GK Chesterton: The Prince of Paradox

LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR

September 3, 2016 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

 The Prince of Paradox

  1. K. Chesterton was a prolific writer of Victorian England.  He was born in Kensington, London on May 29, 1874 and died on June 14, 1936.  He wrote around 80 books, hundreds of poems, 200 short stories and several plays.  He is best known as the author of the Father Brown mysteries which still are being produced for television.  In the Christian world he is known for his apologetic writing and his defense of the Christian faith in numerators public debates.  He debated the prominent skeptics of his day such as George Barnard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and Clarence Darrow.  His book “Orthodoxy” is a Christian classic.

Chesterton had a profound influence on such writers as C. S. Lewis, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, and media guru Marshall McLuhan.

Chesterton was a columnist for the Daily News, the Illustrated London News and his own paper, G. K.’s Weekly.  He wrote for London’s press for over thirty years, a man after my own heart.

Every reader should make an effort to sample Chesterton.  I have not tested this thought, but I am almost certain his works are available on the World Wide Web at no cost.

I offer here only a single sample of G. K.’s wit and wisdom from his book on the Blatchford Controversies, chapter three on Miracles and Modern Civilization.

“The question of miracles is merely this.  Do you know why a pumpkin goes on being a pumpkin?  If you don not, you cannot possibly tell whether a pumpkin could turn into a coach or couldn’t.  That is all.”

Modern science assumes the regularity of nature.  They talk about natural laws.  However, if the materialist is correct there are no laws.  There are only accidents of nature.  Nothing has been designed.  It just happened.  This is what Chesterton is stating in his inimical way.  There is no way a materialist can say that the pumpkin could not turn into a coach.  Faith in the regularity of nature comes from the biblical revelation of God as a personal and rational being who has created a structured universe and given man the ability to study it and put it to use in the stewardship of the earth.

My mentor in theology and philosophy was Dr. Carl F. H. Henry.  He traveled the world lecturing to Christian scholars, many times in third world nations.  He would quip in class that he offered a prayer before boarding a plane that God would not change his mind about the law of gravity while he was in the air.  It was his way of saying what Chesterton was saying with his pumpkins.  Confidence in the regularity of nature is grounded in confidence in the Creator.

Later on in his article Chesterton makes the comment that, “Repetition in nature has its origin not in a thing resembling a law but in a thing resembling a will…Christianity holds that the world and its repetition came by will or love as children are begotten by a father.”

“If you do not think it extraordinary that a pumpkin is always a pumpkin, think again.  You have not even begun philosophy.  You have not even seen a pumpkin.”

I have been refreshed by Chesterton.  You will be too if you give it a go.  The world was delivered from chaos when God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”  We live in that light.  We need to appreciate it.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at ravscarle@verizon.net).  END-whs