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G.K. Chesterton is one of my favorite authors. On a lot of subjects, his way of looking at things really astonishes me. He can still show things in a fresh perspective, though his books are about a hundred years old.

In his later writings, he quite strongly scoffs at Protestants at times. This is disturbing, as I haven't quite figured why. I probably would find information about his conversion in some of his books, but frankly there's a lot to read. And with none of his books available where I live, it's also troublesome to get them -- call me old-fashioned, but I only read books on paper.

I'd like to get an overview of the reasons G.K. left the Anglican church for the Catholic, possibly along with some further reading recommendations.

This question was partly inspired by Why didn't C.S. Lewis convert to Catholicism? I've wondered about G.K.'s conversion for some time. I haven't dared ask about it here before, as I've been afraid it would be off-topic.

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As a very influential author I think this is reasonably on topic. Besides I've wondered this myself. Frankly in some of his works he outright villainizes the Reformation but, while I know there are some legitimate reasons for criticizing it, his apparent reason for doing so don't seem founded in reality to me. If anybody know what his real beef was that would be very interesting material. –  Caleb Sep 13 '11 at 21:32
his words: because Catholicism is true –  Peter Turner Sep 13 '11 at 21:33
@PeterTurner that should be an answer not a comment! –  mxyzplk Sep 14 '11 at 2:30
Yeah, I have a hard time getting his books from the library, but they're all available from Ignatius Press in 30 some odd volumes. And most of his early stuff is on Librivox in audiobook form for free. –  Peter Turner Sep 14 '11 at 4:04
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2 Answers

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Chesterton probably wrote more than anyone ever so I'm sure he can tell you in his own words why he converted from Atheism to Anglicanism and from Anglicanism to Catholicism.

See: Catholic Church and Conversion and Why I am A Catholic and The God With the Golden Key

As an avid reader of Chesterton, I'm often perplexed at how much love he gives to Catholics even before he became one himself. He converted to Catholicism in 1922 and only spent 14 years on earth as a Catholic. But starting in 1908 with the Man who was Thursday the heroes of his books and stories have been predominantly Catholics (Father Brown, Gabriel Syme, Ian Maclan).

When reading Orthodoxy, he makes and incredible defense of Catholicism, he defends priests and Catholic doctrine.

the view that priests darken and embitter the world. I look at the world and simply discover that they don't. Those countries in Europe which are still influenced by priests, are exactly the countries where there is still singing and dancing and coloured dresses and art in the open-air. Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground.

If he wasn't talking about the same Catholic Church which he would convert to 18 years later at the time, I sure as heck couldn't pick up on it.

Books to read with religion in it:

  • Everlasting Man

    About Jesus, I read it a while ago, don't remember much

  • Orthodoxy

    Chesterton's account of discovering that the religion he set out to found with in fact orthodoxy

  • The Ball and the Cross

    A novel with an atheist and a catholic looking for a place to kill each other

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I think the real question should be, "Why did it take him so long?" –  Ignatius Theophorus Oct 8 '12 at 14:24
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It was likely for sociological or emotional reasons. It wouldn't have been largely theological, as he lacks a substantial grasp on in-depth biblical theology. He was no Calvin in that regard.

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Welcome to C.SE. When you get the chance, please check out our about and specifically How we are different than other sites. This answer doesn't really prove its point, nor is it particularly perusasive. It contends he lacked in-depth biblical theology (a quote might help here?) and really doesn't answer why - it only hits your opinion of what it doesn't do. –  Affable Geek Nov 30 '13 at 23:15
You might be right, but we're looking for more than this from answers on this site. We'd like to see some data to backup your idea and to see the answer fleshed out into something that looks more like a thesis paper than a youtube comment. Perhaps you can edit this to bring it up to snuff? You might find meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/q/692/30 useful in understanding what we're after. –  Caleb Dec 1 '13 at 7:40
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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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