Philip Yancey devotes one chapter in Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church to G. K. Chesterton, explaining the vital role that Chesterton’s works played in Yancey’s return to faith. Yancey, in fact, calls Chesterton “The ‘Ample’ Man Who Saved My Faith.” In Soul Survivor, Yancey effectively explains the brilliance, wit, and the intellectual power of Chesterton, as well as the remarkable impact Chesterton has had on so many people.
Below are Philip Yancey’s top five quotes about G. K. Chesterton in Soul Survivor.
1. "When someone asked Chesterton what one book he would want to have along if stranded on a desert island, he paused only an instant before replying, “Why, A Practical Guide to Shipbuilding, of course." If I were so stranded, and could choose one book apart from the Bible, I may well select Chesterton’s own spiritual autobiography, Orthodoxy (1909). Why anyone would pick up a book with that formidable title eludes me, but one day I did so and my faith has never recovered. Orthodoxy brought freshness and a new spirit of adventure to my faith as I found odd parallels between my own odyssey and that traveled by its author, a 300-pound, scatterbrained Victorian journalist.” (Soul Survivor, page 45.)
2. ”He straddled the turn of the century, from the nineteenth to the twentieth, when such movements as modernism, communism, fascism, pacifism, determinism, Darwinism, and eugenics were coming to the fore. As he surveyed each one, he found himself pressed further and further toward Christianity, which he saw as the only redoubt against such potent forces. Eventually he accepted the Christian faith not simply as a bulwark of civilization, but rather as an expression of the deepest truths about the world.” (Soul Survivor, page 46).
3. ”One can hardly overestimate his impact on others, though. Mahatma Gandhi got many of his ideas on Indian independence from Chesterton; one of his novels also inspired Michael Collins’s movement for Irish independence; and C. S. Lewis looked to Chesterton as his spiritual father.” (Soul Survivor, page 46.)
4. ”For all his personal quirkiness, he managed to propound the Christian faith with as much wit, good humor, and sheer intellectual force as anyone in recent times. With the zeal of a knight defending the last redoubt, he took on, in person and in print, anyone who dared interpret the world apart from God and Incarnation.” (Soul Survivor, page 59.)
5. “Whenever I feel my faith going dry again, I wander to a shelf and pick up a book by G. K. Chesterton.” (Soul Survivor, page 60.)