The Source of Your Theology

theologySeveral years ago, I was invited to preach at a church where a friend and a fellow seminary classmate served as pastor. As we sat in his office, preparing to go out into the sanctuary for the worship experience, he informed me that he had a member present in the congregation that night who had some mental issues that might serve to be a distraction for me as I preached. He told me not to take anything the member said during the sermon personally or seriously because whatever the member said during my discourse would most likely be because of his mental issues. (It was a predominantly African-American congregation, therefore, it was OK and expected for the congregation to help the preacher preach! Can I get a witness?) Well, as I was preaching, sure enough, the member started blurting out in a disturbing manner. I don’t remember exactly what I was saying, but I will never forget what that member said! I had made, what I thought at the time was a profound statement, when that member loudly asked: “Where did you get those facts?” Now, because the pastor had fore-warned me, I was able to ignore the outburst and keep preaching without being taken aback. But, as I drove home that evening, that question wouldn’t go away and I found myself asking myself: “Where indeed did I get those facts?”

Many times we often say things we’ve heard other people say and we take them as gospel-truths when their validity may indeed be suspect. This is especially true when it comes to matters of faith and theology. We will often take the word of a preacher or a television evangelist as being a gospel-fact and not verify it for ourselves. When we do this, by default we adopt the theology of the speaker as our own and consequently neglect to exercise the due diligence to work out our own theology.

Now, you might be saying at this point; “That’s all well and good because I am not a theologian anyway!” You may not be a theologian by profession or training, but everyone engages in the theological process. The word “theology” literally means “god (theo)-study (logy)” Theology is the study of God. In its most primary definition, theology simply means; the study of “what you think about God.”

So, what do you think about God and what is the source of those thoughts? Do they come solely from your pastor or some other preacher? Do they come from what you heard your parents say, from your traditions or from common folk-lore? You’d be surprised, but there are many people today who form their theology from the gospel music they hear on the radio! A typical example of this is the belief that when praises go up; blessings come down! This notion didn’t come from scripture, but rather from a gospel song! Nevertheless, I have heard it preached by some preachers as gospel truth!

No matter where you get your ideas about God, the only true and real source is the Bible! However, even when the Bible is your source, you must be sure to correctly interpret and correctly apply what you read! We all would do well to engage ourselves in the task of rightly dividing (correctly interpreting and applying) the Word. Wherever and whenever we hear the word preached, taught, or otherwise discussed, we should adopt the attitude and practice of the believers who lived in Berea during the days of the Apostle Paul. In Acts 17:11 we read:  “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” (NLT) Now this is not to suggest that we should become overly skeptical in regard to what we hear, but rather that we should learn to become critical (analytical) thinkers. When it comes to your spiritual well-being, don’t take any person’s word for it just because of who they are or what position they might have. Be like the Bereans. Listen eagerly and intently, then search and study the Scriptures for yourself to see if what they are saying is really the truth!

Just Your Imagination


I remember when I was young, I was afraid to go to sleep with the lights off because I would often hear noises that frightened me. I always thought the “boogie-man” was under my bed, but my mother would tell me that it was “just my imagination!”

Well, as it turned out, mother was right! It was, just my imagination! But, at that time, my imagination created the reality of fear in my life. So, although the “boogie-man” didn’t exist in the physical realm of my existence, he was very real in my mind! And because he was real in my mind, I exhibited the consequences of that reality in my physical world.

That is how the human mind works! Whatever we think about with intensity and emotion on a consistent basis in our minds eventually affects our physical reality. In fact, not only will it have an effect upon our reality, it will eventually become our reality. Now this works for better or for worst! We are constantly creating our “real” world in and with our imagination.

Now, in order for this to work for our benefit, we must be aware of the process and come to re-define some terms. From now on, instead of thinking of your imagination as thoughts of something that is not real, I want you to think of your imagination in terms of “the images you hold in your mind.” (If you really look at the word “imagination” you can easily see that the root word is “image.”) When we were young, we didn’t know how to control our thoughts and so our imagination would often run wild. But we must learn to harness our thoughts (the images in our minds) and think only of what we want and what would be beneficial in our lives. Most people don’t realize it, but it is possible to control your thoughts! In fact, if you want to have peace and harmony in your life, it is essential that you learn how to control your thoughts! If you don’t want something to happen; don’t think about it! Focus your thoughts on what you want; not on what you don’t want! The reason for this is because we eventually move in the direction of our thoughts and the object of our thoughts eventually make their way into our objective realities. Our minds are magnets, constantly attracting the objects of our thoughts (imaginations).

Keep that truth in mind the next time you hear someone tell you that you are just imagining things or it’s just your imagination. The images you consistently hold in your mind will eventually objectify themselves in space and time in your life! You will become what you think! So think positive thoughts! Think about what you want and not about what you don’t want! A good formula for directing your thoughts comes from the Apostle Paul who wrote to the church at Philippi in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (KJV)

Remember everything that’s tangible now was, at first, just someone’s imagination! Your present thoughts (the images you are presently consistently thinking and entertaining in your mind) are the creator of your reality. If you want to change your objective tomorrow, you must change your thoughts today because in a sense, your tomorrow is already here today; it’s just your imagination!