When was Christian saved in the Pilgrims progress

Discussion in 'The Pilgrims Progress' started by Stephen L Smith, Apr 11, 2019.

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  1. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    I have been fascinated by the fact that Christian appears to have become a true believer at the wicket gate, but his burden does not actually fall off until a little later at the cross.

    Why this gap?

    I have read some explanations of this but I am not sure if any have solved the puzzle:
    • Christian became a true believer at the wicket gate but did not receive true assurance until the cross (but this seems to separate the link between the cross and salvation).
    • Christian became a true believer at the cross. Does this mean the wicket gate was to give conviction of sin?
    • John Bunyan created the scene this way to reflect his own struggles with assurance of salvation.
    Any Pilgrims Progress experts here? :)
  2. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Freshman

    Here’s my question.
    Why did Christian know only about residing in the City of Destruction and his own burden from reading in the book but not the way of deliverance and salvation? Doesn’t this seperate the Bible as the source of knowledge of sin from the Bible as the source of the way of repentance and salvation?
  3. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Freshman

    I think Derek Thomas addressed in a Ligioner series they had on the Saturday Renewing you Mind. I couldn't find through a search, and am not going to spend time manually scrolling through the Renewing your Mind. I did find a sermonaudio that looks to be the same topic, so maybe it is addressed there https://www.sermonaudio.com/search....rim's+Progress&keyworddesc=Pilgrim's+Progress

    I do recall Part 1 of Pilgrim's Progress as being more auto-biographical.
  4. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    That's an excellent question. Here are some positive quotes from Spurgeon about The Pilgrim's Progress:

    From - 7 Spurgeon Quotes for Those Who Carry Burdens.

    “Next to the Bible, the book I value most is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I believe I have read it through at least a hundred times” (Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress, 11).

    “Read anything [by John Bunyan], and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself. . . . Why, the man is a living Bible! Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him” (Autobiography 4:268).

    But more to the point see, Spurgeon’s One Qualm with Pilgrim’s Progress

    The Story Spurgeon Related:

    I am a great lover of John Bunyan, but I do not believe him infallible; and the other day I met with a story about him which I think a very good one.

    There was a young man, in Edinburgh, who wished to be a missionary. He was a wise young man; he thought—“If I am to be a missionary, there is no need for me to transport myself far away from home; I may as well be a missionary in Edinburgh.” . . .

    Well, this young man started, and determined to speak to the first person he met. He met one of those old fishwives; those of us who have seen them can never forget them, they are extraordinary women indeed. So, stepping up to her, he said, “Here you are, coming along with your burden on your back; let me ask you if you have got another burden, a spiritual burden.”

    “What!” she asked; “do you mean that burden in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress? Because, if you do, young man, I got rid of that many years ago, probably before you were born. But I went a better way to work than the pilgrim did. The evangelist that John Bunyan talks about was one of your parsons that do not preach the gospel; for he said, ‘Keep that light in thine eye, and run to the wicket-gate.’ Why—man alive!—that was not the place for him to run to. He should have said, ‘Do you see that cross? Run there at once!’ But, instead of that, he sent the poor pilgrim to the wicket-gate first; and much good he got by going there! He got tumbling into the slough, and was like to have been killed by it.”

    “But did not you,” the young man asked, “go through any Slough of Despond?”

    “Yes, I did; but I found it a great deal easier going through with my burden off than with it on my back.”

    The old woman was quite right. John Bunyan put the getting rid of the burden too far off from the commencement of the pilgrimage. If he meant to show what usually happens, he was right; but if he meant to show what ought to have happened, he was wrong.

    We must not say to the sinner, “Now, sinner, if thou wilt be saved, go to the baptismal pool; go to the wicket-gate; go to the church; do this or that.”

    No, the cross should be right in front of the wicket-gate; and we should say to the sinner, “Throw thyself down there, and thou art safe; but thou are not safe till thou canst cast off thy burden, and lie at the foot of the cross, and find peace in Jesus.”
  5. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    Thanks Ed. I was aware of Spurgeon's comments and I think Spurgeon gets right to the point.
  6. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Freshman

    I think we must recognize a few things with PP. Bunyan was exposing the variety of false professors and shallow cultural christians, and describing the fruit of regeneration in repentance from sin and the birth of new affections. So in this sense, this work is truly allegorical and not a fully comprehensive case study on receiving the word in faith and experience. I’m not sure how much Jesus is even mentioned prior to Christian coming to the cross.

    Obviously, true sorrow for sin can’t be detached from knowledge of the need for deliverance and the Deliverer. Anything less would lead us to the realm of mystical experience, which seems to be a snare often associated with very high Calvinism or the wrong side of Puritan record.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  7. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I always took that to mean, metaphorically, that he had been immersing himself in the Law, which led him to conviction of sin.
  8. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with the conviction/burden of sin (and eternal ruin) part.

    Faithful depicts his struggle against the first Adam, or was it Moses... ?
    Not sure about Christian. I don’t recall him knowing much of anything outside his crushing burden. I guess a metaphorical depiction of being under the law is being conveyed. But exactly what he read, and how he was led is up for theological analysis. The knowledge that we are sinners destined to hell is sobering and overwhelming so I understand the impact of these truths.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
  9. SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929

    SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929 Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you Stephen for this question! I have always wondered about this too!

    Also, it makes me think of another question. We are always mortifying sin. We are in a continual struggle and cycle of confessing our sins, and repenting which is turning from sin and fleeing to Christ.
    In a manner of speaking, even though ALL of our sins were imputed to Jesus in our Justification ... now in the process of Sanctification each time we repent isn't it like when Christian's burden fell off his back too?
    The reason I ask is that many times when I am repenting of something that has caused me to mourn and grieve deeply for my sin, I remember Christian when that happened and it feels like a "burden" is being lifted & removed.

    I know we are not to go by feelings .. but sometimes that scene does come to mind and that is how it feels.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  10. Branson

    Branson Puritan Board Freshman

    I think it is good to remember that the first part of the Pilgrim’s Progress has sections that are autobiographical to Bunyan’s own experience. If you read “Grace Abounding” you see where he struggled with assurance for years after his conversion. I think this part of the book mirrors Bunyan’s own experience in that he is converted (wicket gate), he is attending John Gifford’s church and is growing in knowledge and stability (Interpreter’s house) and then comes to assurance where his doubts finally fall away (the cross).
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
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