The first time I read The Pilgrim’s Progress, I was amazed how well Bunyan addressed this issue and how succinctly it explains many of the issues we are witnessing in our own time. Why is there such corruption and apostasy in the visible church in our time? There are multitudes of those “that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death,” but there are few calling them out and showing the Body of Christ that this is so.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4:14-16 (NASB)
The visible church is flesh driven. Evangelicalism is corrupt because of the very same thing. I visit both large and small churches. It seems that in many cases, the larger the church, the more geared the leadership is there to appealing to the flesh to attract and keep the crowds large and entertained. When I enter the physical buildings of these large churches I look around and take a visible inventory of the clues given of how focused the leadership there is to being “in tune” with culture in how church is done, how the music is done, how convicting the message from the Word of God is in all of this and how central that is to the life of that local body of believers. Forget those that have their own television networks or shows or whatever. They have sold out a long time ago to contextualization of the truth in order to keep the money coming in.
In John Bunyan’s book The Pilgrim’s Progress after Christian has made it through the Wicket Gate and been set on the narrow path, he is told that his next destination is the house of The Interpreter and from there he will be sent to the place of deliverance where his burden (his guilt of sin) will be taken away. However, he must first learn some important things from The Interpreter. After arriving and being let in at the house of The Interpreter the tour begins:
Then said the Interpreter, Come in; I will shew thee that which will be profitable to thee. So he commanded his man to light the Candle, and bid Christian follow him: so he had him into a private room, and bid his man open a door; the which when he had done, Christian saw the picture of a very grave Person hang up against the wall; and this was the fashion of it, It had eyes lifted up to Heaven, the best of Books in his hand, the Law of Truth was written upon his lips, the World was behind his back; it stood as if it pleaded with men, and a Crown of Gold did hang over its head.
Then said Christian, What means this?