The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay

My church is going through a 6-week series on the topic of love. As a supplementary reading, my pastor suggested Tom Holladay’s The Relationship Principles of Jesus. Even long before the church campaign began, I already learned about this book through Zondervan’s Web site. I eyed this book since I needed help in building relationships with people. Finally, I grabbed a copy so I can make a review of it.


Holladay shares six relationship principles that we can learn from Jesus. He expounds on these principles throughout the book. These principles are: Place the highest value on relationships; love as Jesus loves you; communicate from the heart; as you judge, you will be judged; the greatest are the servants; and treat others as you want them to treat you.

At the end of the book, sets of questions are provided. These can be used for discussions.

The book is obviously and largely influenced by Rick Warren and his book The Purpose-Driven Life. Warren happens to be Holladay’s pastor and brother-in-law. He also writes the foreword of the book. You will notice many similarities of Holladay’s and Warren’s books, including the 40 chapters in 40 days format, the chapter endings, the use of several Bible translations, and the writing style.

I find the Thinking about My Relationship section helpful, which is found at every ending of a chapter. It includes at a point to ponder, a sentence that summarizes the chapter ; a verse to remember, a verse for the day’s Scripture memory; and a question to consider, which will help the reader reflect and apply the point of the chapter.

Another feature of the book is the Experience the Truth sections, which can be found in selected chapters. These are adaptations (or retelling) of Scripture passages. Holladay uses these sections to include explanations about the cultural practices of Jesus’ time, which is helpful. Though I personally prefer direct quotations from Scripture, these sections are nonetheless appealing to readers.

I have some reservations towards the book. First, I wished Holladay was more expository. There is a wealth of passages that he can dig that is related to the principles he teaches. He could’ve expounded more on several texts from the Gospels, on “one another” verses, on judgment and humility, and so on. Holladay had the chance to open the Bible to the readers of his book. I see it was a wasted opportunity. I do not mean to sound demanding towards Holladay. I understand that the book is designed to be read one chapter a day and is devotional in format.

Second, the use of Bible translations were overwhelming. Holladay could’ve settled for 2-4 translations. This is to avoid the impression that he uses several translations to get his point across, and not the Bible’s.

Overall, I find this book practical and easy-to-read. Actually, I read more or less 40 pages a day. I just hoped that my neglect of the a-chapter-a-day format didn’t diminish my experience of the book.

Though I don’t find The Relationship Principles of Jesus a great book, I can’t deny that I learned from it. It will be a helpful tool in building relationships. So I can recommend the book to you.

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~ by Enzo Cortes on February 28, 2011.

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