“Meet Thomas Buxton!”
By Pastor Ron Buxton
It was a surprise encounter. And it occurred at my Alma Mater more than 25 years ago. In fact, it was a most unusual meeting. You see, I met this remarkable person in the pages of a book. Yes. That’s right–in a book! To be specific, it was on page 369 from my textbook for Church History (2nd Edition Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley). Allow me to quote directly below:
“[William] Wilberforce continued the battle for complete emancipation until age and poor health forced him from Parliament. He enlisted the skills, however, of a young evangelical, Thomas Fowell Buxton, to assume leadership of the ‘holy enterprise’. Buxton was a wise choice.” For me, those last five words were quickly underlined and heavily high-lighted in that book! Now, in case you’re wondering, that emancipation mentioned above was regarding the abolition of slavery within the British Empire. And it was the Evangelical Christians (and ONLY them) that fought that battle in the 19th century. Why? Serious study of the Bible informed them of its evil. Meanwhile, and tragically, the rest of the world just went about their business with political indifference to the human rights of all mankind.
You probably didn’t read this in your history books, but the rest of the world had been engaged in slavery unabated for thousands of years. And, even more sadly, it was West Africans that were actually trafficking other Africans from within the inner continent that we are now familiar with. However–glory to God!—that’s where guys like Wilberforce, John Newton, and (yes) Thomas Buxton were raised up to combat that scourge. And thank God that they were!
Unsurprisingly to my friends, that’s why I named my own son Thomas. Now, you all know. However, I want to conclude with one of Thomas Buxton’s quotes to make a point in this article. You see, Buxton famously said: “One of the ill effects of cruelty is that it makes the bystander cruel.” And that is exactly where our country has drifted. Allow me to step onto my soap box right now.
I’m referring to the entertainment industry that has brought gratuitous violence to modern day pop-culture. Frankly, I cannot describe most of it due to the standards of this newspaper. But the results? Making the bystanders cruel! In my opinion that explains much of the mindless violence in our major cities today. People have become desensitized to violent behavior towards others. Folks, this must be confronted. And, in many ways, it is as evil as open human trafficking once was! I mean that.
My prayer is that God raises up more “Thomas Buxtons” to fight this. This is “one of the ill effects of cruelty” that should be more debated in our culture. You see, civilization depends upon people being civil. And so, I hope that you meet more Thomas Buxtons everywhere that you look. May God raise them up before it gets much worse!