Tim Challies and Josh Byers. Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Books, 2016. 155 pp. $10.60
Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God is the highly anticipated book by Tim Challies and Josh Byers. This is an absolutely beautiful book! The larger than life cover welcomes readers to dive headlong into the journey of grace. A quick glance through the book will reveal colorful infographics that attract the eye and lead the heart in a Godward direction. It truly is a stunning display of graphics that will no doubt, receives rave reviews.
The book is arranged in four sections:
- Grow Close to Christ
- Understand the Work of Christ
- Become Like Christ
- Live for Christ
Visual Theology attempts to communicate the basics of biblical doctrine. It provides readers with a stunning visual introduction to the Christian faith. It is an invaluable aid to Christians who are beginning their journey into grace. But it will benefit longtime believers as well. Readers will receive encouragement that will serve them well as they are nurtured and strengthened, all for the purpose of Christian health, growth, and maturity.
The Importance of Theology
One of the great strengths of Visual Theology is the stress that Challies and Byers place on theology. Challies adds, “Doctrine is never meant to be a cold pursuit of the facts, but a red-hot pursuit of the living God that leads to joyful obedience.” Doctrine should captivate Christ-followers, not make them weary:
Doctrine is meant to amaze you as you encounter the sheer power and magnitude of God. It will astonish you with the awful sinfulness of mankind. It will humble you with your own insignificance apart from God and yet your sheer significance in his plan of redemption. It will move you with the incredible mercy of God as expressed in sending his Son to die for you and with the amazing grace of God as expressed in sending his Spirit to dwell within you. It will swell your heart with hope for Christ’s coming return.
Visual Theology reaffirms the central role that theology should have in the life of every believer. But the authors rightly stress the need for the application of theology, as well. The final two sections of the book are a vivid reminder that theology is meant to be lived.
Chapters 6 and 7 describe the essential activity of “putting off” and “putting on.” Indeed, these chapters are worth the price of the book as Challies and Byers alert readers to the contribution of the great Puritan, John Owen. In the matter of sanctification, this work mirrors what John Owen proposes in his massive work, Sin and Temptation (Volume 6). This book brings Owen’s treatment of sin and sanctification to a level that any Christian can understand and immediately make use of the material in the Christian life. Owen famously says, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” These authors help readers actually do it!
The strengths of Visual Theology are wide and varied. This work is intensely gospel-centered, Christ-saturated, and Bible-based. It is practical. The infographics catapult this book into the stratosphere – blending the best of systematic theology with the artistic genius of Josh Byers. The best gospel resources are commended along the way, giving readers a helpful tool to continue the process of Christian growth.
I commend Visual Theology which is the perfect blend of truth and beauty. May God use this creative work to strengthen and edify many people in the days ahead. Well done, Tim and Josh!
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.