FORTHCOMING BOOK: The Very Heart of Prayer: Reclaiming the Spirituality of John Bunyan

Forthcoming book: The Very Heart of Prayer: Reclaiming the Spirituality of John Bunyan

“Najapfour advances a well-researched thesis that Bunyan was in fact a sectarian Puritan. While Bunyan was not a Puritan in the sense of a reformer within the Church of England, Najapfour demonstrates that Bunyan embraced a Reformed and Puritan spirituality—godliness empowered by biblical truth. Not only does Najapfour bridge the gap between scholarly and pious readings of Bunyan, but he also explores Bunyan’s view of prayer, the Holy Spirit, and godliness in a way that enriches our minds and souls.”

—Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.


“Brian Najapfour has provided the church with a helpful introduction to Bunyan’s spirituality. I commend this book, and more importantly Bunyan himself, as a conversation partner for all evangelicals who desire a Word-centered, Spirit-led, gospel-driven spirituality.”

—Dr. Nathan A. Finn, Assistant Professor of Church History and Baptist Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.


“This new study by Brian Najapfour opens up to us Puritan views on what it means to pray in the Spirit and how deeper godliness is to be sought. Here we have solid help from some of Bunyan’s lesser known devotional writings. Those who are seeking serious godliness in our own times will find a good deal to help them in this book.”

—Rev. Maurice Roberts, Minister of Greyfriars Congregation, Inverness, Scotland, and former editor of Banner of Truth magazine.


“A blend of history, biography, and practical theology, Najapfour’s book will be of profit to anyone who wants to learn more about either the life and times of the remarkable John Bunyan or about prayer.”

—Dr. Donald S. Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.


Brian G. Najapfour holds a Th.M. in Historical Theology from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS). From 2001 until his coming to PRTS in 2006, Najapfour served as a pastor in the Philippines. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is co-editor (along with Joel R. Beeke) of Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer. He is married to Sarah J. Najapfour.

Advertisement Book John Bunyan Piety Prayer Puritan Puritan piety Sectarianism Spirituality

John Bunyan: A Sectary or a Puritan or Both? A Historical Exploration of His Religious Identity

Richard Greaves, a leading Bunyan scholar, proposed a thesis that studies John Bunyan (1628-1688) in the light of the sectarian tradition.[1] This thesis, however, is not original with him. William York Tindall, in his book John Bunyan: Mechanick Preacher (1934), had already set Bunyan in a sectarian context.[2] Twenty years later came Roger Sharrock’s biography of Bunyan, which devotes a chapter to Bunyan as a sectary.[3] Then, in the late 1980s Christopher Hill’s volume appeared, A Turbulent, Seditious, and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church 1628-1688, which further places Bunyan in a radical sectarian milieu.[4] All these books have been supplanted by Greaves’s biography of Bunyan, Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent (2002), which, from Greaves’s own mouth, is “the first to deal with all of his [Bunyan’s] works in the context of his life and the broader world of nonconformity.”[5]

Usually scholars who situate Bunyan within a sectarian framework question his identity as a Puritan, and consequently slight his spiritual riches, a treasure found in other Puritans. This paper will argue that Bunyan uniquely possessed the spirit of both sectarianism and Puritanism.


To continue reading the article, see Brian G. Najapfour, “John Bunyan: A Sectary or a Puritan or Both? A Historical Exploration of His Religious Identity,” Puritan Reformed Journal 3, no. 2 (2011): 142-159.

                 [1] Richard L. Greaves, John Bunyan and English Nonconformity (London: Hambledon Press, 1992), viii.

                 [2] William York Tindall, John Bunyan: Mechanick Preacher (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934; reprint, New York: Russell & Russell, 1964).

                 [3] See chapter two of Roger Sharrock, John Bunyan (London: Hutchinson’s University Library, 1954; reprint, London: Macmillan, 1968), 29-51.

                 [4] Christopher Hill, A Turbulent, Seditious, and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church 1628-1688 (Oxford: Calderon Press, 1988), 19. Also published in the U.S. as A Tinker and A Poor Man: John Bunyan and His Church, 1628-1988.

                 [5] Richard Greaves, Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), viii.

John Bunyan Puritan Puritan Reformed Journal Sectarianism