Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding The Truth about God by Tim Challies and Josh Byers
I was excited about this new book, Visual Theology, by former pastor and prominent blogger Tim Challies alongside the work of Communications Pastor Josh Byers. In it, the authors seek to get to put together the disciplines of the Christian life in order that readers may grow in their faith in the entirety of their lives. In other words, to promote the concept of growing in godliness is one of the primary reasons for writing the book, not just in learning doctrine or truth, but in putting the hard work of sanctification to work in the life of every believer. What makes this book different than others is that the authors try to engage the reader using a visual format that intersperses teaching and knowledge with visual graphs and charts that help the reader learn in a multi-sensory way.
A few of the highlights for me in the book were the chapters on vocation (ch. 8) and putting off (ch. 6). Tim highlights the multi-faceted nature of vocation when he writes, “You do not have just one vocation, but many. A great misunderstanding about vocation is that each one of us has just one: I am a pastor or I am a mechanic or I am a homemaker. But a thorough understanding of vocation teaches us that we all have many areas for which we are responsible before the Lord (121).” As Christians, we often want to be defined by that one thing that we excel at or have our primary motivation in, but Tim calls us to see the various roles of caretaker, husband, father, lawyer, and friend as significant vocations also. In terms of the chapter on putting off, Tim and Josh’s continuum of dealing with sin is very helpful in identifying sin areas and the depth of their nature. One of the words they use to look at sin is consider, “Pause here for a moment to consider whether there are ways this sin is amplified by your nature or your natural disposition (99).” This is not an excuse but a healthy consideration of family history, personality traits, and predisposition that we might be unaware of. The beauty of considering these things is that bringing the truth about these things to light helps us see how our history plays a part in our makeup, and how this can be a stumbling block to our growth in godliness.
While I enjoyed this book and thought the content was spot on, I was a bit confused by the visual aspects of the book. The pictures surrounding the chapter on the Bible were fine but they didn’t stand alone without some longer writing on the subject (45-47). Likewise, the Drama of God in Four Acts was a helpful way of looking at the story of the Bible, but the images didn’t encapsulate some key aspects of the storyline that were important, like the fact that Genesis 1-3 was not only concerned about the Creator and his work but also that he is the one true God and not the other deities in the ANE pantheon.
Thanks to BookLookBloggers for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.