October 05, 2007

Christian Identity

Should we only use nice words? Should we always be positive? Two very good questions! The answers to which will vary wildly based on the personality of whom you are asking. It seems as though we as Christians are having a hard time figuring out exactly who we are supposed to be. And not just in our individual lives but in our collective lives as well. Consider:

Right now the biggest schisms in the Christian church seem to be drawn along four distinct lines:

  • Warm Fuzzies – The Emergent Church (McLaren, Pagitt, et all) and Protestant Liberalism (United Methodism, United Church Of Christ, et all)
  • Captain Truth Defenders – John MacArthur, Hank Hannegraff, Apprising Ministries, et all
  • Jerusalem CEO's – Rick Warren, Perry Noble, Andy Stanley, Bill Hybels, et all
  • Professor Know The Bible – The Reformed Church, Most Academia and Seminaries (Horton, Riddlebarger, DA Carson, et all)

You may agree or disagree with whom I have placed where but the fact remains that there are four distinct camps out there in Christianity right now. What's striking to me is the resemblance those four camps bear to the four distinct personality types common in almost every personality assessment you take. Consider Gary Smalley's personality breakdowns:

  • Dominant (Lion) = Captain Truth Defenders
  • Expressive (Otter) = Jerusalem CEO's
  • Solid (Golden Retriever) = Warm Fuzzies
  • Analytical (Beaver) = Professor Know The Bible

Is this an oversimplification? Probably. Is it pretty accurate? Yes.

So the question is: "Are you going to have a bent on how you view Christianity based on how God has wired you from a personality standpoint"?

I don't think the answer can be anything but yes. I mean we all have our default natures and how God has wired us to be. We have default emotions, moods, behaviors, words, feelings that are predominantly a product of how we are created. And while some of those are no doubt sinful. And while some of those no doubt need to be changed, they are not inherently wrong. And we will always view Scripture, the Bible, Jesus, Biblical commands, Biblical language, The Great Commission, Church, etc through the lens of how God has wired us. Our personality types will give us default modes of operating in our Christian life.

Now with that said, the problem comes when we cannot appreciate nor take the positives from the other three camps. What I mean is do Captain Truth Defenders have valid things that they are saying that need to be listened to? Absolutely! Are Jerusalem CEO's gonna feel like Captain Truth Defenders should lighten up? Of course! And you know that Professor Know The Bible is going to feel that both of them don't have a clue what they are doing because they can't tell you the exact morphology of the Greek word "phileo". Meanwhile Warm Fuzzies is just wondering why we're not all sitting down and having Starbucks together?

And the list goes on and on. Our default modes determine where we feel most comfortable. Our default modes determine how we read Scripture and the lens through which we process it. Our default modes determine the language we use, the words we choose, and the voice we speak with. It's not rocket science.

But the trick is, IMO, is to seek out the best of the all three and develop and build a little of all four default modes into you. All of us need to protect the truth, be friendly and outgoing to the world, want others on the journey with us, and know exactly what it is we are preaching to the lost world. The problem comes when we fall too far off the horse in one of the four areas and become dogmatic that our default mode is best. That's when we get ourselves into trouble.

So I'm curious…do you agree or disagree..what are your thoughts?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You forgot this camp.

The True Church Camp = The 64 million members of the Roman Catholic Church.