Personality and Theology

Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz and other books) had an interesting blog post a few days ago – Does Your Personality Influence Your Theology? I’ve never thought of it that way, but I instantly saw that he was right – and it explains a few of my friends!

If this is valid, if our theology is in part a function of our personality, what does that mean? Firstly it would mean that God created us this way – to see the things of Him in a variety of ways. That would mean those variety of ways of seeing Him are not inherently wrong! I’m not talking about those folks who don’t accept clear truths of the Bible, but rather the variety of ways we colour what the Bible says because of our personalities.

Is it possible that we need to see Him and His word in a variety of ways because none of us has any hope of understanding Him on our own? Has He given us a variety of windows through which to view Him because no person can see more than one window’s worth? Are we all looking into the “house” of God from one of many windows? If that’s true, then what would happen if we shared what we each see? What if we got really radical and didn’t reject what others saw just because we didn’t see that? This would mean that together we could have a much better understanding of Him than we ever will by just hanging with those who have the same view we have. In fact, it would mean we can’t really know Him, and can’t really follow Him, without the input of the entire body of Christ.

On a marriage level, this might mean your wife’s view of God isn’t as skewed as you think!

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Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:


How Would You React in a Crisis?: Over at Life Gems, Lori Lowe talks about a woman who refused to take “I want a divorce” as the end. A clear head and amazing self control saved her marriage.

Is There a Case for Settling in Marriage?: Live Gems also has an interesting write up of Lori Gottlieb’s book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. When is settling compromise, and when is it wisdom?

Don’t Expect Your Spouse to Meet All Your Needs: In the past I might have disagreed with what Lori Lowe has to say about the need for a close friend beside your spouse, but now I think this is dead on. Do you have a friend you can open up to, and fully trust? If not, is that hurting your marriage?

Take back your week!: A great post on the A Private Affair Blog – check out this idea for making next week a great week for your bride.

It’s Reigning. It’s Pooring.: “God wants you and your husband having great sex. Satan, on the other hand, hates it when married couples have sex, let alone enjoy it.” Thus begins an outstanding post by Julie of Intimacy In Marriage. Sadly many of the brides who need to hear this are not going to revive it from their husband – forward it only after prayer. OTOH, if you are saying no to sex, PLEASE go read this. It might save your marriage, and it will bless your bride if you act on what is written here.
Who’s In Charge of Your Sex Life?: In a great follow up to the post listed above, Julie talks about the balance between your kids needs and the needs of your marriage bed.

Return to the Scene of the Crime!: Stu, aka The Marry Blogger has a fun idea for marriage building.

Small Steps: Stu also has a great post about starting small.
What’s Your Video for Today?
: This Marry Blogger post has a very good idea that can help a couple communicate and avoid problems. Check it out.

The Power of Decisiveness: As I skimmed through this post on Gina Parris’ Blog, this jumped out at me: “ACCURATE analysis of over 25,000 men and women who had experienced failure, disclosed the fact that LACK OF DECISION was near the head of the list of the 30 major causes of FAILURE.” That sent me back to read the post more closely. Gina’s four point plan for being more decision is excellent, and I would strongly recommend putting it into action in your marraige.

A Question of Focus: Over at Journey to Surrender, Scott discusses why he targets only Christian marriages. I agree with what Scott says, and my focus is the same as his. That said, God’s principles are valid and work for anyone, even those who don’t follow Him. I get e-mail from time to time from men who are not following Jesus who still find what I say to be helpful. Of course I pray that in that they will see Him in a different way.

5 Comments on “Personality and Theology

  1. BINGO!!!

    The only thing I would add, from my experience, is to say that, if you learn how to listen to those who are also re-sired of Jehovah, often enough we are relaying the smae truths, but in different ways.

    And for this I have concluded that, while Truth is singular in nature,(lies are plural) our experiences with Truth are plural… and as individual as we are.

  2. I don’t know, after reading Miller’s article I’m not sure you got the point. He doesn’t seem to be saying that a person’s theology is always just as valid based on their personality, but that their personality draws them to a particular theological stance, which may or may not be very valid.

    I guess I’m uncomfortable saying that a person’s personality can color their view of theology and that that’s just fine. That makes theology rather subjective, doesn’t it?

    Theology, by definition, is the study of God. Who God is isn’t defined by OUR personality, it’s defined by God himself, and he’s revealed what we need to know about him in his Word.

    Now, that’s not to say we don’t gravitate toward certain aspects of God, and if that’s what you were getting at, I can agree. But we have to be very careful about not implying that our subjective ideas about God or our experiences about God are just as valid; sometimes our experience or ideas can be totally wrong. It’s just really important that we don’t overstate the value of our subjective understandings of God.

  3. @knight_of_god – There are two sides of this. Our personality colours how we see God, and what we see of God – that can do two things. On the positive side it can help us to see things that others miss. On the negative side, it can draw us into error and heresy that others are not prone to fall for.

    In both cases, we need the input of the body at large. In the first case we can all benefit from hearing what others see that we miss. My house with many windows analogy is what I am getting at here. The window I look in is valid, but it’s not the only window, and if I only accept what I see in that window I have an incomplete and thus wrong understanding of who God is. Of course this can be difficult, especially when the two windows seem to give us contradictory information. If my window is into the Justice of God, while your window is into the Grace of God, we may each think that the other is wrong, because that is not the God we know. However, the Bible talks about both God’s grace and justice of God, and we need to accept both to have any hope of understanding God’s nature.

    On the other side, if someone is tempted into error, their personality and other factors will determine what error they will fall into. The “grace” person will fall into “Nothing really matters, God loves you so much He will always forgive, and really, everyone is saved no matter what they do.” On the other hand, the justice person will fall into extreme legalism. Here the body can balance and correct, so that neither error occurs. If you look at history, you find times when some error has become dominant – to the point that certain truths were rejected and called deception. Times of extreme legalism, for example. All of these hurt a lot of people, hurt our ability to reach the lost, and left a wound on the body of Christ.

    You said “Who God is isn’t defined by OUR personality, it’s defined by God himself, and he’s revealed what we need to know about him in his Word.” I agree with you, but I find that no one person can grasp the fullness of who God is. My argument is that this is why we are a body, and why we need the whole body. If I, an eye, say I do not need what the ear knows, or do not need to do what the foot does, I am wrong. I need the rest of the body, what it knows, and what it does. The body as a whole is the bride of Christ, and we need the whole body.

    As to Millers point, yes, I went another direction. I took his starting point and ran with it a different way. I did appreciate his comments about those who are focused – I’d say way to focused, on the “end times”. I know folks like that – so sure and so devoted to the idea that the tribulation (or the rapture) will occur in the next few years, that they are really no good to anyone.

  4. Thanks for fleshing out what you were trying to say, Paul. I would agree with you, then.

    I suppose my initial reaction was based partly on your house with many windows analogy: I just heard a Unitarian Universalist use that same analogy to describe how she sees all faiths as different views into who God is, a statement that goes well beyond the truth.

    Experience and personality must be guided by the truth, not the other way around.

    Perhaps my personality just makes me more prone to being suspicious of subjectivism ;).

  5. @knight_of_god – I am most certainly not a Universalist – far from it! I know that all paths do not lead to God – and all windows don’t look in on God. However, I also know that we see only in part, and I suspect that we do not all see the same part. When I say “we” I mean those who are trying to follow the Jesus of the Bible, not all who seek some “higher power” and not all who claim to be Christian.

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