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Stories of salvation

BOOKS | Os Guinness recounts spiritual journeys

Stories of salvation
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Os Guinness has come up with a fascinating new analysis of how people may come to faith in Christ in his new book Signals of Transcendence: Listening to the Promptings of Life (IVP 2023).

Some believe in the Lord Jesus and get saved without a long, complicated struggle. In Acts 16:31, Paul simply told the jailer to believe. Others follow a more complicated path to the same faith. They receive what Guinness calls “signals of transcendence” as part of a spiritual journey. They don’t get struck by lightning. Yet they have this nagging sense that there is more to life.

For BBC news commentator Malcolm Muggeridge that signal was a light on the shore, turning him away from suicide by drowning. A little dandelion showed G.K. Chesterton beauty in a broken world.

Signals of Transcendence offers such stories with short spiritual biographies of mostly literary figures.

Some are well known, such as Muggeridge, Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and Leo Tolstoy. Others have equally interesting stories about a startling revelation of divine love. The greatest drama comes from the story of how Guinness’ own grandfather, Whitfield Guinness, escaped execution in China in the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. During his dramatic escape he meets his Swedish wife Jane.

Guinness has been an articulate intellectual defender of Christian faith. Yet with his grandfather he gets almost sentimental, and he even writes a love poem for his wife Jenny in this book.

Ever the apologist, he pleads for readers to consider the claims of Christ in these stories. He ends each chapter with the words of Jesus Christ: “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The book will encourage anyone discouraged by current events. His thesis presupposes the sovereign rule of God over the universe. His postscript adds a prayerful plea for spiritual revival and a rejection of the dominant secular materialism that can’t sustain us. “For too long we have been content with a shrunken and lopsided view of truth and reality that has excluded transcendence,” he declares.

Without another great awakening, he warns, Western civilization will crumble on the weak foundations of secularism. The transcendence of Christ is essential.

Russ Pulliam

Russ is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star, the director of the Pulliam Fellowship, and a member of the WORLD News Group board of directors.


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