Have you ever taken a personality test, have you ever wondered if it was skewed or wrong because you simply wanted to be a certain way and answered the questions in a deceitful manner. How do you know who you really are? As I reflect more on my own sin in my own life, it makes me more suspect to personality tests. Now, let me just say I am a huge fan of tests like the Myers-Briggs and the DiSC profile, or strengths finder. These tests have been extremely helpful in allowing me to asses myself, but what have I assessed? What the Spirit has been probing in my heart is the level of self-deception that I operate from at all levels of life. To some degree or another we have all tried desperately in our sin to project in ourselves a way of coping with that sin that is utterly sinful. What do I mean by this? Let’s say we had a few bad experiences in life that caused us trauma (who hasn’t?), and what we did in that moment was retreat to our bedroom and found escape form a noisy home that was full of anger. What you then did was learn that if you avoid people at some level you can re-charge and gather yourself, becoming an introvert, and also alienating yourself from loving relationships with others. On the other hand, lets say you grew up in a home and there was extreme amounts of uncertainty, to the point that you found by stepping up and being more social and extroverted you could manipulate the situation to get what you want and have now used others for your own gain rather than loving and caring for them.
You see, at some level we came into this world sinful, and developed sinful habits based upon our reaction to the sin in our lives. If we are proud that we are extraverts and accept that, we may have a predisposition to cast and image of ourselves in that way (imagination), believing that we are that way and answer questions on personality tests like so because our sinful habits find that comforting. But what we are really longing for is more introversion or possibly extroversion. However, if we begin by asking not, “what is my personality?”, but “what is it to be in the image of God?” our entire self-projection is brought into question. We have to begin asking why we are projecting ourselves a certain way, what self-gain do we have in mind, where are we more self-centered rather than Christ centered? Where have we rejected God and decided to save ourselves, rather than seeing our sin and how he saved us form it.
If we start from looking at what it is to be in the image of God rather than what personality we are, I believe two things will come form these personality tests. 1) They will expose more of our sin and how we have coped with hurt in our lives rather than exposing our man made image, and 2) We will then begin to see where we maybe longing for more introversion to correct the habits that coped in a selfish extroversion manner, and we will begin to see where we may be longing for more extroversion to correct the habits that coped in a selfish introversion manner, exposing our need for our identity as being made in God’s image.
The result is not conforming to or accepting our weaknesses as extraverts or introverts, but aligning our weaknesses to Christ to see where we must learn to turn from our sinful habits and do the opposite. The Christian life should be an extroverted life that seeks to confront others in a loving robust social engagement, but at the same time retreat to allow God to search our hearts and expose where we maybe sinful and need to repent. What we need is a healthy balance of introversion and extroversion! Loving engagement with others and self-retreat to reflect upon that relational engagement with God in prayer.
Think about Jesus’ ministry in the gospel of Mark. He continually engaged people in an extroverted way, yet all throughout the Gospel he retreats to be with God alone. Where can our Myers’s Briggs and personality tests be flawed in a self-thinking that our identifies our strengths as our weaknesses, and our weaknesses as our strengths? Only honest reflection upon our sinful nature in light of being in the image of God will be able to expose such idolatry. In sum, we may find that these personality tests teach us more about our sin rather than our created image (man made or God made?) The next question and more appropriate question, “is how can God work all things for the good and in redeeming our self-centered coping mechanisms to use them as strengths in order to relate to introverts or extroverts, depending on which one we pre-programmed ourselves in sin?”
The term “evangelical” has become a catch all for those who have refrained from going off toward the liberal path and becoming, “unorthodox.” But when one looks more intently at the nature of evangelicalism, “or” the face of those who claim to be evangelical, the diversity is as deep as it is wide. Within evangelicalism there is another sect of Christianity that is called fundamentalism. Now, before we get too mixed up lets clarify what fundamentalism is: fundamentalism is when Christians place the object (or center) of their belief in their own interpretation of scripture rather than in a dynamic relationship with God as he encounters us through the trinity in revelation. It seeks fundamentals that can be known to the interpreter by his own rational interpretation of the text. Fundamentalism suffers from an individualistic mindset that does not enter into dialogue with the nature of interpretation. Instead of seeing the more clear parts of scripture in light of the unclear, accepting that there is some unclear parts of scripture. They would rather hold that all scripture is clear. Furthermore, scripture is so clear that their interpretation is right over and against yours (this can be called, interpretive “pride”).
Philosophically speaking, fundamentalism’s stance is a “subjective” orientation that is consumed in ones own interpretation. However, in the trinity we meet an “other”, an “object”, a relationship of love that is not consumed in oneself. In this encounter we embrace the unclear interpretations and continually move forward prostrating a state of humility in the nature of interpretation. This philosophical speaking is an, “objective” orientation, being consumed in the “other” and not oneself. Acknowledging the relational nature of interpretation as the Holy Spirit is working with the Word. Therefore, in humility we admit that we must always come back to the text and see how the Spirit may illuminate the text further, exposing where we must reform. This creates interpretive humility, and does not carry with it the legalistic traits that come along with fundamentalism. When this is embraced we must learn that at times we need to revisit our doctrinal statements, and in a spirit of humility pray that we can see him more clearly. In this a non-fundamentalist in the life of the trinity that embodies loving dialogue rather than judgmental quarrels. Unfortunately, many non-Christians, or ex-christians, assume that all evangelicals are not loving and only judgmental. In other words many assume that all evangelicals are fundamentalists.
The above exposes the difference between a fundamentalist and a non-fundamentalist. But the troubling thing is that both camps take the same title, “evangelical”. Furthermore, some of “evangelicals” do not even know, or are not self-aware enough to realize, whether they are one or the other. This begs the question: do we need another category, or modifier on the term evangelical to further clarify where someone stands in this debate? Now it would seem silly to outright reject the term evangelical, since by its nature in its foundation in scripture it means “good news.” We cannot turn from a title in scripture that God has laid upon us that shapes who we are in being a missional people. So if we are deciding not to turn from the title, “evangelical” then what modifier shall we put on it to put forward the notion that we are in fact not fundamentalists? Some have chosen to call themselves post-evangelical, but what the heck does that mean? That they are post, or past, being a missional people, then what are you? Non-missional, are you past the good news? This does not make sense, for by the very nature of the word, and our co-mission in scripture, we are to be evangelical, but what sort of evangelical? What can we give to this title as a modifier in order to help clarify that we are not fundamentalists? Can we help the fundamentalists see that we are different? Can we help clarify to those who hate fundamentalists see that even though we are evangelical we are not fundamentalists. It might seem silly to argue about titles and words, but this is how people see us, these terms carry weight and definition. So can we define evangelicalism further with a possible modifier to the word in order to clarify who we are as non-fundamentalist evangelicals?
One of my best friends Steve Bohannon and his wife April Bohannon have been battling brain cancer from the time they got married. In 2009 April had a re-occurrence of Brain Cancer that they thought was gone. April has been out of work for two years, leaving Steve to share most of the financial weight. Steve is a Seminary grad from Westminster Theological Seminary, who aspired to do PhD. work in the New Testament, but all that has been on hold since the cancer. Steve has not only not been able to do a PhD., but with April out of work, he has had to help with the financial load, which is unbearable with the medical bills. If you are moved to give please go to this link and contribute: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-for-the-bohannons/59279
Steve and April write:
“As most of you know, since 2003 I’ve been fighting brain cancer. Ever since 2009, I have had four occurrences, all of which I have beaten. I was just diagnosed with another occurrence last week, which means that I will be continuing on treatments in the upcoming months. My insurance is currently through COBRA, which is a major financial strain on my husband and I. We have received help from friends and our church to get through this past year’s payments, but we are hoping to raise funds to get through the upcoming months, until September, even as we both continue to seek out another avenue for insurance. In the meantime, would you consider helping us cover the cost of insurance payments and medical treatments through September? Thanks to so many of you who have helped us get through these past years and to those who will continue helping in the future.”
PLEASE NOTE: If you are more comfortable donating to a charitable fund using personal check rather than the internet, please send tax-deductible donations to Steve’s parents’ church at:
Old Fort Baptist Church
10505 Dorchester Road
Summerville, SC 29485
Please include a note that your contribution is for the Bohannon Medical Fund.
Steve & April