Writing in Christianity

Much Learning Doth Make Thee Mad

March 18th, 2009 by David Dansker

The book Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton is a collection of collegent digressions where the author toys with reversing positives into negatives and examining what is right side up wrong side down in a lateral thinking game.  It is an exercise of applying thesis against antithesis from an arbiter’s middle perch;  the vantage point which seems to imbue those who successfully entertain such exercises with enviable perspicuity.  This is the stuff passed around dormitories where unsuspecting sophomores have their Bohemian days.

It is sad that those rumored to have maturity in the faith would take the time to study under Chesterton, and cite him in their own works on the faith. At point is John Piper, who is pressed by admirers to be some Christian thinker of our times.  Indeed, Piper has authored several Christian books over the years.  Nevertheless, he remains so impressed by Chesterton’s prose lamenting mankind’s lack of conviction for the truth that he included it in his book Brothers We Are Not Professionals, and Piper quotes this from him:

What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place.  Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition.  Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be.  A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth.1

This, for all its purported value in assertiveness training for truth bearers , is but nothing more than a self-affirmation that Chesterton was a living example of his own complaint.  It will turn out well for all those who were enamored with Chesterton, for all his sophistry, and who later discover that he was a fool; he would as soon doubt the word of God as toy with the implications of doing so.

On page 30 of Orthodoxy, Chesterton caves under the scientific evidence available to him in 1908, and joins the throngs of Darwinists happy to call God a liar:

If evolution simply means that a positive thing called an ape turned very slowly into a positive thing called a man, then it is stingless for orthodoxy; for a personal God might just as well do things slowly as quickly , especially if , like the Christian God, he were outside time.2

Appealing to the fact that God can do things the way He chooses to argue in favor of theistic evolution is asinine.  Where the Bible is silent, good men may speculate, but to contradict it where it has spoken is to wield the sting of poison. On the subject, thus saith the Lord:  “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen 2:7).

Let the writer here repeat himself from an earlier defense of the Bible where this verse was treated:

At one time, and in one instance, man was fully formed up to his nostrils before he had any life in him at all-no living cells struggling for survival, no grotesque mutating and mindless devouring as protoplasm. God completely formed him out to the dust of the ground and then breathed into him the breath of life, and by miraculous means man became a living soul; not an intermediate soul, not half a soul, but a living human soul in its entirety starting life in the image of God.3

What then of these Christian writers who fawn over purveyors of heresy?  Is it a case of much learning making them mad?  Festus leveled that charge against the Apostle Paul in an attempt to discredit him and the gospel (Acts 26:24).  Of course it was not true, but the charge itself is not without meat.

We should have discussions about what’s important, but not forget the rule and caution of discussion.  The more that we dialogue, the further away from the point we get.  This is why conclusions are necessary in writing, and, more importantly, why we who are in the faith must strive to finish well.  The Lord does not lie, though his ways are past finding out; God made man out of the dust of the ground during one day, he raised another from the dead in only three.  Let the redeemed of the Lord sing: “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Rev 15:3).  We must contend for the faith.  Let us not write so much about something that we remove ourselves from the something we’re supposed to be about.  Nor let us knowingly endorse those in our citations who deceptively plant seeds of doubt attacking the word of God.


1. G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, (1908): quoted in John Piper, Brothers We Are Not Professionals (B&H Publishing, 2002), 162.

2. G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, (Dodd and Mead, 1908; New York: First Image, 1936), citation to the First Image edition.

3. David Dansker, “Immediate Man,” TheNewsBeats.com/TheBibleBeats.com, February 16, 2008. https://www.thenewsbeats.com/bible/?p=30