“These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own” — G. K. Chesterton.
Indeed. Christians are often labeled narrow-minded, because we uphold what the Bible teaches: that faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven. We are fair game for pundits to disparage and comedians to ridicule.
This fellow, Chesterton, is right on. Christians are expected to be loving toward others; others are not always loving toward us.
A person might think Chesterton is a current commentator on American culture, but he was born in London in 1874, and died in 1936.
Do you know him?
G. K. did not start out to become a writer, much less a defender of the Christian faith. He set out to become an artist. But his first job upon leaving art school was to read manuscripts for a publisher. In his spare time, he tried his own hand (and mind) at writing. Several essays were published in magazines, and it wasn’t long before two newspapers began publishing his column.
Over a period of thirty years in journalism, G. K. wrote 4000 essays. Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, points out the immensity of that number: you would have to write an essay every day for eleven years to reach that total.
Mr. Ahlquist adds to the marvel of this feat by reminding us: every one of Chesterton’s essays was an example of fine journalism—often witty and thought-provoking at the same time. For example:
“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmastime. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”
But unlike many journalists, G. K.’s writing talent swept across numerous genres. During his lifetime, he wrote hundreds of books, both fiction and nonfiction, two anthologies of poetry, five plays, and over 200 short stories.
It’s no wonder he’s credited with being one of the most prolific authors of his time.
While his career as a writer was burgeoning, Chesterton married Frances Blogg. She was an important influence, helping to turn him from his agnostic beliefs to embrace Christianity. His writings often reflected his faith. For example:
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried” (from What’s Wrong with the World).
“There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” – (from Illustrated London News, 1/13/06)
“The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.” – (from Illustrated London News, 1-3-20)
Even after his death, Chesterton’s influence lived on. One of his books, The Everlasting Man (1925) was instrumental in leading C. S. Lewis from agnosticism to Christianity.
An evangelical Protestant scholar has said, “There has not been a more articulate champion of classic Christianity, virtue, and decency.”
Here are a few more examples of G.K.’s thoughtful writing:
“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
“If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.”
Words of wisdom? I think so. And if…
…“He who walks with the wise grows wise” (Proverbs 13:20a), then we have certainly benefited from spending a few moments with G. K. Chesterton.