Wilberforce and Selective Christian Memory: Social Justice from a Conservative, Eurocentric Perspective

As a Protestant Christian, I have become accustomed to hearing fellow Christians invoke the name of William Wilberforce, the late 18th/19th century British abolitionist. Was Christianity deeply implicated in the trans-Atlantic slave trade? Sure. “But there was Wilberforce,” is a typical knee-jerk response. Who has inspired young evangelicals in their contemporary abolitionism? Wilberforce. How can Christians flourish in a same-sex-marriage world? Wilberforce provides the best option. And of course there is Amazing Grace (2007), the film which depicts Wilberforce and his Calvinist, evangelical faith as a major force in bringing down British slavery. While much of what it said about Wilberforce is not entirely untrue, I’m concerned about how much of it falls into what Ngozi Adichie describes as “The danger of a single story.” The problem is not merely the accurate portrayal of an individual but what such narrations leave out and what they say about Christian memory and approaches to social justice. Continue Reading Wilberforce and Selective Christian Memory: Social Justice from a Conservative, Eurocentric Perspective

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