The twentieth-century journalist and Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton once said, “There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place.” Chesterton’s point was that truth might be closer than you realize, perhaps right under your nose. And sometimes, like with the prodigal son, truth is found at the end of a long road back to the Father’s house.
Chesterton was specifically speaking of Christianity. And in his book The Everlasting Man he contrasted two helpful forms of analyzing the Christian faith. The first is from the inside. The second is from a million miles away. As he said, “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.”
In other words, sometimes stepping just outside the front door of a particular worldview leaves you too close to have a clear perspective. You can be standing beneath the awning while complaining of the shade. Your proximity itself creates emotional and intellectual blind spots.
As Chesterton put it, “The popular critics of Christianity are not really outside of it. . . . Their criticism has taken on a curious tone; as of a random and illiterate heckling.” The modern-day terrain of heckling, as Chesterton describes it, is fraught with emotional landmines and intellectual blockades. Safe passage to meaningful conversations can be hard to find.