The Magna Carta of Humanity
APRIL 24, 2021
by Os Guinness
This book is a response to America’s crisis by a firm and longtime admirer of the American experiment. Three major themes run through my argument. First, the American crisis is a crisis of freedom and must be understood as such. Following Augustine of Hippo’s notion that nations must be understood and assessed by what they love supremely rather than by such factors as the size of their population and the strength of their armies, there is no question that America’s supreme love is freedom. In particular, America’s freedom is a unique concept of ordered freedom that is the legacy of the Hebrew Scriptures and of the Hebrew covenant in particular. The present crisis of freedom therefore goes to the very heart of the American republic and all that the American experiment stands for. It is a crisis whose outcome will prove as decisive as that of the civil war. It is also a global crisis in the sense that its outcome will be crucial for the prospects of freedom in the human future.
Second, the present crisis stems from the fact that over the last fifty years, major spheres of American society have shifted their loyalties and now support ideas that are closer to the French Revolution and its heirs rather than the American Revolution. The two revolutions share the same name, revolution, and the same century, the eighteenth, but they are decisively different at almost every point—their sources, their assumptions, their policies, their narratives, and their outcomes. These differences mean that the choice between the two revolutions will prove decisive for America and for freedom. What Lincoln proclaimed in June 1858, when nominated to run as a Republican candidate for the US Senate, is true all over again. He echoed Jesus of Nazareth and applied the point to his time, but it is true again in ours. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” America cannot endure permanently half “1776” and half “1789.”
Third, the time has come for a new global thrust on behalf of freedom and justice for humanity. The inadequacies and failures of the last several centuries in politics have become plain, especially in terms of the hollowness of much traditional liberalism and the horror of much radical leftism. The best way forward for America and the world must be through rediscovery and a fresh examination of what I will call the Sinai Revolution. Historically, it was the Exodus Revolution, and not the French Revolution, that lay behind the genius of America’s ordered freedom or covenantal and constitutional freedom. A rediscovery of the foundational principles of the Exodus Revolution is therefore the once and future secret of true revolutionary faith and a sure path to freedom, justice, equality, and peace.
These ideals are not clichés, and they must once again become solid realities in the coming generations. But while many radical and revolutionary claimants promise them, the urgent need is to deliver them, and the surest way to do so lies in the precedent, the principles, and the practices of the Exodus Revolution. Rightly understood, there is no rival to the Exodus Revolution in its realistic and constructive understanding of freedom. Sinai, and not Paris, represents such a beacon of freedom that it should be recognized as nothing less than the Magna Carta of humanity.
To anyone not deafened by the incessant noise of the current politicking and culture warring, and not mesmerized by the triple screen gazing of mobile phones, computers, and televisions, we are clearly at a most extraordinary moment in world affairs—for the human future, for the global world, for Western civilization, and for its lead society, the great American republic.
—From the introduction
Listen to our interview with Os Guinness on SBE by clicking here.