Skip to comments.Os Guinness on Virtue in a Free Republic
Posted on 05/17/2012 1:28:30 PM PDT by Jim Robinson
Right now I am reading an advanced copy of Os Guinnesss's A Free Peoples Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future. The book will be released by IVP on August 6. Its an essential read and I pledge to publish a future review for our PowerBlog readers. Guinness was interviewed in Religion & Liberty in 1998.
In my recent talks around town I have been asking questions about our capacity and desire for self-government as a community and nation. I recently gave a local presentation on President Calvin Coolidge and he helped inspire a greater desire to ask the foundational questions. In my view, Coolidge saw public service as a chance to educate Americans in civics, elevating the greater truths from our revolutionary and founding period.
Below is a great excerpt from Guinnesss forthcoming book:
Beyond any question, the way the American founders consistently linked faith and freedom, republicanism and religion, was not only deliberate and thoughtful, it was also surprising and anything but routine. In this view, the self-government of a free republic had to rest on the self-government of free citizens, for only those who can govern themselves as individuals can govern themselves as a people. As for an athlete or a dancer, freedom for a citizen is the gift of self-control, training and discipline, not self-indulgence.
The laws of the land may provide external restraints on behavior, but the secret of freedom is what Englishman Lord Moulton called obedience to the unenforceable, which is a matter of virtue, which in turn is a matter of faith. Faith and virtue are therefore indispensable to freedom both to liberty itself and to the civic vitality and social harmony that go hand in hand with freedom.
Burke wrote in full agreement, Manners [or moral standards] are of more importance than laws. Rousseau had written similarly that mores, customs, and traditions, which are engraved neither in marble nor in bronze but in the hearts of the citizens form the true Constitution of the State and the Keystone of the Republic.
Tocqueville emphatically agreed. His objective in writing Democracy in America was not to turn Frenchmen into Americans, for liberty should take many forms. My purpose has rather been to demonstrate, using the American example, that their laws and, above all, their manners can permit a democratic people to remain free.
Excellent. Thanks for posting this.
Fascinating. Should look this book up myself, to read.
Thanks for the heads up. I hope it also comes out in Kindle...
To read? Well what else might you do with it?
Outstanding, JR. I’ve always been a big fan of Os Guinness. Balanced and insightful.
He quoted Guinness repeatedly, particularly regarding the The Golden Triangle of Freedom.
The movement in our country to fly on "one wing," reason alone, will ultimately undermine the very foundation of our country -- freedom. America is rooted in the founders' belief that free people, whose God-given rights are protected by a government that allows the individual to pursue their dreams and reap the fruits of their labor, would build the most just and prosperous society in the history of man. They were right; freedom was the key ingredient in the American experiment. Our founders understood it was relatively easy to establish freedom in our Constitution, the harder task was to create a system that would maintain it against the corrosive force of time. The author Os Guinness describes how they accomplished this as the Golden Triangle of Freedom: "Freedom requires virtue, virtue requires faith and faith requires freedom and around again."
That freedom requires virtue was explained by the political philosopher Edmund Burke, who wrote: "Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites ... Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters."
Virtue requires faith because faith is the primary teacher of morality. That is not to say that one cannot be virtuous without faith, but for society as a whole faith is the indispensable agent of virtue. Faith requires freedom. Why has America remained a deeply religious country averting the road to secularism traveled by our European brothers and sisters? Again Madison's "true remedy," the combination of "free exercise" and no religious state supported monopoly, has created a vibrant marketplace of religions extolling everywhere the word of God to inspire people to fulfill His special plan for each of us. Our founders' inspired brilliance created a paradigm that has given America the best chance of any civilization in the history of man to endure the test of time. Time, this time now in American history is putting that to the test.
Don’t hurt the n00b, Laz. He doesn’t know what he’s asking.
I like a lot of what Guinness writes. Unfortunately, he is a real America-basher when speaking. This really turns me off when he does so, which is frequently.
I know everything about everthing. Especially Freerepublic. More than you. More than laz. More than admin moderator his very self!
After all, I'm a n00b. My status is indicative of my omnipotent, all-knowing knowledgeness.
In this prickly era, your post of this book inspires us to return to this type of reading. God and faith determine right courage for defending our God given Republic. You did good.
You left out the gratuitous maniacal cackling and cough.
I want my induction...er, hazing to be a memorable one.
Shall we do with him what we did with the last guy ? Drop him on John Travolta’s doorstep wearing nothing but a g-string and a tube of chapstick ?
Cherry kind makes me sneeze.
Needs a bowtie and white gloves as well....