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Synopsis

As he himself affirmed, Chesterton was criticized on numerous occasions for maintaining a seemingly irreverent or flippant tone and attitude while writing about subjects that inherently demand the utmost sincerity. To superficially read Heretics might be to understand the apparent validity of such criticism. On the surface it seems as if Chesterton could not have cared much less about the philosophies of the prominent individuals that he attacks as heretical throughout this work, let alone the vague conception of orthodoxy that he utilizes as a basis of comparison. However, these claims against Chesterton only appear valid until the reader ascertains that the authors wit, jocularity, and jovial nature are not to be confused with insincerity. The light touch that Chesterton applies to heavy though is not an indication of indifference, but rather a testament to the acuity of his mind and subtle genius. It might not, it seems, have been possible for Chesterton, or anyone, to have been more serious and sincere. Chesterton cared very much, and that is what sheds light on Heretics almost impossibly simple truth.

In Heretics, Chesterton outlines the popular philosophies of his day which stood in opposition to not only logic but also that which the author maintained as truth. Amazingly, more than a century later, the same truth is still available and apparent to those who seek it while the same philosophies, although perhaps slightly altered, still stand in direct contradiction to what Chesterton understood to be unmistakable truth. What might be the greatest truth so easily recovered from the pages of Heretics, yet which remains so hidden from the view of the masses, is the incomplete substance, as opposed to the mere falsity, of many philosophies. Chestertons work, however, was, as he admitted, left unfinished with regard to Heretics and later fulfilled with the publication of Orthodoxy. If Heretics presented a problem, Orthodoxy presented the solution. Both are timeless classics, and both should be read if an understanding of Christianity in relation to apparent philosophical and ideological truths is sought.

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