Biblical counselling #2 What about personality types?

Proverbial wife has a post detailing the possible links between modern concepts of 4 personality types and various things in scripture, including the presense of four gospels. Parableman is not so sure but acknowledges the intreging nature of this.

We all love taking tests and categorising ourselves. In some ways this is largely harmless and may even be of some use in our understanding ourselves, and our dominant ways of interacting with others.

This concept of personality can have some important weaknesses, however. Firstly if applied to rigidly it can actually diminish our individuality. In truth there are not four personalities out there. We may share certain attributes with another person who shares a personality label but we must never make the mistake of thinking that means we understand that person.

Thankfully there are as many personalities as there are individuals God has made. Our efforts to categorise should never serve to undervalue individuality.

Also, the very concept of personality as commonly understood today is problematic. To most, especially but not exclusively when speaking about ‘personality disorder’ a personality is an enduring disposition to act and feel in particular ways that differentiate one individual from another. These patterns of behaviour are sometimes conceptualized as different categories (see personality disorder) and sometimes as different dimensions (see extroversion, neuroticism).”

There is a strong tendancy out there to believe that personalities are largely constant and may even be strongly genetically predetermined (whilst heavily influenced by early experiences). Thus a personality cannot be changed.

In the first post in this series I asked the question what is counselling? One of the important ways in which Christian counselling should differ from some types of counselling offered by the world is in the expectation of change.

Christians need to recognise that personalities can and do change. This is the essense of the gospel and must be central to evangelical counselling. If someone uses personality as an excuse for misbehaviour (lets call it sin shal we?) then we need to challenge them to recognise the need for them to become more like Christ. The fruit of the spirit are for all of us- there may be some of them that we find come more naturally to us, but the Christian should expect the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to transform him into Christs image

2 Corinthians 3

18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[1] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

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