NEW

We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia: Northern Churchman

We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia? The Northern Churchman There is a familiar feel to this time of year. The Christmas advertising on television, the darker evenings, the Carol Services – and the inevitable scoffers who call the Christmas story a myth. Not ‘Once in Royal...

Mark Pickles: The Story of Two Trampolines

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles The Story of the Two Trampolines:  A passage that is frequently referred to during times of great revival is Isaiah 64:1-3:  “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your...

Ten Thousand Bibles for London’s Children

TBS Auxiliary Meets Ten Thousand Bibles For London’s Children The Greater London Auxiliary of the Trinitarian Bible Society was delighted to report at its Annual Meeting held on 15 November that over 10,000 Bibles have been distributed to London schools since the...

Good News for Egypt’s Christians

Barnabas Fund Reports Good News for Egypt’s Christians The government of Egypt licensed 125 churches and church-affiliated buildings on 14 November. It is the 24th batch of approvals made since the government committee overseeing the licensing process started work in...

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw In the aftermath of Desmond Tutu’s daughter being refused permission to preside at a funeral in a Church of England parish, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw told The Guardian that the “C of E must move swiftly to welcome lesbian...

Collins: Who’s Your Righteousness?

Who’s Your Righteousness? By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins Who’s your righteousness? "The Lord our Righteousness" was the sermon preached March 20, 1757 at St. Mary's Church in Oxford. It offended nearly everyone that day and William Romaine was invited to never preach...

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963 Persons Against Whom Proceedings May be Instituted. Proceedings under this Measure may be instituted against an archbishop, any diocesan bishop or any suffragan bishop commissioned by a diocesan bishop or any other bishop or a...

Editorial: Joy to the World Cup

Editorial Joy to the World Cup The result of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is already in. And it appears the Church of England has lost. The latest advice from the Church of England’s Support Hub is for parishes to consider the timing of Christmas Carol Services to avoid...

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership By Chris Sugden Andrew Symes is to stand down as Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream on January 1, 2023, after nearly ten years in post. Rev Symes, 56, who had earlier served with Crosslinks in South...

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension By George Conger The former Bishop of Ramsbury has been suspended for life from the ordained ministry after he admitted to having sexually abused two women. The Daily Mail reported the Rt Rev. Peter Hullah had been the subject of...

Pilgrim’s Process: Valiant for Truth

Pilgrim’s Process

By the Revd Dr Peter Sanlon

At the end of Pilgrim’s Progress (Part 2), Bunyan introduced the character ‘Valiant for Truth.’ When he appears, Valiant for Truth has blood covering his face. He explains he met with a band of thieves who tried to compel him to join them — he resisted them for hours and was injured in the fight. Born in ‘Dark Land’ Valiant for Truth had to overcome a family who urged him to not be a pilgrim, and many other obstacles. When he meets the pilgrims he aids them through the dangers of the ‘Enchanted Ground’ – sword drawn and words of encouragement offered.

Valiant for Truth would not be welcome in many churches today. He would be branded confrontational, difficult and angular. Our Christian culture too often seeks acceptance from and peace with the world – whereas Valiant for Truth would see the need to fight and resist. Few today expect to suffer in meaningful ways as a result of faithful discipleship – Valiant for Truth got a bloodied nose and carried on cheerfully.

If Christians are to be lights in a dark world, we must recall that ‘everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.’ (Jn. 3:20)

Bunyan wanted his character Valiant for Truth to be remembered and so included a hymn about him. The 1906 revision which is  the better known version opens:

He who would valiant be,

‘Gainst all Disaster,

Let him in constancy,

Follow the Master.

There’s no discouragement,

Shall make him once relent,

His first avowed intent,

To be a pilgrim.

If we today give up on the robust convictions Bunyan saw as essential for discipleship, we forfeit the passion and resolve that carries us through opposition. We also lose intimacy and closeness to Jesus. The passion of a pilgrim should be ‘I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.’ (Phil. 3:10) Perhaps the way we present the gospel to outsiders should include the joy and satisfaction of suffering with Christ? 

The modern revision of Bunyan’s hymn about Valiant for truth removed reference to hobgoblins. People seemed to think it inappropriate. That is a pity, for his final verse reminds us that fears — imaginary as well as real – are overcome by pilgrims who are Valiant for Truth. How precious to those who are anxious:

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend,

can daunt his spirit;

he knows he at the end,

shall life inherit.

Then, fancies, fly away;

he’ll not fear what men say;

he’ll labour night and day,

to be a pilgrim.

Rev. Dr. Peter Sanlon is rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Tunbridge Wells: www.emmanuelanglican.uk

Previous

Next