Your Personality Test Doesn’t Give You a Pass on the Fruit of the Spirit
We should be less focused on the personality stereotype of a test or survey and more concerned that we showcase the glory and grace of God, no matter what our inclinations may be. These tests can help us see the unique ways we can bring glory to Christ, but in the end, finding myself isn’t the goal. Following Christ is what counts.
I enjoy personality tests. Some are more helpful than others, but at their best, surveys tell you something about yourself and the people you live or work with. (I’ve discovered I’m an extrovert in a family of introverts, although the jury’s still out on our youngest!) I’m partial to the Myers-Briggs, but I’ve engaged in multiple tests over the years, at work and for fun.
The problem with personality tests, though, is we can sometimes dismiss or diminish clear biblical standards that don’t align with our self-perception.
A Christian’s Talk
Take, for instance, what James 1:19–20 says about a Christian’s talk and temperament:
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness (CSB).
In our cultural context, it’s never been easier to speak and to be heard. The internet, social media…all these new technologies have made it possible for us to say more things publicly than in any other time in human history, to the point some cultural observers wonder out loud, Is this even good for us? Should we be taking in this much information or putting out so many words? Were humans ever intended to speak so much?
Everything in our world makes it easy to speak quickly. There’s nothing out there designed to help you learn to listen well. The way stuff is set up online, the way people climb the ladder socially or professionally, the way people debate—everything is set up for speech. Say something! But Proverbs 17:27–28 says,
The one who has knowledge restrains his words,
and one who keeps a cool head is a person of understanding.
Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent—
discerning, when he seals his lips (CSB).
In other words, if you’re wise, you won’t talk as much. You’ll restrain your words. You won’t vent all your frustrations. You won’t say everything you feel.
Some will say, “Hey, I’m a talker! I’m just being real! That’s just my personality. I blurt things out. I just say stuff without thinking. It’s my Myers-Briggs. That’s my Enneagram number. Have you seen my StrengthsFinders? I’m just keeping it real.”
Sorry, but if you’re a Christian, that’s not what “keeping it real” means. James doesn’t say to be quick to listen and slow to speak unless you’re extroverted. Unless you’re talkative. Unless you have a big following on TikTok or Instagram. No, what he says goes for all of us.
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Reenchanting the WorldBy T.M. Suffield — 1 week ago
Written by T. M. Suffield |
Saturday, May 27, 2023
So much of the faith is weirder than we’re used to thinking, not just the sensational stuff like angels and Nephilim, but ‘simple’ concepts like Union with Christ. It’s the heart of the Christian view of salvation, yet I rarely hear it talked about in our churches. It’s weird, it’s enchanted, it makes us much smaller and the world much bigger—there are depths beneath your life that we cannot fathom, ‘full of mystery and hope’ as B. F. Westcott puts it.
Walter Bruggeman, in his book Interpretation and Obedience, said that:
The key pathology of our time, which seduces us all, is the reduction of the imagination, so that we are too numbed, satiated, and co-opted to do imaginative work.
We’ve lost our ability to imagine, and the world is flattened for it. The horns of Elfland are silenced, but for those who have heard them there is a hollowness to the sound of this little world, that yearns for something greater.
That yearning, that longing, is the spiritual gift of dissatisfaction, and the ground of joy. Imagination is one of the ways to get to it.
Perhaps you aren’t convinced that we’ve lost our ability to imagine, you can imagine perfectly well, thank you very much! And you can find flights of imaginative fancy cast in glorious technicolour on large and small screens everywhere you go. This is of course, true.
I could point to the two pitfalls of Hollywood at the moment: either the nostalgia trap where we remake old stories again less well or retell the stories of very recent history, or the sequel trap where the films that really make money are just the same story churned out over and over again in different configurations (here’s looking at you MCU).
At the bottom they are of course the same pathology; they’re a lack of new stories to tell. Though, to gently nuance myself, telling the same story in different configurations is an imaginative literary trope that we call ‘typology’ and is all over the Bible. I don’t think the writers of Marvel films are doing this, but you could do something that has repetitive elements with great literary artifice if you are a very skilled writer.
Bruggeman was writing before this was the case in our visual storytelling, though, and you would be able to come up with counterexamples that demonstrate originality, I’m sure. The real way we can tell we’re losing our imagination is that all the fun stuff is now confined to fiction.
Zwingli And Bullinger On Pictures Of JesusBy Grover E. Gunn — 2 years ago
Written by Grover E. Gunn |
Monday, November 22, 2021
Zwingli’s balanced moderation is especially commendable in light of the abuses against which Zwingli was reacting. The core of the popular piety in the western church shortly before the Reformation was a devotion to the cult of the saints combined with an insatiable appetite for sensuous forms of worship, especially worship through visual experiences.
Two of the Reformed champions of the second commandment and the regulative principle of worship are Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger. As a pastor at Zurich, Zwingli was the driving force behind the purging of images that were being abused as objects of worship in the city’s houses of worship. Bullinger, Zwingli’s successor at Zurich, later wrote the Second Helvetic Confession, which contains a clear and strong creedal condemnation of the idolatrous use of images in worship.
These were men of the sixteenth century. In the eighteenth century, Ralph Erskine promoted the view that every possible visible representation of Jesus in His humanity is inherently an idolatrous moral abomination. He regarded a mental image of Jesus in His humanity as a form of atheism and referred to such images as vermin. We should not assume without evidence that this eighteenth century view was shared by sixteenth century champions of the regulative principle such as Zwingli and Bullinger.
Zwingli obviously didn’t share Erskine’s view as evidenced by the following statement in his 1525 work, An Answer to Valentin Compar: “No one is forbidden from having a portrait of the humanity of Christ.” Zwingli allowed such images with two restrictions: they should never be venerated, and they should never be put in any place designated for worship. Zwingli also cautioned that everyone “who now has the image of Christ in his house should take care that he not make it into an idol; for as we have already said, with us no pictures become idols faster than those of Christ.” Notice that Zwingli warned against making such an image into an idol. He did not label all such images as inherently idolatrous or necessarily idolatrous. An Answer to Valentin Compar contains Zwingli’s most extensive treatment of images, the one that he himself referred to as his “complete opinion” (Garside 1966, 162, 171, 179).
There is further evidence of Zwingli’s view on this question in an edition of Zwingli’s treatise on the Lord’s Supper published in Zurich in 1526. In the center of the title page is a box containing the book’s title and other publication information. To the left of the box is a drawing of Israelites collecting manna in the wilderness, and to the right of the box is a drawing of Jesus feeding the five thousand in another wilderness. Above the box is a drawing of what I take to be some Israelites standing around a Passover table, and below the box is a drawing of Jesus seated at a Passover table with the twelve disciples for the Last Supper (Dyrness 2004, 59–60; Zwingli, H. 1526b). The use of these drawings on the title page may have been the decision of the printer independent of the author. Another Zurich printer printed the same work in the same year without using this artwork (Zwingli, H. 1526a). Nevertheless, the title page art found in one Zurich printer’s 1526 edition of the book is consistent with what Zwingli had written earlier about visual representations of Jesus in His humanity. Also, this book was published in Zurich, the city where Zwingli had so much influence. The only departure from the realism of a historical scene in this title page art is the aura around Jesus’ head which symbolically alluded to His deity. Symbolically alluding to Christ’s deity is not the same as trying to depict the deity of Jesus, which is invisible and indepictable.
Zwingli’s balanced moderation is especially commendable in light of the abuses against which Zwingli was reacting. The core of the popular piety in the western church shortly before the Reformation was a devotion to the cult of the saints combined with an insatiable appetite for sensuous forms of worship, especially worship through visual experiences. In the early days of the Reformation, Zwingli commented:
Have we not all thought it a sacred thing to touch these images? Why have we imprinted kisses upon them, why have we bowed the knee, why have we paid a high price merely for a view of them? (Zwingli, H. 1981, 332).
Zwingli was pastor of the Great Minster church in Zurich from 1518 until his death in 1531. When he became the pastor, the church building contained some relics and many visual representations of Jesus, apostles, martyrs, and other departed saints, including Mary, the mother of Jesus. All of these items and even ornamental decorations were removed in the cleansing in 1524. The reason for removing even decorations was that all these items had long been integral parts of a larger system of false worship with a long history. The iconoclastic cleansing of the church buildings in Zurich removed all remnants and reminders of this comprehensive religious system which had defrauded the people for so long. The greater the fraud, the greater the reaction of the victims when they discover it. Therefore, even some of the ornamental decorations had to go.
One of the criteria for selecting what to remove in the Zurich cleansing is illustrated by some comments that Zwingli made about one image that was removed and another which was not. The Great Minster building had two images of Charlemagne, the king who long before had ordered the erection of the church building. One image was an altar painting of Charlemagne in a kneeling position, and the other image was a statue of Charlemagne seated on a throne in a niche high up in an exterior tower. Zwingli explained why one was purged and the other was allowed to stay:
We have had two great Charleses: the one in the Great Minster, which was venerated like other idols, and for that reason was taken out; the other, in one of the church towers, which no one venerates, and that one was left standing, and has caused no annoyance at al (Garside 1966, 150).
The criterion for purging that is here illustrated is functional abuse. The people had venerated the image with religious connotations that was located inside the church, but they had not venerated the image with secular connotations that was located high on the church’s exterior. The one that had been abused as an object of veneration was purged, and the other was allowed to stay. Thus decisions were sometimes made based on people’s attitude toward an object and the way they treated it.
Another illustration of this functional criterion in purging images is Zwingli’s attitude toward images that were in the sanctuary windows. Zwingli expressed tolerance of these because no one tended to worship them there.
Next after these I do not think those images should be disturbed which are put into windows for the sake of decoration, provided they represent nothing base, for no one worships them there. (Zwingli, H. 1981, 337).
Zwingli, an advocate and champion of iconoclasm in the sense of purging images from places of worship, was moderate regarding some non-cultic visual representations of Jesus in His humanity. A good summary of Zwingli’s balanced views on images is found in this statement from his 1523 work, A Brief Christian Introduction:
It is clear that the images and other representations which we have in the houses of worship have caused the risk of idolatry. Therefore they should not be allowed to remain there, nor in your chambers, nor in the market-place, nor anywhere else where one does them honour. Chiefly they are not to be tolerated in the churches, for all that is in them should be worthy of our respect. If anyone desires to put historical representations on the outside of the churches, that may be allowed, so long as they do not incite to their worship. But when one begins to bow before these images and to worship them, then they are not to be tolerated anywhere in the wide world; for that is the beginning of idolatry, nay, is idolatry itself (Jackson 1901, 208; Zwingli, H. 1984, cf. 2:70–71; Garside 1966, cf. 149–50).
Zwingli was killed in battle in 1531, and he was succeeded as the religious leader of Zurich by his close friend Heinrich Bullinger. One would expect Bullinger to continue the doctrines and practices of Zwingli, the martyred pastor. There is evidence of this in the Zurich church’s policy toward music in public worship. Under Zwingli’s influence, the church at Zurich removed all music from its public worship services. The church at Zurich did not resume singing in public worship until 1598, twenty-three years after Bullinger’s death.
In his book Zwingli and the Arts, Garside argues that Bullinger continued the legacy of Zwingli. As evidence of this, Garside shows the similarity of Bullinger’s language on images in the Second Helvetic Confession to some of the language on images which Zwingli used in his Commentary on True and False Religion and in An Answer to Valentin Compar. Yet Bullinger did have some statements in his confession that some might interpret as contrary to Zwingli’s position on visual representations of Christ in His humanity:
We do therefore reject not only the idols of the Gentiles, but also the images of Christians. For although Christ took upon him man’s nature, yet he did not therefore take it that he might set forth a pattern for carvers and painters. He denied that he came ‘to destroy the law and the prophets’ (Matt. v. 17), but images are forbidden in the law and the prophets (Dent. iv. 15; Isa. xliv. 9). He denied that his bodily presence would profit the Church, but promised that he would by his Spirit be present with us forever (John xvi. 7; 2 Cor. v. 5).
Who would, then, believe that the shadow or picture of his body doth any whit benefit the godly? . . .But that men might be instructed in religion, and put in mind of heavenly things and of their own salvation, the Lord commanded to preach the Gospel (Mark xvi. 15) — not to paint and instruct the laity by pictures; he also instituted sacraments, but he nowhere appointed images (Schaff 1977, 3:836–37).
Bullinger, however, does not here directly address the limited and restricted possibilities in which Zwingli allowed for certain visual representations of Jesus in His humanity. Also, there is nothing in the above which indicates that Bullinger would disagree with Zwingli’s position, nor is there reason to believe that Zwingli would disagree with what Bullinger wrote in the above. The purpose of the incarnation certainly was not for the Theanthropos to serve as a model for engravers and painters. Nor can pictures serve as a substitute for the reading, teaching and preaching of the Scriptures. There is nothing in Bullinger’s statements above that condemns as necessarily immoral all possible mental and artistic images based on the graphic descriptions of events involving Jesus that are found in the inspired gospel accounts.
In Common Places, Peter Martyr Vermigli expressed a view of visual representations of Jesus in His humanity that is similar to Zwingli’s view:
Now, as touching those images, which resemble things created, let us see how they may be suffered, or not suffered. And first of all, Christ cometh verie well to remembrance, in that he is man, for in that respect he may be resembled, painted out. For that is not against the nature of the thing, seeing he was verie man, neither against the art of painting, which may imitate bodies (Martyr 1583, 340 2.5.10).
Peter Martyr Vermigli also read and expressed agreement with the Second Helvetic Confession. I assume that he would have qualified his agreement if he had found any of the confession’s language contradictory to his own position on visual representations of Jesus in His humanity.
Dr. Grover Gunn is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is pastor of MacDonald PCA in Collins, MS. This article is used with permission.
See also:Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 109 and Representations of Deity
Peter Martyr and the Second Commandment
Dyrness, W. A. 2004. Reformation Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Garside, C., Jr. 1966. Zwingli and the Arts. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press.
Jackson, S. M. 1901. Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland 1484–1531. Heroes of the Reformation. New York, NY, and London: The Knickerbocker Press.
Martyr, P. 1583. The Common Places of the Most Famous and Renowned Divine Doctor Peter Martyr, Divided into Foure Principall Partes: With a Large Addition of Manie Theologicall and Necessariie Discourses, Some Never Extant Before. A. Marten. London: H. Denhad and H. Middleton.
Schaff, P. 1977. The Creeds of Christendom with a History and Critical Notes in Three Volumes. Vol. 3, The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Zwingli, H. 1526a. Ein Klare under Richtung vom Nachtmal Christi. Zurich: Cristoffel Froschouer.
———. 1526b. Ein Klare underrichtung vom Nachtmal Christi. Zurich: Hans Hager.
———. 1981. Commentary on True and False Religion. Editor S. M. Jackson and C. N. Heller. Curham, NC: The Labyrinth Press.
———. 1984. Huldrych Zwingli Writings. Vol. 2, In Search of True Religion: Reformation, Pastoral and Eucharistic Writings. H. W. Pipkin. Pittsburgh Theological Monographs. Allison Park, PA: Pickwick Publications.
Salvation is Not A Matter of Being More ConvincingBy Stephen Kneale — 1 month ago
We should expect opposition to the gospel. If the same gospel preached by Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church faced opposition, why would we assume things will be any different for us? If those who will be won are drawn by God’s Spirit, it is hardly that surprising that those who will not be won will be repelled by that same Spirit. Opposition to God is inherent in all of us. We are all by nature hostile to him. It only makes sense, then, if we were not drawn by him to Christ we will necessarily be repelled by that same good news that are words of death to us. Which means opposition is inevitable.
One of the things that we consistently believe is that if we just got our arguments right, if we were just more convincing, more people would believe the gospel. Quite why we believe this, I’m not sure because the Bible is clear that it often just isn’t the case. The issue is rarely that our arguments were not as good as they might have been (even if they weren’t as good as they might have been).
One thing we see consistently in scripture – throughout the gospels, Acts and the letters – is that sometimes the same preaching that persuades in one instance leads to dissent and aggression in another (cf. Peter in Acts 2 and Stephen in Acts 7). Sometimes the same miracles that cause people to believe lead others to hate and oppose (cf. John 7:31, 12:37). Consistently, those who oppose the message begin with apparently legitimate questions of interpretation, but are really just as a means of trying to trap someone (cf. Matthew 22:15-40, Acts 6:9-10). If this fails to work, it moves on to outright lies (cf. Mark 14:56-58, 15:11, Acts 6:10-14). Soon enough, these things descend into plotting to do harm in a bid to stop this person saying the things they are saying (John 11:53, Acts 7:54-60).
We are clearly mistaken if we think the preaching of Jesus, Peter or Stephen needed to be a bit more persuasive. If we think the Lord Jesus just needed to nail his arguments better, more people would have believed, we must surely wonder how any of us could possibly say anything of any value ever! The issue in all these cases was not unpersuasive preaching or lack of familiarity with the requisite scriptures. It wasn’t even failing to understand the hearts of the people because, certainly in Jesus’ case, he knew exactly what was in their hearts. Yet, they were not won to Christ, but set against him. The sound of the same gospel that was life to some was the aroma of death to others.
Why is this the case? The bible tells us, in Jesus’ own words, ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him’ (John 6:44). Unless God is at work, no one will believe. Unless the Spirit has imparted new life, no amount of convincing arguments and gospel clarity from us will do anything about it. It is not the soundness of our arguments that draws people to Christ, but the Father at work by his Spirit. The same gospel offered with the same arguments may draw one and repel another. The drawing is not down to the arguments, but the Spirit who blows where he wills.