The barren dogma and the beautiful sentiment

If there is one question which the enlightened and liberal have the habit of deriding and holding up as a dreadful example of barren dogma and senseless sectarian strife, it is this Athanasian question of the Co-Eternity of the Divine Son.  On the other hand, if there is one thing that the same liberals always offer us as a piece of pure and simple Christianity, untroubled by doctrinal disputes, it is the single sentence, ‘God is Love.’  Yet the two statements are almost identical; at least one is very nearly nonsense without the other.  The barren dogma is only the logical way of stating the beautiful sentiment. For if there be a being without beginning, existing before all things, was He loving when there was nothing to be loved? If through that unthinkable eternity He is lonely, what is the meaning of saying He is love?  The only justification of such a mystery is the mystical conception that in His own nature there was something analogous to self-expression; something of what begets and beholds what it has begotten. Without some such idea, it is really illogical to complicate the ultimate essence of deity with an idea like love.

The Everlasting Man (1925).

Published in: on May 5, 2010 at 5:49 am  Comments (4)  

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  1. God loves relationships so much that He is one.

  2. I know this is Chesterton, can anone tell me in what book he writes this…

    In the last pages of Dante’s vision, he makes the very heavens dance, sweeping the sky with swaying and spinning ballets of angels and spirits. The symbol is appropriate. Not because the dance stands for disorder but because it stands for order. The dance is in its nature a rhythmic and recurring thing, returning upon itself. And was therefore a perfectly correct and orthodox type of medieval moral theology. Dante’s vision of this rhythm and beauty of dance corresponds to the whole conception of life. It marks the whole difference between medieval life and modern life. There was a break in history between the medieval and the modern age and before that break life was conceived as a dance and after that time, life was conceived as a race. Medieval morality was full of the idea that one thing must balance another, that each stood on one side or the other of something that was in the middle and something that remained in the middle. There might be any amount of movement but it was movement around this central thing; perpetually altering the attitudes, but perpetually preserving the balance. Virtues were like children going around the mulberry bush, only the mulberry bush was that burning bush, which is the symbol of the Incarnation. Now since that break in history the dance has turned into a race. That is the dancers lose their balance and only recover it by running towards some object, or alleged object. Not an object within their circle or their possession; but an object which they do not yet posses. A flying object. A disappearing object. And as some behold a disappointing object. The dance is a rhythmic and recurred movement around a known center. A race is a precipitating movement with an unknown goal. The latter has produced all that we call progress, the former produced what medieval meant by order, but it was the lively order of a dance

    • That quote, I believe, comes from his 1932 book “Chaucer”.

      God bless.

  3. My initial guess was that it came either from St. Thomas Aquinas or from St. Francis of Assisi, but I have checked, and both guesses are wrong. Anyone else?

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