Carlos Darby introduces his new book The One as a new experience that merges storytelling with new formats to tell the story of Jesus to a new generation. “The One uses The Voice Bible translation alongside powerful, full-color images to maximize the long-term impact for the reader, creating a dynamic way to engage with and experience the scriptures.” If you know me at all, you’ll know that I found that description simultaneously very intriguing but also very terrifying. After all, there are more ways to screw up the story of the gospel with a ‘new format’ than there are to improve it. While I’m all for innovative storytelling methods, I almost always come to the conclusion that such a story is not worth tampering with. But surprisingly, I found The One to be a whole lot better than I expected.
Darby’s goal to update the story of the bible for a modern generation sounds a whole lot more ambitious than it really is. In practice, this works out to a trendy bible translation, some nice full-bleed photography, and a lot of articles from various writers (mostly from Hillsong) that walk you through creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. When you take away the glitz and glam, the articles are doctrinally solid and well-written. The ‘custom’ Bible translation gave me pause, but it’s being used in isolated amounts and is more of an Amplified bible than anything, so its impact is extremely limited.
The meat of the book is built around personal stories and interviews. Through these, Darby and his writers convey what a personal relationship with Jesus looks like. A few chapters, such as the one on Genesis and creation, were retellings of a Bible story with a focus on doctrinal truth: in the case of creation, Darby explains how and why mankind was created, and how the relationship with God was broken and severed in the fall.
I thought that The One would make a fantastic book for someone leading a Bible study with new believers, or perhaps as an outreach tool. I don’t think I’d hand it to anyone on the street, and I don’t think Darby intended it that way either. Each chapter closes with several discussion questions, which seem tailor-made for careful leading by a more mature believer. As a path through a Bible study, I like The One even better.
While The One: Experience Jesus is heavy on trends and staying relevant, it manages to do so without watering down the message inside. The message is all that matters. Pretty photographs and presentation can dress it up as much as you like, but at the end of the day, the content of the story will sell the book. The One presents the story of salvation clearly, showing through repeated stories what a personal, living relationship with Jesus Christ looks like. Any book that is built around that truth is a win in my book.
Published on 3 September, 2015. Last updated on