Criminal Voluntary Ignorance.

We have all seen the movie “Amazing Grace”. We remember the agony of the slaves while in bondage. We remember William Wilberforce’s desperate fight for the abolition of the slave trade. Very little is said about his devotion to God and the diligent practicing of his Faith in Christ.

As many of my readers by now know I work in a book shop dealing in used books. We receive donations of books and sell them at unbelievable low prices to provide for the needs of very sick and very poor people in the Hospice care. Almost every donation has a surprise. One of the best surprises, one that almost blew me away, was a book written by William Wilberforce. Limited as my time is, I paged through the book and was greatly pleased to find such solid Christian content.

According to William Wilberforce it is criminal to be labeled a Christian and not know or study the word of God. In his day, he wrote, people talked about everything except their Christian faith. Conversation was centered in everyday problems and secular ways to solve them. No one referred to God and His provision, His help in time of need or His protection against danger. Why? Because no one knew the Word of God. No one knew that God provides, helps and protects.

How does it differ from today? Do people talk about God, consult God, ask His guidance and protection, or do we struggle along in the darkness of our own inadequate wisdom? And all because we don’t know God’s Word. We don’t study the Word of God. We depend on the Dominee, the Reverent, the priest, the apostle to guide us as if they were themselves the Word of God, which they are not. The responsibility is ours to study and get to know the Word of God. It is on our own account to learn what God wants us to know so that revelation can come to us about the things we want to know, the things we doubt, the things we question.

Whenever there is a disaster of tragedy, we blame God. When things go well, we pat ourselves on the shoulder, convincing everybody it is entirely brought about by our own genius. If we knew what was revealed to us in the Bible, we would not be so arrogant. We would know that most tragedies come from our own wrongdoing, not God’s indifference. Success comes from God and Him alone. Was it not He who gave us our talents, provided the means to develop our skills and created circumstances that was suitable and profitable? Of course it is!

But we don’t know all this, because we don’t know, study or even acknowledge the hand of God in our lives. William Wilberforce calls it criminal to be so voluntarily ignorant. Let me quote from his book The Ancient & Modern Library of Theological Library: “It were needless to multiply arguments in order to prove how criminal the voluntary ignorance, of which we have been speaking, must appear in the sight of God. It must be confessed by all who believe that we are accountable creatures, and to such only the writer is addressing himself, that we shall have to answer to the Almighty for all the means we have here enjoyed of improving ourselves or of promoting the happiness of others.” Further down the page, he says: “When God of His goodness hath vouchsafed to grant us such abundant means of instruction, in that which we are most concerned to know, how great the guilt, and how awful the punishment of voluntary ignorance.”

If everyone could just read the whole book, the Bible should become the most read book on the planet and not just remain the best seller, only to stay on the shelf and collect dust. If this was the trends of the day in Wilberforce’s time, how far worse are we off, how far away have we strayed? It is not to late. Dust your Bible and start seeking God! If not, what will you answer on the Last Day?

Magdel Roets.

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