Visual Theology presents the primary disciplines of the Christian life in a highly accessible form with attractive graphics.
*Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth about God by Tim Challies and Josh Byers. Zondervan, 2016, 153 pages.
Reading Level: Teen, ages 12-15
Recommended for: ages 16-up
Challies and Byers set forth four major areas of Christian growth: drawing near to Christ, understanding the Work of Christ, becoming like Christ, and living for Christ. These might also be described as conversion, doctrine, sanctification, and mission. “The heart of this book is investigating each one of these disciplines. If you are a new Christian, you will learn how to pursue godliness in a measured and balanced way. If you have been a Christian for a long time, you will take a look at your spiritual health and fitness, identify areas of strength and weakness, and make plans to grow all the more.” That’s the Theology part. The reason they can accomplish all this in a mere 150+ pages owes much to the “visual” part—full color diagrams that accompany each major concept. True to the author’s declared intention, the prose is plain enough to understood by a new convert yet challenging enough for a long-term Christian to find avenues for improvement.
We tend to forget that the Christian life is a discipline, like the workout regimen many of us will sign up for next January. Just as we often flag in our gym commitments, we slack off on the spiritual disciplines. This book is a friendly reminder to get back to work. The “infographics” are always eye-catching though not always easy to grasp. There’s no particular reason, for example, for the books of the Bible to be laid out like the periodic table of elements, but the format does make for handy comparisons of approximate dates and authors. Some of the more effective graphics compare the principle and the practical in prayer (What Prayer Is/What Prayer Does) and the how’s and why’s of mortification (How to Put Sin to Death). In fact, I found the entire section on putting off the new man and putting on the new especially helpful. Throughout the book, certain theological terms and concepts (inspiration, sanctification, Trinity, etc.) are defined in the margins, with recommended books for further study, so the information keeps on giving. Appealing and concise, Visual Theology is a helpful resource for Christians as well as a teaching tool for new believers–perhaps even unbelievers.
Overall rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 5
- Artistic value: 4.5