By John Crotts
I thoroughly enjoyed this slim volume. John Crotts does a fine job. He crisply captures the life and times of John Newton.
As part of the “Bitesize Biographies” series, John Newton does not attempt to be an exhaustive or academic treatment of its subject, but I found this refreshing for several reasons.
- Summary over Sources. I appreciate a simple summary. Often, writers inflate biographies with original source material. Letters, papers, autobiography…It’s all very fascinating. But sometimes the details obscure the story. So it was a welcome change of pace to simply read the story of John Newton as…well…a story.
- Encouragement over Enigma. Another trend within the biography genres is to pick apart and speculate on every motive and thought in every odd letter found by the biographer. In their attempts to be novel, biographers muddy the waters. Again, Crotts brief retelling was refreshingly straightforward and optimistic.
- Spirituality over Scholastics. I appreciated how Crotts understood and explained Newton as a Christian. For believers, we see the story behind the story, God’s sovereign hand. Talking about a Christian through a dry, strictly historical lens sometimes feels myopic. But Crotts factors in the faith perspective in a way that aids the narrative.
I gladly recommend John Newton by John Crotts, and I look forward to reading future installments in this series.
Crotts, J. (2013). John Newton (Bitesize Biographies). Evangelical Press.