Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pilgrim's Progress!

John Bunyan (November 28, 1628August 31, 1688), a Christian (Puritan) writer and preacher, was born at Harrowden (1 mile south-east of Bedford), in the Parish of Elstow, England. While in prison for the crime of preaching the Gospel without a license, he wrote The Pilgrim's Progress, one of the most profound books I have ever read.

The Pilgrim's Progress has been translated into more tongues than any book except the Bible. As a matter of fact, Protestant missionaries commonly translated it as the first thing after the Bible. It is argued that The Pilgrim’s Progress is probably the most extraordinary major work of English literature. Bunyan was an itinerant Baptist preacher. He had a limited education and was constantly in trouble with the authorities for preaching without a license. As mentioned, Bunyan wrote the work during the decade he spent in jail for his preaching activities and with it produced the most astonishingly popular and influential work, second only to the King James Version of the Bible in the Protestant world. And the popularity of the work, reached all sections of the population. In fact, Bunyan's text was, for almost three hundred years, an integral part of the daily life of working class Protestant families throughout the world.

The following notes will provide you with some basic helps in reading the Pilgrim’s Progress. Remember it is an allegory. Simply put: Allegory is the reading of documents on several levels.

The verse that the church used to justify this method of interpretation is 2 Corinthians 3:6: “Who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

The early church took this to mean that interpretation of the Bible should be symbolic as well as literal. By dismissing the spiritual sense as a pious fantasy, modern critics have missed the profundity of this verse, and hence of the tradition of spiritual exegesis. The below four points express what the Church has always believed about the Bible. Namely:

  1. The Bible records God's action in history (the letter), and it is the task of the interpreter to discern the relation between what is written there and what has come about (and will come about) because of what happened.

  2. The three latter senses show how this is best done, by relating the text to what we believe (allegory),

  3. to how we are to live (the moral sense),

  4. and to what we hope for (the anagogical sense)."

So in The Pilgrims Progress we have:

  1. Literal - journey from the City of Destruction to Celestial City despite great perils.

  2. Allegorical - the progress of any Christian from Baptism through trials to heaven.

  3. Moral - courage, trust, effort - to have these there characteristics.

  4. Anagogic - God’s providence and care for us. Worthiness of goal - to get to city.

As you walked through the wilderness of this world take Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress with you!

5 comments:

Marieluise said...

Books - books - books - It may be the most profound book you have ever read, but it is ONE TIME REMOVED - the original is still the word of God - THE BIBLE.
ONE TIME REMOVED is what my scientist-friend told me when we discussed the reading of Pilgrim's Progress. She said "be creative, the HOLY SPIRIT is your teacher!"
My suggestion: Rather take THE WORD with you as you walk through the wildernes of this world!
JESUS wants to be YOUR SAVIOR AND FRIEND! HE reveals Himself in the book - the BIBLE! Read IT!

"So then FAITH comes by hearing, and hearing by the WORD OF GOD."
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

C.H. Spurgeon said: "In these times there are thousands of bad books published, and herds of bad teachers sent forth to deceive the unwary, YOU MUST BE ON YOUR GUARD, LEST YOU BE LED INTO ERROR."
(taken from the "Sword & Trowel Tracts" - title "I Can't Say Till I Know What's In It".

revdrron said...

Yes, the Bible is the one Holy Book! But may we be reminded that your once removed criticism of Pilgrim’s Progress can be applied to the Bible as well. Once removed (but oh so close) from Christ Himself! St. Paul reminded us to bring his books when you come (2 Tim 4.13)! It is interesting that you quote Mr. Spurgeon. Spurgeon's own preaching is filled with references to John Bunyan: For example,

“How has it come to pass, that in all times God's ministers have been made fearless as lions, and their brows have been firmer than brass; their hearts sterner than steel, and their words like the language of God? Why, it was simply for this reason; that it was not the man who pleaded, but it was God the Holy Ghost pleading through him. Have you never seen an earnest minister, with hands uplifted and eyes dropping tears, pleading with the sons of men? Have you never admired that portrait from the hand of old John Bunyan? - a grave person with eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth written on his lips, the world behind his back, standing as if he pleaded with men, and a crown of gold hanging over his head. Who gave that minister so blessed a manner, and such goodly matter? Whence came his skill? Did he acquire it in the college? Did he learn it in the seminary? Ah, no. He learned it of the God of Jacob; he learned it of the Holy Ghost; for the Holy Ghost is the great counsellor who teaches us how to advocate his cause aright.” -from The Comforter ---New Window

A Sermon (No. 5) Delivered on Sabbath Evening, January 21, 1855, by the REV. C.H. SPURGEON At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark

Marieluise said...

THE DEPTH OF WORDS:
ONCE removed - I agree with you - once removed but oh so close - Jesus!
NOT ONE removed - Mr. Spurgeon is preaching out of the one Holy Book and is referring to John Bunyan.
The point I am trying to make is: The most important book to take along as you walk through the wilderness of this world is still the one Holy Book - the BIBLE !
Now if you have other books, thats fine, St. Paul had them too. (2. Tim. 4:13)

revdrron said...

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den,3 and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. Isa 64:6; Luke 14:33; Psalm 38:4. I looked and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?” (Acts 2:37; 16:30; Habak 1:2,3).

enjoy, ron

Marieluise said...

Matthew 11:28
Jesus says "COME unto ME, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I WILL give you rest!"
Habak 3:18,19
"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God IS my strength, and HE WILL make my feet like hinds' feet, and HE WILL make me to walk upon mine high places."