Book Review: The Bad Habits of Jesus by Leonard Sweet

Book Review: “The Bad Habits of Jesus” by Leonard Sweet

The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing Us the Way to Live Right in a World Gone Wrong

The Bad Habits of JesusBy leveraging his years of teaching the Bible and the input of his students at Tabor University, Leonard Sweet has created an intriguing list of unpopular social habits of the most important man who ever lived. Highlighting Jesus’ proclivity to re-interpret the Law and break away from cultural norms and religious legalism, Sweet shows us how Jesus is more radical than we have been led to believe. He challenges us to take a fresh look at the Messiah as a rebel and savior.

Bad Habits of Jesus

Sweet’s book provides a fantastic reference list of the so-called “bad” habits of Jesus. It’s a great resource for preachers in need of sermon ideas and Bible study leaders in search of a new angle to engage their members—study questions provided at the end of the book offer helpful discussion starters for small groups.

The book itself is well written; however, I think the editing went awry in many places. The mixed analogies boggle the mind. For example, in the chapter presenting Jesus’ habit of taking off by himself without telling anyone He was leaving, Sweet writes,

The soul needs two things as a tree needs water and light: solitude and society. Together they form a barbell that the soul lifts to get strong and healthy.

I’m not exactly sure why a tree’s needs were brought into it, and I don’t see the point in switching the analogy to barbells which are never picked up again. Sweet continues by carefully connecting a number of church billboard-worthy statements:

Solitude is not solo time but soul time with God. Solitude is a relationship word, another name for relationship with the self and with the Source. Solitude is not a time-out from relationships, for relationship is central to solitude. Aloneness is not soulful sophistry but sophistication and maturity of relationship with God.

In my opinion, stringing together a number of “sticky statements” like this actually detracts from the overall message and readability of the book. Sadly, it happens repeatedly throughout the book. Another example follows:

Stories and signs don’t lack truth value; they lock in truth value. Truth for Jesus was timelessness made timely by the time-full. And to live relational truth is dangerous in a world of philosophical truth.

What does that even mean?

These sentences themselves may be well-crafted works of art, but even museums leave ample space between paintings on a wall!

So, although I enjoyed The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing Us the Way to Live Right in a World Gone Wrong, for the most part, the globs of sticky statements and mixed analogies made my head spin.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not in favor of “dumbing down” theology. But I cannot condone making it more complicated than it needs to be. As Sabrina Fairchild remarks to Linus Larrabee in the movie Sabrina, “Sometimes more isn’t always better, Linus. Sometimes it’s just more.”  The author of this book took a relatively simple subject and muddied up the waters for no good reason.

So, I enjoyed the content, but I did not care for the form in which it was delivered.

Should you decide to read and/or purchase The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing Us the Way to Live Right in a World Gone Wrong, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the author: thezwomann

Laura Zielke is a deep thinker and Bible scholar. She is not afraid to question tradition and challenges people to evaluate their beliefs according to the Scriptures. Laura earned her M-Div. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis on Biblical Studies, Archaeology, and Languages. She has been blessed to serve as a lay leader in local churches for more than thirty years. Having been recognized as an outstanding leader, teacher, and entrepreneur, Laura currently serves on the boards of two non-profit organizations: Triad Ladder of Hope (fighting human trafficking) and Shield Your Faith (apologetics ministry). She and her husband of 20 years have one 14-year old son who is in the 9th grade and homeschooled. Laura is an INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, and enjoys helping people discover more about themselves, the Lord, and their purpose in life. Connect with her on social media: @thezwomann (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest).

2 comments to “Book Review: “The Bad Habits of Jesus” by Leonard Sweet”

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  1. Ruth - April 7, 2017 at 9:34 am Reply

    Hi Laura,
    This was the second Leonard Sweet book I have read. The first was Well Played Life which had may good points but again the “mixed analogies” were very confusing and distracted from the great message. Thanks for your honest review of Bad Habits.Now I will look past the lapses in editing to find the many interesting points and concepts that Dr. Sweet presents.

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