Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God by Tim Challies and Josh Byers provides a perfect blend of theological faithfulness with cultural sensitivity. As the back cover acknowledges, “we live in a visual culture, increasingly relying on infographics and other visuals to help us understand new and difficult concepts.” The visual dependence of the twenty-first century has thus necessitated a theological approach that will both captivate and instruct, and Challies and Byers have delivered something timely to this visual age.
The theological content of this book is exceptionally helpful as an introduction to the Christian life. The book is divided into four major sections thematically oriented towards becoming and living as a Christian: (1) Grow Close to Christ, (2) Understand the Work of Christ, (3) Become Like Christ, and (4) Live for Christ. This is not the theology textbook that most may assume. In fact, it is much different content-wise than I initially thought—more content than visuals and less theological depth than practical application.
The visuals are very well done. They were created with the contemporary audience in mind. I found them helpful both in connecting the reader to the text, as well as standalone images for reflection. That said, for a book titled “visual theology” I would have assumed more “visuals” would have been present. Moreover, some of the visuals are rather difficult to decipher, and the connection and/or intent of the visual to the text isn’t immediately obvious. However, I wouldn’t discount the usefulness of the book because of such instances.
There is much to be praised about Visual Theology. First and foremost, I appreciate that the emphasis of the book isn’t merely head knowledge. I think the authors did an excellent job assuming that the target audience would need assistance in connecting the head and the heart, and it is here that they sought to make such connection. This is by far the most useful and praiseworthy aspect of the book. Second, despite the above, the visuals are overall all very well done and ultimately accomplish their intended task. Lastly, the organization of the book does well in bringing the reader full-circle with little problem or interruption. It is a visual journey of theology as theology—truth and instruction about God for the benefit and edification of his people.
Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God by Tim Challies and Josh Byers is an excellent book that will hold a lasting impact. I foresee this book being used by churches and small groups around the world to better equip the people of God to live for Christ amid the daily grind of everyday life—something I may be doing in the near future. Despite some unexpected shortcomings, I recommend this volume with joy!
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.