Puritans In The Pilgrim's Progress

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Any comprehensive reading of The Pilgrim 's Progress requires an extensive understanding of the religious framework within which John Bunyan was writing. Generally speaking, Bunyan fits into the group of people that are now commonly referred to as Puritans. In Bunyan 's time, however, 'Puritan ' was a somewhat ambiguous term that incorporated Baptists and Quakers, Ranters and other dissenters. While they shared a common goal of "purifying" the Church of what they saw as excess and materialism, there are many subtle differences between these religions ' theologies, methods, and relations to authority. Bunyan did not necessarily chose to label himself, but Greaves observes that he likely could have been described as an open-membership, open-communion…show more content…
Bunyan draws heavily from both Luther and Calvin 's ideas, and their influence is palpable in The Pilgrim 's Progress. One of the hallmarks of Reformation theology is that it articulates a system of justification by faith alone, as opposed to justification by good works, as the Catholic Church once encouraged. For Luther, faith in God and the gift of God 's freely given grace erased the sins of humanity, rather than good works or indulgences issued by the Church. Though Calvin is famous for his very strongly articulated doctrine of predestination, which states that God has already decided who will be saved and who will be damned, Luther 's theology can also be considered to be predestinarian, albeit more generous than Calvin 's definition. The question of election aside, both maintained that humanity 1had wholly fallen, and redemption was only possible through faith and God 's grace, which was made manifest in the Crucifixion, and continues to be bestowed on sinners. Realizing and living these ideals is at the heart of the Puritan religious experience, and "the essence of Puritanism...is an experience of conversion which separates the Puritan from the mass of mankind and endows him with the privileges and duties of the elect. The root of the matter is always a…show more content…
The rich imagery in medieval churches was whitewashed, and often, the only adornment in a Reformed church would be scripture lettered (and not illustrated) on the walls. A physical structure was not even necessary to create a place of worship. Greaves offers insight on the power of words for a thinker like John Bunyan, writing, "words were [his] sole means to reach his disparate audiences. He had no traditional liturgy, pageantry, or clerical costume and virtually no material symbolism on which to call for assistance in conveying his message, reinforcing his followers, or combatting his rivals". The power of words resonates throughout The Pilgrim 's Progress, as it did throughout the Puritan

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