Our Civilizational Crisis of Faith

Socrates in the City has resumed filming after Covid to host Christian author and speaker Os Guinness and discuss the big picture questions we all seem to be asking, as we recover not only from the pandemic but seek to address the last several years in the West.

In case you’re not familiar, Mr. Guinness (yes, of *those* Dublin Guinnesses) was born and raised by his medical missionary parents under the brutal “red terror” revolution of Mao’s Communist China in 1949, living through, at the age of just seven, both the civil war and famine which murdered ~5 million people in just 3 months, including 900,000 of its own people in a deliberate flood.

Mercifully, he was sent away to England along with other foreigners in 1951, receiving his undergraduate degree at the University of London, then his D.Phil in the social sciences from Oriel College, Oxford. In his twenties he also spent some time at L’Abri learning from Francis Schaeffer.

Mr. Guinness credits his family’s experience in China with opening his eyes to the horrors of Marxism and centralized government planning, discussing how he came to care about the topics of his books, and then the conversation moves on to the importance of freedom.

From 19:57:

St. Augustine says, ‘how do you understand a nation?’ The trick is to look at what it loves supremely. Not the population, not the strength of the army, not the GDP, no. They’re all important but not all-important. To understand a nation, you look at what it loves supremely. What does America love supremely? No question: freedom.

Now, American freedom is unique. As people say that the book ends of history are authoritarianism – take China: all order, no freedom – and the other book end, anarchy: all freedom, no order – and the genius of America is an ordered freedom. Freedom within the Constitution. Now where did that come from? It did not come from, with due respects, Greece.

[He winks; Metaxas feigns offense: “If this weren’t my event, I’d walk out right now… I can’t believe I’ve called you ‘friend’ all these years… No, listen, of course I learned this from you and I know this is true and it’s actually very important that you explain it because so many people are not aware of it…’]

Democracy came from Greece. Even currently, everyone’s talking about saving democracy. The Framers [America’s Founding Fathers] were very wary of democracy, for reasons that the Greeks showed. Ends in mob rule.

America was built as a republic. It didn’t just mean you don’t have a king. In the 17th century, following the Reformation in the 16th, everyone was fascinated with the discovery of what they called the Hebrew Republic. Now that’s what you find in Exodus and Deuteronomy. So, the Constitution comes from covenant. The consent of the governed comes from Exodus. The separation of powers is in Exodus. America was basically founded as a republic based on the Hebrew republic, with important differences. And people have forgotten that almost entirely.

– Os Guiness

Watch the rest below, and consider: what shall we say that our own country, Canada, loves supremely? Safety? Feminism? Identity? And what current ideologies or policies have we endorsed that we ought to resist?

PS You may pick up a copy of Guinness’s book (and larger explanation of his references) here.

The passages in Deuteronomy he alludes to can be found here. And as for Exodus, while there are few prescriptive to all believers, the parallel concepts between the Bible and the US Constitution are documented in this article by the National Center for Constitutional Studies.

As with all things, read with discernment, weighing holy writ by holy writ.

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