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Book Review: ‘The Magna Carta of Humanity’ by Os Guinness

Os Guinness and The Magna Carta of Humanity The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show

Os Guinness’s 2021 book ‘The Magna Carta of Humanity: Sinai’s Revolutionary Faith and the Future of Freedom’ is my first interaction with his views and appraisals in something approaching their entirety.

The premise of Guinness’s ‘The Magna Carta of Humanity’ is so profound as to necessitate more thought before I can give anything approaching a satisfying verdict, but there is a lot here. And the reputation Guinness has for thinking big picture and communicating about the complex relationships between our beliefs and the reality we experience is well-deserved.

Have you considered, for instance, how closely related what the Bolsheviks did in Russia and what the Maoists did in China was patterned after what happened in France in 1793? Guinness clearly has, and here he invites you to join him in such considerations – not as some arcane ivory tower thought exercise, but as an entirely practical way of viewing our current circumstances.

There is no new thing under the sun. And that includes Gender Theory, BLM, Antifa, Progressivism, Cancel Culture, CRT, Surveillance Capitalism, and the censorship of conservatives online and IRL, to name just a few of the now too-dominant features of modern political discourse and policy-making.

It’s worth noting also that Guinness wrote this work before the recent troubles in Canada which are possibly on their way to the U.S. via another Freedom Convoy, this one American-style. Hopefully the Democrats under Joe Biden respond better than Trudeau did and actually, if you can imagine it, listen to the concerns of the governed if they hope to maintain anything approaching the consent of the governed.

Yet the bend toward fickle and arbitrary totalitarianism based on the elevation of secular man’s reason to the place which should be occupied by God alone is easy to anticipate. Just look at how men who have played God throughout history have acted when questioned about the treatment of their inalienable rights – and look no farther than what Russia and China are doing today if you need a contemporary example.

As Guinness puts it succinctly, “Only when God is God can we be us.” And what Os means by this is that whether governed or governing, we don’t relate to one another in a fully human nor humane way when we reject the basis for human rights – the divine authority of God Almighty.

The dignity which each man, woman, and child possesses by virtue of being God’s possession, and made in God’s image, must then be understood in the context of the righteousness of the Lord of all Creation Himself in order to be preserved and protected. 

Just so, Guinness argues that better than comparing and contrasting the American Revolution and the French Revolution directly is something which had honestly not occurred to me. And I have to give Guinness full marks for this.

Consider history’s greatest liberation of an enslaved people – at Sinai, where God took a people who were no people and made them His own, delivering them out of 400-years of hard bondage to the Pharaoh of Egypt and giving to them the Promised Land and His covenant. Now compare and contrast Sinai with Paris, and Moses with Robespierre – or Marx and Engels, or Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot and Castro.

Guinness is right to assert that this is a more apt comparison in many ways, not least if it is right to say that the revolution at Sinai was the inspiration for the signing of Magna Carta in England in 1215, and both in turn inspiring the revolution in the thirteen colonies which became the United States.

As I was reminded in reading ‘The Magna Carta of Humanity,’ the first proposed Great Seal of the United States [before 14 August 1776] was actually Moses leading the children of Israel through the Red Sea, Pharaoh sword-in-hand with his chariots visible as well – and the motto inscribed, “Rebellion to Tyrants Is Obedience to God.”

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