He is known for his fictional works such as the Father Brown stories, as well as for his non-fiction writings offering an intellectual defense of the Christian faith. Along with his friend Hilaire Belloc he is best known as an exponent of a British variety of conservatism known as distributism, which opposed both socialism and large-scale capitalism, and supported a decentralized economy of small property owners and small-scale entrepreneurs. He was a leader in the fight against socialism.
His most influential Christian books include Orthodoxy, and What's Wrong With the World, which criticize modernist trends such as feminism and uphold the traditional Christian faith.
Chesterton was well-known for his philosophical debates with renowned contemporaries such as Clarence Darrow, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, and H.G. Wells. Of Shaw, with whom Chesterton could be said to have had a friendly rivalry and battle of wits, Chesterton once said:
"After belabouring a great many people for a great many years for being unprogressive, Mr. Shaw has discovered, with characteristic sense, that it is very doubtful whether any existing human being with two legs can be progressive at all. Having come to doubt whether humanity can be combined with progress, most people, easily pleased, would have elected to abandon progress and remain with humanity. Mr. Shaw, not being easily pleased, decides to throw over humanity with all its limitations and go in for progress for its own sake. If man, as we know him, is incapable of the philosophy of progress, Mr. Shaw asks, not for a new kind of philosophy, but for a new kind of man. It is rather as if a nurse had tried a rather bitter food for some years on a baby, and on discovering that it was not suitable, should not throw away the food and ask for a new food, but throw the baby out of window, and ask for a new baby." - Heretics, G.K.C.
- "When men cease to believe in God, they will believe in anything."
- Peters, Edward. "Introduction to G.K. Chesterton". Website retrieved July 3, 2007.
- Pierce, Joseph. "G.K. Chesterton, Champion of Orthodoxy." Website retrieved July 3, 2007.