The Bible is not a boring book. It pulls us in and captures our imagination as we see ourselves in God's big story of creation and redemption. But we live in a culture that is ever-changing. And though we must never change the timeless message of the Bible, our methods should always be open to change as we adapt to the culture we live in. Recently I received a free copy of Genesis and Exodus from the folks at The Almighty Bible. These guys are on the cutting edge of communicating God's story in fresh, new ways. There's even an Almighty Bible app for your iphone or ipad!
As I made my way through these books, I was highly impressed with the quality of the illustrations. Each page will appeal to young people (especially 10-13) as they see familiar characters of the Old Testament come to life in a vivid way. Ours is a visual culture, and for those who are new to the Christian faith or struggle to read on their own, these books can serve as a bridge to understanding the Bible's beginning message.
As a family pastor and father of three, I recommend The Almighty Bible with some reservations. First, the authors have chosen to summarize the actual text of the Bible in order to make it more concise for their readers. For example, at the end of the story of Joseph, they sum up Genesis 50:20 with these words, "God meant it for good to save many people." In doing so, they omitted the first half of that verse that reads, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good ..." Joseph's brothers meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. That's an important contrast for young people to see--namely, God's sovereignty reigns over human sin.
Closely related to this, I think there's a tendency in our media rich culture to move away from the written Word of God. As I read through these books, I felt as though the pictures were primary and the text was secondary. Don't get me wrong. I love the use of visual art and creativity, but if this becomes the steady diet of a new generation, will our kids be interested in reading and understanding the actual text?
Finally, while in one sense these books capture our imagination, in another sense they limit it. Think about it. When C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia were made into movies they instantly brought the story to life and at the same time stopped our imagination. Why? Because one man interpreted Lewis' books for us and left us with these images every time we think of these stories.
In conclusion, The Almighty Bible is breaking new ground with other graphic novels like The Gadarene by John Piper. These novels can serve as a fresh, new way of communicating the stories of Scripture, but we must be careful not to lose the message with the medium.