In Marketing 101 one of the basic principles they teach you is the Theory of Social Proof. This theory posits that people will adopt the beliefs or actions of a group of people they like or trust. This is otherwise referred to as the “me too” effect. Even if the beliefs or actions of the admired group are not the optimal choice, people want to identify with what they perceive to be the “in” crowd.
In evangelical circles we see this kind of thing all the time. C. S. Lewis is widely quoted by pastors even though he held many beliefs that were at odds with Biblical evangelicalism. See my critique of Lewis’ outrageously popular “Mere Christianity” here.
Another name that keeps popping up in evangelical circles is G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) who converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism in 1922. Chesterton was a Catholic writer and apologist and, as such, was obligated to believe and defend the following:
- Salvation by sacramental grace and merit
- Baptismal regeneration
- Sacramental conference of grace, ex opere operato (sacraments being efficacious in and of themselves)
- The mediation of priests, Mary, and saints
- The changing of bread and wine into the literal body, soul, and divinity of Christ
- Papal authority and infallibility
- Church tradition equal to or superseding Scripture
- Confession of sins to a priest
So why is Chesterton, whose beliefs were starkly opposed to Biblical evangelicalism, admired by many evangelicals? What’s that all about? Perhaps I might know at least part of the answer. Several months ago I heard a young evangelical pastor, just out of seminary, bemoan the fact that evangelicalism had very few high-brow intellectuals of the caliber of Chesterton. What? You mean there are no William F. Buckleys preaching the Gospel down in the Bible Belt? What’s to become of us?
Praise the Lord for the evangelical saints who uphold God’s Word and salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE rather than arrogant, worldly-minded “intellectuals.”
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” – 1 Corinthians 3:19
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” – Acts 4:13