Then went the jury out, whose names were Mr. Blindman, Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable; who every one gave in his private verdict against him among themselves, and afterwards unanimously concluded to bring him in guilty before the judge. And first among themselves, Mr. Blindman, the foreman, said, I see clearly that this man is a heretic. Then said Mr. No-good, Away with such a fellow from the earth. Aye, said Mr. Malice, for I hate the very looks of him. Then said Mr. Love-lust, I could never endure him. Nor I, said Mr. Live-loose, for he would always be condemning my way. Hang him, hang him, said Mr. Heady. A sorry scrub, said Mr. High-mind. My heart riseth against him, said Mr. Enmity. He is a rogue, said Mr. Liar. Hanging is too good for him, said Mr. Cruelty. Let us dispatch him out of the way, said Mr. Hate-light. Then said Mr. Implacable, Might I have all the world given me, I could not be reconciled to him; therefore let us forthwith bring him in guilty of death.
–John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
Here is a conversation between Mr. Falsely Assured and Mr. Preacher of Truth.
O friend, do not be falsely assured. Repent, and turn back to God!
A conversation between Falsely Assured and Preacher of Truth
Falsely Assured: I am angry with you for continuing to point out my sin! You are so condemning. You are sinning against me! If you really loved me as Christ commands, you would stop heaping all this condemnation on me and just love me.
Preacher of Truth: I do love you. I’m teaching you the law of God. There is no condemnation for those who believe.
FA: But I’ve told you, I do believe!
POT: Those who believe bear fruit in keeping with repentance: when confronted with their sin, they repent.
FA: Look, I’m not perfect, ok? Nobody’s perfect. You are trying to personally convict me of sin, and that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Why don’t you focus on your own sin instead of continually pointing out mine, you hypocrite.
POT: So if the Holy Spirit personally pointed out these same sins to you, you would repent?
FA: Of course!
POT: It’s the fact that I, a fellow sinner, am pointing them out…
FA: Right. Who are you to try to be God?
POT: But in the Old Covenant, God always spoke to the people through prophets (sinful men) rather than directly. Was not rejecting the word of the prophet of the Lord rejecting the word of the Lord?
FA: Of course, but that was the Old Covenant.
POT: Did the true believer accept the word of a prophet of the Lord as the word of the Lord?
FA: Yes, of course he did.
POT: What did unbelievers say?
FA: They got angry at the prophets for continuing to point out their sin. They hated how the prophets were so condemning. They acted as if the prophets were sinning against them. They jeered and mocked them, and sometimes killed them. They did anything but repent, I guess.
POT: And under the…
FA: But again, that was in the Old Covenant, when God used to send prophets. People were so dull in those days — anyone with any sense should have been able to see that it was the word of the Lord through such a prophet. But it’s different now – we’re not in the Old Covenant! You are trying to act like we’re still in Old Testament Israel and you’re an old-time prophet, you legalistic Pharisee.
POT: But under the New Covenant, the apostles too preached a gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Didn’t they too point out sin and call for repentance?
FA: Yes, yes, but that’s different. They were apostles. Isn’t that obvious?
POT: So you agree that rejecting the preaching of an apostle would be rejecting the word of the Lord, just as was the case for rejecting the preaching of a prophet of the Lord in Old Covenant times?
FA: Of course — you obviously have to listen to apostles. But the apostles are gone now.
POT: Doesn’t God still send preachers to preach the truth?
FA: Yes, but if it’s spoken judgmentally it’s not love, and that’s wrong and sinful.
POT: Do we preach our own judgment, or God’s? Is it really true that God hasn’t said anything one way or another on the topics we preach on?
FA: Everything is a matter of indifference in the New Covenant. All you have to do is believe in the word “Jesus” and the word “love”.
POT: So you’re saying…
FA: And preachers shouldn’t act like they’re sent by God, that is so prideful.
POT: How should they act?
FA: They should not be so dogmatic, as if they know “the truth”. They should be tentative and make suggestions for people to consider.
POT: They shouldn’t speak with authority?
FA: No! It’s all just their opinion. No one can know God for sure. We each just do our best to guess and no one should try to tell anyone else what to do.
POT: Does that have any resemblance to what God teaches us in Scripture?
FA: What are you talking about?
POT: (after a pause) So if you thought I was sent by God, you would listen my preaching and not be offended?
FA: Of course, just like I would have listened to the apostles and prophets of old. But you’re clearly not sent by God. You’re so arrogant and condemning, and God is love. There’s no reason I should listen to you.
POT: Do you deny that I’m preaching the truth?
FA: Yes. Everything you say is wrong.
POT: But I’m not saying anything new – I’m just pointing out the same things the Holy Spirit has said through His apostles and prophets…
FA: Look, I’ve told you before: I BELIEVE. If you believed all things and hoped all things like 1 Corinthians 13 says, you would take me at my word and stop bothering me! It is so unloving not to take a believer at his word.
POT: So I should stop preaching repentance to those who say they believe?
FA: Yes. It is offensive and uncharitable to do differently.
POT: Were the apostles and prophets offensive and uncharitable when they kept preaching repentance to the Church?
FA: No, of course not. But that was different.
POT: You don’t believe that you have need of repentance?
FA: Of course I have need of repentance. Everybody has need of repentance. But it’s not your job to point it out to me. I’ve said this before! We’re going around in circles.
POT: (after a long pause) O Mr. Falsely, repent of your sin. Turn back to God!
FA: I won’t. And I am offended at your obstinate, judgmental, and unloving ways.