Friday, August 8, 2014

More Than a Feeling: INTJ Faith

Some people who have studied personality types rank INTJs as the least likely to believe in a Higher Power or be identified as religious.

I, a self-identified Christian and person who considers herself both deeply spiritual and religious, tried to reconcile this disconnect. What is different for or about me?

Before I start listing those things that come to mind, I want to say this upfront: Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2) Whatever else I say in this post, all spiritual awakenings are to the glory of God. They are the work of the Holy Spirit and no personality type can claim they are simply better at faith or spiritual things or that God chose them because they deserved it. No one gets to boast. (Ephesians 2)

That said, here are a few reasons I think my story might be different from other INTJs:

1. My pastor (for most of my life this has also been my dad) did not over-emphasize the emotional side of faith. Some of my fellow church members were more emotional than others, but it was not required as evidence of faith.

2. I was not raised in a raucous, rowdy religious tradition. Services were orderly. "Fellowship Time" (aka greet your neighbor, shake hands, or hug) was the most awkward section of a service. (And honestly, I still don't like it, even though I understand it better now.)

3. I was taught systematic theology from an early age. When I asked questions like, "But why do we believe this?" I was given thoughtful answers, by both my parents and youth leaders. "Just because we always have," was never the default answer. ("Just because" being probably the worst response you can give an INTJ on any question.)

4. I was taught apologetics. Josh McDowell. Henry Morris. Ravi Zacharias. Lee Strobel. The evidence for and against the historical Jesus was debated and discussed.

5. My love of reading was encouraged. When I was a teenager my dad loaned me all his Francis Schaeffer books. Later, as an adult, I picked up C.S. Lewis, G.K Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers, among others. Do I believe exactly like these great men and women? No, of course not. But they are evidence not just for a risen Christ, but that learned people can believe in God, a saving Christ, and spiritual things.

6. My habit of debating was encouraged instead of squashed by my first youth director. One interesting product of this: my favorite sparring partner was my future husband. And yes, I would argue a point I didn't believe to the death, just to win an argument. (Some things never change.)

7. Back to the Holy Spirit again. Faith is a mystery. We are incapable of coming to God on our own. In His grace and mercy, God saved me according to His own will and I am forever changed and grateful for this.

Frankly, I don't know how my fellow non-religious INTJs get through life. Life is hard. It's scary. It can be incredibly lonely.

INTJs are great at imagining an incredibly realistic horrible chain of events and bad at asking for help when it comes to pass. We respect and trust very few of our fellow humans. For this INTJ, the fact that I am NOT the ultimate authority or expert is a relief.

God made me. He saved me. He loves me (yes, "just as I am").

And because of that I will serve Him and praise Him and love Him and seek His glory, not because of a feeling I have but because it would be nonsensical if I didn't.

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