Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Thoughts from Chesterton's Orthodoxy

God the rebel, God with his back to the wall, God for atheists

That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more than we knew already; but that God could have his back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents for ever. Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete.

Christianity alone has felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point - and does not break.

In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss; and I apologise in advance if any of my phrases fall wrong or seem irreverent touching a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in that terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt.

It is written, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." [Mt 4:7 quoting Dt. 6:16] No; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane. In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism.

When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. [Mt 27:46 quoting Ps 22:1] And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt.

Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist. [cf The Everlasting Man CW2:344]

--G. K. Chesterton Orthodoxy CW1:343
Thank you, Dr. T.


  1. I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the society's annual conventions are like.. thanks

  2. Hi Anon,
    They are a TON of fun, and I've pretty much liveBlogged them for the past two years here.

    Check in the June 2006 & 2007 archives and you'll get a taste for it.

    Hope you will be able to go!

  3. thanks nancy.. i just joined and am thinking about going in june..i am in south la....i am new to chesterton and fascinated by him..i read "everlasting man" and now on "orthodoxy"..are these conferences for spouses too? what is climate like in st paul in june?

  4. Spouses welcome, naturally! The whole conference is traditionally free, although a free will donation is accepted with gratitude ($10 a day suggested). And if you stay on campus (recommended) you'll pay a small something for the room, and I highly recommend taking the meals, as that's where a lot of the Chestertonian conversations takes place, and new friendships are made.

    The weather can be quite warm in June, at times bordering on hot (80s-mid 80s) but gets cooler at night and in the mornings. Best bet is to layer.

  5. Can I draw attention back to this quote for a moment - it's absolutely bloody amazing!

    Hyoi Hnakrapunt


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