What I’m Reading: The Search for God and Guinness

I really enjoyed reading Stephen Mansfield’s The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World. This is a biography of the man Arthur Guinness, his descendents (bankers, brewers and clergymen), and the Guinness Brand. This is a story of how a man of faith worked and lived for the glory of God and how the family business he left behind worked to be a force for good in Ireland. We learn of Arthur Guinness’ relationship with John Wesley who occasionally preached at his church in Dublin. We learn of Arthur’s grandson the famous preacher Henry Gratton Guinness often named alongside DL Moody and CH Spurgeon in his era. We learn of the work done by Guinness doctors to improve living and working conditions for the poor in Dublin. This is a fascinating and well-told story mixing beer, marketing, deep faith and concern for social good.

Some Favourite Quotes:

Second Arthur (Arthur Guinness’ son) near the end of his life in a letter to his sons:
“The continued good account of our business calls for much thankfulness to Almighty God while we humbly ask for the infinitely higher blessings of His Grace in the Lord Jesus Christ…. Surely it becomes me to speak of the Lord’s patience and longsuffering towards one so utterly evil and sinful and to pray that I might be enabled through Grace to live every hour under the teaching of the Holy Spirit patiently abiding His time for calling me to that Place of Everlasting Rest, the purchase of the precious blood of the Lamb of God for saved sinners” (p.87)

“Yet as skilled as Edward Cecil was in expanding the family firm beyond anything his predecessors might have dreamed, it is not this that keeps his memory alive to this day. Indeed, as it is with many a great man of industry, it was not the creation of wealth but the benevolent use of wealth that framed his legacy for generations to come” (p118)

“The Reformers, then, pulled down the artificial distinction between the sacred and the secular and sent men into the world to serve God by using their skills and trades in his honor. This protestant ethos of work found its way into the lives of the Guinnesses through the deeply reformed faith of the first Arthur Guinness and certain of his descendents. Many of them understood that brewing could be done as a holy offering, as a craft yielded in the service of God. They did not see themselves as secular, but rather as called. They did not see themselves as apart from Christian ministry, but rather as in the Christian ministry of industry and trade…. No they had absorbed the great Reformation ideal that everything a man did was to be done for God and that his calling and his vocation were usually the same thing.” (pp.158-9)

“How did it come to pass that one in ten of Arthur Guinness’ children would give birth to a line of devoted Christians that would change the history of nations with their faith?… Perhaps it came from something kindled in the first Arthur’s heart. Perhaps as he listened to Wesley or worked to start Sunday schools in Ireland or fought for Catholic equality–perhaps during one of these moments something ignited in his soul. And perhaps, in a way we cannot know with certainty, that flame burned first in the heart of his soldier son and then came to full blaze in the life of his famed preacher grandson. Then, it is not hard to imagine, Guinnesses for a century after might well have lit their generational torches with the help of this flame. And so it continues through our time.” (p.199)