Bunyan was poorly educated maybe about the equivalent of what we consider 6th grade today. He grew up poor, spent time in the military and became a tinker like his dad. This meant carrying a 60lb. portable anvil from farm to farm to fix pots and pans. This fairly poor man who had no formal training wrote about 60 books. Spurgeon said those who know the difference between law and gospel are a master theologian. Bunyan was this. Bunyan’s book on The Doctrine of Law and Grace Unfolded is an excellent work on this crucial distinction. He was accused of being antinomian, though it is clear he was not. He said a holy life is the beauty of Christianity. The book sets forth his view of covenant theology. For those who think covenant theology is the boogeyman, this might be a good place to start.
Bunyan also suffered much as many did in those days. He spent more time in jail than other Puritans in the Great Ejection, being the first in and the last out and had two different times in jail. If he would have promised to stop preaching they would have let him out. Many would have given in. His 3-month sentence turned into 12 years for having illegal meetings (church services) and for not going to the legal services. He lost children and a wife. His perseverance is commendable.
His experience of coming to Christ was somewhat similar to Martin Luther’s. When he realized that his righteousness is in heaven and not something he did, it was transformative. He saw Christ as a whole Christ their being nothing but Christ and his benefits on his mind. Luther’s commentary on Galatians was an important book for Bunyan.
Pilgrim’s Progress is in over 200 languages and there are many versions of it. It is one of the best selling books ever. John Owen said he would trade his great learning to speak as clearly as Bunyan. Bunyan was a good storyteller and could speak the language of the common man. Spurgeon said he read Pilgrim’s Progress over 100 times. Bunyan shows us that educated or not we can understand the Scriptures. Bunyan was quite a sinner and shows us that God’s grace can abound even to the chief of sinners. His preaching attacked self-righteousness, but he was not a fire and brimstone preacher. He focused on sin and Christ as the Savior of sinners.
Resources on Bunyan
Basic Outline of his life Acacia John Bunyan - Online Library - A Timeline Chronicling the Life of John Bunyan (pair.com)
John Bunyan’s Faithful Perseverance | Shepherds' Conference | Grace Community Church (gracechurch.org) Joel Beeke
Joel Beeke excerpts from Meet the Puritans John Bunyan (1628-1688) by Dr. Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson (monergism.com)
Christian Loses His Burden by R.C. Sproul (ligonier.org)
Steve Lawson Session 5: John Bunyan | Grace Equip | Grace Community Church (gracechurch.org)
Derek Thomas audio John Bunyan Conference Series | SermonAudio
John Bunyan: The Faithful Tinker - Reformation 21 – Joel Beeke blog
Lessons from John Bunyan's Life: Perseverance through Suffering - Dr. Joel Beeke Sermon - YouTube
“William Kiffen, John Bunyan, and the open communion controversy” - Bing video – Mark Dever
Reformed forum podcast theology Simply Profound goes through Pilgrim Progress Theology Simply Profound – Page 3 – Reformed Forum
Derek Thomas guided tour from Ligonier on Pilgrim’s Progress The Pilgrim's Progress: A Guided Tour by Derek Thomas | Ligonier Ministries
Simonetta Carr biography John Bunyan (Christian Biographies for Young Readers): Simonetta Carr: 9781601787798: Amazon.com: Books
Torch lighters video The Torchlighters Series: The John Bunyan Story, DVD - Christianbook.com
Pilgrim progress movie – several different ones here is the most recent trailer The Pilgrim's Progress | Official Trailer (2019) - YouTube
Kids version of Pilgrims Progress book. There are different ones of these. Here is one. Dangerous Journey: The Story of... book by John Bunyan (thriftbooks.com)
Books by Bunyan
He wrote just shy of 60 books. Not bad for someone with about a 6th grade education. You can find a complete list of his books elsewhere. Here are a couple to get you started.
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners is his autobiography. A classic read or you can find audio to listen to it for free to.
The Doctrine of Law and Grace Unfolded.
Puritan Paper backs has a number of volumes of Bunyan’s in print. All Loves Excelling: John Bunyan: 9780851517391 - Christianbook.com
Monergism has about 25 works of Bunyan downloadable for free 800+ Free eBooks Listed Alphabetically by Author | Monergism
Jay Wipf is a former student of Coalt Robinson and attended Grace University where he earned his degree in Christian Education. Jay is currently studying at Reformed Baptist Seminary in the comfort of his home in Huron, SD. By grace and at Grace he met his beautiful wife Rachel, and they now have three young children. Jay and his family live in Huron where he works in facilities at a local credit union and serves within the local church.