Why Calvinists should read Chesterton

At first when I started reading G.K. Chesterton, I struggled with the fact that he has little use for the doctrines of grace.  He regularly pokes fun at those who believe in predestination, but it’s not as bad as it appears.  While I believe in the doctrinesof unconditional election, etc., I’ve never had trouble overlooking his criticism of those beliefs.  John Piper recently published an article explaining why it’s so easy to love Chesterton despite his dislike for predestination.

“But how then can Calvinism awaken such joy in me, and such hate in Chesterton? Because they aren’t the same Calvinism. He thinks Calvinism is the opposite of all this happy wonder that we have in common. The Calvinism he hates is part of the rationalism that drives people mad. Exhibit A:

‘Only one great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine; poetry partly kept him in health. . . . He was damned by John Calvin; he was almost saved by John Gilpin.’

No, Mr. Chesterton, William Cowper was not driven mad by Calvinism. He was driven mad by a mental disease that ran in his family for generations, and he was saved by John Newton, perhaps the humblest, happiest Calvinist who ever lived. And both of them saw the wonders of “Amazing Grace” through the eyes of poetry. Yes, that was a healing balm. But the disease was not Calvinism — else John Newton would not have been the happy, healthy, holy friend that he was.”

Later Piper explains why Calvinists not only can read Chesterton but should read Chesterton.

“I thank God for G. K. Chesterton. His gift for seeing the world and for saying what he sees is peerless. He opens my eyes to wonders of what is there. And what is there is the finger-work of God. He may be dismayed to hear it, but his eyes have helped me see more clearly than ever the God of Jonathan Edwards.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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