Reason in the Void

A few comments on Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. He writes:

“This chapter is purely practical and is concerned with what actually is the chief mark and element of insanity; we may say in summary that it is reason used without root, reason in the void. The man who begins to think without the proper first principles goes mad; he begins to think at the wrong end.”

Chesterton is one such “madman” who suppressed and distorted the lucid Scriptural teaching on predestination and the efficacious cross-work of Jesus Christ.


“And for the rest of these pages we have to try and discover what is the right end. But we may ask in conclusion, if this be what drives men mad, what is it that keeps them sane? By the end of this book I hope to give a definite, some will think a far too definite, answer. But for the moment it is possible in the same solely practical manner to give a general answer touching what in actual human history keeps men sane. Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.”

Defining “mysticism” and “mystery” would be important first steps. Chesterton continues:

“The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of today) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them.”

G.K. Chesterton is quite consistent with C.H. Spurgeon: Swallower of Contradictions.

“His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man” (Chesterton).

Chesterton blithely babbles “concern” for God’s sovereign and predestinating glory. The healthy and sane will put the Scriptural Needle to his belligerent balloons of “fate” and “free will” that are filled with insouciance, ignorance, and insubordination (three “i’s” that get the Biblical needle).

More from Chesterton:

“The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid. The determinist makes the theory of causation quite clear, and then finds that he cannot say ‘if you please’ to the housemaid.”

Chesterton reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of God’s active causation. An example of God being Himself would be to actively cause a believing (regenerate) housemaid to be pleased to sweep the floor to His glory (cf. Colossians 3:17).


“The Christian permits free will to remain a sacred mystery; but because of this his relations with the housemaid become of a sparkling and crystal clearness. He puts the seed of dogma in a central darkness; but it branches forth in all directions with abounding natural health” (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy).

Not “natural health” but nefarious behavior that seeks to muddy-up the perspicuity of Scripture regarding God’s sovereignty with ponderous platitudes of false humility and piety.