Book Review: The Jesus Creed for Students

I read the original Jesus Creed by McKnight a few years ago as a student in the Gospels and Acts course at Denver Seminary.  So, I am familiar with McKnight’s prose and thoughts on this subject on a more in-depth basis.  I am reviewing Jesus Creed for Students (JCFS) as it’s publishers offered me a copy to read given that I review it on my blog.  That being said, I would say off the bat the original seemed to help me follow what McKnight’s thesis was than this version.   I acknowledge the difficulty in taking an adult level, deep, insightful book and boil it down to a level that the average 9-12th grade student can engage.

There are some definite positives and negatives that I came away from this book, which I reviewed as if I were doing for a seminary course.  Not wanting to write a full fledged paper (and to spare you the same) I will list these briefly in bullet point form.

Positives:

  • JCFS seems to build its thesis off of the statement of Jesus in citing Deut 6:4-9 and Lev 17:19.  Simplified, Love God, Love Others. (13)
  • It engages the problems of happiness and tries to reflect it to blessed.   (not sure if he gets there, but I appreciate the effort/sentiment).  
  • Happy seems to equal loving myself, Blessed does seem to equal loving God and others (21)
  • McKnight’s differentiation between moral discernment and judgement is excellent, perhaps worthy enough to just be taken from this book and put in its own little pamphlet.  (59)
Negatives:
  • I’m not sure I agree with the assertion that prayer is not magic (40).  Maybe, we’re playing semantics, but prayer is powerful and it engages the Trinity in powerful ways.  Miracles and great works are done with it, and people fail without it.  
  • The concept of Creed is not really well explained.  As a youth leader, this would need to be explained and drawn out more than it is in this book.  
  • One MAJOR issue I have, is that JCWS talks about us reconciling with others, but reconciling with God seems eerily absent, especially in regards to our repentance.   (perhaps I missed this point, I’ll be happy to redact this point if I have).  
  • McKnight’s treatment of wealth could have been meted out better.  Money isn’t evil, the love of money is.  Philanthropy would be well discussed in that paragraph also.  
Bottom Line:
  • This book is pretty good.  The Youth Minister would do well to read the original JC to fill in some needed blanks.
  • I could see this book being the mid week devotional that the youth pastor preaches on during Sunday service.  
  • The concept of Creed is difficult to grasp, I would feel the need to flesh this out with my group better.  
  • Like all resources, the youth pastor needs to do their homework and help their group through some of the concepts of this book.  
  • If giving a grade, the book would get a solid B.  It’s a good resource, obvious worse ones out there (like nooma videos), but I think it suffers from the problem of simplification.  When moving into the HS and MS mindset, it seems to have exchanged simplified with watered down in some key places.  


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