Making Theology More Accessible: Review of Visual Theology

visualtheologyBook InformationVisual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God

Authors – Tim Challies, Josh Byers

Publication Information – Zondervan (April 2016, $17.99 print)

Reading Challenge Book? Yes – This is a book published in 2016.

I have been looking forward to this book for a long time. I’m a visual learner, and even though I have had plenty of exposure to sound teaching and reformed theology, I often feel like I have trouble organizing what I know. And like many Christians, I really want to deepen my understanding and grow closer to God.

In many ways, I found this book a helpful tool for doing that. I think that new Christians and those looking for an intro to theology would be the readers who would get the most out of this book, but it’s not a bad refresher on the basics for others as well.

The opening chapters on the gospel, Christian identity and relationships talk about how we as believers are called to grow closer to Christ. The book then shifts to discussion of understanding the work of Christ, becoming more Christ-like, and finally, practical chapters on what living for Christ looks like in areas such as vocation or stewardship.

Everything is explained in fairly basic terms, and while the language can be a tad dry at times, it’s quite clear and for that reason, I found the book helpful and informative. It’s the sort of book where I’d read a chapter and stop to digest it for a while rather than just plowing straight through.

Some of the graphics in the book are quite excellent in terms of aiding readers to reach a deeper understanding of their faith. For instance, there is one which shows all the many things that having an identity in Christ means in the lives of believers. And then there’s the flowchart that walks readers through the process of dying to a particular sin. That was phenomenal for me. Not only do we walk through a series of questions about our sin and how we want to end it, but the authors point out common pitfalls we face during that continuing period of sanctification as well as biblical means by which to combat them. It’s good stuff.

The main weakness of the book for me was its unevenness. For example, we have that wonderful graphic on dying to sin and that graphic comes as part of a generally strong chapter that discusses putting off our old sinful identities. However, that strong section of the book is preceded by a chapter on doctrine, one of the weakest and most unhelpful chapters in the book. I understand that Visual Theology is meant to be only an introduction to studying theology, but telling readers that they should really, really study doctrine but that the authors aren’t going to go into such complicated stuff in this intro book really doesn’t do much for me as a reader.

In addition, while I did enjoy the visual aids that are included with this book, I do wish there had been more of them. Even so, if you are in search of a gentle introduction to theology, this is one to try. I can also see it being useful for homeschooling with adolescent-age children to get them started on a serious study of theology. Rating: 4 stars

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