How do we live with our deepest differences? In a world torn by religious conflict, the threats to human dignity are terrifyingly real. Some societies face harsh government repression and brutal sectarian violence, while others are divided by bitter conflicts over religion’s place in public life. Is there any hope for living together peacefully? Os Guinness argues that the way forward for the world lies in promoting freedom of religion and belief for people of all faiths and none. He sets out a vision of a civil and cosmopolitan global public square, and how it can be established by championing the freedom of the soul―the inviolable freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In particular he calls for leadership that has the courage to act on behalf of the common good. Far from utopian, this constructive vision charts a course for the future of the world. Soul freedom is not only a shining ideal but a dire necessity and an eminently practical solution to the predicaments of our time. We can indeed maximize freedom and justice and learn to negotiate deep differences in public life. For a world desperate for hope at a critical juncture of human history, here is a way forward, for the good of all.
Unspeakable: Facing Up to Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror
We are still surprised by evil. From Auschwitz to the events of September 11, we have been shocked into recognizing the startling capacity for evil within the human heart. We now know 9/11 revealed that our country was unprepared in terms of national security, but it also showed we were intellectually and morally unprepared to deal with such a barbaric act.
Our language to describe evil and our ethical will to resist it have grown uncertain and confused. Many who speak unabashedly of evil are dismissed as simplistic, old–fashioned, and out of tune with the realities of modern life. Yet we must have some kind of language to help us understand the pain and suffering at the heart of human experience.
Author and speaker Os Guinness confronts our inability to understand evil – let alone respond to it effectively – by providing both a lexicon and a strategy for finding a way forward. Since 9/11, much public discussion has centered on the destructiveness of extremist religion. Guinness provocatively argues that this is far from an accurate picture and too easy an explanation. In this expansive exploration of both the causes of modern evil and solutions for the future, he faces our tragic recent past and our disturbing present with courageous honesty. In order to live an “examined life,” Guinness writes, we must come to terms with our beliefs regarding evil and ultimately join the fight against it.
Addressing individuals as well as a traumatized culture, Unspeakable is an invitation to explore the challenge of contemporary evil, a call to confront our culture of fear, and a journey to find words to come to terms with the unspeakable so that it will no longer leave us mute.
The Magna Carta of Humanity: Sinai’s Revolutionary Faith and the Future of Freedom
In these stormy times, loud voices from all fronts call for revolution and change. But what kind of revolution brings true freedom to both society and the human soul? Cultural observer Os Guinness explores the nature of revolutionary faith, contrasting between secular revolutions such as the French Revolution and the faith-led revolution of ancient Israel. He argues that the story of Exodus is the highest, richest, and deepest vision for freedom in human history. It serves as the master story of human freedom and provides the greatest sustained critique of the abuse of power. His contrast between “Paris” and “Sinai” offers a framework for discerning between two kinds of revolution and their different views of human nature, equality, and liberty. Drawing on the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, Guinness develops Exodus as the Magna Carta of humanity, with a constructive vision of a morally responsible society of independent free people who are covenanted to each other and to justice, peace, stability, and the common good of the community. This is the model from the past that charts our path to the future. “There are two revolutionary faiths bidding to take the world forward,” Guinness writes. “There is no choice facing America and the West that is more urgent and consequential than the choice between Sinai and Paris. Will the coming generation return to faith in God and to humility, or continue to trust in the all sufficiency of Enlightenment reason, punditry, and technocracy? Will its politics be led by principles or by power?” While Guinness cannot predict our ultimate fate, he warns that we must recognize the crisis of our time and debate the issues openly. As individuals and as a people, we must choose between the revolutions, between faith in God and faith in Reason alone, between freedom and despotism, and between life and death.
Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization
The church in the West is at a critical moment. While the gospel is exploding throughout the global south, Western civilization faces militant assaults from aggressive secularism and radical Islam. Will the church resist the seductive shaping power of advanced modernity? More than ever, Christians must resist the negative cultural forces of our day with fortitude and winsomeness. What is needed is followers of Christ who are willing to face reality without flinching and respond with a faithfulness that is unwavering. Os Guinness describes these Christians as “impossible people,” those who have “hearts that can melt with compassion, but with faces like flint and backbones of steel who are unmanipulable, unbribable, undeterrable and unclubbable, without ever losing the gentleness, the mercy, the grace and the compassion of our Lord.” Few accounts of the challenge of today are more realistic, and few calls to Christian courage are more timely, resolute―and hopeful. Guinness argues that we must engage secularism and atheism in new ways, confronting competing ideas with discernment and fresh articulation of the faith. Christians are called to be impossible people, full of courage and mercy in challenging times.