Friday, March 28, 2003

No blogging on this site till Monday night. We're seeing friends on Long Island tomorrow, and Sunday we're going to see the Devils-Islanders hockey game. (it's kindof funny - we're going to church to worship God in the morning, then going to a hockey game to root for the Devils in the afternoon. Of course that's Devils, not Devil - big difference!)

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 17 The Pilgrims Meet the Flatterers

Christian and Hopeful walk on until they reach a fork in the road and it is not obvious which way they should go. Soon a man wearing a light-colored robe comes up, and the Pilgrims ask him the way. The man says, "Follow me, that is where I'm going." Christian and Hopeful follow the man on a path which turns ever so slowly away from Celestial City until they are actually going away from their destination. Soon their guide leads them into a net which has been prepared for them and they are trapped. The man removes his robe, and they see him for who he really is. Christian says, "Didn't the Shepherds warn us to beware of the flatterers? As is the saying of the Wise Man, we have found it to be so this very day: 'Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.' " Hopeful also laments the fact that they did not think to consult the map given to them by the Shepherds

Christian and Hopeful remain trapped in the net for a while, until a Shining One approaches them with a whip made of small cord in his hand. He asks them where they came from and where they are going, and when he is told of the man trapping them in the net, the Shining One says, "It is Flatterer, a False Apostle who is masquerading as an angel of light. Follow me, so I may set you in your way again."

The Shining One also asks them where they stayed the previous night, and when told they stayed with the Shepherds of the Delightful Mountains, he asks them if they were given a Map of the Way.
"Yes," they answered.
"Did you take out your Map and read it?"
"We forgot"

He asked further if they were warned to beware of the Flatterer, and they admit to that, but also that they didn't imagine that such a fine-spoken person could have been he. The Shining One orders Christian and Hopeful to lie down, and when they do so, he chastises them severely. "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent." Afterwards, he tells them to go and pay particular attention to the warnings of the Shepherds. So off they go, thanking him for his kindness and singing.

Christian and Hopeful then meet up with a man walking the wrong way, named Atheist. When Atheist hears that Christian and Hopeful are going to Celestial City, he starts laughing. "I laugh to see what ignorant persons you are to take upon yourselves such an exhausting journey, and yet you're likely to have nothing but your travel for your pains."
"Why, Man?" asks Christian. "Do you think we won't be received?"
"Received!" exclaimed Atheist. "In all this world there is no such place as you dream of."

Atheist goes on to tell how he left his home twenty years ago to search for Celestial City and has never found it. He is returning home to refresh himself with the things he had cast away for the sake of the journey.

Christian asks Hopeful if what Atheist says might be true. Hopeful says to take heed, Atheist is one of the Flatterers. He also says that Christian should be teaching him the lesson he is delivering to Christian, and urges Christian to not believe anything Atheist says. Christian replies that he was not saying that as an expression of doubt on his part, but was speaking in such a way as to test Hopeful. Christian and Hopeful turn away from Atheist and continue their journey. Atheist continues back to his original home, laughing at our Pilgrims.

Thoughts on this chapter
Christian and Hopeful trust an untrustworthy guide, and are ensnared. They are delivered, yet chastised for not heeding wisdom which would have spared them from danger. After the chastisement, they express no guilt or grief, they are glad and give thanks for the deliverance, and will remember the experience for good if the situation should arise again.

Atheist gives up on his journey, yet Celestial City was in view, though dimly, when Christian and Hopeful looked through the lens back at the Delightful Mountains. I'm reminded of a nineteenth century explorer, John Wesley Powell, who was the first man to traverse and map the Grand Canyon. As no one had done this before, no one knew how big the Canyon really was. He and his companions were traveling through the Canyon on the Colorado River. They were short on supplies, but Powell was determined to go on. There weren't enough supplies to make it back the way they came anyway. One day several members of his team decided to give up. They decided to leave the party and hike out of the canyon back to civilization. They didn't make it. They were killed at the hands of Shivwits Indians. What happened to Powell and those who remained with him? They reached the end of the canyon two days later.

Alert readers will note that the name of the blog has changed. I'm now naming it right left whatever. (same initials as before, so the url fits! but I can't use it as a domain name, shucks - so when I move it to Movable Type, there goes that feature)

I'm making some changes to the blog today, the old template & the old name no longer seem appropriate. First of all, I'm doing more than writing about the Religious Left now, and the name was kindof confrontational, as if the Religious Left were enemies that needed to be watched. Well, I do disagree with those who use religion as a stalking-horse to promote a political agenda, all too often at the expense of other people's liberty, and I'm going to continue to talk about that, but that's not all I want this blog to be.

I'm also making a few changes to my profile on the left. For starters, I'm no longer saying that I'm a former Unitarian Universalist. That was so long ago now that I no longer think it is an important part of who I am. If anyone needs to know, I'm not ashamed of it and I'll bring it up. It just isn't the most important thing about me anymore.

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 16 The Pilgrims' Discussion About Little Faith

Today's chapter is a transition chapter, consisting mainly of a conversation between Christian and Hopeful about another Pilgrim who is otherwise not in the story.

The chapter begins with our Pilgrims walking along, when to their left, another path merges into their own, and that path comes from the Country of Conceit. Along that path comes another pilgrim, Ignorance. Just as Formality and Hypocrisy did earlier, this character thinks he can just saunter onto the Path without going in through the gate. Christian asks, "But how do you think you'll get in at the gate? For you may find some difficulty there." Ignorance answers, "As other people do." "But what do you have to show at that gate in order for it to be opened to you?" "I know my Lord's will, and I've lived a good life. I pay every man what I owe him; I pray, fast, pay tithes, and give offerings; and I've left my country to go where I'm now going."

Christian tells Ignorance that he will be considered a thief and a robber when the day of reckoning comes. Ignorance shrugs off the rebuke, saying, "Gentlemen, you are absolute strangers to me. I don't know you. Be content to follow the religion of your country, and I will follow that of mine. I hope all will be well. And as for the Gate that you talk about, all the world knows that it's a great distance away from our country. I can't imagine that anyone in all our parts even so much as knows the way to it. Nor does it matter whether they do or not since, as you see, we have a fine pleasant green lane coming down from our country the next way into it."

Christian whispers to Hopeful, "There is more hope for a fool than for him". They decide to walk ahead and leave Ignorance alone. They'll talk to him again later, if he can stand it.

As they all continue, they enter a dark lane, and come upon a man bound with seven strong cords, being carried by seven evil spirits to the door they saw in the side of the hill in the previous chapter [the door to Hell]. Christian tries to see if he can recognize the man, perhaps he is Turn Away from the Town of Apostasy but the face is shrouded, but as they all pass each other, Hopeful can read on his back a paper which says, "Wanton professor and damnable apostate".

Now Christian and Hopeful start talking about another Pilgrim who walked this way earlier, named Little Faith, from the Town of Sincere. Little Faith sat down to rest and fell asleep. Three hoodlums happened to come down the path, Faint Heart, Mistrust, and Guilt; and with threatening language, Faint Heart ordered him to stand and hand over his money. Little Faith was slow to respond, and Mistrust runs up pulls a bag of silver out of the victim's pocket. Little Faith cries out "Thieves! Thieves!" and Guilt knocks him out with a blow to the head. The thieves hear someone coming, and thinking it might be Great Grace from the City of Good Confidence, they run off. Little Faith eventually comes to, and struggles on.

Little Faith had not lost everything he owned, however. He still had some Jewels and his Certificate, by good providence. All of his spending money was gone, as he did not dare part with the Jewels, so for the duration of his journey to Celestial City, he was forced to beg to keep himself alive.

Hopeful says that it was a good thing that the Thieves did not take Little Faith's certificate, but Christian replies that Little Faith should have taken care to use it more often (when Christian got his at the Cross, he was told to read it regularly and take comfort from it). Indeed, for the rest of Little Faith's journey, he rarely looks at his Certificate, being so upset over the loss of his money. He is so upset in fact, that his conversation from that point on is full of complaints of his loss.

Hopeful then asks Christian why Little Faith could not have sold or pawned his Jewels. Christian replies that in the country where he was robbed, the Jewels were of no importance, but if Little Faith had not had them when he reached Celestial City, he would have been excluded from an inheritance. "But Little Faith -- though it was his lot to have only a little faith -- was kept by his little faith from such wastefulness and made to see and prize his Jewels more than to sell them as Esau did his birthright..."

Hopeful then comments on the character of the three robbers and asks why Little Faith did not respond with a greater heart. Christian tells him it is easy to talk that way apart from the event "and should they appear to you as they did to him, they might cause you second thoughts." Also, they serve under the King of the Abyss, who will come to their aid if called, so dealing with them is no trivial matter. Christian tells of an encounter he himself had (which is not otherwise mentioned in the book) and how he survived only being clothed with proven armor. Hopeful replies that the robbers ran off when they supposed that Great Grace was coming, and Christian agrees, but also says, "All the King's subjects are not His champions, nor when tried can they do such feats of war as he. Is it right to think that a little child should handle Goliath as David did, or that there should be the strength of an ox in a bird? Some are strong; some are weak. Some have great faith; some have little. This man was one of the weak, and therefore, he was pressed to the walls." Christian also replies that even for Great Grace, a fight with these robbers and their king would provide quite a challenge, and "Whoever looks close upon Great Grace's face will see those scars and cuts there that will easily demonstrate what I say..."

Christian also tells Hopeful to not be overconfident and to never desire to meet with an enemy nor "brag as if we could better when we hear of others who have been foiled..." He tells of Peter who "would stand up for his Master more than all men. But who was so foiled and run down by these villains as he?" "Therefore, when we hear that such robberies are committed on the King's Highway, it behooves us to do two things; First -- to go out equipped, and to be sure to take a shield with us;.....Second, it's also good that we desire of The King that He give us an escort. Yes, that He go with us himself...."

Thoughts on this chapter
Ignorance represents the belief that any religion is as good as any other. He practices good works, but has not entered the gate. Even though he claims to "know my Lord's will", he has no idea who the Lord is. We will spend more time with him later.

Little Faith is robbed by Faint Heart, Mistrust, and Guilt, and loses all his spending money. His journey is made more difficult, and with much complaining, but he does not sell his inheritance, and he continues on the way. Guilt can still waylay us, even though our sins have been forgiven. It can interfere with our walk with God if we let it fester. Remember what Christ did for you and claim that forgiveness again. If you've been holding out from God on some disobedience, confess it and get right with Him. If you're holding resentments against someone else, forgive it and let it go.

Christian tells us to be prepared; carry a shield. The shield of course, is our faith as Paul says in Ephesians 6. We also need a sword, the word of God, to provide an offensive weapon in our spiritual warfare. We also need an escort, provided by the Lord Himself. He, of course, is the Holy Spirit, who indwells the believer, leading and guiding us, and making our way straight. In Part 2 of The Pilgrim's Progress, which we will be covering soon, our second set of Pilgrims will have an actual escort on their journey.

And one more thought: Having just a little faith doesn't condemn you -- it may make your Christian discipleship a bit more difficult for you (and for those around you), but it doesn't mean that God doesn't love you any less, or is concerned for you any less. That love is great, marvelous, and steadfast. It is not dependent on the size of your faith.

Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!
You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence
From the plots of man;
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion
From the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD,
For He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
For I said in my haste,
"I am cut off from before Your eyes";
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried out to You.
Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!
For the LORD preserves the faithful,
And fully repays the proud person.
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the LORD.
Psalm 31:19-24 NKJV

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 15 The Pilgrims Reach the Delightful Mountains

Christian and Hopeful walk on and their next stop is at the Delightful Mountains, which Christian saw earlier from a distance when he stayed at the home of the Family (Chapter 8). Here they find rest and encouragement from Shepherds who tend their flocks there. The Pilgrims approach the Shepherds and ask "whose Mountains are these?" to which the Shepherds reply, "These mountains are Immanuel's Land, and they're within sight of His city. The sheep are also His, and He laid down His life for them." Christian asks, "Is this the way to Celestial City?" "You're in the Way", reply the Shepherds. "How far is it to there?" "Too far for anyone except those who indeed get there." The conversation is a little mysterious, but the Shepherds are actually sizing up the Pilgrims, gauging their understanding. When the Shepherds realize that the Pilgrims are indeed wayfaring men, they open up and start speaking freely, including asking Christian and Hopeful all about their journey

The Shepherds' names are Knowledge, Experience, Watchfulness, and Sincerity. They offer refreshment to the Pilgrims and ask them to stay there for a while and obtain rest. The next day, the Shepherds show Christian and Hopeful a few things. First they are led to the top of a hill called Error, which is very steep on the far side. They look to the bottom and see the bodies of several men dashed to pieces. They are told these are the bodies of those who were "caused to err by listening to Hymenaeus and Philetus concerning the faith of the resurrection of the body" (2 Timothy 2:17-18)

They are then led to the top of another mountain called Caution and asked to look far off in the distance. They see blind men walking up and down among the tombs that were over there. Christian asks what this means. The Shepherds answered, "Didn't you see a short distance below these mountains a set of steps that led into a meadow on the left hand side of this way?" "Yes", they replied. The Shepherds then tell about how a false path leads over those steps to Doubting Castle, where Giant Despair captures Pilgrims who stray onto the false path, imprisons them, and after a time, puts out their eyes and sets them among the tombs, where they are doomed to wander forevermore, so that the words of the Wise Man might be fulfilled, "A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead." Christian and Hopeful look at each other with tears streaming from their eyes, but they do not tell the Shepherds of their prior ordeal.

The Shepherds then lead the Pilgrims to another place in the valley where a door is in the side of a hill. The door is opened and sounds of torment and the smell of burning sulphur come forth. The Shepherds say, "This is an entrance to Hell,through which hypocrites go, such as those who sell their birthright with Esau, such as those who sell their Master with Judas, such as those who blaspheme the gospel with Alexander (1 Timothy 1:18), and who lie and pretend with Ananias and his wife Sapphira. (Acts 4:32-5:10)"

Hopeful asks, "I suppose each and every one of these presented a show of going on the Pilgrimage just as we are now on, didn't they?"
"Yes," said a Shepherd, "and stayed on the Pilgrimage a long time, too."
"How far could they have gone on the Pilgrimage in their day if they had not been so miserably cast away?" asked Hopeful.
"Some farther, " said the Shepherd, "and some not as far as these mountains."

The Pilgrims express the need to cry out to The Strong for strength, and the Shepherds reply, "Yes, and you'll have need to use it when you receive it, too."

Now the Pilgrims feel the need to move on, but the Shepherds have one more sight to show. They all go to the top of another hill called Clear, and are given the opportunity to look through a lens to see Celestial City in the distance. The Pilgrims cannot hold the lens still as they are shaken up by seeing the entrance to Hell, nevertheless, they think they see something like the gate and some of the glory of that place.

Now it is time to go, and one of the Shepherds gives them a Map of the Way, another tells them to beware of The Flatterer, the third tells them not to sleep upon the Enchanted Ground, and a fourth bids them God Speed. The Pilgrims depart singing a song of thanksgiving for the mysteries revealed by the Shepherds.

Thoughts on this chapter
Good news, Bad news. We're getting close to the destination, but we are also told that disaster can befall a Pilgrim at any time along the Path. Christian and Hopeful catch a glimpse of what may have befallen them had not Christian discovered the Promise Key in the breast pocket of his coat back in Doubting Castle. They also see that Pilgrims advanced on the Path can also find themselves in Hell. This opens up huge theological questions, and I think, based on this chapter, that Bunyan did not believe that salvation is a permanent state of grace. I said in a previous chapter that I believe that God forgives all of our sins, past, present, and future when we receive His grace, but I'm also not sure (I don't want to test this either) if that would still hold true if someone were to turn away from the Path via unbelief. Of course, as we saw earlier, and will see again, Pilgrims who enter the Path without going through the gate (except for Hopeful - the allegory isn't exact here) are in for a big surprise when they find out the Lord never knew them.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Today is my birthday!

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 14 The Pilgrims Deal With Giant Despair

Christian and Hopeful walk along the river, and not too far along, the Way and the river part, which disappoints them. The path becomes rocky and difficult, and they start grumbling, wishing for a more comfortable path. Soon they see a fenced meadow to their left, and a set of steps over the fence, and a comfortable path on the other side. Christian suggests they walk in the meadow. Hopeful is not sure, thinking they could be led out of the Way. Christian dismisses his concern, he points to the path and notes its parallel to their own. So off they go.

In the meadow, they meet another pilgrim named Vain Confidence. Christian and Hopeful ask him where the new-found path leads, and he assures them it goes to Celestial City, so being reassured, they all go along, Vain Confidence leading the way. Nighttime comes, and it becomes hard to see the path, when suddenly Vain Confidence falls into a deep pit. The pit has been placed there on purpose, they are all in grave danger. Vain Confidence is gravely injured, and does not answer when Christian calls out for him. Christian realizes that he has placed Hopeful's life, and his own, by his foolish decision to leave the path. Hopeful regrets listening to Christian's advice, but after a few harsh words between them, Christian asks for, and receives, Hopeful's forgiveness, and they agree to turn back and get back on the path as fast as they can. The path back is more difficult however. Not only is it dark and it begins to rain. The water rises, and they cannot make it back to the steps over the fence that night, so they stop to rest under whatever shelter they can find. What else can go wrong?

Not far from them is a castle called Doubting Castle, home of Giant Despair and his wife Diffidence, and they are the owners of the property where Christian and Hopeful have been trespassing. When Giant Despair awakes the next day and walks through his fields, he catches Christian and Hopeful, and takes them to his dungeon, where they are left without food or water for several days. Giant Despair tells his wife about the new prisoners, and she urges him to beat them without mercy, so he gets himself a crab tree club and beats them until they cannot move. The next night, Diffidence tells her husband to suggest to the prisoners that they kill themselves, so he goes to them and suggests they might be happier if they commit suicide. He then attempts to attack them in order to motivate them to do so, but suffers a fit so that he cannot control the use of his hand, so he withdraws and leaves them alone.

Christian and Hopeful discuss suicide, but Hopeful is firm -- the Lord has prohibited murder, and murder against one's own self is most egregious, killing the body and soul in one fell swoop. Giant Despair returns again, and is enraged that the prisoners are still alive, but refrains from attacking them again. Diffidence tells her husband to show them the bones and skulls in his courtyard of all his previous victims -- surely that will make the prisoners lose all hope. This he does, and tells Christian and Hopeful their bones will join them within the next ten days. He then returns them to the dungeon with another beating.

That night, as Giant Despair and his wife discuss the prisoners, he expresses dismay that he hasn't been able to finish them off. Diffidence is afraid they may receive help or pick the lock. Giant Despair says he will search them in the morning. Christian and Hopeful spend the night in prayer, and just before dawn, Christian is inspired, "What a fool I am! To lay here in a stinking dungeon, when I could just as easily walk at liberty! In my coat, next to my heart, I have a Key called Promise. I'm persuaded it will open any lock in Doubting Castle." They use the key, and sure enough, the dungeon door creaks open. It makes such a loud sound, that Giant Despair is awakened and rises to pursue his escaping prisoners. He is so enraged that he suffers one of his fits again, so Christian and Hopeful are able to make their escape.

At the steps over the fence, Christian and Hopeful erect a pillar in order to warn future pilgrims: "Over these steps is the way to Doubting Castle, which is kept by Giant Despair, who despises the King of the Celestial Country and seeks to destroy His holy Pilgrims."

Thoughts on this chapter
Christian foolishly leads Hopeful off the path, and into Doubting Castle they go. This chapter is rather personal to me, for I grew up as a Christian, and went off the path about the time I graduated from college. I was in a state of serious doubt for twenty years, denying my faith. Why did I do it? Looking back at it, I was disappointed in some things my church was doing. This was 1982, and the Moral Majority was in the news all the time. I had more leftist views then, and I listened to the media's criticism of the Moral Majority and believed all of it, and slowly began to resent some activities my church was sponsoring, such as protests at abortion clinics. Rather than discuss my concerns with my pastor, I let my unhappiness fester until I couldn't stand it anymore and I walked away. I didn't even consider going to another church that would have ministered in another way. My mind had been poisoned to the point where I thought evangelical Christians were the bad guys, and even the mainline ones were just a waste of time.

What led me back? It's hard to identify one thing really. From a political point of view, events in the last half of the 1990s led me to think that all the leftist spiel I had believed was a flat out lie. I began to reconsider all the criticism of "The Religious Right" I had believed for so long. Now I still have some concerns about how Christianity is presented by such groups. For one thing, when the main emphasis is on morality instead of grace and forgiveness, I don't think there is much there to attract sinners to repent. They're going to look at religion the same way I look at a plate of liver and onions and snub it. But getting back to the point -- I reconsidered my doubts, and I started reexamining my lifestyle and my beliefs. I didn't think my lifestyle would support my marriage over the long haul. Sure Amy said she loved me and supported me, but when I looked at our religious environment (we were Unitarian Universalists back then) and what I was giving to the marriage, I doubted that we had a solid rock that our marriage would stand on for the next fifty years or more. I looked at Christianity as a faith that could save my marriage, and I didn't want to wait till there was a real crisis to depend on it. It took a while, but I could detect God doing things in my life. In 2000 I started praying again, though I was still hanging on to some independence from God. In the summer of 2001, I decided to repent and give up my last bit of resistance, and I let Him have me. The difference in my life that day was as sudden as if I had pulled a key out from my coat pocket and unlocked a prison door.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 13 The Pilgrims and the Deceitfulness of Riches

Christian walks alone for only a short while, for immediately upon leaving Vanity, he comes upon another pilgrim named Hopeful, who is one of the people whose heart was moved by the testimony of Christian and Faithful in their trial detailed in the previous chapter. Hopeful joins up with Christian and they journey together, Hopeful even tells Christian that there are many others like him back in Vanity who will undertake the journey shortly.

The pilgrims meet another man on the path, named ByEnds1, who tells them he is from the town of Fairspeech and also going to Celestial City, though he does not divulge his name, even after he is asked for it. Christian resumes the conversation by commenting of the town of Fairspeech, saying he is familiar with it, that it is a wealthy place. ByEnds agrees, "Yes, I'll assure you it is, and I have very many rich relatives there." Christian asks who his relatives, and ByEnds replies "Almost the whole town," and lists a number of them: the honorable Mr. Time Server, Mr. Fair Speech, Mr. Smooth Man, Mr. Facing Bothways, Mr. Anything, and the pastor, Mr. Two Tongues. Christian asks if ByEnds is married, and it turns out that yes, indeed he is, and his wife is a very virtuous woman, and is the daughter of a virtuous woman. ByEnds sounds like a very socially respectable fellow, but Christian says, in an aside to Hopeful, "It crosses my mind that this is a certain Mr. ByEnds of Fairspeech. If it is him, we have as great a rascal in our company as lives in all these parts." Hopeful says, "Ask him, I wouldn't think he'd be ashamed of his name." So Christian asks, and ByEnds reveals that that is not his true name, but a nickname given to him by people who do not like him.

Christian asks ByEnds if he might have done anything to deserve the nickname, to which ByEnds replies, "Never! Never! The worst I ever did to give them a reason to give me this name was that I always had the luck to look ahead when making judgments regarding the state of the times--whatever the decisions--and my fate was to get wealth through them. But if things are bestowed upon me, let me count them a blessing, and don't let malicious people load me up with reproach because of it."

Christian hears ByEnds defense of his character, and replies, "I thought you were surely the man I'd heard of. To tell you what I think, I'm afraid this name belongs to you more properly than you would like to have us believe."

Christian then tells ByEnds that if he wants to continue in their company, he must be willing to go against wind and tide, and Christian anticipates that this will not sit well with ByEnds. Sure enough, ByEnds refuses to go with any restrictions on his liberty, so Christian and Hopeful continue without him. Now three individuals approach ByEnds and talk with him, Mr. Holdtheworld, Mr. Moneylove, and Mr. Saveall. They are all old friends from youth, and engage in a long conversation about using religion to get wealthy, getting in a few jabs at Christian and Hopeful, who are still in sight as they proceed up ahead. They decide to engage Christian and Hopeful in the conversation, and move to catch up.

When they catch up, Mr. Holdtheworld presents a question to Christian, one which had been asked by ByEnds in their previous discussion, "Suppose a man, a minister, a tradesman, or such should see before him the favorable possibility of getting good things from this life. And suppose there is no way he can obtain them without at least in appearance becoming extraordinarily zealous in some points of religion with which he has no experience. May he not use this means to attain his end and yet remain a perfectly honest man?" Christian sees through the ruse and replies, "Even a babe in religion may answer ten thousand such questions. If it's unlawful to follow Christ to obtain loaves, as shown in John six, how much more abominable is it to make of Him and religion a stalking-horse2 to get and enjoy the world? Nor do we find anyone but heathen, hypocrites, devils, and sorcerers who hold this opinion..." He goes and lists several examples from Scripture of people who used religion to get dishonest gain, such as Hamor and Shechem (from Genesis - the man who wanted to marry Dinah, Jacob's daughter, he and his countrymen agreed to be circumcised in order to share in Jacob's prosperity); the Pharisees who prayed long prayers in public, but whose intent was to gain the houses of widows; Judas, who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver; Simon, the sorcerer, who wanted the gift of the Holy Spirit, so he could add miracles to his repertoire of magic. Everyone is speechless at Christian's answer, so Christian and Hopeful continue on while the other four stay behind, dumbfounded.

Christian and Hopeful soon pass through a smooth plain called Ease, which they quickly pass through, and then come upon a hill called Lucre, and hear a man called Demas calling out, "Hey! Turn aside here, and I'll show you something." Christian and Hopeful ask what it is that is worthy of their attention, and Demas tells them there is a silver mine in the hill. If they will just turn aside, everyone can get rich. Hopeful says, "Let's go see", but Christian stops him--saying he has heard of this place and it is very dangerous. Many have slipped on bad ground and killed themselves by falling into the mine. "Besides, that treasure is a snare to those who seek it, for it hinders them in their Pilgrimage." Christian confronts Demas, "Isn't that place dangerous? Hasn't it hindered many in their Pilgrimage?" Demas replies, "Not very dangerous, except to those who are careless" But he blushes as he speaks. Hopeful reminds Christian of the others behind them in the path, and predicts they will turn aside for the mine. After a few more exchanges with Demas, Christian and Hopeful walk on. Then, sure enough, ByEnds and his friends turn off the path at the first call of Demas. They are never seen again.

Christian and Hopeful proceed on, soon passing a pillar in the shape of a woman. They read an inscription on the pillar which says, "Remember Lot's Wife". They then talk about the temptation offered by the silver mine and Hopeful expresses sorrow at his desire to turn off the path, and that he deserved the same fate as Lot's wife. Christian tells him to learn from the example, and be glad they were not made to be an example for others themselves.

As the chapter ends, Christian and Hopeful find the path going by a river, what David called the "river of God", and John called the "river of the water of life". There are fruit-bearing trees here, bearing medicinal fruit, and a pleasant meadow. Christian and Hopeful rest here for several days.

Thoughts on this chapter
Prayer of Jabez? - NOT! The Reverend Bunyan tells us ever so sternly that those who think walking with God will guarantee prosperity are not fit to call themselves Christians. Also, those who would leave the life of Christian discipleship in order to pursue riches are not fit to be called Christians.

Again, just as yesterday, the concepts that Bunyan presents are challenging. Is it ok for a businessman to do business with a fellow church-member? I'd be inclined to say yes, but if the businessman is using the church directory for a calling list, I'd say he's gone too far. Another example cited in this chapter is a minister who becomes more religious in order to receive a greater salary. I've got a little disagreement with that. Ministers generally aren't paid a lot of money, many of them probably deserve more than they get, and I see no problem with someone becoming better educated and well-trained in order to be worth more in their career market. If it improves their ministry, great. On the other hand, for those who use deception and showmanship, such as what many associate with televangelists, I've got no respect at all.

Definitions of some archaic terms used in this chapter:
1 ByEnds: an object lying aside from the main one; a subordinate end or aim; especially a secret selfish purpose, a covert purpose of private advantage.
2 stalking-horse: a horse trained to allow a hunter to hide behind it while hunting. Bunyan presents the idea of an individual using religion and the person of Christ to hide behind while pursuing worldly gain.

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 12 The Pilgrims Suffer at the Vanity Fair

Christian and Faithful emerge from the wilderness and see a town before them, the notorious Vanity, home of the Vanity Fair, a year-end market of ancient origins, where everything sold or that comes there is meaningless, as in the saying of the Wise, "Everything to come is meaningless".

The origins of the fair are ancient, founded almost five thousand years ago, as Pilgrims going to Celestial City were observed going along this path. Recognizing that the path went through this town, Vanity, Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion and their companions conspired to set up this fair which would sell all sorts of worthless things, and would always be open. All sorts of merchandise are sold, such as "houses, lands, businesses, places, honors, promotions, titles, countries, kingdoms, desires, pleasures, and delights of all sorts such as prostitutes, brothels, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and so forth". There are also all sorts of games, cheats, fools, and rascals, and all sorts of thefts, murders, adulteries, and perjury. There are many streets here, named after the nations and kingdoms of the world, such as Britain Avenue, French Avenue, Spanish Avenue (and others).

One day, the Prince of princes Himself, came to this fair, and Beelzebub personally invited Him to purchase the meaningless things of the fair, and would have made Him Lord of the fair if He would only have worshipped him. The Blessed One had no desire for the merchandise and left the fair.

So, returning to Christian and Faithful: they have to go through the fair, so in they go, and the whole town is in a hubbub for several reasons -- first, that Christian and Faithful are wearing strange clothes (remember Christian's armor); second, they talk funny, speaking the language of the land of Canaan (the language of the land of promise), and third, they regard the wares of the fair as utterly unimportant and worthless. One merchant, particularly perturbed that our Pilgrims refuse to buy asks, "What do you intend to buy?" They reply, "We buy the truth."

At that, mocking and taunting break out in the mob and a great uproar ensues, so great that the great one of the fair is called, who appoints some of his friends to take and interrogate the Pilgrims. They are asked where they came from and where they are going, and why they are there in such strange attire. They reply that they are pilgrims and strangers in this land, and going to their own country, the Heavenly Jerusalem. They deny doing anything to the men of the town to deserve such abuse, except maybe for saying "We buy the truth." They then ask to be allowed to continue their journey.

Christian and Faithful are not believed to be anything other than lunatics, so they are beaten and put in cages to make a public spectacle. But their patience and forbearance move many in the crowd to check and blame the meaner ones among them for their abuse. This results in fighting amongst the crowd as the meaner ones attack the ones urging better treatment for the pilgrims.

Christian and Faithful are then brought before the examiners again, where they are beat again, and have irons hanged upon them, and are led through the streets in chains. Again, Christian and Faithful face their persecution with meekness and patience, so that some in the crowd are moved in their behalf. However, this puts the rest of the crowd in such a rage that they decide that the pilgrims should die for the outrage they had done and for deluding the people of the fair. Christian and Faithful are returned to their cages to await trial. The pilgrims then take comfort from the words of Evangelist, and comfort each other with the knowledge that he whose lot it is to suffer death would have the best of it.

The trial begins: they are brought forth before their enemies and arraigned. The judge's name is Judge Hate Good. They are charged with being "enemies of and disturbers of the town's trade; they had made commotions and caused divisions in the town, and in contempt of the law of the town's ruler they had won over a number of individuals to their own most dangerous opinions."

Faithful offers his defense, "And as for the disturbance, I didn't cause any being myself a man of peace. Those who were won to us were won by acknowledging our truth and innocence, and they have only been turned from the worse to the better. And as for the king you talk of, since he is Beelzebub, the enemy of our Lord, I defy him and all his angels."

Witnesses are called to testify against the pilgrims; three come in, Envy, Superstition, and Gainglory. Envy accuses Faithful of being "one of the vilest men of the country. He does not regard either ruler or people, or law or custom, ...and I heard him once declare that Christianity and the customs of our town of Vanity were diametrically opposite and could not be reconciled." Superstition accuses Faithful of saying that the town's religion was nothing, and tells the judge that he must know what follows his reasoning. Gainglory accuses Faithful of making critical remarks of the town's noble ruler, Beelzebub, and his honorable friends, "the honorable Mr. Old Man, the honorable Mr. Carnal Delight, the honorable Mr. Luxurious, the honorable Mr. Desire of Glory, my old master Mr. Lechery, Mr. Having Greedy, together with all the rest of our noble leaders."

When the witnesses are finished, Judge Hate Good asks Faithful, "You Renegade, Heretic, and Traitor, have you heard what these honest gentlemen have testified against you?" Faithful replies that he has and asks to speak in his defense. Judge Hate Good replies that Faithful deserves to be put to death immediately, but "so that all men may see our gentleness toward you, let us hear what you have to say."

Faithful replies, to Envy's testimony, that he only said that what is opposed to the Word of God is also diametrically opposed to Christianity. To Superstition's testimony, he replies that divine faith is required for worship of God, and divine faith requires a revelation of the will of God. Whatever is thrust into the worship of God that is not subject to divine revelation is an invention of human faith, "and that is faith that will not gain anyone eternal life." In reply to Gainglory's testimony, Faithful says, "I say that the ruler of this town, with all the riffraff--his attendants who were named by this gentleman--are more fit for being in Hell than in this town and country. And so, the Lord have mercy on me."

The judge then instructs the jury and they return a guilty verdict. Faithful is condemned to the most cruel death that could be invented. They whip him, beat him, lance his flesh with knives, stone him with stones, prick him with swords, and burn him at the stake.

John Bunyan, speaking as the narrator, then says "Now I saw that behind the multitude there stood a chariot and a team of horses waiting for Faithful, who as soon as his adversaries had taken his life was taken up into it and immediately carried up through the clouds with the sound of a trumpet. He was taken by the nearest way to the Celestial gate."

Christian is returned to prison, but He Who Rules Over All Things, turns things around so that Christian can escape, as as he goes, he sings:

Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest
Unto thy Lord, with Him thou shalt be blest;
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights.
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy Name survive;
For tho' they kill'd thee, thou are yet alive.

Thoughts on this chapter
Vanity Fair represents the world and all the things it presents to us to keep us from seeking God. Christian and Faithful confront the world, say the truth, and are persecuted. Faithful is executed, and is sent home. His journey is complete. Christian continues alone, for now.

Vanity Fair reminds me of Renaissance Fairs that I've gone to, a popular summer attraction around the United States. I haven't been to one in a long time, but they are a lot of fun. You can pick up a lot of interesting, yet useless, things at these fairs. They also sell a lot of occult paraphernalia. I won't be buying any of that, nor should you. Actually, come to think of it, at the last fair I attended, I don't think I bought anything except food and drink. Thinking of this chapter will give me a new perspective the next time I attend one.

This chapter is challenging--it is critical of a market where goods are bought and sold in freedom (and license), a system of capitalism. Should we take it literally as saying that capitalism is wrong? I don't think so, even though I wonder if Bunyan does. As long as one seeks to know and do God's will, handles all their transactions honestly and without any intention to defraud or injure others, and does not limit their own wealth to their own benefit, I don't see them as being enslaved by the wares of Vanity Fair. That's consistent with the Two Great Laws: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul. Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37,39)

Friday, March 21, 2003

Sorry, cannot blog today. Just too tired. Need a break.

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 11 The Pilgrims Meet Talkative

Christian and Faithful are now walking along a fairly peaceful part of the path when they come upon another Pilgrim, named Talkative. Faithful engages him in conversation, and Talkative agrees, even seeming to know some considerable knowledge of the Bible and points of doctrine. Some of his character is revealed, however, when he says things like "what is more pleasant and more profitable than to talk of the things of God?" Faithful is impressed with his conversation, but begins to wonder about something -- why Christian is so quiet and walking several feet away, as if he is avoiding Talkative. Faithful approaches Christian and speaks about Talkative, "What a fine companion we've got here...", but Christian has another opinion, "This with whom you're so impressed will beguile with his tongue twenty people who don't know him." He continues to say that Talkative is from their town and has a reputation for being all talk, but very rude and ugly in his behaviour, especially to those closest to him. He is like a painter whose work looks beautiful from afar, but when looked at up close, is more unpleasant. "Just as he talks with you now, he'll talk when he's sitting on the bar stool. And the more drink he has in his head, the more of these things he has in his mouth. Religion has no place in his heart, or house, or lifestyle. Everything he has lies in his tongue, and making a noise with it is his religion."

Christian and Faithful continue talking about true religion and mere talking (the tone is similar to the book of James and his passage on the tongue, including some quotations from that passage). Faithful then wonders how they can get rid of their unfavorable companion. Christian says, "Take my advice and do as I suggest. You'll find that unless God touches his heart and changes it, he'll soon be sick of your company, too. Why, just go up to him and begin some serious discussion about the power of religion. After he has approved of the conversation, for he surely will, then ask him plainly if this thing can be found in his heart, house, or lifestyle."

Faithful does as Christian suggests, and engages Talkative in conversation on the topic "How does the saving grace of God reveal itself when it is in a person's heart?" Four pages later, Faithful asks Christian's suggested question, Talkative is insulted, and after some argumentative words and accusations, says good-bye. Christian is pleased with Faithful's straightforward style, saying "It was a good thing you talked to him plainly as you did, there's not much of this straight dealing with people these days, and that's what makes religion stink in the nostrils of men the way it does...I wish that everyone would deal with them as you've done. Then they would either be made to conform to religion, or the Fellowship of Saints would be too hot for them to remain."

Christian and Faithful now enjoy their own company, and have light hearts, but the path is becoming more difficult as they are now going through a wilderness. An individual comes up behind them, and Christian and Faithful both recognize him; he is their old friend Evangelist (Evangelist is the one who directed Faithful to the Gate, just as he did for Christian). Evangelist asks them all about their journeys, and says, after hearing their tales, "I'm so glad, not that you met with trials, but that you've been champions and have continued in the Way to this very day regardless of your many weaknesses" He goes on with many more exhorting words, but Christian and Faithful, knowing that Evangelist is also a Prophet ask to hear of things that will happen to them and how to deal with them.

Evangelist reminds them that Pilgrims "must enter into the Kingdom of Heaven through many hardships, and again that prison and hardships face you in every city. You can't expect, therefore, to travel far on your Pilgrimage without them in some form or other...Therefore, you will soon enter into a town that you will in time see before you. In that town you'll be severely besieged by enemies who will try hard in their attempts to kill you, and you can be sure that one or both of you must seal with blood the testimony that you hold" He urges them to be faithful to the point of death, and says that it is actually advantageous for the one who faces death, as that fate will complete his journey, while the other will still face many other hardships ahead.

Thoughts on this chapter
Yakkity, yakkity, yak..... Do any of you know anyone like this, or maybe appropriately, Christians like this? All talk, no action? Or worse, all talk in church, then rudeness and arrogance the rest of the week? Maybe everyone can ask themselves a more important question: Am I like this? Maybe I was thinking ahead when I put an update on an earlier post, back in Chapter 9, part 2 , when I said that maybe if someone professed faith but didn't have any works to show for it, I might have cause to doubt their status as a Christian, though, as I said, be careful going there -- But on the other hand, is it ever appropriate to confront someone like this? Christian says it is, and is glad that the deadwood is gone.

It is good to see an old friend again, but unfortunately, his prophecy carries a warning of trouble and death ahead. The town of danger ahead is perhaps the most famous symbol in allegorical Christian literature, Vanity Fair.

Underline this
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. -- 1 Corinthians 4:20 (NIV)

Thursday, March 20, 2003

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 10 Two Pilgrims Meet

Christian is now out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. An incline just off the path ahead enables Christian to get a good view of the terrain ahead, and as he looks, he sees another Christian, Faithful, walking ahead. Christian calls out for Faithful to wait, but Faithful refuses to stop, saying, "No! I''m concerned for my life and the avenger of blood is behind me." Christian summons his strength and runs to catch up, but runs so fast that he passes Faithful, stumbles, and is not able to get up until Faithful arrives to give him a hand. The terrain here allows them to proceed in peace and pleasant conversation (though Bunyan does not elaborate on Faithful's previous statement on the 'avenger of blood' -- maybe he was still afraid of the Valley he just escaped from).

It turns out that Faithful left the City of Destruction after Christian. He tells Christian about the fate of Pliable, who turned back after slipping into the Swamp of Despondence. Pliable has lost his reputation and is "seven times worse than if he'd never gone out of the city".

Christian and Faithful then talk about Faithful's journey from the City of Destruction. Faithful successfully escapes falling into the Swamp of Despondence, and arrives at the Gate without danger, but meets with a woman named Wanton, who tempts Faithful with all kinds of contentment if he turns aside with her. Christian says it was good that Faithful escaped her, to which Faithful replies, "No, I don't know whether I completely escaped her or not", and then relates how he remembered an old writing "Her steps lead right to the grave", shuts his eyes and avoids her temptation. She then hurled insults upon him, and he goes on his way.

At the foot of the Hill of Difficulty, Faithful meets up with an old man Adam the First, from the Town of Deceit. Adam offers Faithful employment (the work called Many Delights) and a promise to become his heir if Faithful will live with him. As a further incentive, Adam offers his three daughters for marriage: Lust of the Flesh, Lust of the Eyes, and Pride of Life. Faithful finds himself inclined to take the man up on his offer, but then sees a warning on the man's forehead: "Put off the old man and his deeds", and a burning thought enters his mind, that if he accepts the old man's offer, he will be sold off as a slave. He refuses the offer, and turns to go away, but suddenly the old man grabs him by the back and gives him a good jerk back, so strong that Faithful replies "What a wretched man I am!" Adam threatens to send another individual after Faithful who will make his journey bitter.

As Faithful climbs the Hill of Difficulty, another man comes running up after him, who knocks him down. When Faithful comes to, he asks the man the reason for the violent blow, and the man replies that it was for his inclination to follow after Adam, and then he knocks Faithful flat again. When Faithful recovers a second time, he asks the man for mercy, to which he replies, "I don't know how to show mercy!" and knocks him flat a third time. The man would have made an end to Faithful except for another man who comes up and causes him to stop. Christian asks who the second man was, and Faithful says "I didn't know Him at first, but as He went by, I saw the holes in His hands and in His side. Then I concluded that He was our Lord. After this, I went up the Hill." Christian realizes that the first man is Moses, and Faithful says "I know it very well, it wasn't the first time he met with me. He was the one who came to me when I lived securely at home and told me he would burn my house down on my head if I stayed there."

Faithful does not stop at the palace Beautiful, as Christian has done, because it is daylight, the lions are asleep, and Faithful wants to make good time while the going is good. (This is how Faithful passed Christian, as Christian was in that house for three days) Christian then relates to Faithful how there were many good things to be obtained in the house, but doesn't dwell on it very long, as the conversation then proceeds to the Valley of Humiliation.

In the Valley of Humiliation, Faithful meets up with a person going the wrong way, named Discontent, who claims that the Valley is completely without honor. He also says that to proceed is to "disobey all my friends, such asPride, Arrogance, Self Conceit, Worldly Glory, and others". Faithful dismisses their value as friends and says he would "rather go through this valley to receive honor that was accounted so by the Wisest."

Faithful also meets a man named Shame in the Valley, but Faithful thinks that he is misnamed. Shame objects to religion in general, saying that it is a pitifully low and deceptive business for a man to give attention to religion. He also objects to the inferior and low estate and condition of most of those Pilgrims of the times in which they lived, and objects to their ignorance and understanding of the natural sciences. Shame goes on and on, and Faithful can think of nothing to say in reply, but eventually realizes that Shame is telling him everything about Man, but nothing about God. Also, Faithful realizes, "I thought that at the Day of Doom we will not be sentenced to either death or life according to the domineering spirits of the world therefore, that what God says is best, even though everyone in the world may be against it." Faithful sends Shame away, but not without some difficulty, as Shame is a very persistent talker.

As for the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Faithful relates that his trek through that Valley was not so bad; he walked through it all in broad daylight!

Thoughts on this chapter
Two pilgrims meet, and in order to bring the two pilgrims' tales together, this chapter serves as a catching-up of what happens to Faithful on his trek. Bunyan presents us with several images of our enemies; Wanton, The Old Man-Adam, the Law (represented as Moses), Discontent, and Shame. All of them work to get Faithful off the Path and into a state guaranteeing his destruction. Wanton is sexual immorality. The Old Man is living for the pleasures of the world. Moses is the same threat as was presented to Christian back when he was tempted by Mr. Worldly Wiseman to go off the Path to the town of Morality. Discontent represents those who may claim the name "Christian" for a time, but when humility is required, balk and return to worldly living (I know this one well - I'm glad God gave me a second chance - actually, many of them). I'm sure we've all met a lot of 'Shames' in our lives, especially those who try to witness on a university campus, or have an anti-religious professor for one of their classes.

Faithful misses out on some good things by not stopping at the palace Beautiful. Alert readers will note that he is traveling without armor and without a sword. He would have been in quite a pickle if he had met up with Apollyon!

Faithful's experience in the Valley of the Shadow of Death is not nearly as unpleasant as Christian's. Maybe Bunyan is telling us that each Christian's trial is unique, that they are not equally bad, even though we all have to go through that Valley. In Part 2 of the book, when another set of Pilgrims make their way to Celestial City, we will see more differences in this Valley, as well as other sites along the Way.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Sorry for the late start tonight -- Bible study was followed by watching the news, including President Bush's address. I'm praying that this will be fast, that innocent Iraqi lives will be spared, that tyrants will get their due, and that God will do wondrous works in Iraq.

UPDATE: I changed the link for the word 'tyrants' up there to one I found later, and which I like better. The original link was Tom Watson MP, and no, it's not implying that Tom Watson is the tyrant referred to. He's justifying his vote to remove a tyrant. All links found at Glenn Reynold's site,

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 9 The Pilgrim Goes Through Valleys (Part 2)

Christian now enters a second valley, the Valley of the Shadow of Death, which actually presents more danger to him than the previous encounter with Apollyon. As Christian enters the valley, two men come back warning him of grave dangers ahead, dangers they are not willing to face. They describe the valley as dark, with a continual howling and yelling coming from the pit, as of people under unutterable misery. Satyrs, hobgoblins, and dragons are about. Clouds of confusion hang over the valley, and death spreads its wings over it. It is a completely dreadful place. They are abandoning their pilgrimage, just as Fearful and Mistrust abandoned theirs due to the lions. Christian ponders what he is getting himself into, but decides that the danger of turning back is greater and proceeds, sword drawn.

Christian proceeds down the path, which becomes very narrow in the valley. On his right is a ditch, into which the blind lead the blind; on his left is a quagmire, into which, if one falls, there is no bottom for one's foot to stand on. Christian walks on in the dark, unsure of his footing. To make matters worse, the Mouth of Hell is in the pit, and flames and sparks come out of it in such abundance that Christian is forced to put up his Sword and resort to prayer, "Oh, Lord, save me!"

Soon Christian hears the voices of fiends approaching him. He again ponders turning back but resolves to go forward. When the voices are almost upon him, he says, "I will go in the strength of the Lord God." The voices back off and come no farther. Christian is confused in the valley, and Wicked Ones (evil spirits) approach Christian from behind, whispering blasphemies in his ear. Christian's state of confusion is such that he cannot tell the difference between his own thoughts and the whisperings of the spirits. He continues in this condition for a considerable time, and then hears a voice ahead saying, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." Then he is glad for he realizes that there are others in the valley who also fear God as well as himself, also that God was with them even in that dark and dismal condition, and also that he hoped to be able to catch up with them and have fellowship with them.

Soon Day breaks, and Christian is able to turn around and see what he has just passed through. He sees the Ditch and Quagmire on the sides of the path he has just traversed. He also sees the Dragons, Hobgoblins, and Satyrs of the pit. He is much affected by his deliverance from these dangers, but there is more to come. The sun rising at this time is a mercy to Christian, for the path becomes "full of snares, traps, and nets up here" and "pits, pitfalls, deep holes, and ledges down there." In this light, Christian finally comes to the end of the valley.

At the end of the valley, Christian sees laying there the blood, bones, ashes, and mangled bodies of Pilgrims who had gone this way earlier. A short distance away, he sees a cave where two giants lived in days past. Their names were Pope and Pagan, and it is by their power and tyranny that those Pilgrims had been put to death. Pagan has been dead a long time, but Pope is now a senile old man who is no threat. Christian passes by and is not harmed.

Thoughts on this chapter
This valley represents a long period of trial, much deeper than a single fear as the lions represented earlier. I think it may represent a struggle with issues of unbelief, hanging on to sins we don't want to confess or repent from, or dealing with long-lasting trials and tribulations, such as that (but probably not as serious as) experienced by Job.

I don't like Bunyan's description of Pope; I think his portrayal of Pope as a senile old man is just rank anti-Catholicism. I guess Bunyan's Separatism was different enough from the Catholic church that they considered it a heresy, but I don't believe that myself. I agree with Mark Byron's analysis. Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, main-line Protestants, Orthodox, and Catholics may have different doctrines, but I basically believe that anyone who can recite the Apostle's Creed without crossing their fingers (that's a quote for which I cannot find the source-sorry, I think I saw it at blogs4God) has a basic understanding Christian doctrine. If one says they know the Lord, and they believe He died for their sins, and rose from the dead, it's not my place to doubt them. [UPDATE: I suppose if one said they loved the Lord, but then didn't have any kind of works to show for it, I'd have cause to doubt them, but one has to be real careful when going there]

I disagree with Bunyan's description of Pagan, too. Pagan is not dead, he is just as alive and well as ever. Maybe there was a time between say about 500-1900 when Paganism was not a popularly-practiced religion, but from the twentieth century to now, it has resurfaced and is becoming more popular. Wicca and goddess worship are now accepted in liberal congregations such as the Unitarian Universalist Association, and some of the more liberal main-line Protestant denominations.

I'm going to blog tomorrow in order to catch up. Tomorrow, Two Pilgrims Meet!

weird (seen at Christianity Today's Weblog)

Finally, a quiz result that understands me!!

You are Psalms
You are Psalms.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(seen at susan b.'s site @ Lilac Rose)

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 9 The Pilgrim Goes Through Valleys

Up to now, Christian has been in relative safety. His most urgent danger faced so far has been from Mr. Worldly Wiseman, though Christian's worst fear was of the lions, though they turned out to be harmless. Today's chapter turns violent, and Christian faces real danger for the first time.

Christian is now in the Valley of Humiliation. He goes only a short distance when he sees a disgusting fiend named Apollyon approaching him. Christian considers fleeing, but realizes that he is defenseless if he does so, as his armor does not cover his back. He resolves to stand his ground. Apollyon is hideous, covered with scales like a fish (his pride). He has wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly come fire and smoke, and his mouth is like the mouth of a lion.

He approaches Christian and questions him, "Where did you come from, and where are you going?"

Christian answers, "I've come from the City of Destruction, which is the Place of all Evil, and I'm going to the City of Zion."

Apollyon responds, "By this, I perceive you're one of my subjects, for all that country is mine, and I am the prince and god of it. How is it then that you've run away from your king? If it were not for my desire to have you serve me longer, I would now strike you down to the ground with one blow."

The following dialog is full of subtleties. I'm going to try to describe it accurately without quoting it verbatim, as it's rather long, but the lessons here are profound.
Christian then admits being born in Apollyon's empire, but also says that serving him was difficult, and the wages weren't all that good either, 'for the wages of sin is death'. Christian admits that when he reached maturity, he did the only wise thing and searched for a 'way to renew myself'. Apollyon then lays into Christian for his act of desertion, promising him mercy if he returns. Christian turns down the offer, but then Apollyon renews it, saying that it is common for those in Christian's position to return to him. Christian again turns down the offer, saying, "How can I then go back from this and not be hanged as a traitor?" Apollyon then says that Christian is already a traitor and all will be forgiven if he just returns to him. Christian again turns down Apollyon's offer, saying the benefits of following his new Lord and Prince are much better than those he knew before. Apollyon then counters by saying that most pilgrims come to an ill end, and that Christian's Lord has done little or nothing to save them. Christian replies that His (the Lord's) forbearance at such times is on purpose, to try their love, to see whether they will serve Him to the end; and as for the bad end, that is most glorious to their credit. Apollyon then accuses Christian of being unfaithful to his Lord, to which Christian replies, "And how, oh, Apollyon have I been unfaithful to Him?" Apollyon then lists all of Christians missteps during the way: the Swamp of Despondence, his departure from the path towards the town of Morality, his sleeping on the Hill of Difficulty and losing his Document, his fear in facing the lions, and even his pride for being in the path in the first place! Christian admits that his accuser speaks the truth, but that his Lord has forgiven him all these faults.

All hell now breaks loose. Apollyon breaks out into a rage, saying, "I'm an enemy of this prince! I hate his person, his laws, and his people. I've come here to opose you!" Christian warns Apollyon, "Beware of what you do, Apollyon, for I'm in the king's Highway, the Way of Holiness. Therefore, take heed to yourself." Apollyon then straddles the whole breadth of the Path, and says, "I'm void of fear in this matter. Prepare yourself to die, for I swear by my infernal abode that you wil go no farther. I will spill your soul here!"

Apollyon then shoots a flaming arrow at Christian's chest, but Christian deflects the arrow with his Shield. Christian draws his Sword as Apollyon charges him with a volley of arrows as thick as hail. Christian defends himself vigorously, but is wounded in his head, hands, and feet. Apollyon attacks more vigorously as Christian falls back. The fight goes on for over half a day, and eventually Apollyon forces Christian's sword out of his hand, but as Apollyon prepares for his final blow, Christian skillfully reaches out his hand and grasps his sword, saying, "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise." Christian then exerts a deadly thrust, which makes Apollyon back off as if he had received a mortal wound. Christian attacks again, and Apollyon spreads out his dragon's wings and flees.

Christian then pauses to give thanksgiving and praise, and a Hand appears, holding some of the leaves of the Tree of Life. Christian is healed. He stops to eat some bread and drink from his bottle, and after feeling refreshed, continues his journey with his Sword drawn.

We are only halfway through Chapter 9, but I'm going to have to stop it here, as it is getting late. I will have to exploit another make up day later. In the second half of this chapter Christian proceeds through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. That will be the subject of tomorrow's blogging.

Thoughts on this chapter
Apollyon's biggest danger is his deception. He tempts Christian to abandon his quest. Christian is sure of himself, however; so the temptation is turned down. Other pilgrims may have taken Apollyon up on his offer, especially if they were not armed as Christian was. After Apollyon's temptation is rejected, half-truths and accusations flow forth from Apollyon's mouth in order to weaken Christian's resolve, even to the point of accusing him of pride for being on the path!

Christian's shield is the shield of faith, and his sword is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:16-17). His wounds to his head, hands, and feet represent setbacks in his understanding, faith, and Christian walk. [Bunyan]

Monday, March 17, 2003

Arrrghh! Blogger is acting weird again as well....
Getting a late start tonight, after watching President Bush's address, then watching the Devils lose to the Flyers, and then catching up on my reading. Some quick commentary before getting into tonight's chapter.

At church yesterday, we had a short discussion about foreign policy and dissent. A lady in our class said that just because someone was opposed to war doesn't mean that they're supporting Saddam. She's right, as long as they're not holding signs comparing Bush to Hitler or blaming America for all the ills of the world or going to Iraq to be human shields, or more likely, hostages. There's another side of the coin to consider as well. Being in favor of military action does not mean one is opposed to peace. As I've said before, in an email: There's real long-term peace and fake short-term peace. What good is avoiding war now if Saddam looses his weapons against other countries in the future, or uses them as threats in order to control the actions of other nations? What good is peace now if Saddam's weapons are given to terrorists to be used against us? I believe President Bush is acting wisely, and that he wants peace just as much as anyone else, no, even more so. Am I fasting for peace? Yes, but not for the type of peace that protects a tyrant from getting what's coming to him. I'm fasting for a peace that honors the people of Iraq who have suffered under a ruthless dictator, who desire to live under a government that respects the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Normally, I'm taking Sundays & Wednesdays off, but since Friday night's session was lost, I'm blogging tonight to keep my book review of The Pilgrim's Progress on schedule for completion by Easter.

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 8 The Pilgrim Meets the Family

When we ended Chapter 7, Christian was facing the prospect of passing the two lions ahead of him at the top of the Hill of Difficulty. Having lost several hours due to an untimely nap, and losing his Document and having to retrieve it, he was now proceeding in twilight, and wondering if he might have to face the lions in the dark. Looking up he sees a magnificent palace.

Christian proceeds toward the palace, and soon sees the lions in the path. Christian pauses, afraid to continue, and seriously considers turning back. A voice calls out from up ahead, "Is your strength so small? Don't fear the lions, for they're chained. They're placed there for the trial of faith, to find out where it is and to reveal those who have none. Stay in the middle of the path, and no injury will come to you." The voice comes from the Porter, whose name is Watchful. Christian heeds the Porter's advice and walks, trembling, past the lions, who roar at him but cannot touch him.

Christian arrives at the gate where the Porter is, and asks about the house and if he can stay. The Porter says that the house was built by the Lord of the Hill for the safety and security of pilgrims. The Porter asks Christian the nature of his business, his name, and why he is arriving so late. The Porter calls a beautiful and serious-looking girl, Discretion from the house, and tells her about Christian and asks her to talk with him and deal with him according to the laws of the house. Discretion asks Christian for all the details of his journey, which he supplies, and then she calls for three more members of her family to join the conversation, Prudence, Piety, and Charity. At this point he is invited to come into the house, meeting several other members of the Family at the threshhold. While they are waiting for supper, Piety asks Christian all sorts of questions: his reasons for becoming a pilgrim, how he found the way, about the house of the Interpreter, the Cross and the shining individuals who gave him the Document and his coat, about his journey. Prudence then takes up the questioning: whether he thinks of his old country, the things he left behind, why he is going to Mount Zion. Charity then asks him about the family he left behind, why they weren't going on the pilgrimage with him, and what sort of witness Christian provided for them.

Supper is served, and it is the girls' turn to tell Christian of the Lord of the Hill, what He did, why He did it, and why He had built the house. They described Him as a great warrior who fought with and slayed the one who had the power of death, and did it by shedding a great deal of blood. Some in the Household said they had seen and spoken with Him since He died on the Cross. They also said that He had stripped Himself of His glory to serve the Poor, that He would not live in the Mountain of Zion alone, and that He had made many Pilgrims into princes even though they came from humble origins. They talk into the night, and then Christian is shown to his room where he retires for the night.

The next day Christian is led to see all the excellent things stored in the house. Christian is led into the study where he is shown records of great antiquity showing the lineage of the Lord of the Hill, how he was the Son of the Ancient of Days. He is shown the accounts of the Lord's acts and the acts of hundreds whom He had taken into His service. They read records both ancient and modern, together with records of deeds past, and prophecies and predictions of things that are certain to be fulfilled.

The next day Christian is led to the Armory where they show him all kinds of equipment that the Lord has provided for Pilgrims. Christian sees the Sword, Shield, Helmet, Breastplate, Prayers, and Shoes that will not wear out. There is enough equipment to serve as many people as there are stars in the sky. They also show him weapons of times past: Moses' Staff, the jars, trumpets, and torches used by Gideon to vanquish the armies of Midian, the sling and stone used by David to slay Goliath.

The next day, Christian is ready to travel on, but the Family desires him to stay yet another day to show him the Delightful Mountains. He is led to the top of the house, and told to look south. He sees a pleasant looking mountainous region, "made beautiful with woods, vineyards, fruits of all kinds, flowers, springs, and fountains." Christian asks the name of the country, and is told that it is called Immanuel's Land, and it is just as common for Pilgrims to walk there as it is for them to walk on this hill (the Hill of Difficulty), and when he gets there he will be able to see the gate of Celestial City.

Now Christian is ready to go, but first he is taken to the Armory and outfitted with armor and a sword so that he would be prepared in the event he might be assaulted in the Way. At the Porter's gate, he asks the Porter if any other Pilgrims have passed this way. Christian is told of another Pilgrim just ahead of him, named Faithful. Christian recognizes him as a former neighbor from his old city, and asks how far ahead he is; apparently Christian desires to catch up with him. He is told that Faithful is not too far ahead. Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence accompany Christian to the foot of the hill, continuing their previous discussions. Christian notes that it is just as dangerous going down as it was going up. Prudence replies that it is very difficult to go down into the Valley of Humiliation without losing one's footing, therefore they are accompanying him. Christian loses his footing a couple of times, but they reach the bottom of the hill safely, where Christian is given bread, wine, and raisins to sustain him and then he proceeds from there alone.

Thoughts on this chapter
The lions are chained! They present no danger to Christian as long as he stays in the middle of the path, though at first he could not see the chains. He is fortunate that someone called out to him to proceed. Did that voice advise Fearful and Mistrust as well, but not penetrate their fear? Perhaps there are people calling out for us to proceed in our walk with God in spite of the lions we face. Are you listening to them?

The palace Beautiful is the Church. Christian is offered fellowship here, but not before being presented with questioning, showing that while the Church's mission is to minister and encourage, it is also up to the Church to exercise discretion and examine the sincerity of the traveler. The Apostle Paul faced such discretion after his conversion. The study represents the Bible and all its lessons for us, as well as all the historical records of Christians who have traveled before us. The Armory represents the armor of God as described by Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18.

Well, here goes. I'd just about sworn off these tests when one of them called me a 'hate-monger', and the test was roundly criticized by other bloggers, including susan b. Lilac Rose. Saw some with more realistic answers, so decided to take this one, thinking in advance that I'd come up with Ronald Reagan. To my surprise, my result was.....

Libertarian - You believe that the main use for
government is for some people to lord it over
others at their expense. You maintain that the
government should be as small as possible, and
that civil liberties, "victimless
crimes", and gun ownership should be basic
rights. You probably are OK with capitalism.
Your historical role model is Thomas Jefferson.

Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Must have been the answers regarding guns (an enemy has commited an act of terrorism, how do you handle it? ...just let have everyone have a gun...), but seriously, a while back, I discussed my reservations with modern-day libertarianism--that many people who claim the label seem to be rather selective for whom they claim unalienable rights, for instance, denying the unalienable right to life to the unborn. In a previous test, "Which Founding Father am I?", I discovered I was Alexander Hamilton. While I have great respect for Jefferson, agreeing with George Will's calling him the Man of the Millenium (the one just past, so long ago now), I think Hamilton's establishment of capitalism, and financial institutions in this country which facilitate commerce, have done more good practically speaking. Indeed, looking at Hamilton's philosophy has shown me that economic freedom is the foundation of other freedoms. Take away the right to productive work, and the freedom to act in one's self-interest, and you take away a person's soul. Hamilton and Jefferson may have disliked each other personally, but each had a great love and respect for unalienable rights, those we are endowed with by our Creator.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Appropriate title, the Hill of Difficulty, for tonight's Pilgrim's Progress chapter, as it was what I was facing last night as I was attempting to access the Internet. Eventually had to give up on it, so I could go to bed to get an early start on errand-running this morning. Then a important hockey game held my attention this afternoon, watching on TV since some friends had to bail out of going for family reasons, and we're saving money for upcoming adoption expenses. Congratulations to the New Jersey Devils for beating the New York Rangers and clinching a playoff spot (now go and do likewise to the Flyers, and keep that #2 spot!), then took Amy out for dinner (well so much for saving money! --but it was still cheaper than the hockey game would've been).

Now for tonight's episode:

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 7 The Pilgrim Climbs the Hill of Difficulty

Pilgrim, Hypocrisy, and Formality continue to the foot of a hill called Difficulty. There is a spring at the bottom, along with two other paths that seem to go around the hill. The straight and narrow path which Pilgrim has been told to follow goes straight up the hill. Christian drinks from the spring and continues. Hypocrisy and Formality take the other paths, thinking they will all meet on the other side. One of those paths, Danger, leads into a vast forest, the other, Destruction, leads into an area of dark mountains. They are lost and never heard from again.

Christian proceeds slower and slower as he proceeds. Eventually he is crawling on the ground, the hill is so steep. About halfway up the hill, there is a resting area, put there by the Lord of the Hill, and Christian pauses to rest. He takes out his Document and reads for awhile, then pauses to examine his fine coat, but as he dawdles, he becomes drowsy and falls asleep. As he sleeps, the Document falls from his hand. Later, an unknown individual comes by and awakens Christian, urging him on, similar to how Christian tried to wake the three sleeping, shackled fools encountered earlier. Christian jumps up and runs along quickly, forgetting his Document.

At the top of the hill, two men, Fearful and Mistrust come running toward him going the wrong way. Christian asks them why they are running from the City of Zion, and Fearful says that the further they go, the more danger they meet, and therefore they are going back. Mistrust then tells Christian of two lions that lie in the path up ahead. They think they will be torn to pieces by the lions. Christian pauses to consider their words, but realizes that destruction awaits him if he goes back as well. He thinks, "I must continue, for to go back means nothing but death. To go forward is the fear of death, but beyond it is life everlasting. I'll keep going forward."

Christian reaches in his coat for his Document for some reassurance, and then realizes that it is missing. He is greatly distressed and doesn't know what to do, but in a few minutes he gathers himself, and realized that he must have dropped the document where he was resting. He goes back to retrieve it, but has only harsh words for himself along the way. He finds the Document where he left it, and his sorrow is turned to joy, yet the sun sets before Christian reaches the top of the hill and Christian again begins to grieve himself. He remembers Fearful's and Mistrust's report of the lions and begins to feel more and more afraid. He continues however, and while lamenting his unhappy circumstances, he looks up and sees before him a very stately palace, named Beautiful by the side of the highway.

Thoughts on this chapter
When I read this chapter, I was reminded of a hill in the Smokey Mountains going up to Clingman's Dome. I was in the Smokey Mountains back in the summer of 2001, just a few days after recommiting my life to Christ. Seeing the mountains in this state was completely different than the year before when I was in a state of unbelief (though I think the previous year's trip had a role to play in my moving out of that state of unbelief). Clingman's Dome is the second highest point east of the Mississippi River, and the trail going to the top is short but very steep. There are about six rest areas on a trail about a half mile in length. So I picture Christian struggling up this steep hill, unable to understand why it is so hard to go such a short distance. Stopping to rest, he succumbs to the temptation to sleep, and the footnote on this passage says, "The journey calls for diligence. God provides places and times for rest, but allegorically speaking, there is no time for sleep." [Hazelbaker]

The two lions represent anything that causes us to fear and not trust God to deliver us in the time of difficulty. The lions are there on purpose, however (as will be revealed in the next chapter). What lions exist in your life that cause you to fear and not trust God to be your strength and deliverance? Some lions that exist in our life right now are worries about how war will affect our adoption. Will we be able to travel to China and adopt a child next year? We gave the adoption to God when we started however. It's in His hands, if it is His will, it will happen.

I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.
Psalm 18:1-3 NKJV

UPDATE: For another story of someone who had some serious lions to face in his life, read this.

Sorry for not posting last night. Internet service was down. I'll put Chapter 7 up tonight, and Chapter 8 up tomorrow, and then be back on schedule.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 6 The Pilgrim Reaches the Place of Deliverance

Christian proceeds with difficulty due to the burden on his back. The path is bordered by a wall called Salvation. Soon he reaches a place which is somewhat elevated. Up above him is a Cross, at the bottom is a Tomb. As Christian approaches the Cross, his burden comes off his back, and rolls down into the Tomb, and is seen no more. Christian stops to look at the Cross for a while, surprised that the sight of it should relieve his burden in this way. "He has given me rest from my sorrow and life through His death." As he continues to look at the Cross, he begins to weep. Three angels appear to him, and say "Peace be to you!". One says "Your sins are forgiven", the second one strips off the rags he is wearing and clothes him with rich garments, and the third sets a mark on his forehead and gives him a Document with a seal on it. Christian is instructed to look at the Document as he continues and to present it at the Celestial Gate. Christian leaps for joy and continues on the path, singing a song of praise and thanksgiving.

At the bottom of the hill, he sees three men with shackles on their feet, fast asleep a little way off the path. They are named Simple, Sloth, and Presumption. He tries to wake them, but they disregard his warnings of danger. Christian decides they are not worth the trouble and continues alone.

As Christian is pondering the three lazy fools, he sees two men Formality and Hypocrisy climb over the wall. Christian asks where they are from and where they are going. They reply in unison, "We were born in the Land of Boasting and we're going to Mount Zion for praise." Christian asks why they didn't come in at the Gate. They reply that it is too far for them to come in that way; that people from their country just find a shortcut and climb over the wall, as they had done. Christian asks if it wouldn't be considered a trespass to enter the Path that way, but the two men say that they don't worry about such details, as theirs is an established tradition, done for over a thousand years. Such traditions would surely be admitted as a legal thing by an impartial judge. "And besides," they say, "if we get into the pathway, what does it matter which way we get in? If we're in, we're in. You're in the Way--as we understand--by just coming in at the Gate, and we're also in the Way by coming over the Wall. How is your condition better than ours?"

Christian warns them that the Lord of the Way considers them to be thieves, and says he doubts that they will be found worthy at the end of the Way. They have nothing to say to this, but just advise Christian to take care of himself. They then go on in silence, except that the men soon tell Christian that they are just as conscientious to keep laws and ordinances as Christian is. Then they say, "we don't see how you differ from us except for the coat on your back, it was probably given to you by some of your friends to hide the shame of your nakedness."

Christian then replies, "You'll not be saved by laws and ordinances since you didn't come in through the Door. And as for this coat on my back, it was given to me by the Ruler of the place where I'm going. And, as you say, it is for the purpose of covering my nakedness. Furthermore, I take it as a token of His kindness toward me; for I had on nothing but rags before. And besides, as I go, I comfort myself with the thought that when I come to the gate of the City, the Ruler of the City will easily recognize me since I have this coat on my back--a coat He freely gave me the day He stripped me of my rags. In addition, I have a mark in my forehead, which perhaps you haven't noticed. One of my Lord's closest associates placed it there the day my burden fell off my shoulders. Furthermore, I'll tell you I was given a sealed Document to comfort me by reading it as I travel in the Way. I was also instructed to present it at the Celestial Gate as a token of the certainty of my entrance. I doubt you even want all these things, since you didn't come in through the Gate."

Formality and Hypocrisy have no response except to look at each other and laugh. Christian continues the journey in front, talking with them no more. He often reads his Document, and is renewed by it.

Thoughts on this chapter
Bunyan places the Place of Deliverance apart from the Gate because he wants to emphasize that those who are newly-born-again may not understand the workings of the Cross, even though they are saved. Christian carries the burden of his sin even past the Interpreter's house, and the burden comes off his back, through no effort of his own, once he sees the Cross. He then understands what price was paid to free him of his sin.

The scripture reference for being clothed with a fine coat is Zechariah 3:1-5. The scripture reference for the Document with the seal is Ephesians 1:13-14. "Bunyan draws attention to the work and presence of the Holy Spirit with his reference to both the seal placed upon Christian's forehead and the sealed document given to him." (from the footnotes by L. Edward Hazelbaker)

Formality and Hypocrisy represent those who disregard the Cross of Christ, who believe that following rules, traditions, or ceremony will suffice just as well. Now this isn't to say that traditions and rules are inherently wrong; just that they are meaningless unless one begins with the Cross.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 5 The Pilgrim Meets the Interpreter

This is a longer chapter, full of symbolic imagery intended to teach basic truths about the Gospel. I wonder if the images in this chapter are culled from the Rev. Bunyan's sermons.

Our Pilgrim travels on to the house of the Interpreter, knocks and is let in by a butler. The Interpreter is called, and Christian is led into a private room, where a picture of a serious person is on the wall. The man is pictured with the "Best of Books" in his hand, the "Law of Truth" written upon his lips, the world behind his back, and a crown of gold hung over his head. The depiction is meant to show that "his work is to know and reveal to sinners things hard to understand." The Interpreter continues, "Now, I've shown you this picture first because the man whose picture you see is the only man authorized by the Lord of the place where you're going to be your guide in all the difficult places you may encounter within the Way. Remember well, therefore, what I've shown you and apply your mind seriously to what you've seen lest in your journey you meet with individuals who pretend to lead you correctly but whose ways lead to death." Christian is then led to various rooms within the house where he is shown various things intended to teach him basic truths.

First, he is led to a room full of dust because it was never swept. The Interpreter calls for someone to sweep the room, but as the room is swept, the dust begins to fly, and Christian is almost choked by it. The Interpreter then tells a girl standing by, "Bring water here and sprinkle the room". When she does so, the room is easily swept and cleaned. The dry, dusty room is the heart of a man that was never sanctified by the Grace of the gospel. The first sweeper represents the law, which instead of cleansing the sinful heart, actually empowers and increases sin in the soul. The girl who brought and sprinkled the water is the Gospel.

In the second room, Christian is shown two boys, Passion and Patience. Passion is very discontented, but Patience sits very quietly. The Interpreter says, "Their guardian wants them to wait until the beginning of next year to receive his best things. Passion wants to have it all now, but Patience is willing to wait." Someone then brings a bag of treasure to Passion, who gathers it up, rejoices in it while laughing at Patience, but then squanders it all away and is left with nothing but rags. Passion is explained as representing the people of this world, while Patience represents the people of the world to come. Christian cites two reasons for Patience having the best Wisdom: "One--because he waits for the best things; and two--because he will have the glory of his possessions when the other has nothing but rags." The Interpreter adds a third, "the glory of the next world will never wear out, but other glories are soon gone. Passion, therefore, didn't have as much reason to laugh at Patience--because Passion had his best things first--as Patience will have to laugh at Passion--because Patience had his best things last. First must give place to last because last must have its time to come, but last gives place to nothing, for there is nothing more to follow. So he who has his portion first must of necessity have a time to spend it, but he who has his portion last must have it permanently. Therefore it is said of Dives [the traditional name of the rich man referred to in Luke 16:19-31], 'In your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.' "

In the third room, Christian sees a fire burning next to a wall. A man in the room is continually throwing water on the fire in order to put it out, yet the fire burns higher and hotter. The Interpreter explains the fire as the work of grace working in the heart. The man throwing water on the fire is the Devil. Christian is led to the other side of the wall, where the secret of the fire's burning hotter is revealed. Another man, standing behind the wall, is secretly pouring oil upon the fire. The Interpreter explains, "This is Christ, who continually maintains the work already begun in the heart by applying the Oil of His Grace. Because of this, the souls of His people remain full of grace in spite of what the Devil can do. In that you saw the man standing behind the wall to keep the fire burning, that's meant to teach you that it's hard for those tempted to see how this work of grace is continued in the soul."

Next, Christian is led to a pleasant place where a stately palace had been built. People standing on the wall of the palace are all dressed in gold. The Interpreter leads Christian toward the door of the palace where a large group of people are wanting to go inside, but dare not do so. A man seated at a nearby desk has a book and pen to take the name of any individual who has intentions of going in through the door. Armored men stand in the doorway to block the entrance, intending to inflict pain and injury upon the people who would enter the door. After the first group of people leave the door out of fear of the armed men, Christian sees a strong man approach the man at the desk who says, "Write down my name, Sir." After this he draws his sword, puts on a helmet, and rushes the door, and presses forward into the palace. Voices from above say, "Come in, come in! Eternal glory you will win." Christian smiles and says, "I think I actually know the meaning of this."

In the next room, Christian is shown a man locked in an iron cage. The man used to be an honest and flourishing professor of faith, but testifies, "I stopped being alert and self-controlled. I let loose the reigns of my desires. I sinned against the Light of the Word and the goodness of God. I've grieved the Spirit, and He is gone. I tempted the Devil, and he has come to me. I've provoked God to anger, and He has left me. I have so hardened my heart that I cannot repent." Christian asks the Interpreter if there is any hope for him. The Interpreter replies, "Ask him". After Christian asks, the bound man replies, "No, none at all". The Interpreter warns Christian, "Remember this man's misery, and let it be an everlasting caution to you."

Christian is just about ready to proceed on his journey, but the Interpreter wishes to show him one last thing. Christian meets a man, getting out of bed trembling. Christian asks why the man is trembling. The man explains that he had a dream of the sky growing dark, thunder and lightning, clouds rising and stretching, followed by the sound of a trumpet. He sees a Man sitting upon a cloud, accompanied by the thousands of Heaven, and he hears a voice, "Arise, you Dead, and come to judgment!" The Man sitting upon the cloud then opens a book and summons the world to draw near, and hears a proclamation, "Gather together the tares, chaff, and stubble and cast them into the burning lake." The Bottomless Pit opens at the dreamer's feet, and he hears another proclamation, "Gather my wheat into the barn". With that, he sees people caught up and carried away, but he is left behind. He tries to hide, but the Man sitting upon the cloud fixes His gaze on him and his conscience constantly accuses him. With that, the man awakes. The man explains that his trembling is due to his fear at being left behind, and the affliction from his conscience.

The Interpreter then asks if Christian has considered all these things, and Christian replies, "Yes, and they cause me both to hope and to fear." "Good," replies the Interpreter. "Keep these things in your mind so they may act as prods in your sides to poke you and cause you to go forward in the way you must go." Christian begins to prepare to leave, and the Interpreter gives him one last benediction, "May the Counselor always be with you, good Christian, to guide you in the way that leads to the City."

Thoughts on this chapter
The Interpreter is a well-qualified preacher or teacher who quickly teaches our Pilgrim, who has just entered through the Gate, what he needs to know in order to proceed on his way. Most of the images are self-evident in their meaning, but I will comment on two of them.
The strong man attacking the door of the palace: Christian thinks he knows what this means, but I wish he would have explained it! I've heard this metaphor somewhere else, but I can't remember where. I wonder if it has anything to do with Christ's words in Matthew 11:12, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force."
The man bound in the iron cage: I think this means that Bunyan believed that someone could lose their salvation through loss of self-control, because he certainly implies that this man was saved once, and now is not. I believe that God's forgiveness covers all our sins, including those in the future, however I wonder if someone can forfeit that forgiveness through unbelief.