Monday, May 21, 2018

God’s Design Law of Love Changes One’s Major Tenets

The God-Shaped Heart: How Correctly Understanding God’s Love Transfoms Us Author: Timothy R. Jennings, MD
Publisher:Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2017


In some respects, this is the sequel to the author’s The God-Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life, which dealt with our brains, anatomy, and God. This time, he shows how our being wired to love is a result of our being created in God’s image – and thus, love gives us a great insight into God’s character, His true identity, and His plans for mankind. Once again, most interesting reading.
His opening premise is that Christianity has been marred, nay, seriously injured, by its focus on fear and punishment of those who don’t buy into it, lock, stock, and barrel. And just like his previous book, Jennings’ arguments and claims are based on solid interpretations of Scripture and supported with counselling examples from his counselling practice. You will find both most stimulating.
No one would argue with Jennings when he postulates that there is power in love. But if so, he asks, where is it?  What’s obstructing it in the lives of Christians? And thus, begins the pilgrimage to find out.
His journey leads him to contest that “the most distressing problem in Christianity is distorted ideas about God.” And to investigate this idea, he takes us to the “heart” – not that physical organ which pumps blood throughout the body, but rather “one’s core self, the inmost secret self, the place where one’s true desires, affections, longings, beliefs, and identity reside – the core elements of one’s individuality. It is our character, composed of all those elements, that make us the individuals we are.” And it is the brain that is the platform on which that ‘heart’ (our character) operates.
Decisions are made by the ‘mind’ which depends on the information it receives from the brain.  And then based on that, Jennings has us consider spiritual warfare from a different perspective.
For me, the highlight of the book is the author’s identification, explanation, and demonstration of the “Seven Levels of Moral Decision-Making”.  This is worth the price of the book itself. Master that and you can then start to consider what level people you know, including yourself, operate at. You’ll be very surprised.  He explains why rules and laws are no longer necessary when living at level five and above.
He does a great job of identifying a multitude of theological positions held by many segments of the Christian Body which we have interpreted and held too, in a way, which communicates the “infection of imposed law, with its false ideas that God is the problem that needs fixing.”
Of course, taking such ideas (that God’s ‘design law’ is all about ‘love’) to their ultimate conclusions, requires readers to challenge its application to some very controversial subjects.  Jennings beats us to the draw and voluntarily does that himself.  He deals with topics such as justice, hell, spousal abuse, worship, divorce, baptism, and more. He saves a lot of his disdain about how church leadership today has morphed into being protectors of the institution, rather doing what they can to help lead people to salvation. (That’s a most interesting and challenging chapter.) In another chapter, he explains how we might utilize the truth about God in our thinking with respect to homosexuality, complete with some very clearly described scientific explanations.
He provides some good advice as to why those of us in the church as well as non-believers are so willing to believe the various lies about God. He then identifies some of the ways to overcome that.
In his concluding chapter, Jennings addresses the issue of God’s judgment. It’s a most informative treatise of the subject. And in his Appendix A, he gives us a “Summary of God’s Design Laws”.
The book challenges our own thinking, attitude, and thus, behavior towards those in our personal relationships, in our church, in the Body, and the world as a whole. It deals with the present as well as the future. Like me, you may not always agree, one hundred percent with where Dr. Jennings ends up on some issues. Still, you will find the book most helpful in informing you of alternatives. And it just make you more like Jesus and perhaps even more useful to Him. 
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·     Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, May 21, 2018, www.accordconsulting.com

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