Check off another book in my 10 Book Challenge! I believe this makes number 3 or 4…I’ve lost track.
Apparently, the copy of Pilgrim’s Progress that I own is not the full edition. The inside cover says it’s “slightly abridged for the modern reader.” I’m not sure if that’s insulting to modern intelligence or not…But, after reading this book, I was glad they had toned down the lingo for us in the 21st century. Have mercy, can you imagine getting in a time machine and traveling back to John Bunyan’s time? What would those poor people in the 17th century think of our “English”?
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan is an allegorical book describing the Christian walk. John Bunyan actually wrote the novel while in prison for his persistence in preaching the Gospel. In the book, Bunyan recounts the story of Christian, a man who has left his home in the city of Destruction, to follow the narrow path to the Celestial City and his King. Along the way, Christian encounters many characters with tell-all names, such as Evangelist, Giant Despair, Hopeful, and Mr. Worldly Wiseman. My personal favorite names are those of the men on the jury that tries Christian and his friends for living moral lifestyles in the town of Vanity Fair – Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable. Too funny!
On his journey to the Celestial City, Christian experiences the struggles of the faith. He battles Apollyon, walks through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and gets locked up and beaten daily by Giant Despair. He loses a friend, strays from his course, and gets stopped along his path, but he always returns to the straight and narrow road. Throughout the book, the reader sees Christian grow in his diligence and his pursuit of what really matters most.
I was surprised by how biblically accurate this book was. My copy had Scripture references on every page to back up the characters’ dialogue. Bunyan’s message is one that paints an accurate image of our Savior, showing him as a gracious and loving Lord. This actually surprised me for some reason. I suppose I always considered the Gospel in the “olden days” to be all hell-fire and brimstone. But, I didn’t really see that here. To be sure, there is no compromise concerning Biblical truth. The author makes it clear that either you’re with God and on your way to the Celestial City or you’re against him and on your way to destruction.
As I was reading through the book, I came across one passage that struck me as especially profound. In the chapter entitled “Shame,” Christian and his friend Faithful discuss some men with less than desirable characteristics, one of whom is Shame. As Faithful recalls his interaction with this man, he recounts an epiphany he had when dealing with the load Shame tries to push onto us:
“This Shame tells me what men are; but he tells me nothing what God, or the Word of God, is.”
How true! Shame tries to lie to all of us and trick us into thinking we cannot be used by God. But, thank the Lord, we don’t have to listen to that garbage! We now that God cannot lie, and that what He says is always true. And, He tells us we have been made new creatures because of Jesus’ work on the cross. Throughout the Bible, God uses the ones who have the most to be ashamed about to do His greatest work. Faithful’s words express these truths so well.
Pilgrim’s Progress is an excellent resources for all Christians. It talks about almost every obstacle we encounter in our walk with God. This is definitely one of those books that we should all read at least once in our lives.