I’ve put John Piper aside for now for two reasons: 1) It’s starting to annoy me already, and 2) Pilgrim’s Progress is awesome and I don’t want to put it down.
There’s nothing majorly complex about John Bunyan’s book , especially regarding theology. This book is clearly designed for the average congregant or curious individual who wants to know more about the Christian walk. It also adds the edge of calling people into something deeper than what they may currently have with God.
This is going to be one of those books I don’t apply Adler’s methods to, so let me tell you where I’m at. Christian, by way of a man named Evangelist, has discovered that the city he’s living in is headed for destruction, so he decides to leave everything behind him for the Celestial city. It seems that this goal of his has dispatched everyone and their mother to try to stop him, people such as the Worldly Wiseman, who tries to tell him that there’s a man named legalism at the top of a nearby mountain who can free him from his burden (which he received upon reading the Book Evangelist gave him), and Christian is almost deterred, only to be found by Evangelist and redirected. Christian redoubles his efforts after going through the Interpreter’s house, where the aspects of following God are well explained through parables and scenes.
So far, I think my favorite character has been Evangelist, who hangs out outside the Celestial City, going around leading people to it, and doing so lovingly. He saves Christian from the dangers of legalism and morality, a mountain climb which could have killed him, and encourages him to return to his path, not to stray again. This paints a wonderful picture of how an Evangelist should be. Today’s evangelists, in our minds, are these men on TV with weird hair who just ask for your money all the time and tell them God will bless you if you send it in. Not this guy. Not only does he hand you a Bible and get you to read and understand it, but he helps you on the start of your path, keeping you dedicated to it until you find your footing and can move without his help. In our time, he sounds more like a church planter almost, someone who gets a church established in an area, appoints a pastor, and moves on.
There’s one more thing I wanted to talk about. In the Interpreter’s House, Christian is seeing all these crazy scenes that, in one way or another, help the new traveler understand the path set before them, and one of them gets me excited. There’s this huge palace with a front gate guarded by armored men with swords, ready to attack anyone who comes in. Away from the gate is a group of men who would like to enter the palace, but are afraid of the guards. One guy comes to an attendant by the gate, who takes the names of those who would like to enter, gives his name, draws his sword and puts on a helmet, and starts beating the tar out of the guards, who try to do the same to him. The man sustains a few wounds throughout the melee, but eventually drops the guards like King Leonidas beating the crap out of a troop of Persians. All of this is to echo this verse:
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12
Our walk with God will bring us through violent times, fighting with those powers that wish to stop everything we do and say, and we must fight back. We will be wounded, but those who persevere will receive reward greater than anything imaginable.
See you guys Thursday. Happy Ash Wednesday!