Select Quotes from G.K. Chesterton

The following quotations are taken from an article on G.K. Chesterton written by Relevant Magazine. The assortment is a good snapshot of his wit and creativity.

The Nature of God

“The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.” – Introduction to The Book of Job.


“Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.” – Orthodoxy


“As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.” – Orthodoxy


“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” – The Everlasting Man


“It has been often said, very truly, that religion is the thing that makes the ordinary man feel extraordinary; it is an equally important truth that religion is the thing that makes the extraordinary man feel ordinary.” – Charles Dickens: A Critical Study


“Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” – Orthodoxy


“Theology is only thought applied to religion.” – The New Jerusalem


“One of the chief uses of religion is that it makes us remember our coming from darkness, the simple fact that we are created.” The Boston Sunday Post


“Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice.” – Illustrated London News

Religious Liberty

“The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience. The first means knowing what you really want. The second means knowing what you really trust.” – G.K.’s Weekly


“Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” – The Innocence of Father Brown


“It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it”. – All Things Considered

Being Childlike

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” – Orthodoxy


“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” – Orthodoxy


“According to most philosophers, God in making the world enslaved it. According to Christianity, in making it, He set it free. God had written, not so much a poem, but rather a play; a play he had planned as perfect, but which had necessarily been left to human actors and stage-managers, who had since made a great mess of it.” – Orthodoxy

The Revelation of the Hiddenness of God

Isaiah tells us explicitly that God is in the business of hiding (Is 45:15). He conceals himself. This is a fact. Job is one book in Scripture that fleshes out this theme. In fact, we may even walk away from Job convinced that we know far less about God than we did when we began reading. I believe this is one intention of the author. Yes, as strange as it sounds, I am saying that this book was written that we might know less about God. It is paradox for God to reveal to us that he is hidden, but that is exactly what he is doing. In essence he is saying, “I want you to know that there is so much of me that you cannot know.”

This concealment is tied to his glory (Prov 25:2). God alone has an exhaustive knowledge of God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit hold the exclusive rights and ability to fully comprehend one another (Lk 10:22, 1 Cor 2:10-11, Rom 8:27). There is splendor in his infinite and incomprehensible nature. There is majesty in a God who can never be totally understood. As creatures it is beyond our capacity to ever know the fullness of God. As creatures any knowledge we have of God is based on his free choice and nothing we do. God chooses the content and limits of his self-revelation. He chooses what to reveal and what to conceal. According to Isaiah and Job, he has left a lot hidden.