Loving God and loving neighbor is the core calling for Jesus’ disciples. This is the central claim of Scot McKnight’s 2004 book The Jesus Creed; it is also the foundational thesis of The Jesus Creed for Students. McKnight lays out this simple message in the first chapter by explaining Jesus’ exchange with the religious expert who asks him which commandment is most important. Which one gets to the heart of Torah? Jesus’ response – love God, love others – is what McKnight calls the Jesus Creed (Matt 22:34-40).
But at this point, the close similarity with the first Jesus Creed ends. As McKnight said, “This is a completely new book from anything I’ve written.” After the opening chapter, The Jesus Creed for Students unpacks its central claim by working through the big ideas of The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ manifesto for Life in his kingdom. The authors (McKnight is joined by two youth ministers, Chris Folmsbee and Slyer Thomas, who helped him craft the book for high school and college students) lead us through the main themes of Jesus’ Sermon with a delicious blend of brevity, clarity and creativity, explaining how they give shape to Jesus’ double-love command. The book is peppered with profound illustrations and penetrating stories from students’ lives. Its simple and engaging style will appeal to students, and its solid scholarship and theological sharpness will appeal to their pastors and teachers (and it will engage and challenge them too!). This book will provoke invigorating group discussion and personal reflection (two aims of its authors, which are urged upon its readers). I’m excited to use this text in the unit on following Jesus in my Biblical Ethics course. McKnight, Folmsbee and Thomas deserve our thanks for writing a clear, compelling account of Jesus’ call in language that next generation – who desperately need to hear and heed that call – can understand. I recommend this book for you and the student-disciples you know.