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“Faithful Reading: The Pilgrim's Progress”Categories: Christian character, discipleship, Sunday Family Report articles
One thing that Christians often do not include in their efforts toward spiritual growth is the reading of faithful books. Obviously, the works of uninspired men are not of the same caliber at the inspired word of God when it comes to guiding our spiritual growth. But, just as we sit weekly and listen to godly teachers offer their insights into the word of God, there have been many authors down through the centuries who have opened the scriptures and faithfully expounded their meaning in some really helpful ways. So, for the Sundays in January, these articles will be making recommendations for some spiritual books that can help us to see God’s plan and our place within more clearly. Read them with a discerning mind that is informed by God’s word, and be grateful for the guidance that he offers through his servants.
The Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan in the year 1678, is an allegory that sheds light on the manifest highs and lows of Christian living. It follows a man whose very name is Christian as he leaves his home—“The City of Destruction”—and journeys through many places and meets many people who either help or hinder him on his way to his final destination: “The Celestial City,” situated on Mount Zion. Christian’s journey (and the later one of his wife, Christiana) mirror the paths which so many saints have walked over the last 20 centuries.
Why, you might ask, would such an old book be worth reading in today’s world? What benefit does it have for us? Here’s why:
- First, because someone has well said, “If you want new ideas, read old books. And if you want old ideas, read new books.” Classic perspectives and teachings have often been so neglected by modern thinkers that they ring with fresh insight, though they are hundreds or even thousands of years old (see Eccl. 2:16).
- Second, because even if the style of writing feels older (and trust me: in The Pilgrim’s Progress, it does), human nature changes very little as generations pass, and so Bunyan’s perspective on the Christian life are evergreen—applicable to every generation.
- Third, because the writer speaks with the vocabulary of scripture, often putting direct quotes of holy writ into his characters’ conversations. He reminds us that our experiences as believers are common to mankind, that God helps us mightily, and that the rewards of faithfulness are inexpressibly good.
You can get modern paraphrases or read it in the original Shakespearean-era English. The book has been helpful to me in both ways as it’s given voice to my own struggles of faith and helped me to articulate encouragement to others. I recommend it for Christians from nineteen years old to ninety-nine years old as it helps us see ourselves rightly as pilgrims who travel through this barren land of earthly life, making progress toward that golden strand—our heavenly home in the presence of God. I hope you’ll read it and be blessed by it as so many others have been through the last four and a half centuries.
Follow the links to the right to get your copy and start reading today. And look for more book recommendations that will help us grow in our faith in the next few weeks’ Family Reports.
- Dan Lankford, minister