We earn 8% in referral fees when you shop Amazon through our link. We make it easy! Click to learn how.
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

chesterton versus the new gnostics

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 01, 2007

Ever notice how neo-pantheists like Thomas Berry and Matthew Fox, for all their exaltation of nature, seem fatally fond of grand-sounding but conceptually fuzzy abstractions? They convey an embarrassment with the God of the Bible as both primitive and importunate. The following passage from G.K. Chesterton (found in Maisie Ward's biography) is an admirably gentle spoof -- and more than a spoof -- of the same tendency. This is from his 1903 controversy with Robert Blatchford:

If there be such being as a God, and He can speak to a child, and if God spoke to a child in the garden, the child would, of course, say that God lived in the garden. I should not think it less likely to be true for that. If the child said, "God is everywhere, an impalpable essence pervading and supporting all constituents of the Cosmos alike" -- if, I say, the infant addressed me in the above terms, I should think he was more likely to have been with the governess than with God. So if Moses had said God was an Infinite Energy, I should be certain he had seen nothing extraordinary. As he said He was a Burning Bush, I think it very likely that he did see something Extraordinary.

St. Augustine wrote that God's otherness makes His nearness possible. It's interesting that the god of the eco-gnostics comes across as neither something "other" nor something especially near. Theirs is a fully domesticated deity: it never intrudes.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our March expenses ($28,792 to go):
$35,000.00 $6,207.70
82% 18%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: JARay - Jan. 01, 2007 9:20 PM ET USA

    Well, Mr. Berry does quote St. Thomas Aquinas:- "There he asks why are there so many different modes of being in the universe. He answers that because the divine could not image forth itself in any single being, the divine created the great diversity of things so that the perfection lacking to one would be supplied by the other and the whole universe of beings participates in, and manifests the divine, more than any single being whatsoever." I think that Chesterton would have approved!

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org
Shop Amazon

Recent Catholic Commentary

To talk of many things 5 hours ago
The stumbling block of morality on Self-Deprecation Day 6 hours ago
Opening Ourselves to Meaning and Purpose March 5
A thin-skinned Vatican spokesman harms his own standing March 5
Pope Francis prevails in Round I of battle for Vatican reform March 5

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis to address Congress in joint session in September CWN - February 5