We need truth. The problem, though, is that truth is sometimes presented in ugly ways, while falsehood is presented winsomely. It helps us all if truth is offered compellingly, and seen to be both true and beautiful.
This applies to theology. We need to know the truth about God, but we also need to be drawn to its beauty. The best theology feeds the mind, warms the soul, and leads to praise. "We cannot study this subject dispassionately!" writes Wayne Grudem. "We must love all that God is, all that he says and all that he does."
I've been grateful, therefore, for the infographics by Tim Challies and others. They began with this post by Challies in 2008:
Infographics have become all the rage over the past few years and are used to display all manner of information. Last year I found myself wondering if infographics could be used to display theology in a helpful and visually-appealing way. I soon spoke to a few graphic artists and commissioned a series of twelve infographics, each of which dealt with a particular point of theology.
If you've followed Challies, you've benefited from many of these graphics over the years.
Today marks the release of Visual Theology by Tim Challies and Josh Byers. It's a book that presents many of the principles of systematic theology in a clear and beautiful way. It's divided into four sections: grow close to Christ, understand the work of Christ, become like Christ, and live for Christ. It's a book of words, and the words are very good. But the graphics add another layer, "presenting information in fresh, powerful, and attractive ways — and in ways words cannot express."
If the book came without graphics, it would still be a good book. But it comes with graphics, and they are helpful and beautiful. I've been browsing through the book, and love them. My favorites are "How to Put Sin to Death" (pages 96-97) and the "one another" command graphic (pages 136-137). You can see samples of some of the images at the Visual Theology website.
It's the first theology book I've owned that belongs on the coffee table.
I have three recommendations.
First, get this book. Put it somewhere where you'll have opportunity to read it. Although this is a book you can read from start to finish, it's also a book you'll enjoy browsing. Leave it out where you and others will see it, and dip into it often.
Second, give this book to others. I don't know any believer who wouldn't benefit from this book. It's a great introduction to theology for a new believer, and it's a great presentation of theological truth for even the most mature disciple.
My final recommendation is for Tim Challies and Josh Byers. Please continue producing these graphics. I hope that this is the first of many volumes.
Get this book, enjoy and absorb it, and join me in begging Tim and Josh for more.