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G.K. Chesterton:

People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad.

It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic.

The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she merely went mad along one idea, like a vulgar fanaticism. She swerved to left and right, so exactly as to avoid enormous obstacles. . . .

It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic.

It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own.

It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom--that would indeed have been simple.

It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame.

But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.

--G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, in The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, vol. 1 (Ignatius, 1996), pp. 305-6.

HT: Matthew Anderson


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10 thoughts on “Chesterton: The Thrilling Romance—the Whirling Adverture—of Orthodoxy”

  1. MatthewS says:

    Seeing this quote for the first time and I love it.

    Great lines:

    It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic.
    It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own.
    It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob.

  2. Dan Erickson says:

    Great quote from a powerful book!

  3. Ironic that his idea of orthodoxy was Roman Catholicism.

  4. Nice quote. I can’t help but think that Chesterton would have certainly thought I fell off the chariot, mad baptist that I am. Oh well!

  5. Mike Francis says:

    Wow. Thanks, Justin.

  6. Laurie Daniels says:

    What an awesome way to think about our faith. Yes, it is extremely difficult to be sane in this world, to stay on the narrow road on such a chariot, and not fall into insanity! Thank God that Jesus is driving the chariot! Thanks for this article.

  7. Tom says:

    Chesterton was a false teacher, a blasphemer, and an idolater who sold his soul to the Popish Antichrist. His “orthodoxy” is nothing but a sure gateway to hell.

    1. Yeah, but he was funny sometimes. He’s also pleasant company, for a damnable heretic, of course.

    2. Ryan says:

      I don’t get comments like this. It is like the group of street preachers that I saw on a very cold night in the middle of January. I was at a busy intersection, and they were next to me flailing and screaming. I wasn’t sure exactly what they were saying because it was bitter cold so my window was rolled up and the radio was on. I saw the Bible being waived all about, so I assumed they were calling me to repentance, but who knows? The night was too cold for me to roll the window down and hear the message. They were just a group of anonymous guys bouncing around like excited monkeys and no one knew what they were trying to say.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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