Monday, November 21, 2016

Impossible People, by Os Guinness

Os Guinness may be an import from the UK, but he has his finger on the pulse of American culture.  In Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization, Guinness calls on Western Christians to stand against the "four infamous S factors that have built up over several centuries: Secularism, . . . secularization, . . . separationism, and . . . statism" that have contributed to the widening cultural gap between Christians and the wider culture.

The West is becoming, or has become, a cut flower civilization.  "The West is cutting off its Jewish and Christian roots and destroying the entire root system of tis culture."  Just like a cut flower can only last so long, no matter how many times you freshen up the water in the vase, so is the survival of the beauty and strength of our culture at risk as long as it is cut off from its Judeo-Christians roots.

As one important example, Guinness offers the idea of equality.  The American ideal that "all men are created equal" is demonstrably not true from a genetic, evolutionary, purely secular perspective.  By contrast, "The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a directly created soul, and that all people are equal before God."  Without the moorings of faith, equality drifts away.

Guinness doesn't place the blame for the loss of our roots on atheists, but on the church itself.  "the sad truth we must bear on our hearts is that we who follow Jesus are often the leading argument for the rejection of our Lord."  Chruches have been too concerned with cultural relevance and appealing to popular tastes and trends, so that "churches resemble a field of quick-growing, quick-disappearing field of mushrooms rather than a longstanding forest of oaks."  His solution?  "What we need above all in the church today is for each Christian to have a profound personal knowledge and experience of God himself, and a deep knowledge of the Scriptures as his authoritative Word."

These are hard truths, but Guinness's tone is not judgmental or angry.  He is a modern-day prophet, calling the people of God to turn back to him.  God is looking for "impossible people--Christians with 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."

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

2016 Reading Challenge: A book written by an Anglican

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