I’m sure the word ‘fanatic’ sparks different emotions for all of us.
‘Fanatic’ can be a description of an extremist, even a dangerous person … or not
William Wilberforce, the famous Member of Parliament (MP) was described recently by the Archbishop of Canterbury as the greatest Englishman of the last millennium.
As a Christian and an MP, William Wilberforce led the battle, for 20 years, to abolish the British Slave Trade. He was hated by many because slavery was big business and people ‘in the business’ were strongly against abolition because their livelihood would be threatened.
Nevertheless Wilberforce remained single minded and determined mainly because of his faith in God. Despite numerous defeats of his Bills to abolish the Slave Trade in the House of Commons he persevered.
Eventually the British Slave Trade was abolished in 1807. Wilberforce carried on for another 27 years leading the battle for slavery itself to be abolished. Three days after the abolition of slavery Wilberforce died.
He had battled for almost 50 years to rid the world of this appalling testimony in the history of mankind.
At the height of his battles Wilberforce was described as a ‘fanatic’ by his many opponents. In a speech to the House of Commons, William Wilberforce said;
“If to be feeling alive to all sufferings of my fellow creatures and to be warmed with the desire of relieving their distress, is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”
What fabulous words from an incredible man.