Written in 1678 by a British tinker and traveling minister named John Bunyan, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” is one of the most read and influential Christian allegories ever written. The fact that it has never been out of print in 333 years is proof its importance.
This time around though, I decided to forgo the printed word and instead listen to the story. This was made possible by Discovery House Publishers and narrator Max McLean.
Five hours and 22 minutes later I am glad to say that the book is still as good as I remember. Granted, some of Bunyan’s allegories were a tad hard to understand…but the overall gist of the book came through beautifully.
Namely, the life of a Jesus follower is hard and fully of pitfalls and snares. Yet if we keep the Words of Jesus close to our heart and mind; and if we walk with other true pilgrims – then we can successfully finish the journey and make it to the Celestial City (i.e. Heaven).
The only ‘problem‘, if you can call it a problem, I have with the book is that Bunyan leaves out the Holy Spirit. As in, at no time in the story does Jesus or the Holy Spirit ever journey WITH Christian (the main character).
Instead, Christian is left to follow the Words of God (i.e. the Bible) the best he can without any direct help from God. Yes, he meets friends and helpers along the way, but are simply servants of the King and not the King Himself.
While this non-personal view of God is consistent with Bunyan’s background as a 17th century Calvinist Reformed Baptist within the Church of England, I don’t think it is consistent with what the Bible actually teaches.
In Mathew 28:20, Jesus told His disciples that He would be with them “always.” He also said that He would send the Holy Spirit to guide us and teach us (John 14:26). Later on Paul picks up on this and tell us that the Holy Spirit is IN us (1 Corinthians 6:19) – meaning that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit is not hanging out in heaven waiting for us to follow a bunch of written directions on a map.
Far from it!!! God is walking WITH us on this journey.
If only Bunyan could have written that into his allegories…it would have changed the face of Western Christianity as well know it. 😕