8 biblical personality types


I’m sure many people are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator. A similar personality analysis can be done using three biblical criteria for profiling people. These criteria are:

  1. Salvation by faith in Christ alone
  2. Obedience (living according to God’s law)
  3. Wisdom

8 biblical personality types

People can possess any combination of these three criteria and we are only complete as created human beings when we possess all three.

Salvation is by God’s grace through faith alone in the completed work of Christ on the cross. Nothing can be added or taken away from what Christ has done to turn away God’s wrath from sinners.

God’s Law is a blessing to those who meditate on it and make it their delight (Psalm 1:1-2). The law instructs people on how we should and should not live and draws people to Christ as Saviour when we fail to match its requirements.

Wisdom is the God given ability (common grace) to receive, discern and understand the structure, order and purpose of God’s world and to act appropriately in within it.

Now, the types of people who occupy each section of the venn diagram.

1. Saved by faith – the immature Christian. This sort of person has got saved out of a messy background. Loads of faith in Christ and yet no conscious obedience to the law or wisdom. The bible describes people like this, they were called the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:1).

2. Then there’s the legalists. Cold, formal, godless moralists or depressed, miserable moral failures. This sort of person is either like the self-righteous brothers on Harry Enfield…”then I said NO!” Holier than thou. Or is overwhelmed by their own inability to live up to God’s standards.

3. Capable hedonists are generally wise, they are socially well adjusted, get on well with people but have no idea about Christ and little desire to obey God’s law. They do well at work, have a good social network are respectable and well behaved when necessary but blow out at weekends.

4. Moving in to the overlapping sections of the diagram, cross salvation with the law and you get fundamentalists. They’ve got salvation and the law but no wisdom. Soap box fire and brimstone preachers and monks come to mind, but they can be more subtly disengaged from the world by being immersed in Christian sub-culture.

5. Then there’s salvation (or talk of it) and wisdom and you have the liberal. Christians who think deeply about the way the world works but are uncomfortable talking about the law, especially when it comes to sex.

6. The wise moralist is the person you’d want as a good neighbour. Easy to get along with and who would never dream of doing anything to upset his neighbours. No loud music at night or bonfires when you’ve got your washing out. The sort of person who’d run a neighbourhood watch scheme and everyone would feel safe. But God and Christ are no-where on the radar screen.

7. Then, last of all, the complete person, saved by faith in Christ alone. They are sorted with God and look forward to eternity. They know the law and seek to live it to the best of their ability. And, as they are soaked in God’s wisdom, they relate well to everyone they meet.

8. There’s one person missing. The fool. No fear of God, no wisdom and no law. A dangerous nuisance in society.

All types of people in the blue circle and possibly the orange circle will be members of church. Tracing my life I have moved from 3 (capable hedonist) to 1 (immature Christian). I then with good teaching I grew towards 7 (complete person) until sometime in Asia I was diverted to a mixed 4 (neonomian) where salvation and law got confused. I’ve managed to separate the two and am beginning to get wisdom so, by grace, should be moving toward 7 again, though I know I’ll never be complete this side of glory. As a minister, the question is, how should God’s word be ministered and applied to each personality type?

For more posts like this see Transforming Grace Venn diagram posts

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10 Responses to 8 biblical personality types

  1. sjfa says:

    Thank you for this excellent thought provoking article. I have shared it with others in our church through the Parish magazine, which includes your URL. Our magazine can also be found online and I hope you would be happy for me to upload it there as well and, of course, I will add a link to your site which also credits you.
    The 13 Christian Personality types is equally good and I hope you will agree to a reprint of that too. Many thanks for your helpful blogging!
    Shirley
    http://www.parishofwalthamstow.wordpress.com (our mag online)

    • neilrobbie says:

      Hi Shirely, welcome to TG.

      You are more than welcome to use this blog post in your parish magazine. Thank you for asking. I hope it is a blessing for many and encourages more Christ-centred living.

      Neil

  2. sjfa says:

    Many thanks, Neil. Oak Hill is not far from Walthamstow! We have had students on placement in our parish in the past 12 years.
    Blessings!
    Shirley
    Expect you will get a pingback when I eventually post.

  3. Dwaina Six says:

    I’m enjoying reading your thought-provoking posts!

  4. Amenu Daba says:

    Ok! it teaches me many things. keep it up.

  5. Paul says:

    I’m a bit concerned that you seem to imply holiness and keeping God’s Law are the same thing. What do you mean by “God’s Law”? The whole Halakha? The 613 Mitzvot? Or only some of them? Or something else?
    I agree that without holiness and wisdom one is an immature Christian, but holiness doesn’t come from the Mosaic Law. The Law provokes sin and produces frustration and death, but it cannot provide a remedy for it. The Spirit convicts people of sin and produces sanctification and life, through faith in Christ. The Spirit and not the Law leads the Christian into holiness. The problem with the fundamentalist is not that he lacks wisdom, but that he seeks to submit himself again to the Law, and willingly enslaves himself again to a system that can only bring him condemnation.

    • neilrobbie says:

      Hi Paul

      Welcome to TG and thank you for your really helpful comment. I agree with all you’ve written and will go back to my post to see where I have confused law and holiness. The legalist in this scheme is the one who seeks to keep the law and thinks that it justifies him precisely because he does not know the work of Christ by the regenerating work of His Spirit. He is either unaware of his condemnation, because he is proud, or is loaded with condemnation because he knows he can’t keep the law. That might stem from a lack of wisdom.

      Neil

  6. neilrobbie says:

    Hi Paul, I’ve changed the second category to obedience not holiness.

    Neil

  7. neilrobbie says:

    Hi Paul, I didn’t answer your question on the law. I’m preaching through the Sermon on the Mount at present and think the answer can be found there. Matthew 5:1-20 is a circular process in the light of the cross, beatitudes, salt and light, obedience to the law, standards beyond our attainment which drive us back to the cross and the first beatitude.

    When Jesus starts teaching on the law he begins with two of the ten commandments, murder and adultery, then he jumps to Leviticus on divorce. He plucks the law from here and there and magnifies it. We either conclude, as some do, that Jesus selected the bits of the law he wants us to uphold, or we conclude that he magnifies all of the law and expects his disciples to keep checking the whole OT law, magnifying it, and so always seeking their salvation in Christ whilst being refined more and more by obedience to the magnified law.

    What do you think?

    Neil

  8. Pingback: 13 Christian Personality Types « Harvest Church International

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