, will soon be over. We all will give an accounting to God of how we have lived. Because of this fact, I’m not going to pull any punches in what I write. I hope you will seriously consider what is contained within these pages.
That is all I have to say by way of introduction. If what I write seems too rigid or austere, I would only ask that you check what I have to say against what the Bible teaches. That is the only opinion that counts. If you accept the authority of the Bible, I assume you will agree.
Read Chapter 1 of Real Christianity
Read Chapter 2 of Real Christianity
Read a biography of William Wilberforce
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Excerpted from Real Christianity, by William Wilberforce, Revised by Bob Beltz, © 2007. Published by Regal Books. Used with permission.
1. Wilberforce used the word “religion” here.
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