Thursday, June 11, 2015

GK Chesterton - His battle with the Father of Lies

I've just finished reading Fr. Robert Wild's book Jousting with the Devil.

The book is about the great writer GK Chesterton, and his battle with the Father of Lies.

I must admit I've had a difficult time reading GK Chesterton before. In fact I started reading his book the Everlasting Man (quoted below) but had to stop as his writing is so dense (or perhaps I'm dense not sure which). After reading this book by Fr. Wild, and Fr. Wild's previous book on GK, Tumbler of God, I am going to attempt to read it again.

In any event, I found a lot of great nuggets in Fr. Wild's book on GK's battle with the devil, and I hope to post a few of them over the next little while.

It's funny--or maybe unfortunate--but it seems the world has grown reluctant to speak of the devil in the last number of years. Maybe that's because religion, for many, is passe. 

I must say I enjoyed Fr. Wild's book.

From the Preface - page xxix
"The word "prophet" is often used of Chesterton. A prophet is not so much someone who "sees" the future but who very deeply knows the present. He or she can see where present trends are heading. They "prophesize" that "if you don't change this course you are on, you are going to wind up in such and such a state. This was one of Chesterton's chief gifts: he saw deeply into the intellectual errors appearing on the horizon of his day and "predicted" that, if we don't change, this and this will happen. His "prophecies" are being proven right. 
His belief in the devil is part of his prophetic message to the modern world. He believed in the reality of the devil in his day, and so he can make us aware of the reality of Satan as one of the perennial truths in the gospel for our times. 
Chesterton's belief in the devil is an essential part of his prophetic mission. "If you don't believe in the devil you will lack the fighting spirit exemplified by Christ when he said to the disciples as they returned from their first mission: `I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.' (Luke: 10:18). What is that but a shout of victory in a battle!" (The Everlasting Man P 198). If you don't believe in the devil you will attribute all the colossal evils in the world to human beings. Yes, we are capable of much evil, but there is an enormity of evil in some events that cannot be explained except by the presence of other evil forces besides human perversity. If you don't believe in the devil you will lack the vigilance that the Lord counsels in so many of his parables. 
Belief in the devil is an essential part of Chesterton's message to the world, because it is an essential part of the gospel. "The whole point of Christianity is that a religion can no more afford to degrade its devil than to degrade its God:' (The Everlasting Man P 201) Like many of Chesterton's phrases, this seems like an exaggeration. However, his point is that the whole truth of a religion must be accepted, and not just the nice, comforting aspects. Jesus thought we were capable of hearing the whole truth about reality, and that includes the devil. 
Chesterton didn't often speak explicitly about the existence of the devil as he spoke about other tendencies that would arrive in the future. He simply believed in the devil, as does the Church, and wove belief in his battle with the satanic existence in and out of his writings. He didn't find this depressing: it was part of his faith understanding of reality. And in this also he is a prophet: he speaks this truth to every generation."

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