The rag man is doomed aboard the U.S.S. Destruction, a cruiser in the United States Navy turning circles in the middle of the ocean.
Christian Newman, a First Class Boatswain’s Mate and deep sea diver is the rag man. Burdened with the guilt and shame of his sin as revealed in the book in his hand, he must escape the nuclear holocaust destined for his ship, which will sink the cruiser below Davey Jones’ Locker.
When Evan Gelist Herald, a preacher and evangelist, points the rag man toward a small hatch on the beach, the sailor jumps ship and his adventure begins. With a course set for the hatch and the cross of Christ on the narrow way, his pilgrimage will take Newman through many dangers, trials and tribulations along his way to the Celestial City. He will meet with angels, actors, lions, liars, giants, dragons, zombies, angry mobs, Satan‘s Spout, and a multitude of circumstances to test his faith in Christ and his love for Christ.
John Bunyan’s famous allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, is one of the most read books in the English language, second only to the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Today, however, there is a generation of Christians who have never read The Pilgrim’s Progress. There are others who have attempted to read it, but seventeenth century puritanical English has been much too difficult for the reader to grasp. With others still, who may have read a more updated and modern version of Mr. Bunyan’s allegory, for them the book needed more explanation or commentary.
I am attempting to solve that problem with a slight twist by creating a book that goes beyond a mere modern translation, while providing particular insights into Bunyan’s famous story without diminishing the allegory with a great deal of doctrinal commentary thrown in here and there to disrupt the poetic beauty of the work. This is my answer to that problem: writing a novel entitled, To Be a Pilgrim: A Modern Christian Allegory Inspired by John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Because my closest friends and associates in ministry know me as one who has read The Pilgrim’s Progress approximately twice per year since about 1986, and also as one who has been greatly ministered to by the written works of John Bunyan, the wife of a dear friend asked me to edit a new modern translation of The Pilgrim’s Progress so her homeschooled children could enjoy the famous allegory without having to learn Cromwellian English.
As one who loves the book, second only to the Bible itself, I was quite flattered but adamant that the endeavor to embark upon such a project was something to which I was quite ill-qualified. I initially reasoned that (1) there were already so many other modern translations available; and (2), I didn’t believe I could ever write a modern edition that could maintain the power and impact of the original.
During Christmas and the New Year 2013, I was sick for the week covering December 25th, with a fever of 103-104 degrees F. I was well enough to preach at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church on December 29th, however, I had developed pneumonia so I required inoculations from the Veteran’s Administration Clinic on December 30th.
My loving wife, Lisa, said I was delirious during the days and nights with the high fever (I was later scolded by the nurse at the VA for not going to the Emergency Room when my fever was so high). I do remember one of my dreams when I was feverish, and in it, I was in the Bedford Jail with John Bunyan, the preacher of Bedford. We conversed in my dream and I seemed to remember I dreamt as if he were telling me the “dream” he dreamed; that is, he told me the story of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Certainly, it was merely my subconscious mind in the state of delirium, but afterwards, it prompted me to think about telling that story in order to tell Bunyan’s.
Because the book is in novel form, the telling of John Bunyan’s great allegory can be told while maintaining the power, impact and poetic beauty of the original.
As popular as this classic tome was, it has lost much of its modern audience through the antiquated language and expressions of the Puritans; and not only that, some of the allegorical scenes, painted with colorful and powerful words from Bunyan’s mind, were serious indictments of religion during Bunyan’s day under King Charles II and the Clarendon Code, whereas, while the basic roots of their evil and error were still there, today they have taken on a different dimension as well as a different perspective.
This book is unique because, although it follows the basic story line of The Pilgrim’s Progress, it has modernized the elements. A strict modernization may only serve to reveal the history of John Bunyan’s day, rather than to convey the gravity, and even the danger of the perspectives and attitudes existing during his lifetime and experience. To Be a Pilgrim attempts to update the elements to show, not only its historical importance, but how the root of the sin behind those prevailing thoughts are still relevant today. Therefore, To Be a Pilgrim has added some elements that connect the past with the present.
Certainly, a work like this will not be without its critics, cavilers and opposition. Mr. Bunyan knew that he would have them as well, and wrote is poetic defense prior to The Pilgrim’s Progress’ first publication in 1678. Some of the objections today may be addressed in typical Bunyan fashion right here:
Objection: Wouldn’t an allegory actually oppose the straight-forward proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Answer: First, as Mr. Bunyan’s chief justification was the scriptures themselves, Hosea 12:10 and its use of the word ‘similitude’ being the primary truth, we should recognize that God’s normal and ordinary means for advancing the gospel was through the agency of redeemed men, preaching itself from the pulpits is rather allegorical, is it not? The preacher takes God’s truths and explains them by use of corresponding scriptures, as well as word pictures and illustrations in order to convey them to his hearers. Second, the “dark sayings” of Christ in parable, produce the same effect as an allegory, to get those whom God has called, or is calling, to get themselves alone with Christ so that He could expound the meaning to His disciples (Mark 4:33-34). Third, although the allegory may have an effect upon unbelievers, the novel, like the Bible, is written primarily to believers, so that those who have been saved by grace through faith may be provoked to pursue more deeply the things of Christ.
Proceeds from the sale of this book will help our pastor and his wife with the expenses for a mission trip to Alaska in October 2016. Jon has been invited to be the guest preacher at Arctic Barnabas Ministries’ “Ministry Family Retreat.” This opportunity will allow Jon and Lisa to minister to dozens of families ministering in remote bush Alaska. This event typically gathers a few hundred souls annually.
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