John Bunyan (1628-1688) is best known as the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Yes, he lived that long ago and the popularity of his book has lasted these many years. John was the son of a poor tinker, one who repairs pots and pans. He was born near Bedford, England, and his parents were quite used to “fire and brimstone” preaching on Sundays.
John had little formal education but enjoyed studying the Bible. His sins rested heavily on his mind and he sensed that God would not save such a mean boy. Even when he started preaching, he struggled with the assurance of his salvation. He remembered the sermons he heard as a youth and felt himself caught in a slough of muck and mire, on his way to hell.
Bunyan read such greats as Luther, Knox, and Cromwell and took various theologies from all for his personal stand. He wrote many pamphlets to state his beliefs and often these pointed out objections he had with such groups as the Quakers. His wife, Mary, would occasionally differ with some of his writings, yet remain faithful to his practice of truth-telling and active faith.
As Bunyan’s preaching drew many to hear him, the state-approved churches did not approve. He landed in jail and that’s where he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress to be later published in 1678. That such a book in King James’ English has remained a classic begs questions as to why. I’ll address this in my next blog and introduce you to its writing style and popularity.