John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" & its influence


American Minute with Bill Federer


Imprisoned twelve years for preaching without permission from the government, he wrote “Pilgrim’s Progress,” an allegory of a man named Christian fleeing from the City of Destruction and directed by Evangelist to follow the narrow path to the City of Zion. The friends and dangers he meets along the way inspired many novels, including the story of the Wizard of Oz.

This classic, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” was written by John Bunyan, who died AUGUST 31, 1688. It was translated into over a hundred languages and found in nearly every colonial American home.

Ben Franklin referred to it in his “Autobiography”; Mark Twain patterned his book after it, “Innocents Abroad or the New Pilgrim’s Progress”; and C.S. Lewis alluded to it in his 1933 book, “Pilgrim’s Regress.” President Grover Cleveland had memorized “Pilgrim’s Progress” as a youth, and commented:

“I have always felt that my training as a minister’s son has been more valuable to me as a strengthening influence than any other incident in life.”

Ronald Reagan greeted Australia’s Prime Minister on June 30, 1981, referring to John Bunyan:

“Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, ‘We are all travelers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world. And the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend – they keep us worthy of ourselves.'”

On April 14, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt referred to John Bunyan in his address laying of the Cornerstone of the office building of the House of Representatives:

“In Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ you may recall the description of the man with the muck-rake, the man who could look no way but downward, with the muck-rake in his hand, who was offered a celestial crown for his muck-rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.”

Franklin Roosevelt referred to John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” on January 19, 1936:

“When Theodore Roosevelt died, the Secretary of his class at Harvard, in sending classmates a notice of his passing, added this quotation from ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’:

‘My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder.'”


The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.


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