Living in the Shadow of Faith


G.K. Chesterton on the miserable state of those who despise what they cannot fully leave behind:

They cannot get out of the penumbra of Christian controversy. They cannot be Christians and they cannot leave off being Anti-Christians. Their whole atmosphere is the atmosphere of a reaction: sulks, perversity, petty criticism. They still live in the shadow of the faith and have lost the light of the faith.

Now the best relation to our spiritual home is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it. It is the contention of these pages that while the best judge of Christianity is a Christian, the next best judge would be something more like a Confucian. The worst judge of all is the man now most ready with his judgments; the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill-tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows now what, and already weary of hearing what he has never heard. . . . It would be better to walk past a church as if it were a pagoda than to stand permanently in the porch, impotent either to go inside and help or to go outside and forget. (The Everlasting Man, 10-12).

The severest critics of Christianity are those who, having walked away from the faith of their younger years, cannot help but camp out in the driveway of orthodoxy and throw bricks at the house they once inhabited.

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