Newton on the Christian Life

Ivan Mesa and Bruce Hindmarsh | May 27, 2015

Tony Reinke. Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ. Theologians on the Christian Life. Wheaton, IL. Crossway, 2015. $19.99.

John Newton is remembered today as the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace” and as a dramatically converted slave-trader who later supported the cause of abolition. But he was known in the 18th century, and after, as one of the leading evangelical pastors of his generation in England, and above all as a pastoral letter-writer. Everyone seemed to write to him for advice. By the end of his life he was always working from a stack of 60 or so unanswered letters. 

Tony Reinke has immersed himself in these letters in order to make Newton’s valuable teaching on the Christian life available to another generation.

Windows on the Soul

Reinke did well to focus on the letters. The 18th century was one of the great times for letter writing. As literacy spread and postal service improved (in fact, you could receive a letter in England more quickly back then than you can now), more and more people confided their thoughts to each other by pen and paper, and the genre of the familiar letter became established as one important form of friendship…

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