Retired United Methodist minister Don Johnson believes that within every human being is “God’s implanted DNA,” which comprises the sole purpose of our existence: to care for others. The question, then, is whether we’ll expend our energies outwardly and thrive or direct our energies inwardly and self-destruct.
In God’s Implanted DNA, Johnson cites well-documented examples of individuals who have discovered profound meaning in this practice of self-sacrifice or generosity. Some are well known, such as Mother Teresa, Bill Gates, Greg Mortenson and Barack Obama. The author gleaned less famous examples from newspapers and periodicals, and even from his personal experience. In every case, Johnson concludes that the decision to discover and implement God’s implanted DNA was the key to finding personal happiness and fulfillment.
In addition, Johnson thinks good physical health depends on whether a person expends his energy outwardly or inwardly. He qualifies this with admonitions to eat healthfully, exercise and meditate, acknowledging that one must not neglect basic personal care.
The book is an easy read and notable for its all-encompassing tone: to Christian conservatives, the author’s bent would qualify as a liberal “social gospel.” He often refers to God as “Mystery” and defines “salvation” and “redemption” as investing our energies into caring for all creation rather than advancing individual agendas. He further states that this God’s DNA principle exists in all religions, even those that are polytheistic, as well as in certain “new atheists.”
Whereas serving others is undoubtedly a biblical principle described by Jesus Christ as the second greatest commandment, Johnson fails to make a viable case that loving thy neighbor supersedes the first, to love God. This flaw might convince conservative Christians that Johnson ventures too far afield in his theology, while liberals will likely applaud this work.
Also available as an ebook.