Friday, June 03, 2011

Book Review: The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

This is arguably the most famous Christian allegory ever written. One of those “classics” that you’re supposed read. And so I did. It took me SO LONG to read, it was a little bit ridiculous. It was hard for me because of the old-school English, and it just felt like a lot of work to actually understand. I liked the story and thought it was a great allegory of the Christian walk, but man it was not the most enjoyable of reads for me.  It was good for me to read though. I want to share an excerpt from the book to give you a flavor of the writing. The main character is Christian, and he is on a journey from his homeland of the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Along the way he meets various people and encounters a variety of challenges. Each of the character’s names is their chief attribute, and the book is written almost like a play. Here is one encounter with a man named Ignorance.

Christian: How dost thou believe?
Ignorance: I believe that Christ died for sinners; and that I shall be justified before God from the curse, through His gracious acceptance of my obedience to His law. Or thus, Christ makes my duties, that are religious, acceptable to His Father by virtue of His merits, and so shall I be justified.
Christian: Let me give an answer to this confession of thy faith: 1. Thou believest with a fantastical faith; for this faith is nowhere described in the word. 2. Thou believest with a false faith; because it taketh justification from the personal righteousness of Christ, and applies it to thy own. 3. This faith maketh not Christ a justifier of thy person, but of thy actions; and of thy person for thy actions’ sake, which is false. 4. Therefore this faith is deceitful, even such as will leave thee under the wrath in the day of God Almighty: for true justifying faith puts the soul, as sensible of its lost condition by the law, upon flying for refuge unto Christ’s righteousness (which righteousness of His personal obedience to the law, in doing and suffering for us what that required at our hands); this righteousness, I say, true faith accepteth; under the skirt of which the soul being shrouded, and by it presented as spotless before God, it is accepted, and acquit from condemnation.
Ignorance: What! Would you have us trust to what Christ in His own person has done without us? This conceit would loosen the reins of our lust, and tolerate us to live as we list: for what matter how we live, if we may be justified by Christ’s personal righteousness from all, when we believe it?
Christian: Ignorance is thy name, and as thy name is, so art thou: even this thy answer demonstrateth what I say. Ignorant thou art of what justifying righteousness is, and as ignorant how to secure thy soul through the faith of it, from the heavy wrath of God. Yea, thou also art ignorant of the true effects of saving faith in this righteousness of Christ, which is to bow and win over the heart to God in Christ, to love His name, His word, ways, and people, and not as thou ignorantly imaginest.

So, as you can hopefully see, it’s packed full of really quality material, but definitely a bit harder to read. This is just one page; the whole book is equally jam-packed. I will say that since reading it I “see” this book everywhere, referenced in an incredible array of Christian writing and sermons. So even at that level it’s worth having read. Give it a read and see what you think!

1 comment:

Lindsay H. said...

totally with you on this one...it took me AGES to read this last year, but i'm glad i did