Born on 30 September 1941 in Hsiang Cheng, China, to medical missionaries working there, Guinness is of Irish descent and the great-great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer. He returned to England in 1951 for secondary school and eventual college.
Guinness received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the University of London in 1966 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oriel College, Oxford, in 1981, where he studied under Peter L. Berger. Os has written or edited more than 30 books that offer insight into current cultural, political, and social contexts.
He was the primary drafter of The Global Charter of Conscience, published at the European Union Parliament in Brussels in June 2014.
Guinness currently lives in McLean, Virginia, with his wife Jenny. They have one son.