The God-Shaped Brain by Timothy R Jennings, M.D.
The subtitle for this book gives a good picture of what the premise of this book is all about, “How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life”.
I believe that this book will open your mind to a new understanding who God is and how much He wants to have a relationship with you. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that reading the Bible won’t give you the same message but sometimes that message gets clouded or distorted by inaccurate descriptions of God and how to read the Bible which will actually cause people to fear God and not in a good way. Some people might have a difficult time accepting some of the concepts presented but I believe this is one book worth reading, if for no other reason than to encourage you think deeper about God and His great love for you.
Here is the Table of Contents to give you an idea of what to expect.
Section I—God, the Brain, and What Went Wrong
- God Is Love
- The Human Brain and Broken Love
- The Infection of Fear
- Freedom to Love
Section II—The Battle Between The Conflicting Views About God
- Love Strikes Back
- Engaging the Battle
- Love Stands Firm
- Changing Our View of God
- The Power of Truth
- The Truth About Sin
- Enlarging Our View of God
- The Judgment of God
- In the Brain of Christ
Section III—Embracing the Goodness of God
- When Good Prevails
- When Love Burns Free
- Buddha, Jesus and Preparing Your Brain for Eternity
Addendum: Putting It All Together—Simple Steps to a Healthier Brain
Jennings wrote in the preface about an incident where his nephew and niece came away from a church service more frightened of God and never wanting to know him if he was like how the preacher described him. He goes on to asks these questions and makes this assertion.
Would Jesus be happy if we presented him in such a way that the children would not want to be with him or know him? Isn’t something wrong if in talking about God we frighten the children? Do we help or hurt, heal or injure, when we present a God that incites fear? Does it even matter whether our view of God is good, bad, or ugly? It does matter, more that we ever realized—to the point of changing our brain structure! Although we have power over what we believe, what we believe holds real power over us—power to heal and power to destroy.
He sets the goal for the book as the following (emphasis added).
Throughout this book we will explore the amazing ability of our brains to adapt, change and rewire based on the choices we make, the beliefs we hold and the God we worship-as different “God-concepts” affect the brain differently. My goal with this book is to reveal God in the clearest possible way, to demonstrate how our belief in God changes us and to display his methods on a practical level. I also offer a new methodology in the study of God, which I termed the Integrative Evidence-Based Approach, which incorporates and requires harmony of three threads, Scripture (with special emphasis on the life of Jesus), God’s laws in science and nature, and our experience-all studied with a humble mind under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The one chapter I wasn’t sure I was going to agree with at first was the last one on Buddha and Jesus. As he states in the chapter, there has been greater acceptance and adoption of the practice of meditation as practiced by Buddhists in many areas of life and science, including by many in the church. I was pleasantly surprised to see Jennings effectively show that there is a great difference between what the Bible means by saying we should meditate on God’s world and the eastern practice of emptying our minds. He also makes clear that Jesus did what Buddha can never do.
I was happy to find out that there is also a study guide available by PDF download from IVP. I retrieved a copy of it and will be working through it in the near future so that I can better understand his Integrative Evidence-Based Approach to studying God. In it there is a 3 part study—Learning through Bible Examples, Learning Through Science and Nature, and Learning Through Evidence—to go with each chapter of the book in which the reader is encouraged to broaden and/or reinforce their thinking about God.
Jennings, Timothy R. The God-Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013. Print. [Amazon] [Christianbook] [Barnes and Noble] [Alibris]