A False and Fantastical Faith

Continuing his dialogue with Ignorance, Bunyan’s so-called “Christian” asks:

CHR. How dost thou believe?

IGNOR. I believe that Christ died for sinners, and that I shall be justified before God from the curse, through his gracious acceptance of my obedience to his law. Or thus, Christ makes my duties, that are religious, acceptable to his Father, by virtue of his merits, and so shall I be justified.

CHR. Let me give an answer to this confession of thy faith.

1. Thou believest with a fantastical faith; for this faith is nowhere described in the Word.

2. Thou believest with a false faith; because it taketh justification from the personal righteousness of Christ, and applies it to thy own.

3. This faith maketh not Christ a justifier of thy person, but of thy actions; and of thy person for thy actions’ sake, which is false.

4. Therefore, this faith is deceitful, even such as will leave thee under wrath in the day of God Almighty; for true justifying faith puts the soul (as sensible of its condition by the law) upon flying for refuge unto Christ’s righteousness: which righteousness of his is not an act of grace, by which he maketh for justification, thy obedience accepted with God; but his personal obedience to the law, in doing and suffering for us what that required at our hands. This righteousness, I say, true faith accepteth; under the skirt of which, the soul being shrouded, and by it presented as spotless before God, it is accepted, and acquit from condemnation.

IGNOR. What! would you have us trust to what Christ in his own person has done without us? This conceit would loosen the reins of our lust, and tolerate us to live as we list; for what matter how we live, if we may be justify’d by Christ’s personal righteousness from all, when we believe it?

CHR. Ignorance is thy name, and as thy name is, so art thou; even this thy answer demonstrateth what I say. Ignorant thou art of what justifying righteousness is, and as ignorant how to secure thy soul through the faith of it from the heavy wrath of God. Yea, thou also art ignorant of the true effects of saving faith in this righteousness of Christ, which is to bow and win over the heart to God in Christ, to love his name, his word, ways, and people, and not as thou ignorantly imaginest.

It is clear (is it not?) that Bunyan’s Christian is saying that not only does Ignorance possess a false and fantastical faith, he further “demonstrateth” his ignorance “of what justifying righteousness is” (cf. Romans 10:1-4). He also said to Ignorance that his “faith is deceitful, even such as will leave thee under wrath in the day of God Almighty.” If this is NOT just meaningless bluster, then Bunyan’s Christian is actually judging Ignorance to be unregenerate, in spite of Ignorance’s profession of Jesus Christ’s Person and Work. Now would a forthright concession by your typical tolerant Calvinist be that Bunyan’s Christian is advocating someĀ form of Neo-Gnosticism that imperiously demands that “theological perfection in sanctification is necessary for salvation”?

HOPE. Ask him if ever he had Christ revealed to him from heaven.

IGNOR. What! you are a man for revelations! I believe that what both you and all the rest of you say about that matter, is but the fruit of distracted brains.

HOPE. Why, man! Christ is so hid in God from the natural apprehensions of the flesh, that he cannot by any man be savingly known, unless God the Father reveals him to them.

IGNOR. That is your faith, but not mine; yet mine, I doubt not, is as good as yours though I have not in my head so many whimsies as you.

CHR. Give me leave to put in a word. You ought not so slightly to speak of this matter. For this I will boldly affirm (even as my good companion hath done), that no man can know Jesus Christ but by the revelation of the Father; [Matt. 11:27] yea, and faith too, by which the soul layeth hold upon Christ, if it be right, must be wrought by the exceeding greatness of his mighty power; the working of which faith, I perceive, poor Ignorance, thou art ignorant of. [1 Cor. 12:3, Eph. 1:18,19] Be awakened then, see thine own wretchedness, and fly to the Lord Jesus; and by his righteousness, which is the righteousness of God (for he himself is God), thou shalt be delivered from condemnation.

IGNOR. You go so fast, I cannot keep pace with you. Do you go on before; I must stay a while behind.

Then they said,

‘Well, Ignorance, wilt thou yet foolish be,
To slight good counsel, ten times given thee?
And if thou yet refuse it, thou shalt know,
E’re long, the evil of thy doing so.
Remember, man, in time; stoop, do not fear;
Good counsel taken well saves: therefore hear.
But if thou yet shalt slight it, thou wilt be
The loser, Ignorance, I’ll warrant thee.’

Then Christian addressed thus himself to his fellow:

CHR. Well, come my good Hopeful, I perceive that thou and I must walk by ourselves again.

So I saw in my dream that they went on apace before, and Ignorance he came hobbling after. Then said Christian to his companion, It pities me much for this poor man; it will certainly go ill with him at last.

HOPE. Alas! there are abundance in our town in his condition, whole families, yea, whole streets, (and that of Pilgrims too); and if there be so many in our parts, how many, think you, must there be in the place where he was born?

CHR. Indeed the Word saith, “He hath blinded their eyes, lest they should see”, &c.

“… and that of Pilgrims too.” Bunyan’s so-called “Hopeful” believes that it is possible for at least some “Pilgrims too,” to be in the same condition as Ignorance. Bunyan’s “Christian” replies to this by referring to Scriptures that speak of the blindness and blinding of unregenerate men. But apparently to Hopeful and Christian, NOT everyone with an ignorant, deceitful, false, and fantastical faith is NECESSARILY unregenerate “and going about to establish their own righteousness” (Romans 10:3). Thus, Bunyan’s Christian and Hopeful brazenly contradict the Holy Spirit of God speaking through the Apostle Paul.

Bunyan continues with his narration concerning the demise of one, “Ignorance:”

“Now while I was gazing upon all these things, I turned my head to look back, and saw Ignorance come up to the river side; but he soon got over, and that without half that difficulty which the other two men met with. For it happened that there was then in that place, one Vain-hope, a ferryman, that with his boat helped him over; so he, as the other I saw, did ascend the hill, to come up to the gate, only he came alone; neither did any man meet him with the least encouragement. When he was come up to the gate, he looked up to the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him; but he was asked by the men that looked over the top of the gate, Whence came you, and what would you have? He answered, I have eat and drank in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our streets. Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go in and show it to the King; so he fumbled in his bosom for one, and found none. Then said they, Have you none? But the man answered never a word. So they told the King, but he would not come down to see him, but commanded the two Shining Ones that conducted Christian and Hopeful to the City, to go out and take Ignorance, and bind him hand and foot, and have him away. Then they took him up, and carried him through the air to the door that I saw in the side of the hill, and put him in there. Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gates of heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction. So I awoke, and behold it was a dream.”

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