Even at the beginning, when God ordered the Israelite craftsmen to build the tabernacle, He instructed the men to create objects that were not merely functional, but beautiful. Some of the items were not functional at all, but solely for beauty’s sake. Most people enjoy things that are more beautiful rather than less beautiful. Since then, people created beautiful things dedicated to God through paintings, drawings, or sculptures intended to honor Him by beautifying their church. The beautiful theological visual is not an oxymoron, nor it is unorthodox. Here is RC Sproul on beauty as one of the legs of the stool we include as foundational to faith, in his essay For Glory and Beauty–
The Christian faith is like a stool with three legs, but we have a tendency to make our stools with only one or two legs. The three legs that properly belong to the Christian faith, the three elements of the faith, are the good, the true, and the beautiful. It is obvious that God is concerned about goodness, for He is the fountainhead of everything that is good (Gen. 1:31; James 1:17). As His people, we are called to mirror and reflect who He is, which means we are called to reflect the good. Likewise, God is deeply concerned about truth, for He is Himself the essence of truth (Isa. 65:16; John 14:6). Therefore, we are to be people who love and practice truth. Finally, as we have seen, God is highly concerned about that which is beautiful. As we read and study the Scriptures, we have to come to the conclusion that there is an ultimate source of beauty — the character of God. Just as the normative standard for goodness and truth is God, so the ultimate standard of beauty is God, and He is very interested in beauty in His creation.
John Bunyan is credited with making the first visual theological chart, his Ordo Salutis. In today’s time, there have recently been two books published which explore visual theology.
Most theology books merely convey what we are to believe, but this one uses creative and beautiful design to capture and portray these crucial truths.
By themselves, both these books are worth your time. However what I wanted to point out also is that the Challies book comes with an 80-page study guide. And many of Powers’ animations as well as all his still pieces also come with written guides and explanations from scripture, which you can find at his site fullofeyes.com. The pictures plus the study guides, make these books valuable group teaching tools as well insightful as for individual learning.
As Chris Powers explains,
Imagery will always be secondary when it comes to declaring the glory of God in Christ, and so I want to make an explicit link between the imagery I am sharing and the words of scripture from which they spring
Westminster Books is offering until April 7, 2017, a free printed study guide with each purchased book Visual Theology ($11). If you miss the deal, or already own the book, you can download the Visual Theology Study Guide for free, here.