The Pilgrim's Regress


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of Lewis's first books after his conversion, he uses Bunyan's trope to do what we now call a "worldview apologetic," as only a Cambridge literature don could. This work is quite obscure and hard to follow, at least for my small brain (though he admits the obscurity himself in a later preface in this edition.)

Lewis begins with hypocritical Puritan Christianity, and is merciless in his critique, replete with masks, badly told stories, and pious cliches. John, the Pilgrim, quickly leaves it, and regresses on from fornication, to Thrill, the spirit of the age, every modern form of philosophy you can imagine. He does what Van Til 20 years later called Christians to do: tear down every argument and philosophy opposed to Christ. The difficulty is that I didn't recognize much of it, 60 years later and through Lewis' prism. He writes that he didn't mean it to be autobiographical, but I think as one of his earlier works it very much was.

Some parts were clear and great.
1. Mother Kirk must carry us across the chasm, but most refuse her way and go the harder way around.
2. We suppress the truth about God, but wind up praying to Him, and pursued by Him, anyway.
3. We substitute cheaper, quicker and shallower desires for the true Desired One.
4. There are as many sins of the mind as there are of the flesh: Lewis catalogs many of the former.
5. Temptation is hard to resist, even when we see the devastating results right in front of us.
5. Neither reason, feeling, nor virtue alone will carry us to glory, but we do need all three.

If you take it up, be ready for some tough sledding. But there is reward along the way.

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