UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: The Good Artist
The Good Artist The Good Artist

John Place (Story) and Tony Trimmer (Illustrations)
ISBN 9781853454240 (1853454249)

Category: Evangelism & Mission

At a recent meeting of Christian booksellers one member remarked, "What we need is an up to date version of Norman Warren's Journey Into Life." If you're unfamiliar with it, Journey Into Life is an old-school evangelistic tract which offers a simple gospel message leading into what's become known as "The Sinner's Prayer". It was a great little booklet in its day, used in hundreds of campaigns and missions, but is now rather dated.

This superbly illustrated story from CWR could well become Journey Into Life for the next generation: the Good Artist draws a perfect picture, a perfect world in which he draws perfect animals and people. All is well until the people take the lid off the forbidden paint pot — Splat! And as any parent with toddlers will know, once kids start throwing paint around, we're in for a serious mess...

What could the Good Artist do? "He drew a special instruction book." But people either ignored the book or found it too difficult to follow. So he sent his Son into the picture, who went around rubbing out people's mistakes: his followers were "drawn again". And he "told off the leaders of the people for using the instruction book to boss people around." So they ganged up on the Artist's Son and "stained him to death" in what is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful portrayals of the atonement I've seen: "because they weren't His stains, the Artist drew His Son again."

Whether you go along with the idea of a perfect work of art spoiled or view the world more as a work of art in progress, one thing is clear: we humans are very good at messing things up. We need help to redraw our lives and our world. The gospel may not be spelt out as explicitly in this tale as it is in Journey Into Life, but for those with eyes to see it's there, just as it was in Jesus' own parables.

The artwork is excellent, funky and colorful; the storyline is cleverly told, albeit from a distinctly conservative evangelical perspective. But overall, one of the best contemporary interpretations of the Christian story I've come across. At £2.99, it's excellent value for money, and even better with substantial discounts available for multi-copy purchases.

Phil Groom, June 2007

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

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