Being Protestant and Protesting Injustice
We've seen sustained protests in the streets of cities all across American, protests that have erupted into mayhem and violence, more evil, more injustice, and more death, including the death of a Black retired police officer, and a Black female on-duty police officer, both shot and killed by participants in the protests, ironically, protesting police violence against Black people.
I am unapologetically a Protestant Christian, finding my spiritual and theological roots in the Protestant Reformation. Did you notice the word protest in the word Protestant? In a fallen world filled with sin, falsehood, and injustice, there will be times when we must stand and protest. But when and how do Christians go about taking their stand, protesting against falsehood, injustice, and evil? I've been thinking a great deal about this in the last two months as I have been writing about the life of John Bunyan, a man who protested, took his stand against unjust laws and corrupt magistrates. What did he get for his protest? Threatened with deportation to the colonies or being stretched by the neck until dead. Determined to stop his unlicensed gospel preaching, his enemies unjustly threw him in jail for twelve long years. Immersed in Bunyan's history and life, as a writer the last seven weeks have been an absolute delight. I thought I loved John Bunyan before writing The Hobgoblins of John Bunyan, but now I love him to an incalculable degree. His entire life is an enactment of God's way in the gospel: God chooses the foolish to confound the wise (I Cor 1), the younger brother over the elder, the things that are of no account and are mocked and scorned by the world--these are precious in the sight of our God and Savior. That was Bunyan, a poor, peasant tinker, with little formal education, surrounded by the Puritan age, an age of great piety, of great learning and erudition, and of great literary accomplishment. And along comes humble Bunyan, his life transformed by the power of the gospel, and, undaunted, he preaches, and suffers, and writes, including penning the best-selling book of all time (next to the English Bible), never out of print since 1678 (ignore JK Rowling's claim to have exceeded Bunyan; it took her seven books to his one; that's not how it works). Some of my readers may wonder where on earth I got a title like The Hobgoblins of John Bunyan; some may even be offended by the title. Like everything else in the forthcoming new historical fiction book set in 17th century Elstow and Bedford, I plundered Bunyan's own writings and vocabulary. In his classic Pilgrim Hymn, sung by Valiant-for-Truth in the second book of Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan includes the lines:
“Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit!” So, if you don't like the word hobgoblin, I invite you to take it up with Bunyan himself. Having taught Pilgrim's Progress and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners for many years, I have long wanted to write a book about Bunyan, but other projects always seemed to get in the way. Until God ordained a pandemic and the residual lock down and and suspension of ordinary life and liberties. My travel schedule halted abruptly, and so I decided that now was the time to write on Bunyan. There was something else going on in my mind too. Because Bunyan is so important to the Church, I wanted this book to be my very best work, so I kept deferring it, pushing it forward, hoping to be the best writer I could be before taking it on, stalling, procrastinating--whatever it was. Until now. Musing on my best way to write the book, I finally hit on the idea of starting with Elstow Abbey today and a real person, my good friend Licensed Lay Minister, John Hinson who agreed to have something a bit more than a cameo appearance in the opening chapters of the book. That is, until he takes a significant tumble down the narrow circular stairway up the 13th century bell tower next to the Abbey, and in his steepling plunge unearths a tin box containing a manuscript. Readers of Hostage Lands and The Betrayal are thinking that I've done this before. Yes, but not since 2009, and as those are two of my best-selling books, I decided it was time again.
The story unfolds from the pen of Harry Bayly, a fellow rogue in rebellion and blasphemy with Bunyan in their youth, and a man Bunyan actually mentions once in Grace Abounding, every writer of historical fiction's dream character: we know little about him and get to fill in all the rest. Harry goes on to be the benevolent jailer later in the story, but, convinced that people don't change, he was always bewildered by his friend, especially Bunyan's intrepid stand against bishops, episcopal church government, magistrates, and King Charles II's usurped headship over the Church. With increased secular pressures against Christians and the Church today, there are enormous -implication from Bunyan's stand before kings and magistrates, suffering in prison for conscience sake in the 17th century, and our call to honor the king and to obey God rather than man in our own day. If you would like to listen to me reading a sample chapter (4) from the book click here. I invite you to listen to The Revolt, God's Servant Job, and The Resistance read by yours truly by clicking on the read aloud image on the home page at bondbooks.net. While you're there, please subscribe and share the site with your friends and family. Watch for more news about the release of The Hobgoblins of John Bunyan and how you can preorder your own signed copy. Douglas Bond is author of thirty books, including The Resistance set in enemy occupied Normandy, and two-time Grace Award book finalist; he directs the Oxford Creative Writing Master Class, is an award-winning teacher, podcaster, speaker at conferences, and leader of Church history tours in Europe. For special buy-3-get-1-free book deals and study guides click here.