Friday, September 20, 2013

Patheos Review of Os Guinness' "The Global Public Square"

I highly recommend Os Guinness' new book The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity (IVP Books, 2013). The volume's website provides this overview description:
How do we live with our deepest differences?

In a world torn by religious conflict, the threats to human dignity are terrifyingly real. Some societies face harsh government repression and brutal sectarian violence, while others are divided by bitter conflicts over religion's place in public life. Is there any hope for living together peacefully?

Os Guinness argues that the way forward for the world lies in promoting freedom of religion and belief for people of all faiths and none. He sets out a vision of a civil and cosmopolitan global public square, and how it can be established by championing the freedom of the soul—the inviolable freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In particular he calls for leadership that has the courage to act on behalf of the common good.

Far from utopian, this constructive vision charts a course for the future of the world. Soul freedom is not only a shining ideal but a dire necessity and an eminently practical solution to the predicaments of our time. We can indeed maximize freedom and justice and learn to negotiate deep differences in public life. For a world desperate for hope at a critical juncture of human history, here is a way forward, for the good of all. Guinness' perspectives and the proposal he sets forward for a public square that embraces freedom, civility, and diversity dovetails quite a bit with my own perspectives and work, and that of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. 
My review of this volume, titled "Beyond Interfaith Dialogue: A Review of 'The Global Public Square:'Os Guinness makes a bold proposal for a new public square, and Evangelicals must work with others to embrace its civility, freedoms, and diversity," was recently published at Patheos and will soon be available at the Patheos Book Club. My review concludes with the following:
Os Guinness has provided a real service in not only raising the issues of religious freedom and civility in diversity, but in also providing a proposal for addressing them. He risks being dismissed as setting forth mere hyperbole, but I believe he is correct to state that, "How we deal with our deepest religious and ideological differences in public life will be a defining issue for the future of mankind" (25). This book needs to be read and discussed widely. It is my hope is that Evangelicals will join Dr. Guinness in wrestling with the challenge of religious freedom, diversity, and civility, and be willing to link arms with other religionists and secularists in navigating a way forward in a new public square.

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