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11 February 2020 | Oslo, Norway [Tor Tjeransen]  

Mental health was a major focus during a significant health congress organised by the Health Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norway.

Dr Timothy JenningsDr Timothy Jennings, a keynote speaker at the Health Conference in Oslo, Noway. [Photos: Tor Tjeransen/ADAMS]“We have power over what we believe, but what we believe has power over us” was a key point in lectures by Dr Timothy Jennings, a psychiatrist from Tennessee, USA. He was the keynote speaker at the congress organised by the Adventist Health Workers Association at the Quality Hotel Expo at Fornebu, 15-17 November 2019.

SAHA conference Norway 2019The theme of the congress was faith, mental health and lifestyle and was primarily designed for employees in health care professions. However, there were also teachers, pastors and others with an interest in the theme among the 180 participants.

For many years, Dr Jennings has worked purposefully with questions related to how the mind affects faith and faith affects the mind. In addition to his medical practice, he heads the non-profit Come and Reason Ministries and is the author of several books. His book The God-Shaped Brain addresses the theme in detail.

Image of God

Dr T. Jennings speaking at SAHA"The health of the mind is directly linked to our image of God," said Dr Jennings in one of his lectures during the congress. "The health of the mind is directly linked to our image of God," Jennings stated, pointing to Romans 1:18-31, where Paul writes of people who, with their thoughts, ended in emptiness because they replaced God's truth with falsehood. Jennings reiterated several times that believing a lie will destroy loving relationships. It applies to both the relationship with God and other people. Therefore, a false image of God is destructive.

We must seek a mature image of God based on three available sources of knowledge about Him: the Bible (2 Tim 3:16), science / nature (Rom 1:20), and experience (John 20:27). Jennings pointed out that it is important to combine all three sources of knowledge.

Love is the law of nature

Jennings pointed out that love is the great principle of the universe. God has arranged all creation to function according to the law of love. Jesus himself made clear that the love of God and the love of our neighbours are the very foundation of our existence (Matt 22:36-40).

"There is nothing sentimental about this, for God created life to function according to the principle of love," Jennings argued, quoting Proverbs 21:21: “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”

Jennings was careful to point out that God's laws are laws of nature. They are not random rules enforced by a ruler, as is the case with human laws. A government may well decide to make drugs legal, but no government can decide that drugs should be healthy. This is because it goes against the design laws God has based creation on. Love belongs to such a design law or natural law. "Breaking the law of love leads to death," Jennings said.

Dr Gabor MihalecDr Gabor Mihalec speaks on threats and strengths of marriage.Dr Gabor Mihalec, a family therapist from Hungary also spoke at the conference. He is responsible for Family Ministries in the Hungarian Union. Mihalec lectured on the threats to marriage and what we should do to maintain strong and loving marriages.

 


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