G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy is a masterpiece. It is also a dictionary for brilliant quotations. I regret that it has taken me so long to read this gem. But I am grateful and more equipped after having read it.
Chesterton is poet. Orthodoxy at times sounds like ramblings, but they are ultimately poetic reflections on his own journey to embracing the Christian faith. He is in love with the gospel; orthodoxy, for Chesterton, is romance. It’s a dangerous and lively view of life; it is far from monotonous.
One great theme of Chesterton’s work is this idea of a mystic. To be a mystic is to be satisfied with mystery and actually delight in it. The materialist lacks humility presumably because everything needs to be scientifically explained, but the mystic, the Christian finds the romance of orthodoxy that which connects him to eternal truth. Orthodoxy is not embracing a lifeless faith, but a faith with so much life that our lifetimes will not be enough to fully understand it. Yet, Chesterton says that the things we do believe, like the Apostle’s Creed must be affirmed and embraced. Concerning the deity of Christ he writes:
For orthodox theology has specially insisted that Christ was not a being apart from God and man, like an elf, nor yet a being half human and half not, like a centaur, but both things at once and both things thoroughly, very man and very God.
Chesterton has read the great doubters of the Christian faith and concludes that all their attempts to make Christianity more “liberal” or “free” actually made the world more tyrannical. Rather, in the gospel, Chesterton has found the great dance of redemption; the dance of heaven.
The arguments in this book are not always easy to follow and this is why I will probably read this again next year. One author said that Orthodoxy is the thinker’s paradise; I concur, and I encourage you to enter this paradise by picking up this book.