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Pilgrim's Progress and The Like are Cunningly Devised Fables
For we did not follow1 cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)
In the book in which there is an entire chapter (plus) on false teachers (2 Peter 2), Peter notes "wise" fictitious stories (fables2) as something they did not follow. The verb (in participle form) Peter uses for "cunningly devised", σεσοφισμενοις (sesophismenois), in 2 Peter 1:16 is found in the NT also only as an infinitive in 2 Timothy 3:15 where the NKJV translates it, "to make . . . wise", σοφισαι (sophisai). In other words, Peter says they didn't follow "wise" fables.
In "The Author's Apology For His Book" Bunyan writes,
This book will make a traveler of thee,
If by its counsel thou wilt ruled be;
It will direct thee to the Holy Land,
If thou wilt its directions understand
Yea, it will make the slothful active be;
The blind also delightful things to see.3
In other words, this fable will save your soul. Bunyan claims via his book, Pilgrim's Progress, he will make "known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." For it is only in the truth (Christ, John 14:6) that anyone ever becomes a true "traveler" ("sojourner" 1 Peter 2:11), finds any true "counsel" (Proverbs 8:14), finds any direction to the Holy Land (Hebrews 12:22), and any blind see (John 9:39). Bunyan claims his fable will do all this. Neither Peter nor Paul followed such folly.
Peter's words in 2 Peter 1:16 are akin to Paul's words found in 1 Corinthians 2:1.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom4 declaring to you the testimony of God.
Note Paul says he "did not come with excellence of . . . wisdom". Why? Paul continues,
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom,5 but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
Faith must be in the power of God. Human wisdom, human fictitious stories (fables), are not the power of God. Christ (the Bible) is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Man-made stories are not.
The masses are lead astray by these fables, in part, because "God" and "Christ" are the supposed focal point of stories like Pilgrim's Progress6 and the like. But, this speaks directly to which Paul was writing. Paul says his speech and preaching, that is, his speech about Christ and his preaching about Christ, was "not with persuasive words of human wisdom". More literally, his speech and preaching was "not in persuasive words of human wisdom" (εν [en]). In other words, good sounding human wisdom had no place in Paul's message. Human wisdom, which includes the fictitious imagination of man's mind, dilutes and pollutes.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Man's thoughts are to be forsaken (Isaiah 55:7), as Isaiah 65:2 describes "a rebellious people" in this way:
who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts.
In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 we are warned,
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.7
Are we so naive to think that the fables of which Paul writes are not "Christian" fables? Of course they are "Christian" fables, since the same heap up for themselves teachers, having itching ears, they want to hear "smooth things, prophesy deceits" as the Israelites of old (Isaiah 30:10). Man hasn't changed (Jeremiah 17:9). He likes deception, and so with "Christian" fables there is plenty of it, as it mixes man's imagination (man's corrupt thoughts) with Biblical concepts.
These of whom Paul speaks in 2 Timothy 4 will still claim to know Him, but Paul warns they will have turned their ears away from the truth. In other words, they will be liars (1 John 2:4), as Paul noted in his prior chapter, "having a form of godliness, but denying its power" (2 Timothy 3:5). Welcome to today's Christianity. They have not only turned aside to theological fables (e.g. see our reports on false teachers), but to literal fables (myths)8 as well.
Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan (published in 1678), touted as an all time best seller, is a literal classic example of the fables to which "Christians" have been turned aside. In His Steps9 (subtitled, What Would Jesus Do?), by Charles M. Sheldon (first published in 1896), is another classical fable (fictional book) for which so-called Christians have clamored. A more recent craze has been The Shack,10 by William P. Young, of which Eugene Peterson (translator of The Message) is quoted on the front cover as saying,
This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good!" (theshackbook.com/pages/page1.html)
What did Pilgrim's Progress do for Bunyan's generation? Nothing good, because it was not the power of God, but rather the wisdom of a man (a man's imagination), which God calls foolishness.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; and again, "The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." (1 Corinthians 3:19-20)
The wisdom of man is foolishness according to the Lord. Just because a man incorporates "Christian" ideas into his story, that does not sanctify his fable. Man thinks he can somehow add something good or enhance God's truth with his fictitious thoughts and stories, but he can't.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:25)
God's folly far exceeds man's wisest thought (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Actually, what Pilgrim's Progress did for Bunyan's generation and those thereafter is feed the fancy of false Christians. Attempting to disseminate truth via fiction is the wisdom of the world, not the wisdom of God. And so it is sin, as it is written,
The devising11 of foolishness is sin. (Proverbs 24:9)
Since God calls the wisdom of this world foolishness, and He calls man's thoughts futile (Psalm 94:11), and since, it is in the wisdom of this world (man's thoughts) in which men make up "Christian" fables according to their own futile thoughts, their own man-made stories, their stories are the devising of foolishness (Proverbs 24:9), and the world eats it up. Best sellers are made. As it is written,
The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. (Proverbs 15:14)
Knowledge is found in the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10), in the pages of holy writ (Psalm 19:9), but fools feed on the garbage (human wisdom) of the world. They feed on "Christian" foolishness, but they think it is Christian wisdom.
C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters well exemplifies this. A best-seller first published in 1942, The Screwtape Letters is a fictitious story (fable) about two fictitious demons communicating with each other over the demise of a fictitious man. Great wisdom is to be found here in the well of fictitious demon communication? Fools think so. Like Butler Bowdon who wrote,
Both shocking and amusing, C S Lewis's (sic) satire The Screwtape Letters was a best seller in its day, selling over half a million copies. It was a brilliant riposte to the creeping atheism, existentialism and materialism of Lewis's (sic) time, attracting the smart reader who normally may have dismissed Christianity as a moral guide; (www.butler-bowdon.com/the-screwtape-letters-)
That kind of "Christianity" ought to be dismissed! It is the kind in which "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him" (Titus 1:16). There is no true moral guidance whatsoever in their folly (man's wisdom), and in the futility of their own thoughts (stories), particularly because it is grounded, not in truth (John 4:24), but in the deceit of this age (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:1-2). They mix "God" and "Christ" in it, but they preach neither the true God (the God of truth)12 nor the true Christ (who is Truth),13 and so they "deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:18).
The statement on the back cover of This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti (copyright 1986), well sums up the folly.
Not since The Screwtape Letters has there been a novel with as much insight into spiritual warfare and the necessity of prayer. Fast-moving, riveting reading ranking with the best thrillers on the bookshelf.
They acclaim "insight" from fiction! Truly, they have been "turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:4).
Peter said, "we did not follow cunningly devised fables." False Christians today do.14 They have filled their heads with fiction, when God has commanded truth (Philippians 4:8 "whatever things are true").15
1. The Greek word for "follow" in 2 Peter 1:16 is εξακολουθησαντες (exakolouthêsantes) and is only also found in 2 Peter 2:2, 15.
2. The Greek word for "fables" in 2 Peter 1:16 is μυθοις (muthois) and is found also only in 1 Timothy 1:4 (fables); 4:7 (fables); 2 Timothy 4:4 (fables); Titus 1:14 (fables).
3. The rest of that section reads as follows. Note in the second line Bunyan calls his tale a fable.
Art thou for something rare and profitable?
Or would’st thou see a truth within a fable?
Art thou forgetful? Wouldest thou remember
From New-Year’s day to the last of December?
Then read my fancies; they will stick like burs,
And may be, to the helpless, comforters.
This book is writ in such a dialect
As may the minds of listless men affect:
It seems a novelty, and yet contains
Nothing but sound and honest gospel strains.
Would’st thou divert thyself from melancholy?
Would’st thou be pleasant, yet be far from folly?
Would’st thou read riddles, and their explanation?
Or else be drowned in thy contemplation?
Dost thou love picking meat? Or would’st thou see
A man i’ the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?
Would’st thou be in a dream, and yet not sleep?
Or would’st thou in a moment laugh and weep?
Would’st thou lose thyself and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm?
Would’st read thyself, and read thou know’st not what,
And yet know whether thou art blest or not,
By reading the same lines? O then come hither,
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together.
4. The Greek word for "wisdom" in 1 Corinthians 2:1 is σοφιας (sophias).
5. The Greek words for "human wisdom" in 1 Corinthians 2:4 are ανθρωπινης σοφιας (anthrôpinês sophias). The Critical text omits "human", ανθρωπινης (anthrôpinês).
6. In "The Author's Apology For His Book" Bunyan writes,
Thereby to please my neighbor; no, not I; I did it my own self to gratify.
This admittance reveals Bunyan's motive for writing Pilgrim's Progress was not in faith, but rather in the flesh, self-seeking. See Romans 2:8; & James 3:13-14.
7. μυθους (muthous)
8. One definition of "myth" by Webster is, "3. a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence". It also gives "parable" and "allegory" as synonyms (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myth).
9. In His Steps displays it is not in His ways on a number of points. For example, the main pastor in the book, Henry Maxwell, in chapter eight thinks Jesus would preach to the hypocrites in the church, would "Identify Himself with the great causes of humanity," would "Preach against the saloon in Raymond," and "Become known as a friend and companion of the sinful people in the Rectangle." All of this is bogus. Jesus commands to kick hypocrites out of the church (1 Corinthians 5:13). He didn't identify Himself with the great causes of humanity when He was here last time. He didn't preach against any saloon either, in fact, He made wine for people to drink (John 2; see also Proverbs 31:6-7). Finally, it was an evil accusation by Christ's enemies when they called Him a friend of sinners, just as it was when they called Him a glutton (Matthew 11:19). Christ is no more a glutton than He is a friend and companion of sinners. See Hebrews 7:26.
10. In The Shack, God the Father is an African American woman named Papa, and the Holy Spirit is physically manifested as an Asian woman named Sarayu.
11. The Hebrew word for "devising" in Proverbs 24:9 is זִמַּת (zimat) found only in one place in a good way, Job 17:11 (purposes). Everywhere else it is used as an evil thing, Leviticus 18:17 (wickedness); 19:29 (wickedness); 20:14 (2x, wickedness); Judges 20:6 (lewdness); Job 31:11 (wickedness); Psalm 26:10 (sinister scheme); 119:150 (wickedness); Proverbs 10:23 (evil); 21:27 (wicked intent); Isaiah 32:7 (wicked plans); Jeremiah 13:27 (lewdness); Ezekiel 16:27 (lewd), 43 (lewdness), 58 (lewdness); 22:9 (lewdness), 11 (lewdly); 23:21 (lewdness), 27 (lewdness), 29 (lewdness), 35 (lewdness), 44 (lewd), 48 (2x, lewdness), 49 (lewdness); 24:13 (lewdness); Hosea 6:9 (lewdness).
12. Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 65:16
13. John 1:1, 14; 14:6; Galatians 3:8; Hebrews 4:12-13; Revelation 19:13
14. Here are a few more examples of popular fables to which they (2 Timothy 4:3-4) have been turned aside:
The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven fantasy novels for children, by C. S. Lewis (1949 & 1954), is filled with sorcery (magic). See Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Malachi 3:5; Acts 13:6-11; Galatians 5:20; Revelation 9:21; 18:23; 21:8; 22:15.
Hinds Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard (1955), is an allegory (like Pilgrim's Progress) which teaches, among other lies, that someone can be in the service of God, commune with Him, and yet be "Much-Afraid" without true love in the heart (see pp. 9-10, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, IL). This is contrary to Proverbs 14:26; Isaiah 26:3; Revelation 21:8 ("the cowardly"); etc., and 1 John 4:7-8, 16; 5:3; 2 John 6; etc..
Piercing the Darkness, by Frank Peretti (copyright 1989, 2003), has at the end of the "Foreward,"
My greatest reward is knowing the message is being received and is making a difference in the lives of so many.
Thanks for reading.
-Frank E. Peretti
May 19, 2003
Peretti's message is a fairy tale about spiritual warfare founded not on holy writ, but the foolish ground of human wisdom (Frank E. Peretti's imagination).
15. Some may argue that Jesus used parables, so this is somehow equivalent to the use of "Christian" fables today. The problem with this is, Jesus' parables were not fiction. They were/are truth, and not fictitious stories. Christ used real life examples to teach real life spiritual truths.
Moreover, someone asked, "Do you believe that a person cannot make fiction humbly with the wisdom that God provides, in order to teach real life truths."
This is where the problem is. Fiction is not truth, and you assume the fiction would be "with the wisdom of God," but it is not in accordance to the wisdom of God (the word of God); since it is not God's fiction, but man's.
Furthermore, the fiction we do see in Scripture (God's fiction) is used not to disseminate truth, but rather deceit. For example, David used fiction by the wisdom of God in 1 Samuel 21:10-15. He acted like a mad-man. That was pure fiction, since he was not a mad-man. But this was not to disseminate truth, but rather to deceive his enemies. Also, by reading Psalm 34, both its title and the Psalm itself, you can see David wrote about this event of 1 Samuel 21:10-15, in which it was wisdom given to David by God in order to be delivered from his enemies; and David praised Him for it.
Never does Scripture use fiction to disseminate truth, as false Christians today claim they do. Even the visions of God given to men (e.g. Numbers 12:6; Daniel 8; Revelation 12-13) in which some are parabolic, are not fictitious. They were real things God showed men of God. They were not fiction or fables or myths. Even the riddle and parable of Ezekiel 17:1-8 was not a fictitious story made up by God, but it was a real event to illustrate Israel's rebellion (Ezekiel 17:11-21), just as Jesus' parables were real events to illustrate God's truth.
How do we know Ezekiel 17 was a real event? Because God says, "A great eagle with large wings . . . came to Lebanon . . . " etc.. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). If He says a great eagle came to Lebanon, it did. He does not preface the statement with, "this is not true," or "this did not actually happen," or "this is a fable," or anything like that. But rather, He says, "A great eagle with large wings . . . came to Lebanon . . . " etc..
Some might argue that because it is called a riddle and a parable (Ezekiel 17:2) that means it is something that never actually happened. The problem with this argument is, neither riddles nor parables are ever depicted in the Bible as non-realities (i.e. something that never happened). Every other time these words are used in Scripture they are always real events and not fictitious, and it is no different in Ezekiel 17.
For every time "riddle" (חִידָה [chiydâh]) is found, please see Numbers 12:8 ("dark sayings"); Judges 14:12-19; 1 Kings 10:1 ("with hard questions"; בְּחִידוֹת, more literally, "in riddles"); 2 Chronicles 9:1 (same as 1 Kings 10:1); Psalm 49:4 ("dark saying"); 78:2 ("dark sayings"); Proverbs 1:6; Ezekiel 17:2; Daniel 8:23 ("sinister schemes"; עַז־פָּנִים וּמֵבִין חִידוֹת, more literally, "strong of face and understanding riddles"); Habakkuk 2:6. The verb to tell a riddle (חוּד [chud]) is found only in Judges 14:12-13, 16; Ezekiel 17:2.
For every time "parable" (παραβολη [parabolê]) is found in the NT, please see Matthew 13:4, 10, 13, 18, 24, 31, 33, 34 (2x), 35-36, 53; 15:15; 21:33, 45; 22:1; 24:32; Mark 3:23; 4:2, 10-11, 13 (2x), 30, 33, 34; 7:17; 12:1, 12; 13:28; Luke 4:23; 5:36; 6:39; 8:4, 9-11; 12:16, 41; 13:6; 14:7; 15:3; 18:1, 9; 19:11; 20:9, 19; 21:29; Hebrews 9:9 ("symbolic" NKJV; "figure" KJV); 11:19 ("figurative sense" NKJV; "figure" KJV). In the OT what is translated "parable" is the same word for "proverb" (מָשָׁל [mâshâl]). It is translated "parable" in Numbers 23:7, 18; 24:3, 15, 20-21, 23; Psalm 49:4 (KJV); 78:2 (KJV, NKJV); Proverbs 26:7, 9 (KJV); Ezekiel 17:2 (KJV, NKJV); 20:49 (KJV, NKJV; i.e. a parable, it applies to something else); 24:3 (KJV; NKJV); Micah 2:4; Habakkuk 2:6 (KJV).
Even "allegory" in Scripture is not fictitious. See Galatians 4:24 (KJV "allegory," αλληγορουμενα [allêgoroumena]).
Now, someone might also argue that the event described in Ezekiel 17:3-8 could or would never happen. But, that is the theology of men, not God (Colossians 2:8). For men might also argue with Job as well and claim the beast could or would not teach, nor the birds tell (Job 12:7), nor the earth teach or the fish explain (Job 12:8), and men may claim none of them know, "That the hand of the Lord has done this" (Job 12:9). But, Job said they did, and He was the wisest man on the planet (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3; 28:28), and He was correct (Job 42:7).
Men might also argue that lions do not roar for the prey and seek their food from God, but the Psalmist knew they do (Psalm 104:21). They might argue ravens do not cry to God, but the Lord says they do (Job 38:41). Men might also say that animals, birds, insects, sea creatures, etc., neither could nor would ever speak. But God says they all will (Revelation 5:13).
This is the problem with "Christianity" today. They don't believe what God says, because (in part) they rely on their own understanding (contrary to Proverbs 3:5). It doesn't fit into what they think is reality, so they reject His Word and mark it for something other than what it really is. And so, they miss out on the awesome truth of God's word, which, of course, results in everlasting hell (Psalm 9:17).
16. The following is an email exchange with a Catholic on this issue of fables:
If you’re going to accuse someone of something such as your web site suggests, at least have the courtesy to print the entire page and not only the parts of it which try prove your alleged point. The story is a fable and is not being expressed by Clement as a “truth”. Did you read, or print on your web site, the other analogies Clement uses to express the resurrection?? Of course not, because then your point becomes painfully transparent. Add the footnote at the end of chapter 25:
From: Darwin Fish
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2011 10:17 AM
To: Lamantia, Joseph
Subject: Clement Pheonix Fable accusation
Thank you. We agree. It is a fable. Please feel free to read our article again. That's our point. It is indeed a fable. The Bible does not teach us to use or promote fables. Such a thing is never depicted as a virtue, but rather a vice. It says to reject fables (1 Timothy 1:4; 4:7; Titus 1:14; 2 Peter 1:16; www.atruechurch.info/pilgrimsprogress.html). It doesn't teach us to use them for a "good" cause. But, it does warn us false Christians will (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
It doesn't teach us to use them for a "good" cause. But, it does warn us false Christians will (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Your point does not make sense.
Fables and Parables are both fictitious statements. JESUS USED PARABLES: Are you saying He is false Christian?
As defined by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary:
1fa·ble : noun \ˈfā-bəl\
Definition of FABLE
: a fictitious narrative or statement: as a : a legendary story of supernatural happenings
Jesus indeed used parables, which were real life things to parallel spiritual truth. Where did He use a myth (as in Clement's)? That's what a fable is. That's the Greek word translated "fables" (muthous, e.g. 2 Timothy 4:4) which we are to reject. Fables (myths) are not true and are outside of reality.
Are you serious?? If you had any faith in your responses to my emails you would make these PUBLIC on your website and leave it open for people to leave feedback. But you won’t do that because you know your response is ridiculous and at best childish.
You can’t see that a myth and a parable, are both non-truths, and mean the same thing, are you kidding me??
You’re playing with semantics, searching for something to make yourself right which is what Jehova witnesses and all other made up religions do.
Which part of the parable definition did you not understand? It is a fictitious story to make a point. They’re all not true. Myth, legend, parable, fable, they’re all the same there is no truth to them. Because Timothy refers to it as a fable (a non-truth), this means a parable (a non-truth) is not the same thing?
Clement is using the “myth” to explain about something true also, the resurrection, as were his other analogies at the end of chapter 24.
You cannot invalidate the entire document based on what analogy he chose to use.
Please tell me you are not this uneducated that you cannot see that all these equal no truth. And please don’t tell me you can’t see that Clement used this myth to explain to the people of his time who related to such a myth so as to explain the resurrection. The resurrection which is NOT outside of reality.
The Catholic church which Christ founded is His mouthpiece, the Magisterium through which all Catholics are taught and She has the final word.
The Seed Sower, The Five Talents,, The fig tree, The Samaritan, all parable with no concrete proof of their historicity.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU PUT UP A WEB SITE.
A parable is a story that conveys a moral truth. Historicity is not important in a parable, since the moral truth is the important point.
Parables go by many names. For example, Aesop's Fables are parables. They are called "hypotheticals."
Historicity means historical accuracy, i.e., the events actually occurred as described.
You yourself cannot show any proof whatsoever that any parable in the Bible was or is a true story. The Catholic Church has spoken; the mouthpiece of God.
As Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" Most biblical scholars agree that Jesus' parables probably do not have historicity. In other words, there probably never was a vineyard owner who hired people throughout the day and paid them all the same amount in the evening. But the parables do convey moral truths.
YOU ARE NOT A BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, your emails were shown to the people in this office who can’t believe that you can’t see that myth, parable, and fable are all one and the same. Obey the Catholic Church which Jesus came here to establish, adhere to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ who takes the place of Christ himself. The true successor of Saint Peter.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU PUT UP A WEB SITE.
a true church, P. O. Box 130, Moodys, OK 74444