Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bunyan's Four Reasons For Backsliding

While listening to an old tape of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress a while ago I determined to blog his four reasons for backsliding . His characters Christian and Hopeful can be found on the net under " Christian Classics Ethereal Library , The Tenth Stage " , essentially saying these words regarding the misled Save-Self ;

Well then , there are four reasons for backsliding ; First , though the consciences are awakened , yet their minds are not changed . Thus , when the power of guilt wears away , what provoked them to be religious seekers wears away , and they naturally turn to their own course again . Since they were eager for heaven only because of the fear of the torment of hell , as soon as that fear subsides their desires for salvation and heaven also subsides . So it comes to pass that when their guilt and fear are gone their desire for heaven and happiness dies and they return to their own course again .

Another reason is that they have slavish fears that overmaster them . I am speaking now of the fear they have of men , for the fear of man bringeth a snare . So then though they may seem to be eager for heaven , as long as the flames of hell are about their ears , yet when that terror has subsided a little they have thoughts , mainly , that it is good to be wise and not to run the hazard of losing everything for something they do not know , or at least of bringing themselves into unavoidable and unnecessary trouble , and , so , they fall in with the world again . The embarrassment that attends open profession of Christ is also a block in their way . They are proud and haughty and religion in their eye is low and contemptible . So, when they have lost their fear of hell and the wrath to come they return again to their old life . They cannot bear to look at their guilt or think of the terror that is before them . They prefer to postpone thinking about it , and though perhaps if they were willing it could make them flee to where the righteous flee and there be safe , that is to Jesus Christ . But because they shun even the thought of guilt and terror , once they are rid of their awakenings about the wrath of God , they harden their hearts gladly and quickly and choose such ways as though harden them more and more .

You're pretty close to the truth of it said Christian, for the bottom of it all is an unchanged mind and will . Therefore they are like the criminal who stands before the judge and trembles . He seems to repent most heartily , but the bottom of all is the fear of prison . It is not that he has any hatred of his crime , as is proved when the man is free and steals again , so a criminal still . But if his mind  was changed he would be otherwise .

Hopeful responded, Now that I have shown you the reasons why they backslide , will you talk about the manner of backsliding . Said Christian , So I will , willingly . First they draw off as many of their own thoughts as possible away from any remembrance of God or death or of the judgment to come . That is the first step . Then they cast off by degrees their private duties of the inner life ; secret prayer , curbing their lusts , watching sorrow for sin and the like . Then they shun the company of lively and warm Christians . After that they grow cold to their public duty , such as hearing or reading the word , seeking godly council and the like . Then they begin to pick holes , as we say , in some of the godly , to find fault with them , so that they may have a respectable reason for deserting their own former walk of life . Then they begin to cling to and associate themselves with carnal loose and rotten persons . They give way to carnal and rotten talk , jokes , stories and tidbits of gossip . They are especially glad if they can do this with some who are accounted honest, that they may be made more bold by their example . After this they begin to play with little sins openly and then being hardened they show themselves as they are , thus being launched again into the gulf of misery , unless a miracle of grace stop it they everlastingly perish in their own deceptions .

Some versions of this book may differ , but essentially they say the same thing . America's very early social gospel and its continuance through dispensationalism , along with the occult charismatic church has resulted in the world's supposed Christian churches' total saturation with these backsliders and unbelievers . True believers who recognize the pervasive heresy in all mainline denominations as well as most independent offshoots finally leave after Biblical attempts to challenge church leaders are exhausted . This is why so many Christians are floundering today , and it is why so many have begun their own home churches , something that should not be taken lightly and should be founded by much prayer and fasting , continued by eternal vigilance , always mindful that grievous wolves are seeking a place setting at the table of a sumptuous new flock .

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