In case you have never read Pilgrim’s Progress, here is a nudge from me to put it on your reading list for 2010.Â I’ve read it maybe five times, which is a pitiful showing compared to Charles Spurgeon who read it 100 times. It is considered among the top half-dozen books in the English language, and it has been translated into 120 languages. Dr. John Owen, the great Puritan theologian, was asked by Charles II how he could stand to listen to an illiterate tinker preach (Bunyan was a mender of pots), and Owen answered something like, “Could I possess the tinker’s abilities for preaching, I would willingly relinquish all my learning.” Next to the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress has outsold every other published work. So these facts alone should persuade you to read this important cultural and religious artifact.
Be careful that you don’t settle for a paraphrase or modernized edition that has messed around with the content rather than simply updating spelling or punctuation. (Banner of Truth had a nice hardback that they reprinted from an 1895 edition, but that is simply one of many possibilities.) And don’t give up after the first page or two. Stick with it and soon you will get the hang of the allegory. It is well worth it. Bunyan had a pastor’s heart, and he describes characters and situations common in every age. In other words, it is a spiritually rejuvenating and refreshing book, full of insight and encouragement. Which, judging from the way things are looking, we could all use.