Tag Archives: Dogma

“Common sense” by G.K. Chesterton

“The dogmas we really hold are far more fantastic, and, perhaps, far more beautiful than we think.

We who are Christians never knew the great philosophic common sense which inheres in that mystery until the anti-Christian writers pointed it out to us.

The great march of mental destruction will go on.

Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed.

It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them.

It is a rational thesis that we are all in a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake.

Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four.

Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer.

We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face.

We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible.

We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage.

We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed.”

–G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (New York: John Lane, 1919), 303-305.

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“Bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colourless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity” by J.C. Ryle

“For your own soul’s sake dare to make up your mind what you believe, and dare to have positive distinct views of truth and error.

Never, never be afraid to hold decided doctrinal opinions.

And let no fear of man and no morbid dread of being thought party-spirited, narrow, or controversial, make you rest contented with a bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colourless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion.

If you believe little, those to whom you try to do good will believe nothing.

The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology:

  • by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice
  • by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and His precious blood
  • by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Saviour
  • by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit
  • by lifting up the brazen serpent; by telling men to look and live– to believe, repent, and be converted.

This is the only teaching which for eighteen centuries God has honoured with success, and is honouring at the present day both at home and abroad.

Let the clever advocates of a broad and undogmatic theology,– the preachers of the Gospel of earnestness, and sincerity and cold morality,– let them, I say, show us at this day any English village or parish, or city, or town, or district, which has been evangelized without ‘dogma,’ by their principles.

They cannot do it, and they never will. Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing.

It may be beautiful to some minds, but it is childless and barren. There is no getting over facts.

The good that is done in the earth may be comparatively small. Evil may abound, and ignorant impatience may murmur, and cry out that Christianity has failed.

But, depend on it, if we want to ‘do good’ and shake the world, we must fight with the old apostolic weapons, and stick to ‘dogma.’

No dogma, no fruits! No positive Evangelical doctrine, no evangelization!”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (Carlise, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2014), 398-399.

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“The special mark of the modern world is not that it is skeptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it” by G.K. Chesterton

“The special mark of the modern world is not that it is skeptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it. It says, in mockery of old devotees, that they believed without knowing why they believed.

But the moderns believe without knowing what they believe– and without even knowing that they do believe it. Their freedom consists in first freely assuming creed, and then freely forgetting that they are assuming it.

In short, they always have an unconscious dogma; and an unconscious dogma is the definition of a prejudice. They are the dullest and deadest of all ritualists who merely recite their creed in their subconsciousness, as if they repeated their creed in their sleep.

A man who is awake should know what he is saying, and why he is saying it– that is, he should have fixed creed and relate it to a first principle. This is what most moderns will never consent to do.

Their thoughts will work out to most interesting conclusions; but they can never tell you anything about their beginnings.

They have always taken away the number they first thought of.

They have always forgotten the very fact or fancy on which their whole theory depends.”

–G.K. Chesterton, “The Debate on Spiritualism (March 15, 1919),” The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Vol. XXXI: The Illustrated News, 1917-1919, Ed. Lawrence J. Clipper (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989), 31: 441.

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