Slander of the World: Shame
As Christians continues to converse with Faithful, he hears about the characters Faithful encountered on the road. In our continued study of “the bad guys” of The Pilgrim’s Progress, we now come to the character Shame. This is one of Faithful’s most formidable foes and deserves careful attention from the reader.
Getting Started: Again, read through the latter part of the Fifth Stage of Christian’s journey. especially his conversation with Faithful about Shame.
1. Faithful and Christian in the Valley of Humility (Humiliation)
a. It was here, in the Valley of Humility, that Christian met Apollyon.
b. In the same Valley Faithful meets two characters: Discontent and Shame.
2. Character sketch of Shame:
a. The meaning of his name, Shame: He meets pilgrims and confronts them with the shamefulness of Christianity. (Faithful thinks his name should be Shameless.)
b. Shame’s tactic: He is relentless to Faithful, pressing him hard with his words, constantly whispering in his ear.
c. Shame’s understanding of “religion” (the religion of Bunyan’s day, Puritanism) is that is it a “pitiful, low, and sneaking business.” He give 5 reasons why he believes the Christian religion is shameful.
i. Religion is shameful because a tender conscience is unmanly: when a man is concerned about his behavior he is ridiculed by those who embrace the modern attitude of brave and bullying freedom.
ii. Religion is shameful because few mighty, rich, or wise become Christians, because it involves becoming a reckless fool who gives up all he has for unseen rewards.
iii. Religion is shameful because it calls men to poverty and ignorance of all the sciences brought to us by the Enlightenment.
iv. Religion is shameful because it makes men into pitiful mourners after listening to guilt-ridden sermons, which in turn makes them seek forgiveness and make restitution for petty faults.
v. Religions is shameful because it makes someone shun powerful people for their trivial vices and instead befriend fellow paupers.
3. Faithful rebukes Shame
a. Faithful remembers the words of Christ in Luke 16:14-15.
i. The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard Christ’s words about not being able to serve both God and money, and they mocked him.
ii. Christ said, “What is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” God cares nothing for human estimations.
b. Faithful realizes Shame’s words are purely man-centered and have ignored what God’s word says.
i. The world says a tender conscience is unmanly, but God loves it (see Psalm 51:14-17).
ii. The world says religion is for uneducated fools, but God calls such people wise (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
iii. The world says religion is for the poor, but God calls them richer than the greatest men in the world (see Luke 12:13-21).
c. Faithful sets his hope on God’s affirmation on Judgment Day, not on the affirmation of the harassing spirits of this world. Faithful knows if he is ashamed of Christ, Christ will be ashamed of him (see Luke 9:23-26).
d. Faithful’s final argument: Those things Shame distains are the things he finds the most glory in (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
Questions for Personal Reflection (please comment):
- Have you ever known someone to reject Christianity or religion altogether because it is “for the weak”?
- Have you ever known someone to reject Christianity because they believe all Christians ignore modern science and learning?
- Have you ever known someone to reject Christianity because it deals with “petty sins”?
- Faithful finally gains victory over the voice of Shame when he entirely sells out to what God calls wise and glorious, trying not to hold to the worldly values promoted by Shame. Have there been times when you were trying to hold to what God values but at the same time as holding to what the world values?