Do You Need to be an Extrovert to be Evangelical?

Do You Need to be an Extrovert to be Evangelical? July 15, 2016

The expiration date on the Myers Briggs personality test may have passed, but the differences between extroverts and introverts are undeniable. It is also certain that evangelical piety is no respecter of Myers Briggs. Hear Rod Dreher’s account of hanging out with evangelicals:

The ethos and the style of the meeting was very Evangelical. To be honest, that made me a little nervous, not for theological reasons, but because the Evangelical style is a poor fit for me. I don’t like to pray in public the way they do. That is, aside from liturgical or formal prayers, I keep my prayers to myself. Evangelicals don’t. That’s fine by me, but it’s not my way. I find Evangelical personalism to be off-putting.

So you can imagine how I seized up when, on the first day, members of the group were asked to introduce themselves to the others by giving their testimony (= Evangelical speak for “the story of how you came to believe in Jesus, or to discover a mature faith in Him). I would have been able to have told my story had the faculty been required to do so, but I was glad that self-disclosure in front of a group of strangers was not required. . . .

Each morning started out with a “devotional.” Don’t laugh, Evangelicals: I didn’t know what that was, and apparently neither did the two Catholics in the group, because after the first one was over, a Catholic said, “Hey, that devotional stuff is pretty good.” Then the other Catholic and I wisecracked about how different that kind of thing is from what we do in our traditions. But it was really us poking fun at ourselves, because we really had loved the devotional we had just heard. They were great all week, in fact. Who knew?

Rod goes on to admit that his encounter with evangelical piety was positive.

But I wonder what his understanding would be if he had to work in an evangelical institution and face this kind of forced intimacy every day? I know in my own experience, the piety of evangelicals drove me to my inner cold, critical Calvinism.

Aside from what evangelical piety says about personality, it’s also worth wondering what it means for living in an increasingly fractured society. Can evangelicals truly interact with non-evangelicals or people different from them when born-again Protestants wear their personal identity so prominently on their sleeve? If getting along with others means potting down your piety, can an evangelical do it?

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