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On Valentine’s Day, Os Guinness challenges students to be champions and guardians of world’s greatest love: the love of God

The theme of love filled the air of the Vines Center on Wednesday, as Liberty University welcomed world-renowned author and theologian Os Guinness to Convocation, where he challenged students to be the “champions and guardians of the highest richest, deepest view of love that history has ever known and the world has ever seen”— the biblical love of God.

Os Guinness speaks on biblical love during Convocation on Feb. 14, 2024. (Photo by Kendall Tidwell)

Born in China to medical missionaries during World War II, Guinness has traveled the world speaking at major universities, businesses, and political conferences, and has written more than 30 books on the intersection of modern culture and Christianity, proclaiming the holiness of God in a world that is moving further away from the Gospel.

After being expelled from China in 1951 with many other foreigners, Guinness ended up in London, where he earned his undergraduate degree in divinity at the University of London before receiving a doctorate degree from Oriel College in Oxford. In 1984, Guinness felt called by God to move to the United States.

Liberty University President Dondi Costin welcomed Guinness to the stage, proclaiming Guinness an intellectual with a “quiet voice for faith, freedom, reason, truth, and civility,” but one who carries a big stick to proclaim the Word of God.

During Convocation, Guinness navigated his way through several examples and characteristics of God’s love throughout the Scriptures, contrasting the love shown in the Bible to that of pagan religions.

“Think about the wonder and uniqueness that God loves, and that God is love,” Guinness said. “There’s nothing like it in any worldview or philosophy of religion in the world. Our God loves, and as the New Testament says, He is Love.”

Guinness began in Exodus, showing how God demonstrated the love for His people by freeing them from slavery, a story he said has become the “master narrative of human freedom.”

“It’s true, we have the fundamentals of freedom (in the story of Exodus): political freedom, social freedom,” he said. “There’s liberation, ‘freedom from;’ the covenant, ‘freedom for;’ and the Tabernacle, sustaining freedom with the Lord and his presence daily. But that isn’t the end of the story, and many people miss the fourth point, which you find in the prophets … the prophets tell us that the Exodus is God’s love story.”

Guinness also challenged misconceptions in society today about love, including ones that run counter to what the Bible says, like the saying “love conquers everything.”

“That is not the biblical position,” he said. “Love conquers all? You might say if you read Genesis that love complicates all. The word love, in the verb, is used 15 times in the Book of Genesis, and each time it’s the beginning of strife and conflict. … And as we know, what does love produce in Genesis? It produces jealousy, and rivalry, and strife that goes on and on and on.”

Os Guiness speaks at Convocation in the Vines Center on Feb. 14th, 2024. (Photo by Brooke McDuffee)

“In other words, love is not all we need,” he continued. “There has to be faithfulness in the framework of commitment. There has to be justice and fairness, because love by itself is simply not enough.”

Prior to closing, Guinness pointed out that today’s society promotes individuation, the concept that people are individuals who are able to operate on their own without the need for God or others.

“But we know biblically, as Martin Luther says, that because of sin, ‘I’ can be, as he put it, ‘curved in on itself.’ So ‘I am I’ can become egotistical. ‘I am I’ can become narcissistic. ‘I am I,’ at worst, can become psychopathic and sadistic,” Guinness said.

He described biblical love as the “emotional energy” that God puts in our hearts to redeem us of those worldly desires.

“Love is the energy that God puts out so that we leap over the boundary of our sin-bound ‘I am I’ to recognize and affirm the other in the way that the Lord himself recognizes, affirms, and loves us,” he said.

Guinness will continue his visit to campus on Thursday night, when he is scheduled to participate in a lecture series event hosted by the Standing for Freedom Center at the School of Business Towns Auditorium at 6 p.m. His talk will focus on the “Magna Carta of Humanity: Faith and the Future of Freedom,” offering insights into the American Revolution and the French Revolution and comparing their contrasting views on human nature, equality, and liberty.

The Titanic cast performs at Convocation in the Vines Center on Feb. 14th, 2024. (Photo by Brooke McDuffee)

Liberty students can attend for free; general admission tickets are $20.

Wednesday’s Convocation was kicked off by a musical act by cast members of “Titanic,” this semester’s opening show for the Department of Theatre Arts. The musical hits the Tower Theater stage on Friday and runs through March 3. Visit liberty.edu/tickets for show dates.

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