Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pilgrims Progress: Ignorance, Christian and Tactics

To the right in the center of the picture is IGNORANCE. We have heard from him before in our Pilgrim's Progress. Let's pick up in our story as Christian and Hopeful wait up for this solitary traveler.

I saw then in my dream, that Hopeful looked back, and saw Ignorance, whom they had left behind, coming after. Look, said he to Christian, how far yonder youngster loitereth behind.

Christian: Aye, aye, I see him: he careth not for our company.

Hopeful: But I trow it would not have hurt him, had he kept pace with us hitherto.

Christian: That is true; but I warrant you he thinketh otherwise.

Hopeful: That I think he doth; but, however, let us tarry for him. (So they did.)

Then Christian said to him, Come away, man; why do you stay so behind?

Ignorance: I take my pleasure in walking alone, even more a great deal than in company, unless I like it the better.

Sometime back my two oldest daughters (14 and 22 yrs at the time) and I read together a book called TACTICS by Greg Koukl.

One of the main TAKE-AWAYS for us in reading TACTICS was the realization of how effective questions can be in furthering the conversation, and furthering the GOAL of making the TRUTH Known.

See below, the questions posed by our our HEROES, which I have Highlighted in red, and in which BUNYAN effectively illustrates TACTICS and Question-Posing's similar to those described in Koukl's book in the conversations between Christian, Hopeful and Ignorance, who are yet in the Enchanted Grounds. (whew - that's a long sentence.)

Christian: Come, how do you do? How stands it between God and your soul now?

Ignorance: I hope, well; for I am always full of good motions, that come into my mind to comfort me as I walk.

Christian: What good motions? Pray tell us.

Ignorance: Why, I think of God and heaven.

Christian: So do the devils and damned souls.

Ignorance: But I think of them, and desire them.

Christian: So do many that are never like to come there. “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing” (Prov. 13:4).

Ignorance: But I think of them, and leave all for them.

Christian: That I doubt: for to leave all is a very hard matter; yea, a harder matter than many are aware of. But why, or by what, art thou persuaded that thou hast left all for God and heaven?

Ignorance: My heart tells me so.

Christian: The wise man says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Prov. 28:26).

Ignorance: That is spoken of an evil heart; but mine is a good one.

Christian: But how dost thou prove that?

Ignorance: It comforts me in hopes of heaven.

Christian: That may be through its deceitfulness; for a man’s heart may minister comfort to him in the hopes of that thing for which he has yet no ground to hope.

Ignorance: But my heart and life agree together; and therefore my hope is well-grounded.

Christian: Who told thee that thy heart and life agree together?

Ignorance: My heart tells me so.

Christian: “Ask my fellow if I be a thief.” Thy heart tells thee so! Except the word of God beareth witness in this matter, other testimony is of no value.

Ignorance: But is it not a good heart that hath good thoughts? and is not that a good life that is according to God’s commandments?

Christian: Yes, that is a good heart that hath good thoughts, and that is a good life that is according to God’s commandments; but it is one thing indeed to have these, and another thing only to think so.

Ignorance: Pray, what count you good thoughts, and a life according to God’s commandments?

Christian: There are good thoughts of divers kinds; some respecting ourselves, some God, some Christ, and some other things.

Ignorance: What be good thoughts respecting ourselves?

Christian: Such as agree with the word of God.

Ignorance: When do our thoughts of ourselves agree with the word of God?

Christian: When we pass the same judgment upon ourselves which the word passes. To explain myself: the word of God saith of persons in a natural condition, “There is none righteous, there is none that doeth good.” It saith also, that, “every imagination of the heart of man is only evil, and that continually” (Gen. 6:5; Rom. 3). And again, “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). Now, then, when we think thus of ourselves, having sense thereof, then are our thoughts good ones, because according to the word of God.

Ignorance: I will never believe that my heart is thus bad.

Christian: Therefore thou never hadst one good thought concerning thyself in thy life. But let me go on. As the word passeth a judgment upon our hearts, so it passeth a judgment upon our ways; and when the thoughts of our hearts and ways agree with the judgment which the word giveth of both, then are both good, because agreeing thereto.

Ignorance: Make out your meaning.

Christian: Why, the word of God saith, that man’s ways are crooked ways, not good but perverse; it saith, they are naturally out of the good way, that they have not known it (Psa. 125:5; Prov. 2:15; Rom. 3:12). Now, when a man thus thinketh of his ways, I say, when he doth sensibly, and with heart-humiliation, thus think, then hath he good thoughts of his own ways, because his thoughts now agree with the judgment of the word of God.

Ignorance: What are good thoughts concerning God?

Christian: Even, as I have said concerning ourselves, when our thoughts of God do agree with what the word saith of him; and that is, when we think of his being and attributes as the word hath taught, of which I cannot now discourse at large. But to speak of him with reference to us: then have we right thoughts of God when we think that he knows us better than we know ourselves, and can see sin in us when and where we can see none in ourselves; when we think he knows our inmost thoughts, and that our heart, with all its depths, is always open unto his eyes; also when we think that all our righteousness stinks in his nostrils, and that therefore he cannot abide to see us stand before him in any confidence, even in all our best performances.

Ignorance: Do you think that I am such a fool as to think that God can see no further than I; or that I would come to God in the best of my performances?

Christian: Why, how dost thou think in this matter?

Ignorance: Why, to be short, I think I must believe in Christ for justification.

Christian: How! think thou must believe in Christ, when thou seest not thy need of him! Thou neither seest thy original nor actual infirmities; but hast such an opinion of thyself, and of what thou doest, as plainly renders thee to be one that did never see the necessity of Christ’s personal righteousness to justify thee before God. How, then, dost thou say, I believe in Christ?

Ignorance: I believe well enough, for all that.

Christian: How dost thou believe?

ASKING QUESTIONS - that I by grace might learn to ASK more questions. I think Christian accomplished as much and much more with the asking of questions than ever he could have only making declarations. Though Ignorant remains ignorant still - I did note that eventually even Ignorant asked such questions as enabled Christian to instruct him truthfully.

I see that in spiritual conversations much good can come from effectively asking questions. We learn better where the lack truly lies, we gain the attention of our audience more effectively, we actually show more respect by striving to really understand the one with whom we are conversing. When we are discussing spiritual things with an unbeliever we have TRUTH and RIGHT on our side and so by asking a good question we place a burden of proof on the one who is truly in the wrong -- which helps them to see also they really have no grounds for what they mistakenly and sinfully believe.

READ AGAIN THE QUESTIONS FROM ABOVE and see if maybe you find some helps there for yourself to further along spiritual conversations in which you may soon be engaged.
How stands it between God and your soul now?
What good motions?
But why, or by what, art thou persuaded that thou hast left all for God and heaven?
But how dost thou prove that?
Who told thee that thy heart and life agree together?
Why, how dost thou think in this matter?
How, then, dost thou say, I believe in Christ?
How dost thou believe?

With the last question we will leave off, and with my thinking that Ignorance's answer of this last leads to some most wonderful gospel-insight as described by Christian, I hope next time to discuss the same.

Click here for a TACTICS book review by Tim Challies.
Click here for a TACTICS blog tour.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the interesting information