But that is idolatry and adultery. We are first to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and then men as we love ourselves: but this feels like we are forgetting the Creator and loving His creation primarily, instead.
So much of what Chesterton says is true, but it falls short. He speaks of the accomplishments of the Church, as if of Christ - but without reference to Him. Now we would say, rightly, that one cannot speak of the Bride of Christ without implicating Him - but what a monstrous thing to speak of a body without its head, a bride always without her bridegroom. "Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? That is the problem the Church attempted; that is the miracle she achieved." How dare one speak of this as a work of the Church, rather than a glory of God in Christ?
GKC speaks strikingly of the eternal nature of truth, and the importance of doctrinal correctness: helpful in an age which prefers fashion in doctrine, and would rather fluffy feeling than theological precision. But the goal he places before us is human happiness: "...if some small mistake were made in doctrine, huge blunders might be made in human happiness." This is true, but it falls short: our ultimate goal in doctrine is not as a means to the end of human happiness, but faithfulness to the glory of the one true God, who has revealed Himself to us in the one who is Truth, Christ!
Chesterton lambastes selfish egoism, but he doesn't go far enough. He speaks of Christianity, but not of Christ. When he is at his most sparkling, there is a dullness brought by this, that he speaks of Christianity over Christ, Church over Christ, and Man's happiness over God's glory.
Of all horrible religions, the most horrible is the worship of the god within. ... Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards - to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain.So true, yet not consistent with the rest, where he merely turns our attention from 'the light within' to Man as a whole, rather than to God. It is not then surprising that earlier in the work he explains how he came up with his own, natural, theology, and then found that it "had been discovered before, by Christianity." But true Christianity is no man-made philosophy - such a thing does tend to have Man as its goal, with God in service. Christ came to reveal God - quite another dynamic.
Perhaps in the final few chapters (for I have committed the cardinal error of critiquing a book before I've finished reading it) he will correct this blasphemous tendency. But for now, let me leave you with Calvin's main contention with Cardinal Sadolet, who was trying to persuade Genevans back into the fold of Rome:
It is not very sound theology to confine a man's thoughts so much to himself, and not to set before him, as the prime motive of his existence, zeal to illustrate the glory of God. For we are born first of all for God, and not for ourselves. As all things flowed from him, and subsist in him, so, says Paul, (Romans 11:36,) they ought to be referred to him. I acknowledge, indeed, that the Lord, the better to recommend the glory of his name to men, has tempered zeal for the promotion and extension of it, by uniting it indissolubly with our salvation. But since he has taught that this zeal ought to exceed all thought and care for our own good and advantage, and since natural equity also teaches that God does not receive what is his own, unless he is preferred to all things, it certainly is the part of a Christian man to ascend higher than merely to seek and secure the salvation of his own soul.
I am persuaded, therefore, that there is no man imbued with true piety, who will not consider as insipid that [Sadolet's] long and labored exhortation to zeal for heavenly life, a zeal which keeps a man entirely devoted to himself, and does not, even by one expression, arouse him to sanctify the name of God. But I readily agree with you that, after this sanctification, we ought not to propose to ourselves any other object in life than to hasten towards that high calling; for God has set it before us as the constant aim of all our thoughts, and words, and actions. And, indeed, there is nothing in which man excels the lower animals, unless it be his spiritual communion with God in the hope of a blessed eternity.
(Jean Chauvin, Response to Sadolet, 1539.)