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Professing in The Pilgrim's Progress

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

When John Bunyan writes about professors in The Pilgrim's Progress he isn't writing about people like me who teach and research in a university. After all, the universities of his day in England would not have admitted anyone who dissented from worship as prescribed by the Church of England (not repealed until 1850's). Rather, for Bunyan, a professor is someone who professes faith in Jesus Christ. This outward profession is to be matched by the 'heartwork' of the Spirit in conforming that person increasingly to the image of Christ. The journey of The Pilgrim's Progress sees encounters with those whose very names indicate that they are false professors. Bunyan is encouraging his fellow dissenting readers to seek out godly company and beware conformity to patterns of living that would distort their witness to the work of Christ in them (1 Corinthians 15:33)


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This raises a whole series of questions about what is actually false, eg understanding, or lack of it, action or its lack, one of these alone or does it have to be both? Also who decides, ie what source of Authority is referred to. Could there be certain things that really obviously demonstrate that a person who 'professes faith in Jesus Christ,' and is genuinely convinced of that is in reality mistaken -because, to give an absurd example, they are left-handed? Then there is the whole area of what is involved in 'professing faith in Jesus Christ' presumably something both articulated and lived out. This is obviously covered by that phrase 'this outward profession i…

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