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Not Wanting Others Saved

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Before Christian even enters the Wicket Gate, Mr. Worldly Wiseman intercepts him and gets him to give up his quest in favor of going to house of Legality instead. It makes sense for Worldly Wiseman not to go to the Cross himself, since he takes comfort in following the rules of Legality and Civility and is counting on them to ease his conscience concerning his ultimate fate. But why does he go out of his way to keep others from the Cross? What benefit is it for him to have anyone else follow his example?

The motivations behind his actions are the same most people have behind wanting others to defect to their own position. Mr. Worldly Wiseman has taken comfort in following Legality’s quaint rules and regulations. He hates the Cross of Christ, because the ramifications of the Cross really being what it claims to be, is that Mr. Worldly Wiseman himself is NOT okay. The Cross means that he CAN’T attain his own salvation by following the Law the way he hopes that he can. The Cross means that we are to give up our own attempts and cling to Christ. Everything Worldly Wiseman has worked for is useless if the Cross is real.

There is a comfort in knowing that others have also taken the path you have chosen. Any doubts that might arise can be quashed simply by looking at all the others who have joined you in the sinking boat you’re all in. But when you look away from your own group and see someone going along a different path only to have their burden removed FOR them… those fears and feelings of inadequacy return.┬áIt means that your own burden should not have been removed, and all your works to remove it yourself have been in vain.

There is a similar incident in the Second Part of Pilgrim’s Progress. Christiana decides to leave on the path to the Celestial City for herself, and her neighbors come to try and dissuade her. Christiana hasn’t done anything to them, and nothing particularly bad would happen to them if she did leave, yet still they can’t stand to see her go. The reasoning is the same as Worldly Wiseman’s: If Christianity is true, then they are not safe. Christian’s and Christiana’s very existence is a threat to their way of life. It’s easier to try to ignore it and to keep living their life the same way they were, than to imagine it might be true and follow it themselves.

The more people you can be around who think the same way you do, the easier it becomes to ignore the whole matter, and think that all those ‘other people’ are just crazy after all.

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Bunyan’s Theology and Christian’s Burden

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

At the beginning of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character, Christian, has a burden on his back. If the reader is wise to the allegory Bunyan is working with (as the introduction would certainly make them), they would more than likely conclude that the burden which Christian is caring is his ‘sin’.

This though, is a misunderstanding of where Bunyan is coming from – the burden is not Christian’s sin. Bunyan attempts to explain this to us, but in a roundabout way. He makes Christian enter though the Wicket Gate and yet still retain his burden. After this, Christian reaches the Cross and Sepulcher and it is only at this point that his burden is removed.

This ordering of events is highly important (and was a very deliberate move on Bunyan’s part). Throughout the rest of the allegory, Bunyan is clear to explain that the salvation of a person (e.g. what puts you on the path of righteousness and saves you) is that they have entered through The Wicket Gate and received their papers. But if Christian is actually saved at the Wicket Gate, then why does he still carry his burden? Why is the Sepulcher located AFTER the Wicket Gate? Read more…