Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Serious Warning from Pilgrim's Progress

Now, said Christian, let me go hence. Nay, stay, said the Interpreter, till I have showed thee a little more, and after that thou shalt go on thy way. So he took him by the hand again, and led him into a very dark room, where there sat a man in an iron cage.

Now the man, to look on, seemed very sad; he sat with his eyes looking down to the ground, his hands folded together, and he sighed as if he would break his heart. Then said Christian, What means this? At which the Interpreter bid him talk with the man.
Then said Christian to the man, What art thou? The man answered, I am what I was not once.
CHRISTIAN: What wast thou once?
THE MAN: The man said, I was once a fair and flourishing professor, Luke 8:13, both in mine own eyes, and also in the eyes of others: I once was, as I thought, fair for the celestial city, and had then even joy at the thoughts that I should get thither.
CHRISTIAN: Well, but what art thou now?
THE MAN: I am now a man of despair, and am shut up in it, as in this iron cage. I cannot get out; Oh now I cannot!
CHRISTIAN: But how camest thou into this condition?
THE MAN: I left off to watch and be sober: I laid the reins upon the neck of my lusts; I sinned against the light of the word, and the goodness of God; I have grieved the Spirit, and he is gone; I tempted the devil, and he is come to me; I have provoked God to anger, and he has left me: I have so hardened my heart, that I cannot repent.
Then said Christian to the Interpreter, But is there no hope for such a man as this? Ask him, said the Interpreter.
CHRISTIAN: Then said Christian, Is there no hope, but you must be kept in the iron cage of despair?
THE MAN: No, none at all.
CHRISTIAN: Why, the Son of the Blessed is very pitiful.
THE MAN: I have crucified him to myself afresh, Heb. 6:6; I have despised his person, Luke 19:14; I have despised his righteousness; I have counted his blood an unholy thing; I have done despite to the spirit of grace, Heb. 10:29: therefore I have shut myself out of all the promises and there now remains to me nothing but threatenings, dreadful threatenings, faithful threatenings of certain judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour me as an adversary.
CHRISTIAN: For what did you bring yourself into this condition?
THE MAN: For the lusts, pleasures, and profits of this world; in the enjoyment of which I did then promise myself much delight: but now every one of those things also bite me, and gnaw me like a burning worm.
CHRISTIAN: But canst thou not now repent and turn?
THE MAN: God hath denied me repentance. His word gives me no encouragement to believe; yea, himself hath shut me up in this iron cage: nor can all the men in the world let me out. Oh eternity! eternity! how shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet with in eternity?
INTERPRETER: Then said the Interpreter to Christian, Let this man’s misery be remembered by thee, and be an everlasting caution to thee.
CHRISTIAN: Well, said Christian, this is fearful! God help me to watch and to be sober, and to pray that I may shun the cause of this man’s misery. Sir, is it not time for me to go on my way now?

-John Bunyan-


At Thursday, December 15, 2005 6:16:00 PM, Blogger Virginia said...

Wow, that brings back memories! I remember reading the Pilgrim's Progress in modern English for school when I was about 12 or 13. I came into your blog through Katlyn's (Burn 4 You), by the way. :)

At Thursday, December 15, 2005 6:47:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Good stuff Doug.

At Thursday, December 15, 2005 8:37:00 PM, Blogger Anna Mason said...

Oooooooh. I used to love that book. I've read it a couple of times. I think it is very deep.

At Thursday, December 15, 2005 10:08:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

The book is one of my favorites, I've read it a few times. Spurgeon who I love to read said he read it over 100 times. The amazing thing is that the book is full of some amazing theology.


At Monday, December 19, 2005 8:01:00 AM, Blogger bluecollar said...

Good stuff Doug!

At Wednesday, December 21, 2005 12:37:00 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

So Doug, what's your take on Bunyan's theology there? Can a person lose his salvation? Can he then find himself unredeemable, yet he longs to be?

Seems that you would have rejected this as bad theology being of the reformed ilk.

At Wednesday, December 21, 2005 3:10:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


Thanks for the post. Bunyan’s soteriology was reformed. He was basing this passage on Hebrews chapter 6. Bunyan understood this passage as describing people who were active in the church but not really children of God.

For me the key to understanding Heb. 6 which is a difficult passage (and I understand I won't be the final authority on it) is found in v.9. The author goes back to directly addressing his hearers and says, but we don't expect this of you (falling away). We expect things that accompany salvation. In context, perseverance seems to be one of those things that accompany salvation.

Bunyan's intentions are also clear with his reference to Luke 8:13. The man in the cage was merely a professor of religion, not a true believer. He was like the seed that fell on the rock, sprung up, but had no root.

The simple answer is no I don't believe a true believer can loose his/her salvation. Nor do I believe Bunyan was saying that we could. We are kept by the power of God. This passage in Pilgrims Progress is important because understanding this truth spurs us on in the things of God.

It functions almost in conjunction with the scripture that tells us to “make our election sure.” This passage and Heb. 6 challenges us by saying, make sure you are not like this.

Also, realizing that Bunyan’s book is an allegory, we also have to ask ourselves, “what would the man in the cage look like in real life. He would be a man who wants nothing to do with Christianity. He used to ascribe to some of that church stuff, but he found his sins more desirable. If you were to ask him to repent he would not say, “I want to but every time I try God says no.” In real life he would say, “I’m not going back to that nonsense, I’m not going to be one of those closed minded Christian.”

I hope that makes some sense. What are your thoughts on it?


At Wednesday, April 13, 2011 2:54:00 PM, Blogger Jon said...

I know this is old but found it and thought I should post. You notice the man will not call on the savior to remove him from his current condition? That is because he has become to prideful to. He has No ability to call on God because his pride won't let him, in a sense he has committed the only unpardonable sin. He has rejected salvation through Jesus and therefore knows that there is no other hope for himself.


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