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John Bunyan and his denominational identity

24 April 2015


From the Revd Dr John Bunyan

Sir, - I look forward to reading N. H. Keeble's study of the events of 1662, reviewed by the Revd Pro­fes­sor Paul Avis (Books, 10 April). It is rather anachronistic, however, to describe John Bunyan as a "Baptist" - or (though it is a term that he did use) a "Congregationalist".

He did not believe water baptism was essential for a Christian - a view Quakers and Salvationists have shared. And he preferred to call himself simply a "Christian", as do many of the Middle Eastern patients (often refugees) whom I meet during my hospital-chaplaincy visiting here in Sydney.

His Bedford church has remained to this day open to differing views on baptism, and, as "Bunyan Meeting", is a member of both the Baptist Union and the Con­gre­ga­tional Federation.

Not all Nonconformists were opposed to a prayer book in prin­ciple. Later, many English Pres­byterian, Unitarian Christian, and Methodist chapels in particular used services based on the BCP, still the practice of a church of which I have long been a member, the historic King's Chapel in Boston.

John Bunyan

Colenso Corner, PO Box N109, Campbelltown, NSW, 2560, Australia

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