Tim Jennings, M.D.
This week, we’re excited to feature a blog series by Dr. Tim Jennings, author of the newly-released title, The God-Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life. Whether you work in a clinical, pastoral, or lay care-giving setting, Dr. Jennings’ insights about spirituality and neurobiology have both personal and professional application.
When you hear the word “law”, what comes to mind? Rules, regulations, guidelines, and legislated enactments to govern society? What about when you think about the “law of gravity” or “laws of health”? Does something else come to mind?
We hear a lot about God’s law—but how do you view it? Do you view God’s law like human law—enacted, imposed, and legislated by an external authority? Or, do you view God’s law as the design protocol upon which the Creator constructed life to operate?
In part two of our four-part series on The God-Shaped Brain, we documented that Scripture, science and experience all demonstrate that God’s law is the law of love, the design protocol upon which life is built.
But many God-fearing people have a different view of God’s law. All too often it is seen as a list of rules, an imposed set of requirements put upon us to control our behavior. Does it really make a difference which view we hold? Absolutely!
Consider an IV heroin user, who purposely breaks the “law,” both the “natural” laws of health and the “imposed” laws of human government. The user, from this destructive “sinful” choice, gets endocarditis, an infection of the interior of his heart. This is a life threatening condition. If not remedied, the infection can cause stroke, heart failure and death.
Does the heroin user want to go before the “judge” to have the “truth” come out and “deal” with what the “imposed” law requires? Why not? Because imposed law requires the judicial authority to inflict external punishment.
In contrast, does this sick and suffering drug user want to go see the doctor and have the truth of their condition come out, and deal with what the “law of health” requires? Why? Because the law of health require healing. The doctor will not seek to punish, but will work to restore the sick patient back into harmony with the law of health, the way life was built to operate.
Does it make a difference how we view God and His law?
When we represent God like a Roman emperor and His law as imposed upon us to control our behavior, we present a god-construct that incites fear and obstructs healing of mind and soul. Rather than showing God as a being of love, who cared so much He sent His Son, not “to condemn the world but to save the world” (John 3:17), imposed law constructs present God as a cruel judge undermining love and trust.
Such ideas make Him out to be a cosmic tyrant who must use His divine power to inflict punishment upon His children. Who really wants to get close to such a god?
But when we present God as the Creator, the Builder, the Designer who constructed His universe to operate in harmony with His nature of love, then we realize God is acting through Christ to heal, restore and save His creation.
When we present God as a being a God of love, we open the door for suffering souls to come back to their Heavenly Physician for healing, cleansing and restoration in righteousness.
Does it matter which view we choose? Absolutely! The view of God we hold changes us. It impacts our ability to trust Him. If we view God as a being of love, as revealed in Christ, and worship such a God, the brain’s love circuits grow stronger, and the fear circuits calm. But when we present God as a severe judge, a being who waits to inflict torture upon His children, a being who must be pled with in order to be kind, we activate the brain’s fear circuits and not only cause inflammation, disease and early death, but obstruct reconciliation with God.
In The God-Shaped Brain How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life, I examine through Scripture, science and real patient experiences the marked differences that divergent God concepts have upon our physical, mental and relational health. The evidence from all three threads confirms that God is love! With so many different views of God being taught, I invite you to consider this book a tool to assist in your journey to an ever-deeper intimacy and friendship with God.
Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a Christian psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, author, international speaker, radio personality, President-Elect of the Tennessee Psychiatric Association, adjunct faculty at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Chairman Board of Regents Southern Psychiatric Association, and has a private practice in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Dr. Jennings obtained his M.D. degree in 1990 from the University of Tennessee, College of Medicine in Memphis and completed psychiatric residency at D.D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. He is board certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and is licensed to practice medicine in Tennessee, Georgia and Washington. Dr. Jennings was named one of America’s Top Psychiatrists by the Consumer Research Institute of America in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Many of Dr. Jennings’ lectures and written material can be found on his Web site, www.comeandreason.com.