Book Review of Pilgrimís
by Timothy Binion
Bunyan, John. The
Pilgrim's Progress. London: 1678; reprint, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker
Book House, 1978.
John Bunyan (1628-1688) was a meager tinker and a Parliamentary soldier who
became a Baptist preacher. In 1660 Bunyan was arrested for preaching without
a license and was confined in Bedford Jail. His original sentence of three
months was extended to twelve years because of his refusal to agree to stop
preaching. It was during these years that he wrote Grace Abounding,
"probably the greatest of English spiritual autobiographies" (Witherspoon of
Yale University). Bunyan was released and then re-confined by Charles II.
This is when he began his greatest work The Pilgrim's Progress. Bunyan wrote
forty eight controversial and devotional books before his death. Bunyan was
the most popular religious writer in the English language, and the most
widely read book by any English author (Witherspoon).
This book is about the journey of a person from this world to the world
which is to come. Christian (the name of the main character in part 1) is on
a journey, traveling from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The
intent of the author is to use allegories or similitudes in his writing to
narrate a devotional novel that will have spiritual ramifications. Bunyan
"This book will make a traveller of thee,
If by its counsel thou wilt ruled be;It will direct thee to the Holy Land,If thou wilt its directions understand.Yea, it will make the slothful active be
The blind, also, delightful things to see - (Pilgrim 7).Bunyan begins with a scene of a man clothed in rags, a book in his hand and
a great burden upon his back. Evangelist points him to the light and Bunyan
takes his flight. Friends, family and neighbors try to persuade him to
return to City of Destruction. As he begins his journey, Pliable, Obstinate,
a slough of Despond, and the worldly Wiseman are great hindrances. The great
burden fell from Christian's back when he reached the cross, but his
pilgrimage did not end there. Christian had many experiences with people
named Hope, Good Will, Interpreter, Formalist and Hypocrisy. Faithful is
martyred at Vanity Fair and Christian barely escapes the Doubting Castle.
The first section ends with Hope and Christian entering heaven.
The Second part of the book (or part two) returns to the City of Destruction
where Christian's wife (Christiana) and his four children leave for the
Celestial City. Mercy leaves with them and they come first to the wicket
gate and there find acceptance and forgiveness. Great-heart becomes a key
character in this section as a leader and protector for safe passage.
Christiana reaches the river and crosses over to glory.
The Pilgrim's Progress is the most diversified devotional book I have ever
read. It causes you to stop and ponder the similarities between the
characters and situations Christian experienced, and the people and
circumstances presently being experienced by the true christian. It is no
wonder men such as Spurgen (who read it over 100 times) and B.H. Carrol held
it in high esteem. There is a message of hope and encouragement to the true
and faithful. The metaphors have permitted its adaptability for hundreds of
generations (over 300 years). Bunyan wrote concerning the "health and
wealth" gospeler's of his day:
"He that takes up religion for the world will throw away religion for the