The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of Beer that Changed the World

Have you ever read a book by Os Guinness? If you haven’t … you don’t know what you are missing. He is a brilliant man who has a deep concern for bridging the chasm between academic knowledge and popular knowledge. Specifically, he takes things that are academically important and makes them accessible, intelligible, and practicable to a wider audience; especially in matters relating to public policy.

Os Guinness was born in China during World War 2 where his parents were medical missionaries. He witnessed the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951, and returned to Europe where he was educated in England. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of London and his Doctorate of Philosophy in the social sciences from Oriel College, Oxford.

Os Guinness has written or edited more than twenty-five books, including The American Hour, Time for Truth, The Call, Invitation to the Classics, Long Journey Home, and Unspeakable: Facing up to the Challenge of Evil. His latest book, The Case for Civility was published by HarperOne in January 2008.

What you may not know about Os Guinness is that he is the great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the St. James Gate, Ireland brewer!

There are some other things you might not know: I am Irish. My grandfather’s name was Raymond, but his nickname was Irish (my middle name is Raymond … after my grandfather). My wife and I are Irish enough (she’s a Sullivan; properly O’ Sullivan) that we thought it was a good idea to get engaged on St. Patrick’s Day, 1997. Since then we have had three wee lasses, and one wee lad. And on top of it all … I have a love of biography.

If an Irish-American lad, who possessed a love of biography, wanted to learn about the Guinness family and the impact that the gospel had upon Dublin, Ireland … where might he begin? I would suggest a great biography published in 2009 by Stephen Mansfield entitled, The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of Beer that Changed the World. This is a biography worth reading (even if you don’t like beer).

To be clear, this book is not about Os Guinness in particular; rather, it tells a piece of his family’s history. Os is a descendant of John Grattan Guinness, the tenth child, and youngest son of Arthur Guinness (founder of Guinness beer). Stephen Mansfield addresses John Grattan Guinness’ history in Chapter 5: Guinnesses for God. Yet Mansfield is quick to point out,

… using the words Guinnesses for God seems to suggest that the other Guinnesses were somehow apart from God, or that perhaps they pursued far different gods from those worshipped by their relations … I hesitate to think of them as any more connected to God than the other lines.” (pages 157-159)

With the Guinness’ faith front and center, let me give you a taste for the wonderfully engaging writing of Stephen Mansfield.

The fact is Arthur Guinness was indeed a great man of faith. Born on the estate of an archbishop and raised a loyal son of the Irish church, Arthur lived by the words that were his family motto: Spes mea in deo (My hope is in God). He was influenced by the revivalist John Wesley, who inspired him to use his wealth and talents to care for the hurting of mankind. Taking Scripture as his guide, Arthur did indeed serve the needy of his time and did indeed try to use his gifts in honor of his God. (introduction, xv)

It was a tale 0f Arthur Guinness, founder of the famous brewing family, and how in the mid-1700s he had walked the streets of Dublin pleading with God to do something about the drunkenness on the streets of Ireland. It seems that whiskey and gin were the rage in his day and the resulting devastation to his nation was more than young Arthur could stand. It was then, as he held the scourge of alcohol aloft in prayer, that Arthur heard his God speak: Make a drink that men will drink that will be good for them. And so … Guinness beer became God’s answer to the moral blight of that time and all because Arthur Guinness was willing to listen and obey. (introduction, xiv)

If those few lines are not enough to pique your interest, then maybe a recommendation from a first-class biographer will do.

Frothy, delicious, intoxicating, and nutritious! No, I’m not just talking about Guinness Stout — I am talking about Stephen Mansfield’s fabulous new book. The Search for God and Guinness! The amazing and true story of how the Guinness family used its wealth and influence to touch millions is an absolute inspiration.

Eric Metaxas, the author of the New York best-seller Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery.

Reading this book has caused me to better understand Micah 6:8 (ESV) — “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” And now I commend this book to you.


3 Responses to “The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of Beer that Changed the World”

  1. david sims Says:


  2. OK – I’ll take your advice and read the book. Can I borrow it….? 🙂

  3. kevinwilkening Says:

    Yep. It is on the top shelf, second column over from the left wall in the biography section. Should be 3/4 over to the left with a yellow cover. I am going to mark in “Book Hunter” that you have borrowed it. Enjoy.

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