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Os Guinness: Time for Truth



Os Guinness, Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype, and Spin (Baker Books, 2000), 125 pages, ISBN 9780801064036.

Have you ever run into someone who was so gifted you felt intimidated? Os Guinness is such a person for me. When I read something that he has authored, I am always challenged. How can one man be so well read? Where does one get the skill to say so much in so few words?

Guinness was born in China, educated in England, and now lives in Virginia. His book, even though religious in character, carries endorsements from people in the political arena.

Even without the endorsements, I knew that Time for Truth would be a good book. It made Christianity Today’s list of the best books of the year, and I have found that to be a measure that assures value. The book is short. I finished it in a little over an hour, yet it is deep and challenging.

I have thought about what Guinness wrote a number of times since. I wondered how I might help the re-establishment of truth in our land. Truth is so vital. It is necessary for freedom—in ours or any land. It should be so important to us that those who do not walk in truth should face recall and removal from the public and private sectors in all of our communities.

Guinness described today’s ethic as a “little lust, pride, sloth and gluttony—in moderation—are fun and that’s what keeps your heart beating.” Not getting caught is our national ethic. Gray has become the color of truth. We constantly define deviancy down. The only thing that matters is power. Think about these words.

“In terms of distance, the prodigal’s pigsty is the farthest point from home; in terms of time, the pigsty is the shortest distance to the father’s house.”
― Os Guinness

In our post-modern era, we take things and people at face value, not depth; on possibilities, not qualities; on glamor, not convictions. We are told that we need a designer personality. Personality wins friends, gets jobs, attracts lovers and catches the camera’s eye.

Character is no longer the issue, it is how we appear that counts in today’s world. Guinness, who knew President Clinton personally, discusses him and his behavior at length. He concludes, “that the credibility of the presidency has been severely weakened. Only a solid succession of presidents with character and integrity will decisively repudiate Clinton’s dishonest style and reestablish the standards of America’s founders.” Guinness sees our American way of life as being imperiled.

Guinness reviews three phases in history: the religious phase, which reigned up to the Enlightenment; the European civilization phase, which rose to prominence with the Enlightenment and ended with World War I; and the last phase, American leadership. With the postmodern disregard for truth as foundational requirement, this leadership by America is now in jeopardy.

“[W]e are never freer than when we become most ourselves, most human, most just, most excellent, and the like.”
― Os Guinness

I liked it when Guinness wrote that “all truth is God’s truth and is true everywhere, for everyone, under all conditions.” He also wrote about how the whole trend of liberal thought has been to undermine faith in anything absolute. Truth, however, is one of the permanent things at defies attempts at redefinition. God and God’s truth are not mocked, not when everything is said and done. God may be trusted because He is the true one.

If you want to be challenged and impressed with well written, apt words, this book is for you. I highly recommend this book.

Reviewed by H. Murray Hohns


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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2002

About the Author: H. Murray Hohns went home to be with Jesus on November 28, 2012. He was on staff at the largest church in Hawaii and served on his denomination's investment committee from 1999 until his death. Hohns held two degrees in Civil Engineering, an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary, and served as an instructor at Foursquare's New Hope Christian College (formerly Pacific Rim Christian College) in Honolulu. He wrote six engineering books and hundreds of articles in every type of newspaper, magazine and journal.

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