espied two men come tumbling over the Wall, on the left hand of the narrow way; and they made up apace to him. The name of the one was Formalist, and the name of the other Hypocrisy. So, as I said, they drew up unto him, who thus entered with them into discourse.
In this post I am not giving my take on what Bunyan may have meant but only riffing off the exchange of Christian with Formalist and Hypocrisy to illustrate the pernicious prevalence of professing Christians who believe they were regenerated by means of the Galatians 1:8-9 false gospel and who later “grew into” the Romans 1:16-17 true gospel. What these false Christians call “progress” and “growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) Paul calls transforming oneself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). This angel of light takes many forms and the tolerant Calvinist form is one that is commonly taken.
CHR. Gentlemen, whence came you, and whither go you?
FORM. and HYP. We were born in the land of Vain-glory, and are going for praise to Mount Sion.
Those desiring to avoid, step over, and obviate the offensive Strait Gate believe the self-righteous wickedness that it is possible for a true Christian to believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception. In other words, they believe that it is possible for a true Christian to follow a false Jesus (contrary to Jesus’ words in John 10:4-5).
CHR. Why came you not in at the gate, which standeth at the beginning of the way? Know you not that it is written, that he that cometh not in by the door, “but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber?” (John 10:1).
FORM. and HYP. They said, That to go to the gate for entrance was, by all their countrymen, counted too far about; and that, therefore, their usual way was to make a short cut of it, and to climb over the wall, as they had done.
For an enlightening elaboration on this portion of Bunyan’s text see the following article:
CHR. But will it not be counted a trespass against the Lord of the city whither we are bound, thus to violate His revealed will?
FORM. and HYP. They told him, that, as for that, he needed not to trouble his head thereabout; for what they did, they had custom for; and could produce, if need were, testimony that would witness it for more than a thousand years.
What are the value of things like custom, succession, and antiquity APART FROM TRUTH? As even their own poets have ceded:
“Because that Satan from the beginning has laboured to deck his pestilent synagogue with the title of the kirk of God, and has inflamed the hearts of cruel murderers to persecute, trouble, and molest the true kirk and members thereof as Cain did Abel; Ishmael, Isaac; Esau, Jacob; and the whole priesthood of the Jews, Christ Jesus himself, and his apostles after him; it is a thing most requisite that the true kirk be discerned from the filthy synagogue, by clear and perfect notes, lest we, being deceived, receive and embrace to our own condemnation the one for the other.
The notes, signs, and assured tokens whereby the immaculate spouse of Christ Jesus is known from that horrible harlot, the kirk malignant; we affirm are neither antiquity, title usurped, lineal descent, place appointed, nor multitude of men approving an error. For Cain in age and title was preferred to Abel and Seth; Jerusalem had prerogative above all places of the earth, where also were the priests lineally descended from Aaron; and greater multitude followed the scribes, Pharisees, and priests, than unfeignedly believed and approved Christ Jesus and his doctrine; and yet, as we suppose, no man (of whole judgment) will grant that any of the forenamed were the kirk of God.
CHR. But, said Christian, will your practice stand a trial at law?
FORM. and HYP. They told him, That custom, it being of so long a standing as above a thousand years, would, doubtless, now be admitted as a thing legal by any impartial judge; and beside, said they, if we get into the way, what’s matter which way we get in? if we are in, we are in; thou art but in the way, who, as we perceive, came in at the gate; and we, are also in the way, that came tumbling over the wall; wherein, now, is thy condition better than ours?
Tolerant Calvinists Phil Johnson, James White, and Douglas Wilson are three recklessly cavalier horsemen who are not overly concerned with those “muddled maidens” who came tumbling over the wall of presumption and ignorance of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel (cf. Romans 10:1-4).
Ironically these Valiant Calvinists of Charity are the “silly damsels” who are ever learning and never able to acknowledge the true gospel (cf. 2 Timothy 3:5-7; http://www.outsidethecamp.org/egd.htm).
CHR. I walk by the rule of my Master; you walk by the rude working of your fancies. You are counted thieves already, by the Lord of the way; therefore, I doubt you will not be found true men at the end of the way. You come in by yourselves, without His direction; and shall go out by yourselves, without His mercy.
There are MANY ZEALOUSLY IGNORANT THIEVES trespassing in the Way, attempting to masquerade as the true servants of King Jesus (cf. Romans 10:1-4; 2 Corinthians 11:12-15). They are like Jannes and Jambres who resist the TRUTH. They are those who exude a superficial form of godliness, but who deny the GOSPEL POWER from which true godliness is derived (cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-10).
To this they made him but little answer; only they bid him look to himself. Then I saw that they went on every man in his way, without much conference one with another; save that these two men told Christian, that as to laws and ordinances, they doubted not but they should as conscientiously do them as he; therefore, said they, we see not wherein thou differest from us, but by the coat that is on thy back, which was, as we trow [believe or imagine–CD] given thee by some of thy neighbours, to hide the shame of thy nakedness.
CHR. By laws and ordinances you will not be saved, since you came not in by the door. And as for this coat that is on my back, it was given me by the Lord of the place whither I go; and that, as you say, to cover my nakedness with. And I take it as a token of His kindness to me; for I had nothing but rags before. And, besides, thus I comfort myself as I go:
Surely, think I, when I come to the gate of the city, the Lord thereof will know me for good, since I have His coat on my back — a coat that He gave me in the day that He stripped me of my rags. I have, moreover, a mark in my forehead, of which, perhaps, you have taken no notice, which one of my Lord’s most intimate associates fixed there in the day that my burden fell off my shoulders. I will tell you, moreover, that I had then given me a roll, sealed, to comfort me by reading, as I go on the way; I was also bid to give it in at the Celestial Gate, in token of my certain going in after it; all which things, I doubt, you want, and want them because you came not in at the gate.
To these things they gave him no answer; only they looked upon each other, and laughed.
The Three Horsemen of Apathetic Lips (and those sycophants who believe just like them) came NOT in at the Gate of the TRUE GOSPEL of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. They have stumbled at the STONE OF STUMBLING and have been offended at the ROCK OF OFFENSE (cf. Romans 9:29-33).
“And he who falls on this Stone will be broken; but on whomever It falls, It will pulverize him” (Matthew 21:44).