Review

God Distorted: How Your Earthly Father Affects Your Perception of God and Why It Matters

by John Bishop

It’s always a good thing when authors write from their personal experiences. In this thoughtfully written text, Pastor John Bishop shares his personal heartaches and disappointments with not having an earthly father who loved and nurtured him. He tells how he dreamed of having the perfect father; instead, his biological father died tragically in a car accident when he was only four years old. He struggled with this partly because his dad was driving drunk and had pressed his mother to allow their son to accompany him that day. Bishop gratefully reminisces how very different that horrific day could have turned out if his mother had said yes to that request.

"Bishop does a convincing job of persuading his readers to re-evaluate their father/child relationship and let go of the fears of abandonment, rejection, disapproval, entitlement, failure, being hurt, and getting blamed."

Bishop’s parental woes don’t end with his father’s death, either. His mother remarried 18 months after the death of his biological father, and this time his stepdad was abusive on a number of levels toward him and his brother. Dad number two left Bishop was many scars that continued to affect him throughout his life and his search for the perfect father. Dad number three arrived in the unique form of Bishop’s grandfather, who took him and his brother in and helped rear them in such a fashion that he reflects upon “Pop” as a man from whom he “could look up to and learn from, both as a child and as a future parent to my own kids.” Bishop wishes he had known the gift of Pop (now deceased) in his life as the father substitute God had provided for him while he was still alive. Father number four entered Bishop’s life when he was an older teen. Though he hasn’t played a parental role in his life, Bishop rests easy knowing that his mom is now well cared for and loved.

Given Bishop’s history and wounds, it is no wonder that he desired more than anything to be the perfect father to his own children. However, as he shares, often our deepest desires create blind spots in our hearts and minds, and we fail to see how to best achieve what we want most. Bishop’s son is presently incarcerated for a longstanding drug problem, which Bishop admits he might be partly to blame for because he overcompensated and did everything for his son. He relates honestly how his parenting style failed in some ways to communicate the cause and effect of choices to his son.

Bishop shares his story, the most common parenting styles adopted by fathers, how these specific styles affect the children (good/bad) and what to do about them. Next, he explains in great detail how to discover God’s perfection as the true heavenly father and how all individuals should model their idea of a father from God. Finally, he offers some practical strategies for dealing with the wounds caused by a dad to experience healing and restoration. He closes out his fine text with a comprehensive study guide to assist readers as they work through this primer on their own or in a group.

Bishop does a convincing job of persuading his readers to re-evaluate their father/child relationship and let go of the fears of abandonment, rejection, disapproval, entitlement, failure, being hurt, and getting blamed. When Christ followers release themselves of these wounds, God the real father is able to step in and set their lives aright.

Reviewed by Michele Howe on May 17, 2013

God Distorted: How Your Earthly Father Affects Your Perception of God and Why It Matters
by John Bishop