Posted by: Brian Musser | February 12, 2013

Jesus without Religion by Rick James (A Book Review)

9780830836079_p0_v1_s260x420Recently, I finished reading Rick James’ book Jesus without Religion.  It was a quality read.  The purpose of the book is to provide an entry level introduction to the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth without the religious politicking.  It attempts to look at the narratives about Jesus contained in the Gospels of the Bible.  Most commentary on those stories is left to the status of explanation and application.  This is what Jesus did and said.  This is what those words and actions would have meant at that time.  This is a current cultural analogy for our time.  With that being the purpose I believe that Rick James is successful with this short book.  The book without reading the Appendix or Preface is only 125 pages.  Although I think the author’s suggestion to read it in one sitting may be a little ambitious, it is a quick read.  He writes in a style that is enjoyable and easy to understand.  Rick has had a ministry career connecting with college students so his choice of phrasings, examples and illustration communicates better the closer you are to that age bracket, which was perfect for me.  I liked the book.  It will probably become a “go to” resource when recommending an entry level introduction to Jesus for college students who are willing to read up on Him independently.

The book ends with asking the question, “What was the point?”   He highlights the theological concepts of redemption and grace.  Although, his treatment of these concepts were adequate I felt the chapter was lacking.  I think it may have been intentionally lacking.  As I imagine recommending this book to those trying to figure out who Christ is, I always intend there to be a follow-up conversation to unpack what was read.  The last chapter gives ample room for unpacking.  I might not recommend this book for someone whom I would not be able to follow-up with.  But for someone who I can chat with afterwards over coffee this book would be the perfect starting point.  It is definitely going on my shelf as a quality tool to use for connecting the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection to college students.  If you are a minister to college students and/or young adults I highly recommend checking it out.  If you are a college student and/or young adult who knows me and is interested in figuring out who Jesus is, just a warning, I’ll probably recommend this book to you.

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