Explore the relationship between Evangelical Christian identity and a sense of national duty in the life and writings of William Wilberforce.
Throughout the extracts presented on the writings of William Wilberforce the strength of his Evangelical Christian identity is clearly evident at the highest level whereby his belief in the testimony of the Bible and complete trust in the reliability of Scripture is demonstrated by his prose which rarely if ever calls upon Biblical references to support his arguments. His approach is very much based on the premise that his convictions are verifiable to anybody who has, or should if in any doubt, take the time to study the Bible in detail. This position is clearly laid out in his introduction to the Practical View where he asked ‘not to be condemned (by the reader) without a fair inquiry whether or not his statements accord with the language of the scared writings’ (Anthology I, p. 272). He sets out very clearly in chapter VI of the Practical View (Anthology I, p. 277) his belief that it has been undeniably proven throughout history that religion has a positive effect on political communities which links directly to the external happiness of the inhabitants of a nation, and that Christianity has a peculiar excellence in this respect regardless of its truth or falsehood. This belief is later reinforced with regard to Christianity and moral standards where he states ‘It is a truth which will hardly be contested, that Christianity, whenever it has prevailed, has raised the general standard of morals to a height before unknown’ (Anthology I, p. 278). Similarly, Evangelical Christian identity is evident in the overall intent of his writing in the Practical View which sets out to renew the devotional life of its readers and broaden the popular appeal of Christianity, in particular the real Christianity which he describes, all of which conforms to the manifesto of Evangelicalism and Methodism.
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