Notable Christians: Os Guinness

We all should be aware of this important Christian thinker:

Many believers may first have become aware of the Irish/American apologist, social commentator and public intellectual Os Guinness in the context of his association with Francis Schaeffer. He lived and worked with him at L’Abri in Switzerland during the late 60s and early 70s. In 1973 his first book appeared: The Dust of Death.

Born in China in 1941 to missionary parents, he has been living in the United States since 1984. On his website he says this about himself, in part:

A witness to the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, he was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to Europe where he was educated in England. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of London and his D.Phil in the social sciences from Oriel College, Oxford….

 

Os has been a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies, a Guest Scholar and Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum and the EastWest Institute in New York. He was the lead drafter of the Williamsburg Charter in 1988, a celebration of the bicentennial of the US Constitution, and later of “The Global Charter of Conscience,” which was published at the European Union Parliament in 2012. Os has spoken at many of the world’s major universities, and spoken widely to political and business conferences across the world. He lives with his wife Jenny in the Washington DC area. www.osguinness.com/about-os-guinness/

Perhaps the best way to get a feel for this very important Christian thinker and social critic, let me simply list a number of his very significant books and offer a number of key quotations from them.

Books

Guinness has written or edited over 30 books, of which I have 25. So let me just list the ones I have, in order of their publication date:

The Dust of Death 1973
In Two Minds: The Dilemma of Doubt & How to Resolve It 1976
The Gravedigger File 1983
With John Seel, eds., No God But God 1992
Dining with the Devil 1993
Fit Bodies Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do About It 1994
God in the Dark 1996
The Call 1998
Ed., Unriddling Our Times 1999
Ed., Character Counts 1999
Time for Truth 2000
Steering Through Chaos 2000
The Great Experiment 2001
Prophetic Untimeliness 2003
Unspeakable 2005
The Last Christian on Earth 2010
A Free People’s Suicide 2012
The Global Public Square 2013
Renaissance 2014
Fool’s Talk 2015
Impossible People 2016
Last Call for Liberty 2018
Carpe Diem Redeemed 2019
The Magna Carta of Humanity 2021
The Great Quest 2022
Zero Hour America 2022 (forthcoming)

As can be seen, he is a very prolific author, especially over the past 25 years. I have reviewed some of his books, including:

billmuehlenberg.com/2005/08/24/a-review-of-unspeakable-facing-up-to-evil-in-an-age-of-genocide-and-terror-by-os-guinness/

billmuehlenberg.com/2015/01/13/a-review-of-renaissance-by-os-guinness/

billmuehlenberg.com/2016/11/03/review-impossible-people-os-guinness/

Image of Time For Truth
Time For Truth by Guinness, Os (Author) Amazon logo

Quotes

“We are a generation of spiritual orphans and dwarfs – orphans because we have been cut off from the rich conversations of our ancestors, and dwarfs because we have been left spiritually and intellectually stunted, and afraid to ask questions for fear of false answers.” The Great Quest

The truth is that we humans are meaning mongers. Meaning is as native to us as the air we breathe and the earth where we walk. Every word we utter, every act we perform, every plan we make (and every sentence you are reading) shouts out “meaning, meaning, meaning!” Without meaning, both our moment-by-moment daily lives, and our lives taken as a whole, would be worse than trivial. They would be worthless and futile.The Great Quest

“When Robert Murray M’Cheyne the brilliant young Scottish preacher from St. Peter’s Dundee, was once congratulated for his saintliness, he replied sharply: “Madame, if you could see into my heart, you would spit in my face.” Renaissance

“Western cultural elites have disregarded God for more than two centuries, but for a while the effects were mostly confined to their own circles. At first, they disregarded God. Then they deliberately desecrated Western tradition and lived in ways that would have spelled disaster if they had been followed more closely. But now in the early twenty-first century, their movement from disregard to desecration to decadence is going mainstream, and the United States is only the lead society among those close to the tipping point. Soon, as the legalization and then normalization of polyamory, polygamy, pedophilia and incest follow the same logic as that of abortion and homosexuality, the socially destructive consequences of these trends will reverberate throughout society until social chaos is beyond recovery. We can only pray there will be a return to God and sanity before the terrible sentence is pronounced: ‘God has given them over’ to the consequences of their own settled choices.” Renaissance

“A striking symptom of the church’s problems in the West today is that fact that in a country such as the United States, Christians are still the overwhelming majority of citizens, but the American way of life has moved far away from the life of Jesus — which means simply that the Christians who are the majority are living a way of life closer to the world than to the way of Jesus. In a word, they are worldly and therefore incapable of shaping their culture.” Renaissance

“In an age obsessed with entitlement and rights, the responsibility and duties at the heart of freedom often get selective attention. . . . In sum, freedom and responsibility are inseparable and at the heart of growing into adult life and citizenship.” Last Call for Liberty

Freedom includes the notion of human responsibility. Freedom means deciding between choices and acting on our choices. Each choice could have been otherwise if we had not chosen as we did. Freedom therefore means shouldering responsibility for the choices we have made. No child, slave, or robot is free in this way. Citizenship is an into adult task. A free people who will to choose freely are answerable for themselves, for their actions, and for the consequences of their actions. Last Call for Liberty

“Quite simply, the Declaration of Independence is the grandest and most influential statement of freedom from interference in history. But unlike many modern citizens, the founders did not stop there. They were equally committed to the complementary importance of freedom for excellence. Their aim, as we saw, was liberty and not just independence.” A Free People’s Suicide

“The Spirit of Liberty is not to be found in courts, laws and constitutions alone. Liberty lives in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to save it. While it lives there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.” A Free People’s Suicide

“The Christian faith is not true because it works; it works because it is true.” Time for Truth

“The West is choosing to forget God and go its own way. At point after point the societies and peoples of the West are squandering our Jewish and Christian heritage, flouting our time-tested traditions and values, and carelessly opting for lifestyles, practices and institutions that rival and even surpass those of pagan Rome. Unless these choices are reversed, the eventual outcome of this path will be degeneracy and the end of the West as a civilization.” Impossible People

“In sum, our Western nations have both forgotten God and forgotten where they have come from. Now they are attempting to complete the process of severing the roots of Western civilization, destroying its root system, poisoning its soil and ruining the entire spiritual, moral, and social ecology.” Impossible People

“The faith-world of John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, John Jay, William Wilberforce, Hannah More, Lord Shaftesbury, Catherine Booth, Hudson Taylor, D. L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, Carl Henry, and John Stott is disappearing. In its place a new evangelicalism is arriving in which therapeutic self-concern overshadows knowing God, spirituality displaces theology, end-times escapism crowds out day-to-day discipleship, marketing triumphs over mission, references to opinion polls outweigh reliance on biblical exposition, concerns for power and relevance are more obvious than concern for piety and faithfulness, talk of reinventing the church has replaced prayer for revival, and the characteristic evangelical passion for missionary enterprise is overpowered by the all-consuming drive to sustain the multiple business empires of the booming evangelical subculture.” Prophetic Untimeliness

“For all the lofty recent statements on biblical authority, a great part of the evangelical community has made an historic shift. It has transferred authority from Sola Scriptura (by scripture alone) to Sola Cultura (by culture alone).” Prophetic Untimeliness

“Evangelicals have followed the broader culture shift from ‘religion to spirituality’ and in the process have become chronically individualistic rather than corporate; they have become ‘do-it-yourself’ in their preferences rather than living under authority; they are increasingly syncretistic rather than exclusive and discriminationg.” Prophetic Untimeliness

“The cross of Jesus runs crosswise to all our human ways of thinking. A rediscovery of the hard and the unpopular themes of the gospel will therefore be such a rediscovery of the whole gospel that the result may lead to reformation and revival.” Prophetic Untimeliness

“If the nation’s crisis is largely because of the decreasing influence of faith on American culture, the church’s crisis is largely because of the increasing influence of American culture on Christian faith.” No God But God

“The first duty of believers is to say yes to God; the second is to say no to idols.” No God But God

“Contemporary evangelicals are no longer people of truth. Only rarely are they serious about theology. . . . With magnificent exceptions, evangelicals reflect this truth-decay and reinforce it for their own variety of reasons for discounting theology.” No God But God

“Contemporary evangelicals are little better at recognizing and resisting idols than modern secular people are.” No God But God

See more of his quotes here: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/11/27/guinness-on-freedom/

[1645 words]

8 Replies to “Notable Christians: Os Guinness”

  1. “And so it begins.”

    It is 10:40 central time in the US which if you’re outside the US and wish to calculate it time I am at GMT-6. Tonight with a very heavy heart I begin the prayers for God to bring his RIGHTEOUS AND TRUE judgment upon my once great great country. I have suffered since moving from Florida to the MIGHTY MO back in 1989. I was born in 1977 so I was a child of the 80’s the Reagan years. The country of my youth is GONE! I take this action because I see no other way for America. Would that another way existed. I am a patriot I love my country but it has become such an ABOMINATION that asking for the Lord to judge her bringing paint ruination devastating and destruction is the only loving thing I can do. 64,000,000 babies KILLED in the past 49+ years CRY OUT for justice! Tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of deviants march in the streets practically begging God to do something! Society has thrown the Christian out and basically said “where’s your Messiah now?”! America has done things that ask ” Where is your God? If this displeases him certainly he would send his fire upon us!” They mock God because we have LET THEM! WE let them get this powerful.

    But do not despair God will NOT be without a witness. The remnants of this once great and godly nation IF they come to him HUMBLY and with REPENTANCE can have a revival of spirit and he will help them through the tough times to come. While America itself may fall the nations brought forth from that shall be even godlier and their people even more blessed!

    I invite people, especially Americans, to join me in my prayers as they start when I go to bed about 1 am central time in America Thursday the 16th but will continue from that point onward. These quotes above show even more how the church has lost America is too asleep, comfortable and worldly, and how she NEEDS a violent wake up call to show her the error of her ways and bring her to her knees so she can come to Christ and do HIS WILL not the world’s!

  2. My prayer for America – and other nations – is that God’s will be done. If that involves judgment, so be it. If it involves renewal and revival and reformation, so be it.

  3. Thank you, Bill.
    My prayers are in agreement with your prayers for God’s will to be done for the nations; and with Os Guinness’ encouragement to “…pray there will be a return to God and sanity before the terrible sentence is pronounced: ‘God has given them over’ to the consequences of their own settled choices.”
    God bless you,
    Joan

  4. Not trying to be contrary or problematic but I have a very important question how would Christians know when the terrible sentence is pronounced??? For I would think if you wish to pray there will be a return to God and sanity BEFORE that sentence you would have to have some way of knowing when that sentence has been pronounced correct??? Else how could you be certain you were praying before and not after he the sentence has been pronounced???

  5. Thanks Paul. There are several parts to an answer to your query about ‘how would Christians know?’ On the one hand, Scripture provides us with plenty of general and sometimes specific info on a whole range of things, including this matter. But on the other hand, we are not in the same situation as ancient Israel where God’s prophets could say ‘this is that’: this is God’s judgement, or what have you. So in broad terms, we carry on as we always should – in faith, trusting God while not knowing every detail. We will NOT always know exactly what God is up to today, and we just keep on as best we can with his Word, and any principles and lessons gleaned from it, as we try to apply it to contemporary situations. Thus I cannot tell anyone for sure if the Rona or China are God’s judgement on the world, or whatever. They might be, and they might not be. But I will keep fighting things like health fascism and communism in the meantime!

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