by Martin and Deidre Bobgan
Personality inventories, often referred to as “tests,” are used throughout the church. They are used in Christian schools, colleges, seminaries, universities, denominations, and mission agencies. A casual survey of any of the above mentioned Christian organizations will reveal how prolifically the personality inventories are promoted and used.
Over the years we have written in opposition to the use of personality inventories by Christians. In our past writings we have warned believers about the uselessness of such instruments for understanding oneself, for selecting individuals for Christian work, for predicting future success, and even for finding one’s own spiritual path.
A recent question has come up regarding a particular and popular personality inventory and its potential effects on Christians who take it and trust in the results. While we recommend against using all personality inventories, we especially warn against using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is used promiscuously throughout the church for selecting missionary candidates and pastors, for supposedly gaining better knowledge and understanding of an individual and/or oneself and human relationships, and for discovering spiritual inclinations. The MBTI is one of the most widely used personality inventories throughout the world and probably the most trusted and used personality inventory throughout the church.
The MBTI and Carl Gustav Jung
The MBTI is based on occult psychiatrist Dr. Carl Gustav Jung’s theory of psychological types, consisting of two polar orientations (introversion and extroversion) and four cognitive functions (feeling, thinking, sensing, and intuitive). Even though looking at personality traits and how people function may appear useful, Christians need to be wary of Jung’s personality theory and any other system derived from it, such as the MBTI, because Jung’s theory of psychological types is based upon his occult-inspired psychological and religious ideas. In other words, the Jung-inspired MBTI is mistakenly used to define and understand a person’s heart and soul according to occult sources.
Jung viewed all religions as collective mythologies, not real in essence, but real in their effect on the human personality. For Jung, religion, though merely myth, was an indispensable spiritual support.1 Jung was quite familiar with Christianity, since his father was a minister. However, describing his experience with Christianity, Jung says:
Slowly I came to understand that this communion had been a fatal experience for me. It had proved hollow; more than that, it had proved to be a total loss. I knew that I would never again be able to participate in this ceremony. “Why, that is not religion at all,” I thought. “It is the absence of God; the church is a place I should not go to. It is not life which is there, but death.”2
Jung’s essential misunderstanding of Christianity, the Church, and Holy Communion carried over into his psychological theories.
From his rejection of Christianity Jung could have proceeded to deny all religions. Instead, he chose to see them all as myths, as symbolic expressions of the inner psyche. He combined this interest in religion as myth with his practice of psychoanalysis to such a degree that Viktor Von Weizsaecker declared, “C. G. Jung was the first to understand that psychoanalysis belonged in the sphere of religion.”3 Because psychoanalysis was a form of religion for Jung, he could not reject all religion without rejecting psychoanalysis itself. In presenting all religions as mythologies and fantasies, Jung debased the spirituality of man and defied the God of the Bible.
Rather than believing the Bible and following the Holy Spirit, Jung followed his own spirit guide. In Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Jung says:
Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies I held conversations with him and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I.4
Jung’s theories were thus developed while under the influence of his spirit guide, Philemon.
In his book The Jung Cult, Richard Noll has a section titled “Jung Becomes God,” in which he reveals:
Over the years (certainly by 1916) a wise old man figure named Philemon emerges who becomes Jung’s spiritual guru…. Philemon and other visionary figures insist upon their reality and reveal to Jung the foundation of his life and work. He refers on many occasions to the place where these beings live as “the land of the Dead.” These visionary experiences—Jung’s mythic confrontation with the unconscious—form the basis of the psychological theory and method he would develop in 1916.5
One cannot divorce the MBTI from Jung’s teachings or from their occult source. In fact, Dr. Jerry Wiggins says:
The validity of the MBTI can be evaluated independently of the total corpus of Jung’s writings but it cannot be fairly appraised outside the more delimited context of Jung’s theory of psychological types. As with any construct-oriented test, both the validity of the test and the validity of the theory are at issue.6
Besides the influence of Philemon, another occult influence was at play as Jung developed his psychological types. In his book Psychological Types, Jung reveals his interest in astrological types and clearly notes the relationship between astrology and the four temperaments:
From the earliest times attempts have been made to classify individuals according to types, and so to bring order into the chaos. The oldest attempts known to us were made by oriental astrologers who devised the so-called trigons of the four elements—air, water, earth, and fire. The air trigon in the horoscope consists of the three aerial signs of the zodiac, Aquarius, Gemini, Libra; the fire trigon is made up of Aries, Leo, Sagittarius. According to this age-old view, whoever is born in these trigons shares in their aerial or fiery nature and will have a corresponding temperament and fate. Closely connected with this ancient cosmological scheme is the physiological typology of antiquity, the division into four temperaments corresponding to the four humours. What was first represented by the signs of the zodiac was later expressed in the physiological language of Greek medicine, giving us the classification into the phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric, and melancholic. These are simply designations for the secretions of the body. As is well known, this typology lasted at least seventeen hundred years. As for the astrological type theory, to the astonishment of the enlightened it still remains intact today, and is even enjoying a new vogue.7
That early occult influence of astrology on Jung’s theory of personality types was passed on to the MBTI. Beverly Fodor decided to examine the relationship between the Myers-Briggs preferences and astrological factors in birth charts and says:
The purpose of the study was to identify psychological characteristics as indicated by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which relate to astrological factors in individuals’ birth charts.8
After examining the relationship between the MBTI results and birth charts, Fodor says: “The most surprising of the study’s findings is the degree to which the MBTI preferences related to the prominence of various planets.”9 In her discussion Fodor relates her results not only to the work of Jung, but also to the work of Edgar Cayce and the I Ching.
Marcia Montenegro, a former astrologer who became a Christian, reveals a Jungian astrological connection as she says:
Transpersonal Psychology, a legacy of Carl Jung and others, shaped the [astrological] chart into a tool for understanding the self as part of the whole, and how the self connects to the collective unconscious [a term coined by Jung], believed to be the common unconscious shared by all humanity.10
We interviewed a woman who is a member of the Association for Psychological Types (APT) who speaks at their conferences and is very familiar with the MBTI, having used and taught it for years. We asked her if there was a relationship between the MBTI and the four temperaments. She said there definitely was and that this is often the topic at APT conferences.
The relationship between Jung’s psychological types and the four temperaments can best be seen in the book Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates. Keirsey and Bates discuss the four temperaments, but choose to use the names of four Greek gods “whom Zeus commissioned to make man more like gods.” The gods they have selected to represent the four temperament types are Apollo, Dionysus, Prometheus, and Epimetheus. Keirsey and Bates discuss the Apollonian Temperament, the Dionysian Temperament, the Promethean Temperament, and the Epimethean Temperament.11
The Flesh or the Spirit?
Theories that underlie personality tests and inventories are not science. We have dealt with this subject in detail elsewhere and shown that such theories are merely the opinions of men.12
For example, Jung’s psychological types, comprised of an introversion/extroversion orientation and fourfold functions, are his occult-inspired opinion about the soul. The MBTI is simply a reconstruction of Jung’s theory (which is just his opinion, not science) put in test form. Every personality inventory or temperament test depends upon someone’s personal opinion. Just because someone devises a test based on Jungian personality types and uses mathematical means of validating does not mean that the theory behind it is scientific or factual. In fact it is to be avoided: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (1 Tim. 6:20-21).
The MBTI has nothing to add substantially or spiritually to the sound teaching of fundamental biblical doctrines necessary for salvation and for living the spiritual life. One does not need to discover oneself through any persona that originates from an occult spirit through an occult psychiatrist to enrich one’s life in the Lord, to know where and how to serve God, or to live a life that is pleasing to God.
By consistently turning to the Lord and His Word, a follower of Christ finds completeness in Him and confidence in the true, valid, and reliable Word of God and indwelling Holy Spirit to reveal what Christians need to know about themselves and others.
The Jung-inspired MBTI does not add to our biblical knowledge, but rather subtracts and detracts from God’s truth about each person. No one but God knows how the Jungian occult view of man may influence the Christian who takes the MBTI and believes the results. In wondering what might be the spiritual harm in taking the MBTI and believing its results, consider how the MBTI and other such inventories and personality tests appeal to the flesh. As people discover their MBTI-derived personality with its strengths and weaknesses, they can feel good about their strengths (pride) and excuse their sin. Moreover, their focus will be on the carnal nature rather than the new nature in Christ. Paul describes the difference between walking according to the Spirit and following the flesh (carnal nature):
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:5-8).
Remembering that Satan appears as an “angel of light,” one can see how Satan can use the Jungian occult, demon-inspired view of man to deceive Christians, effectively enhance the flesh (carnal nature), and thereby deter spiritual growth.
The Apostle Paul was concerned about Christians attempting to add pagan systems to their faith:
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:6-10).
Although the MBTI questions may sound reasonable, they have been chosen to fit a preconceived theoretical construct of how one may categorize a person’s nature (inner man, soul) according to a more modern, scientific-sounding version of the four humors and astrological typologies, which are simply the “philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world.”
We may notice certain natural proclivities or traits that may describe a person’s feeling, thinking, or acting at a particular moment in a particular location. However, to set them into a personality typology defines a person according to an artificial combination formed from a limited number of preferences chosen at one particular time and in one particular place, which may actually negatively influence future feeling, thinking or acting. At the least, there will be an increased focus on oneself. And, thinking about oneself according to the MBTI is in direct contrast to thinking about oneself biblically: “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Considering what the Bible says about “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) and living by the life of Christ (Gal 2:20), what truly ministers according to God’s Word: a person’s MBTI-fleshly designation or the Lord Himself through His indwelling Holy Spirit? Where should the confidence be: in Jung’s occult construct, which likely originated from Satan through an occult spirit guide, or in Christ Himself as He calls us to be yoked together with Him (Matt. 11:28-30)? The Bible clearly warns against being yoked with unbelievers in our spiritual service to the Lord and to those around us. Jung’s representation of mankind is simply a derivative of the occult world (traced back to the four humors of the ancient world and astrology as it was practiced in Babylon).
The most important truths about mankind are not found in personality tests and typologies, but rather in the Bible, which reveals: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). There is no personality test that reveals the deepest and most profound facets of mankind and at the same time the impact of faith and obedience in the heart of believers.
No personality test can be used to predict success on the mission field or in the church; and no personality test can predict who will be a criminal or Christ-like. And, no personality test can predict who will follow the Great Commandment. Furthermore, using an occult-based instrument to predict the future may actually be a modern form of divination, which was forbidden in the Old Testament. Christians need to stop relying on personality inventories that are entirely useless on the most important matters of life and godliness. Why, Oh Why?
There are many reasons why people, including Christians, are running after personality inventories. Some of the reasons are the Barnum Effect, the illusion of efficacy, illusory correlation, self-deception, self-fulfilling prophecy, illusory thinking, and what we call numerolotry.13 Although there are numerous possible reasons for the mass deceiving of Christians into using and promoting the MBTI, the worst of the reasons has to do with the popularizing of the MBTI by church leaders who have a double responsibility for protecting the sheep and are in double jeopardy for not doing so.
We recommend that anyone interested in the subject of personality inventories read The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies and Misunderstand Ourselves by Annie Murphy Paul, who is a well-known science writer who has taken a scientific look at the personality inventories, including the MBTI. We have covered some of the same ground in our books and articles. If we were writing a book titled The Cult of Personality, our subtitle would be How Personality Tests Are Leading Christians to Miseducate their Children, Mismanage Christian Organizations, and Misunderstand Themselves. In addition, our books Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing and Missions & PsychoHeresy are available as free PDF ebooks on our website (www.pamweb.org) and have much documented information regarding the history, use, and misuse of personality inventories.
1 Thomas Szasz. The Myth of Psychotherapy. Garden City: Doubleday/Anchor Press, 1978, p. 173.
2 C. G. Jung. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Aniela Jaffe, ed. Richard and Clara Winston, trans. New York: Pantheon, 1963, p. 55.
3 Viktor Von Weizsaecker. “Reminiscences of Freud and Jung,” Freud and the Twentieth Century. B. Nelson, ed. New York: Meridian, 1957, p. 72.
4 Jung, op. cit., p. 183.
5 Richard Noll. The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994, p. 209.
6 Jerry S. Wiggins, “Review of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator,” Tenth Mental Measurements Yearbook, Jane Close Conoley and Jack J. Kramer, eds. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989, p. 538.
7 C. G. Jung. Psychological Types. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971, p. 531.
8 Beverly Fodor. “Relationship Between the Myers-Briggs Type Preferences & Astrological Factors in Birth Charts,” Summary Paper, September 1991.
10 Marcia Montenegro, “Astrology,” Watchman Fellowship Profile.
11 David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates. Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Books, 1978, p. 29
12 Martin and Deidre Bobgan. Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing. Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Publishers, 1992. Martin and Deidre Bobgan. Missions & PsychoHeresy. Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Publishers, 2000.
13 Ibid., Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing, pp. 173-182.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, September-October 2016, Vol. 24, No. 5)