1 Big Lie You Need to Make Sure You Don't Believe about God
- Dr. Timothy R. Jennings MD, DFAPA
- 2017 26 Apr
“God Don’t Make No Junk”
“Why did God make me this way?” Fran asked. “Why did God want me to have anxiety and depression?” She told me she believed God uses his divine power to create each of us as individuals, just as we are. She even had a shirt once that said, “God made me, and God don’t make no junk!”
Here was another very subtle distortion that had crept into her thinking. It was causing mental distress and undermining trust in God. She believed the lie that God directly creates each one of us just as we are, complete with all of our genetic flaws, diseases, defects and sin. However, the Bible does not teach this idea. It teaches that the human species was created by God perfect and sinless.
When God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he not only made them flawless, he also gave them the ability to procreate (Gen 1:28). God created them with freedom to choose and change or adapt based on their choices. This means the very choices of Adam and Eve would change them. Healthy choices would result in greater development and health, but deviations from the law of love would result in defect, damage and, without intervention, eventual death. Once they turned their backs on God and sinned, all of their offspring have been “sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Ps 51:5). In other words, all humanity has been born defective.
Many of my patients have struggled in their relationships with God because they have believed the lie that God created them, as individuals, exactly as they are. They ask, “Why did God want me to be schizophrenic?” “Why did God want my child to have autism?” “Why did God create me with bipolar disorder?”
Truth is, he didn’t! God doesn’t use his power to create sinful, sick, defective and deformed beings. All defects are a result of sin contaminating and damaging God’s creation. Love does not— cannot—create imperfection.
Fran was not initially convinced on this point, so she asked more questions. “But what about where the Bible says, ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb’?” (Psalms 139:13).
“Excellent!” I responded. “Good for you. Don’t accept someone else’s ideas. Think for yourself. Ask questions and reason out the issues. You have cited a Bible passage. But quoting a verse is not enough. We must ask, ‘What does it mean?’”
She was not used to this. She had been taught, “If the Bible says it, I believe it and that settles it.” She realized, however, that such an approach shut down thinking, prevented reasoning, and impaired her ability to actually know God and appreciate how he works. So she began to think, What does it mean? This activated her prefrontal cortex and opened her mind to the Holy Spirit.
I had already explained God’s law of love and the ongoing battle with the satanic infection. We had explored how all nature was suffering under the weight of sin, but these were new concepts she struggled to incorporate into her thinking.
I continued, “If God is the one who is directly creating each individual human being, then when children are born with congenital heart defects, spina bifida, deformities of various kinds, is God having a bad ‘knitting’ day? Are we comfortable laying at God’s feet all genetic defects and deformities? If God is directly creating babies with congenital defects, then when doctors do surgery to save the lives of infants, are they opposing the divine will? Should health care professionals refuse to repair birth defects, claiming God wants certain people born that way? If God is the one using his power to create each of us, then is his power weaker than a sinful human mother who drinks so much alcohol that her baby is born with fetal alcohol syndrome? If God is actively creating that baby, shouldn’t his power be greater than the alcohol being consumed by the thoughtless mother, and shouldn’t the child be born healthy in spite of it?”
Fran looked to be struggling with these new ideas, but I pressed on. “Worse yet, if we believe that God is directly creating each individual human, then during the anarchy in Sudan when Arab men went around raping Sudanese women by the tens of thousands in order to have more children of Arab descent, should those women turn to God and thank him for what just happened? Is rape how God creates? Does the law of love include rape?
“More serious than physical deformity and rape, do we believe God actually creates sin and sinners? If we say that God creates us as individuals by his direct power, and we realize that each of us is born sinful, then we are saying that God creates sinners.”
Fran knew this could not be true. She realized that the Bible gives God credit for directly creating only two human lives—Adam and Eve—and later Jesus’ incarnation. All three of them were sinless. Jesus remained that way. Adam and Eve did not.
Fran’s mind was processing, working to integrate truth and weed out distortion. She looked over at me and asked, “Then how do we understand God’s role in our individual creation?”
I was ready with my answer. “When God gave Samson strength, did God control how Samson used that strength? When God gave Solomon wisdom, did God control how Solomon used that gift? When God gave the human species the ability to procreate, does God decide where and with whom we mate? Does God control the use of his gifts, or does God give us abilities, talents and opportunities, and then leave us free to use them for good or evil as we so choose?”
Fran had never considered these possibilities before, and this was hard work for someone used to believing without thinking. So I continued slowly and prayerfully. “God is the one who gave Samson strength, but God is not the one who chose to use that strength to philander with heathen women. God is the one who gave Solomon wisdom, but God is not the one who chose to use that wisdom to marry seven hundred wives or make altars to idols. God has given the human race the ability to create, but he does not control how we use that ability.
“God is the Creator of the design template of humanity as well as the laws of nature and physics that govern reproduction. So he is the one ‘knitting together’ through his ordained design and laws. But he is not directly creating each of us with sin, disease and defect.” I reminded my patient that our current condition is a result of God’s creation being infected with sin, that all nature groans under the weight of sin (Rom 8:22).
When Fran finally saw the truth—that love was battling with selfishness, that God did not create her with sin, disease and defects, but has been working to save and heal her—her fear and distrust of him began to vanish. Incredible new possibilities began to open before her mind. The fresh air of freedom finally blew into her soul—freedom to think, freedom to ask questions, freedom to choose. And as freedom swept in and her love and appreciation for God grew, fear faded away.
The Bible exploded with new meaning for Fran. When she read about the woman caught in adultery and heard Jesus say, “Neither do I condemn you,” she heard the voice of the Father. When she read of Jesus washing the feet of his betrayer, she saw the Father bending over sinners to wash away sin. When she saw Jesus allowing an angry mob to beat him, spit on him and crucify him, she saw the face of God receiving the blows, dripping with blood, dying in agony.
When she read Jesus’ invitation to be his friend (John 15:15) she felt the love of the Father calling her home.
Many of us have been lied to about God. When we believe those lies, the circle of love and trust becomes broken in our hearts, and fear and selfishness quickly take hold. The more deeply rooted the lies, the greater the fear. But the story doesn’t have to end there. The way to restored love is always through the path of rediscovered truth.
-From The God-Shaped Brain, chapter 8, “Changing Our View of God”
Taken from The God-Shaped Brain by Timothy R. Jennings. Second Edition Copyright ©2017 by Timothy R. Jennings. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com
Timothy R. Jennings, MD, is a board certified Christian psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, lecturer, international speaker, and the author of The God-Shaped Brain and Could It Be This Simple? A Biblical Model for Healing the Mind.
Dr. Jennings was voted one of America's Top Psychiatrists by the Consumers' Research Council of America in 2008, 2010, and 2011. He is president of the Tennessee Psychiatric Association and a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He has served as president of the Southern Psychiatric Association and is in private practice in Tennessee.
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Publication date: April 26, 2017