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Book Review: “The Pilgrim’s Regress” by C. S. Lewis

John Mark Reynolds, 2004. Books: The Pilgrim’s Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity Reason and Romanticism

My other “fun” read this weekend was rereading The Pilgrim’s Regress. This is a book that I have read about four times. The first time I was a pre-teen who read it for the story. I was dimly aware that there was a great deal of philosophy going on in the background, but did not care. What moved me was the description of the “joy.” It was the first time someone outside of my own family had talked this inner yearning. I remember standing in the woods calling out of the something. I did not know what. Oddly, I was an active Christian, but somehow my religion did not seem to meet this need. Why? I cannot say. My yearning was mental, emotional, and physical, but Christianity seemed unable to all of these at the same time. Yet in my family it was. So why did I miss it? I cannot say except to say: “sin.”

Oddly, reading this book did not prevent me from making many of the mistakes in it while growing up. Reading it around college age, I was more attracted to the “bad parts” than to Christianity. God was read, but I wished Athena was real. The old pagan myths often attracted me more than my own faith. This is was surely wicked as my desire was for a god who was small and perhaps could be controlled. I tried to quench the desire for the Other in sexual romanticism and spent a long time with Old Man Wisdom. I regret the first entirely and was partly saved by second. The hardest lesson here is know the limits of education. Hearing the truth at a young age did not save me from mistakes. Read Christian experience also did not help. My wickedness made me wish for less “mundane” solutions to my problems. I could not imagine Carpenter could also be the God of Plato and Dante.

When I think about my early twenties, it is with shame. The call of the Lord Jesus on my life was so clear that was no excuse for my mistakes. Reading it on the other side of coming to the end of my sin, was a revelation. I had repeated almost all the errors in book with less excuse. Jesus had called me home. My intellectual route to Him did fill me with pride, but with shame. I had traveled far, like John in the book, to reach a place my grandparents reached in half the time. God help me. Now reading it at the start of middle age, I am filled with hope. On the other side of my folly, there is a chance that I can become a warrior for the cause of Christ. I have loved both dragons, the dragon of intellectual coldness and sensuality, and been rescued from both. God help me I shall not “cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword rest in my hand” until I have come to live in that Heavenly City.

Is there anything like Christianity, both erotic and rational? As J.P. Moreland and the rest of the apologetics team have been working to combine true heart religion, a God of miracles, with best reason, the God of Dante, my soul is being renewed. It is the same God I saw dimly in Bible College, but somehow my heart has grown to contain more of Him. If you are in doubt, I hope that you can see there is more to the faith than what you see in failed servants such as myself. The glory of Christianity is that it is Bigger. Bigger than any box. Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, be merciful to me a sinner.

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