John Bunyan – inspires us to be brave pilgrims for Jesus even if the establishment hates us
1628 – 1688
John Bunyan was a Puritan preacher and writer, best remembered for authoring Pilgrim’s Progress, one of the most significant Christian books and English novels of all time. He was imprisoned for 12 years during the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, and during this time in Bedford prison, he wrote his autobiography Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners and began his work on Pilgrim’s Progress.
Bunyan was born into a poor family, and describes his early life as one of open rebellion against God. He describes his conversion as a long slow process of understanding the wonderful grace of God. Helped by his wife, Bunyan recalls being profoundly affected by a group of women discussing the ‘new life’ they had found in Jesus and the transforming work of God in their hearts – ‘they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of scripture language, and with such appearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me, as if they had found a new world.’
Bunyan slowly began to trust Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. He joined the same church those women attended, and it was there he was arrested while preaching in 1660 (because preaching outside the Church of England became illegal). Upon his release he again devoted himself to preaching and writing full-time.
Pilgrim’s Progress uses dramatic imagery in a stunning narrative following ‘Christian’ on his journey from the ‘City of Destruction’ (this world) to the ‘Celestial City’ (heaven). ‘Christian’ encounters many helps and many dangers along the way, providing an extended metaphor of the Christian life. The gripping narrative is linked throughout to countless passages of Scripture and has been a powerful source of encouragement and warning to countless Christians.