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Listen to the promptings of life | with Os Guinness

Celebrating 50 years of publishing

Season 10, episode 193
53 min / Published

You are in for a super special treat today as Stephanie welcomes back her all-time favorite guest and friend, Os Guinness, to discuss his latest book, which you do not want to miss, and also to celebrate 50 years since the publication of his first book. The book they are discussing today is going to go down in history as one of the most influential books for our generation, Stephanie is absolutely sure of it. It is simple yet so powerful. You will read it quickly, yet you will find yourself pondering it for months. You will want to gift it to every spiritual seeker you know, as well as every serious believer, because it has something to tell each one of us about the meaning of life. Stephanie read right through it the first time and could not put it down. Then she went back and reread it slowly, savoring its stories and discovering deeper meaning. She is currently enjoying her third read through, and is even more inspired than before. Oh, please make sure to enjoy this absolute treat.

Through the course of our conversation, Os gives us his take on what has been happening in Asbury, and what we need from there. Os calls us to pray for a true spiritual awakening and challenges our culture’s understanding of “legacy” and they discuss the meaning of a truly successful life. Os even reveals what he thinks is his favorite book among his many!

You can watch the whole conversation on video at youtube.com/gospelspice - make sure to subscribe so you never miss another exciting Gospel Spice episode!

SUPER SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! WE WOULD LOVE TO FEATURE YOU ON GOSPEL SPICE! For our 200th episode, Stephanie will compile a handful of stories from our beloved listeners. How has the Lord met you recently, and has Gospel Spice played a role? Email us at contact@gospelspice.com today to apply! Deadline is March 25, 2023. Thank you!


Go to IVPRESS.COM and enter the coupon code SPICE to receive 30% off all of Os’ books until March 24, 2023!


Gospel Spice and IVPress are celebrating 50 years of Os’ books by giving away an entire LIBRARY of all of Os Guinness’ books published by IVPress, and a beautiful organic canvas Gospel Spice tote to carry them all! The tote features the Gospel Spice motto that Stephanie and Os discuss in the interview: “God’s glory, our delight.” Go to gospelspice.com/giveaway to enter for a chance to win the bundle. Giveaway is open until March 24, 2023. Winner will be picked among all the valid entries.

Let us tell you a bit more…  This year, 2023, marks fifty years since Os Guinness published his first book back in 1973, “The Dust of Death.” It started what has become a prolific writing career for the well-known social critic. Today in our time with Os, we hope to introduce (or reintroduce) you to Os Guinness, and his profound contributions to discussions about freedom, culture, faith, and the quest for meaning and purpose.

Stephanie and Os start by discussing Os’ latest book, a truly brilliant, magnificent little gem for all of us to be inspired by, and titled, Signals of Transcendence.

The modern world is a place of great distraction, and it can be difficult to make sense of our human existence. But at some point in our lives, we may experience particular moments that prompt us to search for something deeper. Sociologist Peter Berger described these hints and clues as “signals of transcendence” that awaken us to unseen realities. In Signals of Transcendence: Listening to the Promptings of Life, Os Guinness tells stories of people who experienced signals of transcendence and followed them to find new meaning and purpose in life. Notable figures such as Leo Tolstoy and C. S. Lewis as well as lesser-known individuals experienced a variety of promptings that signaled to them that life could not continue as they had thought. Through unsatisfied longings or disillusionments or glimpses of beauty or joy, these moments drew people toward epiphanies of transformation. And the same can be true for us, should we have the courage to follow the signals wherever they may lead.


“I’m at a point in my life where I realize that there has to be more to life. Something must be missing.” This remark, made to me by a business leader in Silicon Valley, expresses what countless people come to see in their own way and say in their own words. Previously, they were mostly contented in some season of life; some were wealthy, successful, and even highly celebrated in one field or another. But they reached a point where they knew in their heart of hearts that none of it quite satisfied as they hoped. Who am I? Why am I here? What is life all about? Life raises such questions to all of us at some point, and certain experiences break into our lives that spur us to question whether our answers are deep enough, prompting a search for what we sense is missing—an unnamable something more. Life itself is extraordinary, and somehow, we all want to know what it is to live a worthy life, one that fulfills the promise of life. Peter Berger, the eminent social scientist, described the experiences that trigger such longings as “signals of transcendence”— arresting and intriguing experiences that both capture our attention and call for further explanation. The thrust of these signals points to some meaning beyond themselves, and they won’t let us off the hook until we stir ourselves to find what it is. Such experiences puncture one’s satisfaction with the status quo and push one to search for something beyond. The signals stir in us a sense that there must be something more to life, but what is that often unnamable something? In stirring us, signals of transcendence are a prompting by life itself, as it were. They trigger both a contradiction and a desire, and call into question the past, the present, and the future. They challenge the present and the past by contradicting the temptation to settle down and be satisfied. They challenge the future by spurring a desire to search for the something that is missing, that toward which the experience is hinting. In so doing, the signals lay bare some aspect of our human existence that we have forgotten or suppressed, at least partially— including things lost and left behind. Such aspects of a fuller and more complete reality must be rediscovered if life is to be lived to the full. Equally, an understanding of those aspects has to be grounded solidly if it is to be truly fulfilling. Hence the quest for faith and meaning triggered by the signals—the quest for meaning that is adequate and faith that is true. Follow the signals and discover more of the reality of who we are and what the universe and life are about; then our lives will be better aligned and more able to be free and fulfilled. Freedom, after all, is simply the ability to be who we are, to think freely, to speak freely, and to act freely. But who in truth are we, why are we here, and what is life about? The signal is power packed with the thrust of such questions.”

(Taken from the introduction to Signals of Transcendence)


OS GUINNESS (DPhil, Oxford) has had a lifelong passion to make sense of our extraordinary modern world and to stand between the worlds of scholarship and ordinary life, helping each to understand the other—particularly when advanced modern life touches on the profound issues of faith.

As a frequent speaker and prominent social critic Guinness has addressed audiences worldwide, from the British House of Commons to the US Congress to the St. Petersburg Parliament. He is a senior fellow at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and was the founder of the Trinity Forum.

Born in China to missionary parents, Guinness is the great-great-great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer. After witnessing the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, he was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to England where he was educated and served as a freelance reporter with the BBC. Since coming to the United States in 1984, he has been a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was the lead drafter of the Williamsburg Charter, celebrating the First Amendment, and has also been senior fellow at the EastWest Institute in New York, where he drafted the Charter for Religious Freedom. He also coauthored the public-school curriculum Living with Our Deepest Differences.

Guinness is the author or editor of more than thirty books, including The Call, Time for Truth, Unspeakable, The Magna Carta of Humanity, The Great Quest, Zero Hour America, and others.

We invite you to check out the first episode of each of our series, and decide which one you will want to start with.

Go to gospelspice.com for more, and go especially to gospelspice.com/podcast to enjoy our guests! Interested in our blog? Click here: gospelspice.com/blog

Identity in the battle | Ephesians

Centering on Christ | The Tabernacle experience

Shades of Red | Against human oppression

God's glory, our delight 


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Show notes


“In his usual erudite clarity, Os Guinness illuminates the dark paths of history’s chaos, traumas, and violence with Signals of Transcendence. This book is a gold mine of wisdom, a gift for generations to come. For all of us meandering as border-stalking artists, drowning in the undertows of cultural currents that wash away our confidence in institutions of faith, classical learning, and worldly systems, Guinness is a pedagogical North Star that guides to enlarge our imaginations and to give courage for that journey.” —MAKOTO FUJIMURA artist and author of Art+Faith: A Theology of Making

“For decades now, Os Guinness has served readers with excellent cultural analysis that helps us to ‘read our times.’” TREVIN WAX, vice president of research and resource development at the North American Mission Board and author of The Thrill of Orthodoxy

“Os Guinness is the Paul Revere for this generation, warning America to wake up before it’s too late. With his keen insight and characteristic wisdom, Os diagnoses the root cause of the threats to our freedom and prescribes a look back and inward. In his helpful and engaging style, Os persuasively explains why knowing history and understanding virtue are prerequisites for the restoration of true freedom.” STEVE DAINES, former US senator for Montana

“I read everything Os Guinness writes because he always challenges my thinking and enlarges my perspective.” RICK WARREN, pastor, Saddleback Church, author of The Purpose Driven Life

“Os Guinness helps us amid our busy-bored culture to think hard about the time we have. If we do that, he shows the rewards are immense: we can live meaningfully and with unassailable hope.” MICHAEL REEVES, president, Union School of Theology, UK

“Every time I sit down to read the prophetic words of Os Guinness, I feel my spine strengthen and my mind perk up. His clear writing and earned wisdom bring both courage and uncertainty; for while we can’t predict where our culture will head, we can rely on the truth that guides and emboldens every generation to meet the moment for which we’ve been called.” GABE LYONS, founder of Q, author of Good Faith

“Os Guinness’s books have been invaluable for the Christian church for decades. A great deal of what I know about communicating the faith in modern times I learned from him.” TIM KELLER, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

Hear directly from Os Guinness as he engages with young adults looking for purpose in this video: Os Guinness and The Search for Meaning: What Matters - YouTube - 


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This episode is part of the GUEST INTERVIEWS | Taste & See that the Lord is good series
Stephanie invites you to discover the amazing journeys of our guests
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