Now that we have a grasp on the background and purpose of personality tests, it is important that we address how these ideas intersect with our faith before attempting to integrate them into our daily lives.
Every tool is designed for a purpose. So, how do the purposes for which these personality tests were designed match up with our purpose as believers?
Our Purpose: What does the Bible tell us our goal is?
One pastor describing the Enneagram, hastily calling it “the best tool I’ve ever found, to begin the process of being real with yourself…it’s that first step into understanding ourselves.” The implication is that self-understanding is at least part of a Christian’s purpose in life. But what if the point of our lives is not to understand ourselves?
Before we start judging whether or not these personality tests are the best tool for the job, we should first ask if what if the job is one we should be pursuing.
Consider these passages:
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:14–17
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,”Romans 8:29
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control”1 Corinthians 9
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”1 Timothy 6:11-12
These verses explicitly state that our goal is to obtain and take hold of eternal life, becoming more like Christ through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. We fight to exercise self-control, discipline our bodies, control our fleshly desires, and pursue godly things. This goal, however, also implies that we have an enemy. There is something within us and something without that seeks to derail us from this purpose.
Christians are constantly under spiritual attack as temptations pull us to the left and to the right. Like the siren who draws the sailors to their death through pleasing music, the wickedness of the world calls out to the wickedness that still dwells within us. “O wretched man that I am!” says Paul. “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24–25. This being so, it is important that we use the best tools available to us to stand firm in the battle for righteousness.
Knowing how noble our goal is and how powerful our enemies, we must take great care in determining which tools we will wield in this difficult fight of faith. We should not compromise for a flimsy sword or weakened armor.
Answer: Our goal is to take hold of eternal life in Christ through the Holy Spirit, avoiding all temptation and unrighteousness.
Missional Perspective: Are These Viable Tools for Christians?
Taking together our Christian worldview and the clear purpose for believers spelled out by Scripture, we are able to discern if these personality tests can be useful to us as believers.
First, whether we use them accordingly or not, the goal of these tests is to accomplish a spiritual or evolutionary oneness of the self through awareness of our inner-workings. As believers, we know that there is no such thing as evolutionary oneness, and we do not use personality tests as a form of new-age worship in an occultic religion. Therefore, we can say with confidence that these tools are inadequate to even accomplish what the created them to do. Their end goal was not grounded in reality.
Even if these tools are proven useless when measured according to their created purpose, however, many Christians still argue that they can be commandeered for our goal as believers. It is often said that these tests give us specifics about ourselves that Scripture does not, like strengths and weaknesses, and which sins we might have more of proclivity towards. In the end, presumably, this knowledge should help us to avoid those sins to which we are most given. So then, the question becomes, “what does Scripture lack that these secular tests supply?” It’s a question of the sufficiency of Scripture.
This issue of Scripture’s sufficiency is one of the primary issues that plague modern evangelicalism. Thomas Vincent explains the effectiveness of Scripture in this way:
“(1) The Scriptures are powerful to convince, and awaken, and wound the conscience… (2) The Scriptures are powerful to convert and change the heart…(3) They are powerful to quicken men out of spiritual death and deadness…(4) They are powerful to rejoice and comfort under the deepest distresses…The Scriptures opened and applied are made effectual to produce such powerful effects as do exceed the power of nature…”
The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture, 19.
Scripture itself puts it this way:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”2 Timothy 3:16-17
Scripture equips us for every good work—including understanding what we need to know about ourselves.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”Hebrews 4:12
Which would you rather wield in a battle for your life: a questionable weapon forged by a godless system or a flawless weapon directly from our all-powerful God?
Answer: Worldly philosophies of spiritual warfare like personality tests cannot be trusted to keep us safe. The Word of God is the most effective tool for our goal.
In the third and final installment of this series we will take a closer look at our own motivations in seeking help from these tests.