Now I saw in my Dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a Wall, and that Wall is called Salvation. Up this way therefore did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.
He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below in the bottom, a Sepulchre. So I saw in my Dream, that just as Christian came up with the Cross, his Burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the Sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.
Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death. Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the Cross should thus ease him of his Burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Now as he stood looking and weeping, behold three Shining Ones came to him and saluted him with Peace be to thee; so the first said to him, Thy sins be forgiven: the second stript him of his Rags, and clothed him with Change of Raiment; the third also set a mark in his forehead, and gave him a Roll with a Seal upon it, which he bid him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the Coelestial Gate. So they went their way.
Barry E. Horner writes:
“In today’s conservative evangelical environment, readers of The Pilgrim’s Progress could easily be forgiven for assuming that the conversion of Christian occurred at the Place of Deliverance where, when he gazed at the uplifted cross, his burden was loosed from off his back. Yet it may come as a surprise to these same readers, even as it did to me several years ago, to discover that, beyond doubt, John Bunyan understood the conversion of Christian to have taken place earlier, at the Wicket-gate” (Horner, Pilgrim’s Progress: Themes and Issues, p. 123).
It is clear from Bunyan’s other writings what he believes the “Wicket Gate” or the “Strait Gate” to be — the place of conversion to Jesus Christ. Unlike Bunyan’s “Christian,” the true Christian has the knowledge of God’s redemptive glory seen in the face of Jesus Christ shown in his heart as an immediate and inevitable fruit of regeneration (see 2 Corinthians 4:6). Bunyan’s (false) Christian is left groping in the darkness of ignorance (see Romans 10:1-4) at the Wicket Gate for a time after his “conversion.” It is only after some time of instruction at the House of Interpreter followed by his departure from thence, that Bunyan’s Christian “comes into a clearer sight” of the Cross of Christ. Sound familiar? Horner asks:
“While the author of the Pilgrim’s Progress definitely portrays Christian as being converted at the Wicket-gate, release from this pilgrim’s burden does not occur until, having been instructed at the House of Interpreter, he gazes at the uplifted cross at the Place of Deliverance. To twenty-first-century Christians, this may seem a conflicting order of events. What, then, is Bunyan’s intention here? What does this deliberate hiatus represent? What is this post-conversion experience at the Place of Deliverance?” (Pilgrim’s Progress: Themes and Issues, p. 131).
Peering through the lens of Scripture the deliberate hiatus represents a zealous religionist passionately yet blindly progressing in ignorance of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 10:1-4). The supposed “post-conversion” experience represents a false Christian who enters the Wicket-Gate through belief of the lie (cf. Galatians 1:8-9), who then later “progresses into” an alleged belief of the true gospel. It is nothing new for unregenerate religionists to confess entrance into life by the Gate False (Galatians 1:8-9), only to later “progress” or “grow into” the Gate True (John 10:1-7; Romans 1:16-17).
The burden that remained on Christian’s back for a time after conversion represents the zealous religionist who is ignorant of God’s righteousness (Romans 10:1-4). This is completely antithetical to the true gospel and the truth that no regenerate person is left ignorant of the only ground of acceptance before God, which is the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 10:1-4).
“At this point the pilgrim has no deep understanding of the atonement, and uncertainty remains, yet his face is set heavenwards” (Horner, Themes And Issues, p. 136).
To Bunyan and to Horner and contrary to Romans 10:1-4, uncertainty of the sole grounds of acceptance before God or ignorance of the righteousness of God is not indicative of lostness, but merely indicative of one who lacks a “deep understanding of the atonement.” If this blasphemous nonsense was true Paul would not have prayed in Romans 10:1 for the salvation of those who exhibited similar ignorance to that of Bunyan’s Christian. Next Page