P16 of a booked named Hyperchoice indicates that ‘the wisdom of Godly people in the past helps us reach decisions in a more objective way. We are no longer bound within the inadequate assumptions of our present culture.
Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, a religious and literary classic (second only to the Bible as an English text widely read over a long period) was first published in 1678, with a second part added in 1684. Both sections were written whilst Bunyan was in prison for religious dissent (having moved from a fear of Hell to an understanding of Grace, he became a non-conformist preacher). The tale is an allegorical one (a literary form popular at the time) – appearing to be about a journey from one city to another, but ‘really’ about the Christian experience of conversion leading to salvation.
See this extract from the modern intro which summarises the book (p.xx):
The story is presented as a dream in which the dreamer sees a man (later called Christian) with a book in his hand and a heavy burden on his back, in great distress because the book tells him he lives in the City of Destruction, and is condemned to death and judgement. Advised by Evangelist to flee towards a Wicket Gate, he sets out forthwith, leaving behind his wife and children who refuse to accompany him. The course of his subsequent pilgrimage is full of danger and adventure. It takes him through the Slough of Despond, past the Burning Mount, thence to the Wicket Gate, the Interpreter’s House, the Cross (where his burden rolls away), the Hill Difficulty, the House Beautiful, the Valley of Humiliation , the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Vanity Fair, Lucre Hill, By-Path Meadow, Doubting Castle, the Delectable Mountains, the Enchanted Ground, and the country of Beulah. On the way he is helped by trust companions, first Faithful, who is put to death at Vanity Fair, and Giant Despair, who imprisons Christian and Hopeful in Doubting Castle. They also encounter false-friends like Mr Worldy-Wiseman, Talkative, By-ends, and ignorance, who give them dangerous advice. At length their pilgrimage ends when they pass over the River and enter the Celestial City. In Part Two, Christian’s wife Christina sets out on a pilgrimage, together with her children and their neighbour Mercy. Escorted by Great-heart, who slays various giants and monsters, they follow in Christian’s footsteps, witnessing the scenes of his trials and victories. Their pilgrimage is a leisurely one, and on the way they are joined by a great number of fellow-pilgrims, such as Mr Feeble-Mind, Mr Ready-to-Halt, Mr Honest, Mr Valiant-for-Truth, Mr Stand-Fast, Mr Despondency, and his daughter Much-afraid. At the end they too pass safely over the River one-by-one.
I picked this book up in 2008, having been challenged over the previous 2-3 years that the Christian life is all about enjoying the journey – where we are continually shaped/formed and learning (this doesn’t finish until heaven) – not just expecting to be ready-packaged for heaven at the moment of conversion. I think the world travels also contribute to my interest in journeying!!
Prepared for use as an Oak Hall Leader.