Monday, February 19

My Problem with G.K. Chesterton

My friend James Sauer writes, “I’ve got a problem with Chesterton. The problem is that I think he is a wonderful, wise, witty, and pious man; after reading his works, I never leave the page without feeling edified.”

So, “Why is that a problem?” you just might ask.

“Perhaps, the problem, if it is a problem,” Sauer responds, “isn’t in Chesterton, but in me.” You see, he explains, “I am a Protestant; but not just any Protestant. I am an American Evangelical Protestant. But there’s more. I am a Conservative, Capitalistic, Bible-thumping American Evangelical Protestant. And hold on to your seats folks, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse; I must confess, I am also a Calvinist. We all have our crosses to bear.”

OK. So far, so good. But then, Sauer gets to the sticky part, “Anyone who is familiar with the writings of Chesterton will see the great irony in my situation. I can only ask you not to blame me for this state of affairs, I didn’t choose to be elected; it was irresistible grace. I was predestined for Presbyterianism. But since I have received this unmerited favor of God, I might as well enjoy it. I can only thank my Sovereign Maker for His predestination. Not only did He choose me to be among his chosen people, but He also destined me to be among that other elect who have had the privilege of meeting through literature the great mind and good heart of Gilbert Keith Chesterton.”

I could not agree more. That is why I have been reading--and collecting--the works of G.K. Chesterton for more than 20 years now. I have a whole section of my home library exclusively devoted to Chesterton and his close friend, Hilaire Belloc--and this despite the fact that like Jim Sauer, I am an American Evangelical Calvinist!

I liberally salt virtually every lecture, every sermon, and every book I have produced with Chesterton quotes. So, it probably should come as no surprise that my students have caught the Chesterton bug as well. That fact is evidenced by the latest King's Meadow Newsletter. There are a host of great articles, appreciations, and reviews by my several of my students and former students including Ray Ware, Dave Raymond, Courtney Cahoon, and Wes Jackson. I couldn't be more proud!

8 comments:

L. Mckinley Davis said...

I love Chesterton way too much and I thank you for that great love that I have for him. I could not care less about his Catholicism, his brilliance, heart, and love of our Maker outshines it all.

john said...

And, I too, may have been introduced to Chesterton via Grant, or North, or CS Lewis. Anyway, one of those inklings or modern-day inklings. Maybe it was DeMar?

Ben said...

Sometimes I describe myself as a Monday-Friday Catholic. Along with Chesterton and Belloc, you then have Christopher Dawson, Graham Green, Evelyn Waugh, a whole host of poets, all of Medieval literature, a cadre of great political thinkers, and to top it all off--Flannery O'Connor. Thanks for alerting me to my then dangerous Chesterton-deficiency disorder some years back. I am much healthier in mind and soul now.

Cindy said...

Just printed the whole thing.

We have been having long discussions on Chesterton lately. My son and I both ended up reading The Innocence of Father Brown at the same time, quite unexpectedly. We were both amazed at the fodder for discussion coming out of a mystery series. I felt better that all my light reading wasn't too light.

Father Brown is certainly no fan of the Calvinist. The Calvinist will most certainly be the murderer in Father Brown. I kind of get a kick out of it.

Lawrence Underwood said...

Yep, I'm right in the middle with the rest of y'all.

oldfatslow said...

Manalive! What's wrong with the world? I first heard of GKC when you and JBJ had a conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FLA. Now, I am sharpened to one painful point and have the shelf of books to prove it. Thanks.

ofs

Short Thoughts said...

My compliments Dr. Grant for turning me on to Chesterton. I have just started reading "Tremendous Trifles" and I am enjoying it thoroughly. My Chesterton shelf is growing.

Jeff

Raskolnikov said...

It was none other than Dr. Grant who introduced me, via his Gileskirk curriculum, to the Chesterbelloc...and it was none other than Chesterton and Belloc who introduced me to the Church. It is thus with sincere gratitude and a bit of irony that I thank Dr. Grant for revealing to me the path that Belloc so wonderfully described...the path to Rome.