My brothers and sisters in Christ
Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a one-day "Professional Seminar for People-Helpers" entitled "The God Shaped Brain" in Mt. Gravatt – just on the south side of Brisbane, Australia. The seminar featured Dr. Timothy Jennings and was hosted by the AAC (Association of Adventist Counselors). Those in attendance consisted of a 100 people or more, I guess mostly SDAs with health-care backgrounds. (I happen to be just finishing off a Counseling Diploma and the study of the mind especially in a spiritual/Biblical context particularly interests me.)
Although Tim is a well-recognized Psychiatrist from U.S, what impresses me the most is his focus on the gospel of righteousness and his love of the truth. His main theme was epigenetics, addictions etc. and how our picture of God ("Designer" OR "Dictator") influences our genes and mental and even physical health – for better or for worse. He presented a lot of good evidence to support his claims. He has a deep passion for the gospel of the kingdom and I can tell, like all of us in the Godhead community, he has had enough of witnessing all the sin and pain in our fractured, emotionally wounded, weary old world.
My only criticism was that he spoke too fast!!!! :-). Taking notes was difficult because the slides on his power-point presentation didn't stay up for long. Tim is a very dynamic speaker with a sharp mind and a quick process and delivery, so in his limited 4.5 hours he really packed it in! He was conscious of his rapidity because in the middle of one meeting he paused to ask to our amusement, "Am I speaking too fast?". This provoked a laugh or two among us but no one really said anything. And so Tim said, ‘Arrrh, we have a mixed multitude here’. The point is everything was videoed and so people can go over the material again. I will be ordering the Videos and I would encourage any interested in this topic to do the same by contacting Susan (I think from the ABC) on 3218 7777.
One thing that was really interesting to me was something Tim referred to under a sub-title "Consequences of Accepting Imperial Rome's Imposed Law Concept". He brought out how Constantine had a skewed view of God's monarchy and modeled his dictatorial monarchy after, what he perceived to be, the monarchy of heaven. Just think of the dark ages as a consequence of this! It is the principle of John 16:1-3.
Tim then went on to contrast the natural law of love (God's commandments) with Rome's imposed law concept and showed how the two are incompatible and yet how Rome's judicial imposed law has influenced the Christian church's perception of God's law and justice. God however, does not impose His law. Tim asked the rhetorical question, What church committee ever got together and called a vote to change the law of gravity or respiration! Why not? Because no one in their right mind has a problem with natural law. The "law of liberty" is a law of life and exists to bless us and the same goes with God's moral law. It too, when rightly understood, is a law (way) of life – a natural law that is a preserver and protector of freedom that, when obeyed, provides emotional security and optimises human relationships (See Proverbs 6:23).
Related to this, Tim talked quite a bit about free will and how God does not intend to control our will or take away or manipulate our freedom. Neither does he always intervene or prevent evil from happening in our world otherwise humanity would be like one big "puppet show". God is a God of love, and love necessitates freedom.
In his closing meeting he decided to share some deep unconventional insights on the character of God and the nature of His justice. This topic was not new to me and I could not fault what Tim presented with a very solid Scriptural basis. I believe a correct God-concept, as Tim does, to be part of the everlasting gospel.
Probably what I admired most during this seminar was Tim’s courage to boldly expose a few popular theological errors within Adventism! One of those falsehoods was the heretical pagan idea that God's wrath is appeased by sacrifice and how instead of imposing His intended wrath upon man, God chose a substitute - His own Son! This is supposed to be God's "propitiation" for sin. Tim's point is, God is against sin but not the sinner. I liked the fact that Tim specifically quoted from a number of Adventist publications such as The Twenty Seven Fundamental Beliefs p 111, Ministry magazine, Whidden, Feb 2007, , Advent Review Dec 2007, p. 40 . . . . and contrasted these distorted views with the SDA "historical view" and with quotes from Prophets and Kings p 685, The Desire of Ages p 761 and 1 Selected Messages p 235.2 that suggest otherwise.
I also liked his simple formula of the wrath of God.
Sin primarily consists of 1) Lies/deception - exposed by truth
2) Selfishness - expelled by love
Truth exposes lies and love expels selfishness and in the Revelation of God's character and presence at the second and third coming, His truth and love will expose and overwhelm both lies and selfishness. Some (especially those who have some knowledge of the goodness of God) may suffer longer (emotionally - through the heat of their self-condemned conscience) and the realization of inevitable eternal separation from Him. This may be because they have more layers of lies and selfishness that will be stripped away in His presence, or, because God (referred to by Isaiah as "everlasting burnings") does not want to give them up, so He holds them in one more clinging embrace before His life source is removed!
There was a lot more Tim brought out but these are some of the highlights that stood out for me.
From even before I attended the meetings, I felt strongly impressed to pray for an opportunity to impart some material to Tim that we hold dear to our hearts, and we know to be true.
Praise the Father I am happy to say that just after the last meeting, despite a small group gathered about him, I had that perfect opportunity to do so. I gave him a quality paper-bound print out of a new 4-part study of mine entitled "The Great Sin of The Two Israels" – a broad study looking at what led to the desolation of Israel (rejection of the Son of God’s identity, His crucifixion, rejection of His messenger prophets, pride, fruitlessness, idolatry, refusal to engage in deep genuine repentance . . . . . and how these conditions serve as warnings to modern spiritual Israel - SDAs. The study also features the nature of the “Omega” of apostasy that will lead to the spiritual desolation of many SDAs and Part 4 is a contribution from my friend Kym Jones who brings out, and very solidly documents, how Greek Platonic Philosophy influenced the early medieval church – the formulation of the orthodox Trinity being one such example. (I hope to have this study posted up on Maranatha Media when it is complete.) I also gave Tim a copy of Jonathan Otto's Luminesce DVD, and a newly purchased flash drive key with all my Godhead studies from "The King of Glory Series". I am VERY happy he graciously accepted these gifts.
I am asking that you would keep this man of God in prayer. I believe he is a humble seeker and advocate for truth and has a very wide international influence among SDAs.
In the Holy Spirit and grace of our Father and Son.