One of the things I appreciate about the Puritans is there resoluteness that Christians are truly different--we are in the world but we are not to be of it. Our lives ought to be transformed and that makes our relationship with the world tenuous. I am not sure we can be reminded of this truth enough. Along this line, I heartily commend the book Passing Through: Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness by Jeremy Walker.
Walker uses the term "pilgrim" to describe the life of a Christian here on earth. The Bible and theologians have constantly referred to followers of God as strangers and those passing through the world. Walker calls Christians to not abandon the world or ignore it but to remember that this world, in the grand scheme of God's narrative, is not our home. He explains how we ought to live as pilgrims:
Chapter 3: Understand the Environment
Chapter 4: Know the Enemy
Chapter 5: Fight the Battles
Chapter 6: Pursue the Mission
Chapter 7: Respect the Authorities
Chapter 8: Relieve the Suffering
Chapter 9: Appreciate the Beauty
Chapter 10: Anticipate the Destiny
Chapter 11: Cultivate the Identity
Chapter 12: Serve the King
As you can see by the outline of the book, Walker advocates that we walk carefully between both acknowledging the world's importance but also acknowledging the world's fallen state. I greatly appreciate his emphasis on the biblical authority. We are repeatedly drawn back to truly trusting what the Bible says about Satan, world powers, suffering, and the kingdom to come.
For this reason, Passing Through has a very "old school" feel to it. I mean that in the best possible way. Modern theologians just don't call us to taking the Bible at its word. Walker doesn't mince words or play around. This is valuable for the reason that we live in a world that seems to becoming more hostile than ever toward Christianity. Walker doesn't leave us pilgrims in despair. He constantly reminds us of God's sovereignty and goodness in this broken world.
Further, Walker doesn't leave us hating the world or those in the world. He reminds us that this world is something to be enjoyed and appreciated without conforming. This balance is something difficult to reach and yet the author does a remarkable job of it.
The only thing that I find questionable is Walker's dismissal of the idea that this world is in fact our home. Authors like N.T. Wright have demonstrated (convincingly, in my opinion) that there is continuity between this world and the New Heavens and Earth. It seems, at times, that Walker relies to heavily on authors like Calvin and the Puritans in informing his language here. Recapturing the Christian vision for this world (and not a genuinely "new" world) I feel is important and I am not sure that Walker does the best job of doing this.
Nevertheless, there is so much to value in this book and I highly recommend it to all readers of virtually any reading level. There is much to profit in reading it.
Shaun Tabatt recently had an interview with the author of this book which you can listen to here:
*Thanks to Cross-Centered Reviews for this book which I was given in exchange for a fair review*