Visually Explore 4 Essential, Beautiful Truths About Life In Christ
Dutch Christian art theorist Hans Rookmaaker said, “Our world has changed for better or for worse. It is for us to find truth and beauty for today, constantly re-applying the truth of God’s word to our own time and our contemporary situation.”
Tim Challies and Josh Byers seem to have taken their cues from Rookmaaker with their new book Visual Theology. Both authors are passionate about finding and expressing truth and beauty in their own way, one as a writer, the other as an artist. Together they have masterfully re-applied the truth of God’s word to our time and situation in a way that is both truthful and beautiful; their visual theology is beautiful theology!
Inspired by the more recent art form of infographics, an especially functional form of art that visualizes information, Visual Theology “teaches the foundational disciplines of the Christian life through both words and illustrations. We want you to read the truth, but we also want you to see the truth.” (15)
Their book helps people visually explore the four essential beautiful truths of our life in Christ, including: growing in Christ; understanding the work of Christ; becoming like Christ; and living for Christ.
Below we’ve briefly outlined these truths and sampled their art, showcasing their beautiful, visual theology.
1) Grow Close to Christ
The marvelous, distinguishing fact of Christianity is that it is a religion based on a relationship with a person. Challies and Byers’s first section visually plumbs the depths of this truth by drawing our attention to the beauty and grandeur of the gospel; our identity in Christ; and our relationship with God, especially through reading the Bible and prayer.
“Christianity is a religion based on a relationship with a person. As Christians, we have entered into a real and living relationship with the Creator of the universe. And as Christians, our first and most basic discipline is cultivating and growing into that personal relationship with Jesus as we hear from him, speak to him, and worship him.” (13)
2) Understand the Work of Christ
Yes, the Christian faith involves a relationship. But like all relationships, this one with Christ also requires knowing things about him. This second section emphasizes the need to grow in understanding the work of Christ through understanding the drama of the Bible and doctrine of the faith.
“We need to grow in our understanding of what God is accomplishing in this world through the work of Christ. As we do that, we will also grow in our knowledge of God himself so we can better understand who he is and what he is like.” (13)
3) Become Like Christ
“As we grow close to Christ and as we grow in our knowledge of his work, we will find ourselves with a longing to become like him. The Bible tells us that our purpose in life is to be conformed to his image—to think like him, to speak like him, to behave like him. We do this by putting away old habits, patterns, and passions and by replacing them with new and better habits, patterns, and passions.” (14)
The third section emphasizes our sanctifying journey of putting off and putting on. The Old Man and the New Man are visualized in all of their beautiful truth in order to help us transform our attitudes, sentiments, and behaviors.
4) Live for Christ
The final fourth discipline is one that will consume every day of our entire lives. Challies and Byers visualize the beautiful theology of vocation and calling; love and relationships; and stewardship, of our money, body, sexuality, environment, and gospel.
“We need to learn to live for Christ from the moment we wake up each day to the moment we fall asleep, to live in such a way that we draw attention to him and bring glory to him. We need to learn to live as Christians, to love as Christians, and to serve as Christians — to do all we do in a distinctly Christian way.” (14)
Challies and Byers’s hope “is that the graphics in this book will powerfully complement the words and that the words will powerfully complement the graphics. We want the truth to blend seamlessly through two very different media.” (15)
Their book is a unique introduction to theology and a guide to Christian living that will help God’s people see and celebrate reality in a new way. Explore it yourself and give it as gifts to those who need the power of visual theology.
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