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.

Don’t forget to renew your mind

“It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

And now Doug Wilson, speaking to a graduating class, explaining how we gain that type of mindset:

“There is a way of growing wise that keeps the right kind of bright in your eyes. You can lose your hair, that’s all right. In a few decades, some of you may lose your right to the adjective svelte. In the years to come, in games of pick-up basketball, you can lose a few steps. But don’t ever lose the right kind of bright in your eyes.

Wisdom, like the mercies of God Himself, is new every morning. If you grow in wisdom, your outer man will still get weathered, and your bones will still age. We live before the final resurrection. But your inner man will be renewed by the Spirit of God, though your outer man perish (2 Cor. 4:16). As you grow in grace over the years—which is not the same thing as getting spooled up over additional scruples—you will find yourself renewed in a way that keeps the right kind of bright in your eyes. Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge (Col. 3:10). Be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Eph. 4:23). These things are not said so that you might run them through a moralistic filter, and translate them all into a respectable and dreary way of being spiritually dull. No.”

How do you get there from here?

I recently finished Allan Carlson, Third Ways, a book on how certain countries attempted to build family-centered economies (and economy that protects and promotes the natural family through its basis on moral principles rather than greed or power).  Carlson is an interesting figure, serving as a family historian and sociologist.  He is a leader of the Howard Center, a family think tank in Rockford, Illinois. 

Carlson has devoted his writing to topics centered around the family.  The major premise throughout his writing is that the family-centered economy has disappeared, with the main culprit being industrialism.  This book is a discussion of previous attempts in various countries to change that.  The first chapter discusses two of the most colorful characters in the twentieth century (more…)

Taste it again for the first time

I was listening to Chesterton’s What’s Wrong with the World recently and thoroughly enjoyed his chapter titled, “The Wildness of Domesticity.”  In this chapter, he points out that the only true adventure in life is not lived outside the home, but rather within it.

“It is surely quite clear that this modern notion that woman is a mere “pretty clinging parasite,” “a plaything,” etc., arose through the somber contemplation of some rich banking family, in which the banker, at least, went to the city and pretended to do something, while the banker’s wife went to the Park and did not pretend to do anything at all.”

 “But of all the modern notions generated by mere wealth the worst is this: the notion that domesticity is dull and tame…For the truth is, that to the moderately poor the home is the only place of liberty.”

 He goes on to explain how the home is the true place of liberty, whereas all other places require greater conformity to limits.  One of the great things about Chesterton is that he gives you a more grand view of what you have been looking at all your life.  For those who view marriage and family life as dull, or those who want to take greater pleasure in your family, read this chapter.  It is a wonderful short essay on the delight of “normal” home life.

Did he just watch the news?

“It is the mark of our whole modern history that the masses are kept quiet with a fight. They are kept quiet by the fight because it is a sham-fight; thus most of us know by this time that the Party System has been popular only in the sense that a football match is popular.”–G. K. Chesterton