“The Holy War,” John Bunyan’s fourth work of major importance, appeared in 1682. Although “The Pilgrim’s Progress” has always been the most popular of Bunyan’s numerous works, “The Holy War” holds a firm second place in the hearts of Christians throughout the world. As in “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” “The Holy War” is a fascinating allegory, a delightful narrative. As Ernest W. Bacon describes it in “John Bunyan: Pilgrim and Dreamer”: “The story sets out to recall the fall and redemption of mankind under the guise of a besieged city.
The city of Mansoul originally belonged by right to Shaddai or God, but was betrayed through Ear Gate and Eye Gate into the hands of Diabolus or the Devil, besieging giant who takes control. In the hands of the enemy, Mansoul loses its Major, Lord Understanding, and Mr. Conscience is dismissed from his post as Recorder. Lord Will-be-Will becomes the Lord of Mansoul – man’s fallen will, self-will, and ill-will all combined in one unpleasant and anti-God character.” In the end Mansoul is recaptured by Emmanuel’s army, and Diabolus is driven out. There is triumph over sin and evil – one of the Bible’s most comforting themes.