A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

I am writing this ongoing blog series on Reflections to encourage Christians to read more vigorously and enrich their lives with Christian classics in such fields as theology, philosophy, and apologetics. Hopefully, a brief introduction to these Christian texts will motivate today’s believers to, as St. Augustine was called in his dramatic conversion to Christianity, “take up and read” (Latin: Tolle lege) these excellent books.

blog__inline--take-up-and-read-orthodoxy

This week’s book, Orthodoxy, by English literary scholar and Christian thinker G. K. Chesterton, is considered one of the twentieth century’s classics of Christian apologetics. As a voluminous writer and scholar, Chesterton’s works significantly influenced other twentieth-century authors, both religious and secular. His provocative apologetics writings remain popular today among Christians of various backgrounds.

Why Is This Author Notable?

Gilbert Keith (G. K.) Chesterton (1874–1936) was an English writer, literary and art critic, poet, orator, journalist, and Christian thinker. The author of numerous novels, biographies, and detective stories, Chesterton was raised in the Unitarian religion before going through a period of agnosticism and skepticism. Ultimately, he adopted historic Christianity—at first embracing Anglicanism and later in life becoming a Roman Catholic.

What Is This Book About?

Chesterton published Orthodoxy in 1908 as a work justifying his adoption of Christian theological belief as reflected in the ecumenical statement of faith known as the Apostles’ Creed. The opposite of a dry theological tome, Orthodoxy reflects the wit, style, and literary elegance of one of England’s greatest twentieth-century authors.

Written in nine chapters, the book reflects a sophisticated critique of contemporary Western culture. Chesterton aims to expose the rational weaknesses of such secular beliefs and philosophical movements as naturalism, materialism (physicalism), positivism, and mechanistic evolution.1 He views secularism’s broad approach to skepticism as raising serious questions about whether it can account for the possibility of genuine human knowledge and rationality.

In contrast, Chesterton presents the historic Christian faith as a mysterious yet powerful belief system that explains the world and especially man’s precarious place in it. For Chesterton, the basic framework of Christian theological orthodoxy—explained in its creeds—points in various ways to truth and reality. Thus, the Christian worldview vision succinctly outlined in the Apostles’ Creed rings true and is satisfying on various levels.

Speaking of his days as a skeptic where he sought to find the newest provocative idea to follow, Chesterton comments on the enduring consistency of Christian orthodox belief over two millennia:

I tried to be ten minutes in advance of the truth. And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it.2

Why Is This Book Worth Reading?

G. K. Chesterton’s writings usher in the beginning of what would become known as “literary apologetics.” His style, flare, and imaginative storytelling as a Christian author would impact such influential Christian writers as C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Peter Kreeft. Chesterton’s clear and fresh ideas remain a source of challenge and encouragement for both Catholics and Protestants today. Orthodoxy is a book worthy of a careful read and considered reflection.

Resources

For an assessment of Chesterton’s works as an apologist, see A History of Apologetics by Avery Cardinal Dulles (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999), 292–94.

Endnotes
  1. For definitions of these terms, see C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion: 300 Terms & Thinkers Clearly & Concisely Defined (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002).
  2. G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Moody Classics (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), 23.

Check out more from Dr. Kenneth Samples @Reasons.org

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

Email Sign-up

Sign up for the TWR360 Newsletter

Access updates, news, biblical teaching and inspirational messages from powerful Christian voices.

Thank you for signing up to receive updates from TWR360.

Required information missing