While writing off “comparative religion”, Chesterton here does some remarkable comparison of religion himself:
It is regarded as a liberal and enlightened thing to say that the god of the stranger may be as good as our own; and doubtless the pagans thought themselves very liberal and enlightened when they agreed to add to the gods of the city or the hearth some wild and fantastic Dionysus coming down from the mountains or some shaggy and rustic Pan creeping out of the woods. But exactly what it lost by these larger ideas is the largest idea of all. It is the idea of the fatherhood that makes the whole world one.
And the converse is also true. Doubtless those more antiquated men of antiquity who clung to their solitary statues and their single sacred names were regarded as superstitious savages benighted and left behind. But these superstitious savages were preserving something that is much more like the cosmic power as conceived by philosophy, or even as conceived by science.
This paradox by which the rude reactionary was a sort of prophetic progressive has one consequence very much to the point. In a purely historical sense, and apart from any other controversies in the same connection, it throws a light, a single and a steady light, that shines from the beginning on a little and lonely people. In this paradox, as in some riddle of religion of which the answer was sealed up for centuries, lies the mission and the meaning of the Jews.
-G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, p.104
He goes on to remind us that God (big ‘G’ here for sure) came to us through the Jews. Everything we know about him came through the Jews. In developing theologies thousands of miles and years away from that origin, it’s easy to brush over it and start with some other branch of philosophy or psychology or metaphysics, but if you want to be honest, you’ve got to start with the Israel.