Dale Ahlquist has an excellent little introduction to Manalive. As he states, Manalive is the best window into Chesterton’s worldview, as well as an exhilarating call to a Chestertonian life of continual wonder.
On the other side, David P. Henreckson has a provoking assessment of Chesterton from a Reformed point of view. He asks why Calvinists should read Chesterton, when Chesterton fumes quite regularly at Calvinism. The answer is that Chesterton saw enough of the ugly side of Calvinism to draw an accurate caricature. We should learn from his criticism:
“Chesterton was not an apathetic student by any means. So how could he fail to see the glorious poeticism and romance of our Protestant faith? How, indeed? How could a man of Chesterton’s intellect overlook the obvious virtues of Christendom’s most poetic and romantic movement? Sadly, this is the one point where Chesterton has Calvinists cornered, the one point where we must sit at his feet as a disciple. For we have truly failed in recent times to live as poetically as our forefathers. As Chesterton writes elsewhere, “all these things were given to you poetical. It is only by a long and elaborate process of literary effort that you have made them prosaic.” We have been given a poetic heritage, one of heart-ache and yet an indomitable spirit. Our heritage, however, has been ground into gray ashes, and the spirit is gone. Our life-view is now constrained to a textbook. And we therefore deserve all of Chesterton’s rebukes. Truthfully, he was more of a Huguenot than we pretend to be. He understood how Christianity encompasses and permeates life and exile better than we know how to pass a theology test.”