I want to move back to a discussion of thinking through a theology of transformational change by integrating theology and emerging science. In my research, I observed through the writings of Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, particularly in his book “The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life that our emotions receive sensory information first and can literally hijack us, what Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman termed the “emotional hijack”. Research into the mind and communication gave me a better understanding of the importance of all of this.
I want to begin disseminating some of my research over the past two years. I have been focusing on the integration of emerging sciences and scripture to develop a theology of transformational change. What I find wonderfully interesting is that in this area, science and theology play nice. The neurosciences fit well with much of scripture. The area of emotional intelligence flows well with scripture. Generational sin is found in scripture. Communication science plays well with scripture.
I want begin by discussing my last paper and talk about designing communication environments. And I want to begin this discussion by describing how we construct reality.
If the following from my previous post in this series is true, then an acknowledgment must be made about how we construct theology:
What we ¢â‚¬Å“see¢â‚¬ in the world, then, is really a function of our brain, an image that integrates past experiences, memory, cultural learning and other multi-sensory information. What a person perceives or sees is not the world. It is actually a prediction of what should be in the world based on what a person has experienced. This prediction is constantly tested by action. (1)
We must understand that our theology is culturally constructed. Culture provides framing, which in sociological and communication terms is a schema for determining interpretation and how we make meaning out of life. For instance, among those in the LDS sect recently raided in Texas, many were born into that sect. Marriage, for them, is framed in a specific way and it has meaning outside of what the rest of the country would have for marriage. Church for a neo-landmark Baptist from rural Kentucky or Texas has a different meaning than for most Baptists.
Within culture, people are devoting less and less time to community events, relationships and church gatherings.‚ Ministers in many settings have only the Sunday morning gathering to create an environment for the timeless truth of God to be made real in the life of a person.‚ Despite the reality that it is ultimately the responsibility of the Spirit to bring change in the life of a person, churches need to develop worship gatherings where the environment is effectively designed for the transmission of the life-changing message of the Cross.‚ Doing so requires an understanding of how the mind processes information and how to design environments for communication.
The majority of texts on preaching deal more with structure and form in preparation and delivery of the sermon rather than teaching future preachers communication theory as well as helping them understand how meaning, reality, and language are developed and interpreted.‚ The course of action within many seminaries is to teach the construction of sermons, not to communicate with the group they are addressing.‚ ¢â‚¬Å“We are teaching people how to put together sermons, not to communicate,¢â‚¬ noted one professor of preaching.
As less and less time is given by people to the gathering of the church and the communication of the Word of God, more and more emphasis needs to be given to the act of communication itself.‚ Communicators need to understand how a person constructs reality, understanding language and how those are important to the change process.‚ ‚ Preaching and communicating in a church or worship setting in not simply a matter of a stylistic or formulaic development of a talk, but integrating the message of God to a specific group of people who understand and see life and reality in specific ways.‚ Communication thus requires understanding the context so that not only does communication take place, but when it does that it does not inhibit or deter the work of the Spirit in addressing behavioral issues which need to be changed.
The master communicator in all of history is a part of the Godhead himself, namely Jesus Christ.‚ If he was the master communicator, and the creator and sustainer of all things, then a reasonable understanding of his communication practices should also be addressed.‚ His words and communication elements, intersected with the power of the Holy Spirit, have brought about the transformation of the masses.
Combining and understanding of all of these will allow the communicator to make the best use of his time to communicate in a meaningful way and create an environment where the Spirit can integrate the message from the messenger and the timeless truth of the Gospel to see behavioral change in the lives of people.
 This is an observation based on a perusal of more than thirty texts on preaching from my own library.
 Email conversation with Dr. Argile Smith, then Professor of Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 2001.
 See Colossians 1:15-20.