The September book launch of Faith Cook’s latest Evangelical Press publication, Fearless Pilgrim, was attended by an encouraging number of people. The launch was at the Bunyan Meeting Free Church in Bedford, with the John Bunyan Museum on the same site being specially open for the evening occasion.
John Pestell, Bedford author of Travel with John Bunyan, set the scene by describing the Bedford that Bunyan would have known. There followed the singing of Bunyan’s well known hymn ‘Who would true valour see?’ and then an outline from Anthony Gosling concerning EP’s mission to reach the world with sound Christian literature.
Faith Cook commenced her comments by saying she had recently been asked the question: ‘Why another book about John Bunyan?’ She explained that while many have read The Pilgrim’s Progress or even Grace Abounding, few know much about Bunyan’s life and circumstances.
There was a need for a fresh biography – particularly since a number of writers, while extolling Bunyan’s skills, are out of sympathy with his scriptural beliefs.
The biography has been hard to write because much information had to be researched from secondary sources; Bunyan himself tells us little about his personal life. For example, we don’t even know the name of his first wife.
Mrs Cook explained that she has placed Bunyan in his context of the turbulent mid seventeenth century – perhaps the most tumultuous era in the history of England. It was a time of civil war, republicanism and persecution of nonconformists.
Another reason for writing had been to correct common misunderstandings about Bunyan. ‘Bunyan has been sadly maligned with respect to his account of his early spiritual struggles recorded in Grace Abounding. This was intended primarily for his young converts, to encourage them during persecution to persevere’.
Fearless Pilgrim also gives insights into Bunyan’s lesser known publications, such as The desire of the righteous granted; Come and welcome to Jesus Christ; Advice to sufferers; and The excellency of a broken heart.
Mrs Cook acknowledged her deep personal debt to Bunyan for spiritual help received from his works. ‘Down through the centuries John Bunyan’s own life, example and writings have pointed out the way of life …
‘[It] will continue to do so until Christians can say with Mr Steadfast as he crossed the last river, “I am now going to see that head that was crowned with thorns and that face that was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith, but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with him in whose company I delight myself”.’
Fearless Pilgrim – the life and times of John Bunyanby Faith Cook; EP; hardback, 432 pages; UK £16.95, US $29.99 (ISBN 978-085234-6808)