December 24, 2008

The Christmas Story according to John

Many believe that there are only two tellings of the Christmas story in Scripture: Luke 3, and Matthew 1-2. But there is a third telling: John chapter one.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him as life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. -John 1:1-17

I do not want to take away from the greatness of the other Christmas stories in Scripture, but this is my favorite out of the three, and it saddens me that it is often forgotten. It may not give historical details of his birth, but it says most clearly the heart of why we celebrate on Christmas.

The focus of Christmas isn't that Jesus was once born. I have often asked people why Christmas is important and they answer is that it needed to have happened for Jesus to get to Calvary. Well, that is true, but there were a great number of things that needed to happen for that, and we don't celebrate them all.

The reason we celebrate Christmas is the reason that John gives: The Word of God became flesh. That the light of God came to men. That the Holy God thought it good to come down to Earth and get His hands dirty with our mess. That is something worthy to celebrate.

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him as life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

It is very important to contemplate what John means by the word. The brilliance of it though, is that John means a great many things by the Word. But I believe that its primary meaning is to tell us the primary aspect of the economy of the 2nd person of the Trinity: He is God's self-disclosure to humanity. He is what God has "said" about Himself, and the source of our understanding of Him.

This says a many things about the Word. The Word existed at the beginning of things. The Word was God's means of creating the world. That the Word is distinct from God, but is yet God Himself (hence Trinity).

It also says that the Word is the source of life and light to humanity. Light is a major theme in John's gospel, introduced here. For now, he speaks merely of its strength, and how it can overcome darkness. Like the term "word", light here refers not the concept of goodness, but to the concept of revelation. The light reveals the things in the dark. John will describe this in more detail later.

John 1:6-8

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The introduction of John the Baptist is a curious addition to the story. Its introduction here is to deal with a common Jewish theory of the time that the Baptist was the Messiah. Here the Apostle dispels that theory, and claims that it was the Baptist's purpose to point to the Light. The other reason has to do with the Apostle's claim that the Baptist himself was sent by God, and to dispel any erroneous thoughts that might suggest. However, this also serves as an introduction to John himself, whose role in coming of Christ will later be revealed.

John 1:9-13

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Here is where John goes into more detail about the light. Again, by enlighten it means reveals things. This light came into the world that rejected and hated Him, and was even hated by His own people. But He came anyway, knowing this out of love so that we may become children of God. Those who become children are those that receive Him, those that believe in His name. Even here we have the NT emphasis that salvation isn't just to the Jews, but to any who may believe. Salvation does not merely come to those who it is "supposed to come", but it comes to whoever may believe for God is no respecter of persons.

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And this is what makes this the Christmas story. This is the celebration of Christmas: that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He ate like us, bathed like us, defecated like us, smelled and spoke and walked like us. And now we can know the who God is, because we have witnessed the Son and have seen His glory.

However, John's point here of having seen the glory of the Son is to testify that Yeshua truly is the Son of God. John knows that He is the Son of God, for John has indeed seen his glory, he is an eyewitness to the Word, and therefore we know this testimony that he is setting forth is true.

John 1:15-17
John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Bearing speaking again of the Baptist gives further proof to John's testimony.

But what is most interesting is the comparison between Moses and Yeshua. The gospel of John is very Jewish, and one of his concerns is to understanding the coming of the Son of God in light of the first century Jewish world view. How he, and the other apostles I might add, do this is by recognizing that in Moses we have been given the Law, the an understanding of righteousness and God's justice. But in Yeshua the Christ we God graciousness and the fullness of God's mind. For though God is far above us and we cannot see Him, He has made Himself known to us through Yeshua the Christ!

For this reason I say Merry Christmas, and to challenge you to take the time and think about what it means for the Word to become flesh, for the true God of glory to come to us, even when we were yet sinners, knowing full well what the end of His time on Earth would bring.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

December 18, 2008


I must apologize. This was truly the wrong season to commit myself to a series as important and intricate as explaining my reasons for being Arminian. I have found the detail and time required for each post has been much more than I had anticipated. Therefore, I am postponing the conclusion of the series until after the holidays so that I can be free to write a few other thoughts.

So that you know my plans for it, I have 2 or 3 more posts that I am planning on writing. The next post is dealing with the theological differences between Arminianism and Calvinism. After that I will be treating some Scripture texts. This I may or may not divide into to parts. It would depend on the length of the post when I get there.

When I am ready to continue, I will renew the two posts that I have already written, and post the third. I look forward to hearing some of your thoughts on these matters, and I promise you the series will continue.

December 11, 2008

Why I Am An Arminian
Part II: Calvinists


Considering that I have always been an Arminian, deciding between Arminianism and Calvinism was a matter of whether or not Calvinism challenged my own beliefs enough for me to lose my trust in them. They could do this through biblical evidence, theological argument, and/or demonstration of good fruit. Needless to say, this never happened.

I'm going to examine each of these in turn, but right now, I am going to focus on fruit. According to Scripture, we know what is Christian by its fruit, the most basic fruit being love. Now love is not understood as some sappy idea where you are nice to everybody. Love is a matter of priority: do you prioritize others above yourself. Most Calvinists I meet certainly lack this.

Now, I want to be fair here. There are a lot of Calvinists that exist out there that bear all of the true fruits of the Spirit. I've even met a couple. However, there currently is a movement, now called the Calvinist Resurgence, which manages to create some of the poorest Christians one could imagine. The main reason I have fully embraced the label of Arminianism is to oppose this group who I believe to be undermining the integrity of the gospel and Christian truth.

Calvinist Resurgence

[What follows is an extrapolation of my thoughts expressed in this article I submitted to SEA: Personal belief as to the reasons of the Calvinist resurgence]

My opinion and thesis is that the Calvinist Resurgence is basically a backlash to the Postmodern Movement. What is the Postmodern Movement? Excellent question.

Well, no one really knows. The postmodern movement is a negatively defined stance, and like all negatively defined stances, it lacks something to stand on.

By negatively defined, I mean it defines itself by what it is not, i.e. it is not modernism. Modernism itself began with the Enlightenment which believed in the omnicompentence of human reason, as well as a strong expectation of progress. Ancients were seen as inferior, and they believed that we are progressing to a greater state of life. However, the various atrocities of the 20th century modernist philosophies have shaken the West's confidence in this world view. The result is what is known as postmodernity.

Postmodernity can be seen as essentially an overall attitude stemming directly from the rejection of modernity's main points. The result of this that I believe is most pertinent to the conversation is the rejection of a cultural epistemological standard.

Epistemology is the study of understanding. It deals with such things as how we determine truth, and what are the standards upon which we sort out fallacy and what do we mean by 'truth'. Our present culture lacks any epistemological cohesion. In modernity they relied on reason; in the ancient world they relied on revelation. Today, we rely on personal opinion, which is hardly a standard at all. Indeed, the less systematized, the less authoritative, the less orthodox an idea is, and the more personally it is expressed, the more legitimate it sounds to the postmodern ears. Ancient heretics are seen as open-minded thinkers, and flash and pomp mean more than substance.

There is a backlash going on in this culture attempting to reestablish past epistemological norms, though they would hardly phrase it like that. They see themselves as the last champions of orthodoxy at Thermopylae, standing the tide of heretics, gluttons, and liberals who are tearing the world apart. However, it is this "world" that they are protecting. They are trying to fix the damage already done, and return things to the old order so to speak. However, this backlash is just as much of a smorgasbord as postmodernity itself, since different groups see the "old order" differently.

I believe one of these groups see the "old order" to be protected as Calvinist theology. They somehow believe the Reformation put the world in order, and ever since then liberals have been driving it apart. I might add that they don't tend to see the difference between a liberal and a postmodern, meaning that they often see themselves as fundamentalist. Indeed, they really are fundamentalist in attitude, doctrine, and politics. Whether or not this is a slow transference of fundamentalism opposing liberalism to opposing postliberalism, or whether or not it is a reaction against postmodernity which is absorbing fundamentalism is beyond my capacity to speculate. I would say though that this particular group's reliance on Calvinism is tied to postmodernity's loss of epistemological standards.

This group neither represents Calvinism historically, nor Calvinism proper, but I do believe it represents most Calvinists we see on the net, including James White, Reformed Mafia, and Pyromaniacs. My thesis is that most of the attitudes that we find distasteful are a result of the combination of Calvinism with their reactionary position towards what is going on in the world.

Apologetic Theology

By apologetic theology, I mean that they develop their understanding of God and the world based off of what works the best in debate. Indeed, I would argue that it is the cause of their devotion of Calvinism, rather than a result from it. However, there are a lot of new Calvinism ideas (that are considered to be the traditional Calvinist view by these people) for exactly this reason. Compatiblism comes readily to mind. Another is regeneration before salvation, along with its "dead man" analogy.

Again, we return to a lack of epistemology. Truth is what is the most convincing. Therefore, since they were convinced by these ideas, they are truth. They do not truly understand the ideas, they just know that they find them convincing, and parrot them back against the "enemy"


Recently on the Ben Witherington blog, Ben put up a post expressing John Piper's opinions regarding the elitism of certain Calvinists. I only reference so that you may compare them with my own, for I disagree with him considerably, but have respect for the man so I offer him as a second opinion.

By elitism, what I mean is an attitude that considers one to have the high ground. To them, it is our responsibility to convince them, and if they remain unconvinced, then we have been "defeated". As long as their system survives, they are victorious. In other words, they don't really have to prove anything.

Many of my Arminian brothers have speculated that this elitism that we see is a natural result of a caste system consisting of the reprobate and elect inherit to Calvinist theology. I disagree, though I do think this caste system is a reasonable conclusion from Calvinism.

The elitism is drawn from several factors, the greatest of which is the erroneous presupposition that Calvinism is the default Evangelical, if not Christian, position. I don't really know where this particular presupposition comes from, but I do believe that it is connected to the need of an epistemology. Without a unifying epistemology, each person is forced to create for themselves their own standards of truth. Calvinism offers this, providing a framework of understanding which is easily grasped (this is not a negative). The result is the person judges new information based off of this framework making it impossible to turn around and judge the framework itself.

The militant nature of the movement is also tied to this. Remember we are dealing with a kind of fundamentalist here. This is a group of people who are also angry at the changing cultural tides, whether they see them as liberal or recognize them as postmodern. Regardless, they cast those accepting these cultural changes as the enemy, creating an us/them mentality.

This mentality combines with Calvinism much like baking soda and vinegar. The us/them attitude is casted in elect/reprobate rhetoric and theology. Their hatred of the enemy becomes justified through God's hatred of the reprobate. They use this to justify their anger and behavior. Casting God as vindictive justifies their vindictiveness.

Apologetics Over Evangelism

There is nothing wrong with Apologetics. Each of us is gifted differently, and some of us are more gifted in the area of apologetics than in the area of evangelism. I am included in this, since I am more of a theologian than anything else.

However, these people seem to be dramatically drawn to apologetics, mostly because the foundation of their whole worldview is based on an opposition to certain ideas. They want to defeat what they see as liberalism, which eventually develops into any false Christian perspective. Therefore, they care more about converting "false Christians" than converting non-Christians.

Some of this isn't bad when applied to groups like Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses. But when it gets extended to actual Christian groups, like Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and, of course, Arminians, they end up wasting their energy sheep stealing.

Pragmatic Hermeneutic

Similar to apologetic theology, pragmatic hermeneutics is tied to usefulness in debate. However, here instead of ideas, I'm referring to methodology. There are a couple of examples of this:

  1. The Machine Gun Hermeneutic
  2. Lack of contextual understanding (like knowing Romans 9:9-24 but being ignorant of Romans 9:7-8)
  3. Focus on verses instead of books
  4. Favorite memory verses.

All of those go hand in hand but are slightly different. The fourth isn't really a negative thing, except when joined with the other three issues. The point of all of this, is that Scripture is a tool which they use to prove their point, rather than what they use to shape their opinion. Indeed, there is an assumption that their opinion is already formed from Scripture. After all, their teacher knew a lot of Scriptures...

This is mostly tied to their militant nature. All fundamentalists do this. They claim that their belief in Scriptural inerrancy is giving authority to Scripture (which itself is tied to their rejection of liberalism), but in reality, it is granting their opinions inerrancy since they are "derived" from Scripture. Though I have no problem affirming that there are no mistakes in Scripture, I do not grant my interpretation of it the same respect.


This is the bit that I had the most difficulty is writing. Due to the complex relationship of fundamentalism with liberalism/postmodernity, they have a kind of love/hate relationship with reason.

Liberalism is, in essence, the acceptance of Enlightenment epistemology as the norm of the church. Fundamentalism fighting against this movement not only rejects this claim, but also bases their own arguments on Enlightenment epistemology in an attempt to combat liberals. The result is that Enlightenment epistemology crept into the Fundamentalist perspective anyway, often creating objective irrational arguments.

When Postmodernity came along, and started rejecting Enlightenment epistemology, fundamentalists made a fatal mistake: they equated postmodernity with liberalism. The result is that now they think that liberals are the ones rejecting Enlightenment epistemology, and that it is the fundamentalist's job to defend it. Combine this with the still present inherit hatred of the liberal arguments and positions in the past, as well as commitment to the authority of revelation over human reason, and you have one really messed up epistemology.

Enter Van Til. Cornelius Van Til was an apologist in the mid 20th century who first proposed what is known as "presuppositional apologetics". Without getting into details, part of the theory is that the highest goal of a philosophical/theological position is consistency. Anyone who has entered the fray with these Calvinist fundamentalists have heard of the world "consistent" before. Indeed, Van Til himself was a Calvinist.

This whole position creates an excellent resource when dealing with a culture that lacks epistemology. When accepted a person can sort through all of the conflicting opinions with this rule of consistency as a guide. However, since no one person can possibly grasp all of the various implications of all philosophical systems around them, the result is that the person will be attracted to theologies that are an easily presentable interlocking system. Naturally, 5-point Calvinism becomes very attractive.

This has an unfortunate consequence. In my experience, those that appeal to Calvinism's inner-consistency are often really poor judges of inner-consistency of other systems. I have found that Arminianism often fails the "inner-consistency" rule by failing to be consistent with Calvinist presuppositions. This is because, to some degree, Calvinism is becoming the basis of these people's epistemology. Personally, Arminianism is not the foundation of my epistemology. Instead the Incarnation is. However, for this group, Calvinism is absolutely their epistemology, adding to the elitism already mentioned.

Pathos-based Rhetoric

In formal rhetoric, there are three factors which are considered to enter into convincing a person. They are logos (Greek for word or reason, referring to the soundness of an argument, or it's logical coherence), pathos (Greek for emotion, referring to the passions aroused in the audience), and ethos (Greek for ethic or character, referring to the projected character of the speaker for the sake of creating trust). Therefore, by pathos-based rhetoric, I mean that they tend to use emotional arguments, and are often rather emotional themselves.

Now this isn't entirely bad, except that they absolutely fail in the area of ethos. There's some logos there, I admit, but very little ethos, if any at all. This is, of course, a result of the elitism.

I brought this attribute up last because it ties back into the title of this series: Why I am an Arminian. Because I started as an Arminian, I am in part an Arminian because Calvinists failed to convince me otherwise. They failed to convince me otherwise because of the shear lack of character displayed by the Calvinists I met. I didn't trust them enough to really listen to them.

You may ask how this isn't elitism, since I am demanding the Calvinist convince me instead of allowing both sides to stand on equal ground. The difference is that here we are dealing with my own heart, rather than a public discussion. In a public discussion, I don't insist that all I have to do is disprove the other side's arguments. But when it comes to my own heart, I'm not going to change my mind on something unless I am convinced otherwise.

But, these Calvinists didn't even cause me to doubt my position. If anything, they bolstered by displaying the fruits of the world rather than the Spirit. It is rather unfortunate actually, because if they merely showed me kindness, they may have convinced me back then. Now, I am not so ignorant about Arminianism itself. This is not why I reject Calvinism now, but it was why I didn't even consider it back then.

December 5, 2008

Why I Am An Arminian
Part I: History

Finding Scotia

I grew up in a village called Scotia. When I was a child, all I really knew was my home, my school, and some sites from my car. I knew my home was located in Scotia, but I didn't really know what Scotia was like, or where it was.

Soon, I got my first bicycle. I began to ride through the streets, learning the street names, the sites, and the feel of the village. As I grew, I became more and more familiar with my surroundings, and I developed a greater appreciation for my home.

When I became a teenager, I started to learn the area around Scotia. I understood where it was in relation to the various towns around me. Slowly I developed a better sense of where my home really was.

Finding Arminianism

For me, discovering Arminianism was much like discovering Scotia. I didn't grow up in a Calvinist church, or was converted to Calvinism when I came to Christ. Nor was I raised in a Semi-Pelagian Church thinking that is was Arminian. My church was legitimately Arminian; I just didn't know that is what it was called. Calvinism was just this ancient heresy that I had heard about once or twice, but never really gave it much mind.

Then in college, I remember being told that a band that I listened to was Calvinist. I was shocked. I did not suddenly think they were bad or anything. I was just shocked that it was still around. I then got involved with an on-line debate site called which is run by a Calvinist. I wasn't really that concerned with the topic though, I was more concerned with talking to atheists and cult members.

As time went on, I became more and more frustrated with the Calvinists at carm. I knew they weren't all bad; I liked the guy who ran the site for instance. But I found I had to keep cleaning up their messes. The Calvinists were pushy, rude, and were giving Christianity a bad name. So, I began to ask them questions.

I found that what I believed in was called "Arminianism". I had never heard the term before. However, when they tried to explain Arminianism to me, it never sounded like what I believed in. When I described what I believed, they assured me that I was Arminian, but "one of the good ones". This somewhat disturbed me since many of their descriptions of "other Arminians" were clearly unbiblical. So I began to investigate.

By this time I was in seminary, and to understand things better I took a course about Arminianism and Calvinism (taught by an Augustianian Catholic. I had a very fun seminary). I was hoping that if I understood the two systems better, and test my own beliefs.

From seminary, I learned that what the Calvinists were describing as Arminianism wasn't Arminianism at all. It was called Semi-Pelagianism. Ancient Arminianism was actually referred to as Semi-Augustianism. Furthermore, I learned that the Synod of Dordt (which they claimed was a significant historical document backing up their claim to orthodoxy) was a local council with little authority. I also learned the teachings of Arminius himself, as well as John Wesley. In these two men, I found not only clear wisdom and piety, but true devotion to Scripture.

Defending Arminianism

From all of this, I was greatly disturbed at the slander and libel that I was encountering on-line. Calvinists were constantly equating Arminianism with Semi-Pelagianism, while occasionally equating it with every other heresy ever conceived. Most of these were deceived, but behind it all were many deceivers.

I accepted the label and began defending Arminianism, not because I wanted to label myself, not because I am so committed to Arminius, and not because I hate Calvinism itself. It is simply because these particular people there are using Calvinism for their own ends are damaging the name of Christ and need to be opposed. I've never seen myself in opposition to Calvinism, but in opposition to a movement which happens to be Calvinist.

My passion is a passion for truth and honesty. I want to the truth taught, but I also want people to think clearly, and be honest with their own motivations and beliefs. This movement is disrupting the integrity of the faithful, dispossessing them of the heart of Scripture, and robbing them of their minds. This is the conviction that I have come to. Some of you may be offended at that, but this is where I am right now, and I have to follow where it leads me. So I will continue to fight the fight, and promote an honest reading of Scripture.

November 30, 2008

Faith in Comics

The Worlds of Fiction

I'm a dork. Right now, just letting you all know that. I have written an outline to my own Batman movie, have developed psychological profiles of various Batman villains, have pondered how Superman's solar power works, have decided that Picard is better than Kirk, have studied the history of Middle Earth, have intentionally forgotten Greedo shooting first and Star Trek V, and still think that MacGyver is the man. I love Sci Fi, comics and fantasy. To me, they are fascinating explorations into the human condition. But some people try to define their reality by fantasy.

Sci Fi, comic and fantasy geeks all have one thing in common: in lieu of the chaos and confusion they have experienced in the real world, they have found solace in mastering a fake one. The joy is the existence of this other world, and contemplating how things in that world would actually work. My father always used to say that the mark of good Sci Fi is to make one difficult to believe theory, and see how it would change everything else. Fantasy is more creating a different world with completely different laws, and watch theoretical societies live in them. In the end, Sci Fi, comics and fantasy are not childish genres, but anthropological exploration.

The Faith Part

Considering that, have you ever stopped to consider whether or not you could maintain your faith in Jesus Christ in these worlds?

Recently I was at the library to kill time, and picked up a Superman comic. It was about Superman wrestling with people having faith in meta-humans. He goes through a couple of examples of personal events, including someone seeing him as an angel, and cults being formed worshipping meta-humans.

At one point he goes to this Christian woman who he trusts to discuss the topic. He says that it is hard for him to have any kind of faith with what he has seen. He has fought beside Greek gods, watched universes form, battled deities, and has seen his fair share of magic. How do you maintain faith in the God of Scriptures through all of that? The woman's answer was to say that what one's faith is in doesn't matter, but that your faith is there to make you a better person and to help others. I would have to say that that answer is bogus.

In reality, one cannot have faith in the God of Scriptures through all of that. I don't believe in God and Christ because it can make me a better person, or because it "gives me something to believe in." I believe in God and Christ because I am convinced of the reality of it. It is the reality of God that makes me believe. In order to believe in Jesus Christ in the world of comics, I would have to mold Him into someone completely different. I'm not willing to do that. He is either true, or He isn't.

Quite frankly, I refuse to confine faith to the realm of rainbows, smiles and sunbeams just so I can keep it in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. That's not faith: that's sticking your head in the sand. Faith, true faith, is based on trusting in the person of Christ. Trusting in His death and resurrection, love and commitment to me and the rest of humanity. I don't have faith for the sake of motivating me; I have a God who has earned my trust and I live for Him.

So what if I could not hold on to my faith if I lived in the fantasy world of superheroes? I live in the real world, and in the real world, God is. That is what my faith is all about. My God can't exist world of comics, but unlike the world of comics, He actually exists.

November 24, 2008

Why English Is Awesome

One pet peeve of mine is when people go on about how much more expressive Greek is than English because Greek has 3 different words for love, while we only have one. There are a few reasons why.

First of all, Greek may have 3 different words for love, but we have more over 10 words for walk (promenade, saunter, mosey, stroll, tour, hike, jaunt, and more if you check out a thesaurus).

Second of all, we also have around 6 words whose basic meaning is love: love, affection, adoration, romance, amour, amity. We have more than that if we start including friendship, obsession, and poetic devices.

Third, the distinction between philos and agape is incredibly overrated. There is not a strong distinction between them. At best, it is possible to say that agape may have been the stronger term, but that isn't entirely definite. Chances are, the distinction was incredibly similar to our words love and adoration. As for eros, take your pick between romance and amour. (Beside, if agape referred to familial love, then why'd they name the city philadelphia)

Fourth, English is a conglomerate language with one of the largest vocabularies. Most of our words derive from ancient Germanic/Celtic, Latin, and Greek. In fact, for most common Greek word, there is at least one (often more) English word that is derived from it.

There is an English word for every idea out there. Separation of Church and state is called disestablishmentarianism. Rambling on and on where your words stop really making sense to the person you are talking to is called logorrhea. Knowing the word you want but not being able to think of it is called lethologica. Piscivorous means fish eating; a bad poet is a poetaster; to cavil is to disagree with something for petty and irritating reasons; a cooling drink to calm a fever is called a febrifuge. If there is one thing you don't mess with English on, it's vocabulary. I mean, come on, we have a synonym for earwax (cerumen).

Sure, English has its flaws. I mean there are more exceptions to the rules of grammar than there are rules of grammar. But English is a powerful language if you learn to tap into your dictionary. We also have a highly versatile grammar as well. So take it from this logophile, and learn to appreciate your native tongue. You'll be amazed at the joy you'll find.

November 21, 2008

The Biblical Perspective of War

I’ve been reading a lot of Ben Witherington’s blog. He has a fantastic mind, and has a fantastic understanding of Scripture. Definitely one of the better biblical scholars out there.

However, he seems to be very strong against the concept of war. Maybe a misunderstand him, but he seems to be against it in all cases, believe that Christians should always refuse to participate in war. I’m not sure if this holds water.

Now, it is very true that God doesn’t like war. War is not really seen as positive, and this is clearest seen in the New Testament, which speaks of peace and love, and speaks of war as demonstration of the depravity of humanity, and signs for the coming of the end of all things. War is a bad thing, and should never be desired.

But a war can also be a necessary thing. To say that war is a bad thing does not mean that a particular war is the wrong thing to do, or participate in. It is very clear in the Old Testament that God does approve of war when the situation calls for it. War can be a very necessary to protect yourself from hostile and oppressive forces. It is not righteous to be idle when the unrighteous abuse the weak. Sometimes you need to fight.

I’ve heard the argument, though, that we are New Testament believers. Even if there is war in the Old Testament, that doesn’t mean that we should be for it now, since we are supposed to be living out the New Testament. To that, I have a few things to say.

First, I’m not talking about be for war, but recognizing that it is, at times, a necessary evil.

Second, I don't believe in the strong dialectic between the Old and New Testament anyway. Saying that “Well that’s the old covenant, and this is the new covenant”, though a relevant argument, is not a sufficient argument because you still have to deal with the fact that in the Old Testament God sanctioned wars. You can’t run away from that, and casting out the entire Old Testament to avoid it is, well, wrong.

Third, the two testaments write on different levels. The OT is written in a more historical way while the NT is written more conceptually. From the NT, we can be sure that God never wants war, but from the OT, we can see that God does recognize the need for war on occasions.

My point is that we should not look to the Bible to deal with the question of war in general to judge a specific war. There is always a difference between the general and the particular. In general, war is to be avoided. In particular, you need to examine the specifics of the specific war to come to a conclusion.

Because we are not part of this nation, but instead belong to God’s kingdom, we cannot follow blind nationalism, and promote “the American ideal in the rest of the world.” But, at the same time, if we are dealing with an evil force, we can help our nation suppress it.

November 17, 2008


I have heard many attempt to say that they are searching for a middle ground between Arminianism and Calvinism. The impetus of this is peace. They see the issue as too divisive, and they believe that by finding a middle ground, they can end the need for conflict.

Though I highly respect the sentiment, ultimately such a project will fail. There can be no middle ground between Calvinism and Arminianism. Why? Because they are too similar.

“Too similar? I thought that Calvinism and Arminianism were opposites!” Actually, no. If we consider Arminianism and Calvinism to be on a scale of understanding divine action and human response, they would not represent the opposite poles. On the one side you would have Pelagianism; on the other side Fatalism. Calvinism and Arminianism would actually be two positions right next to each other. If Pelagianism is a 1, and Fatalism a 10, then Calvinism is a 9 and Arminianism a 8.

Name the following doctrinal position:

God created humankind to be in His image, and thus, humanity was created perfect. But, when Adam and Eve fell, them and all of their descendants became so entrenched in sin, that it became impossible for them to accomplish any true good. Their hearts became devoted to evil. But God, in His mercy did not want humanity to fully suffer from its sin. So, He provided for each human an amount of grace to prevent them from reaping the full measure of their sin. God also wanted to redeem humanity. So, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, and that whoever would have faith in Him would be redeemed by the cross. But, because of humanity’s depraved state, no one can generate such faith. Therefore, God provides sufficient grace, so that whoever comes to have faith in Christ only does so by that grace of God.

The truth of the matter is that both Arminians and Calvinists can affirm the above statement. That is a lot of common ground. The difference between the two is simply how God dispenses His grace. Everything else that we disagree about derives from that basic disagreement.

In truth, Arminians and Calvinists are as far apart from each other as the living room is from the hallway. Its just a thin wall. However, they are also separated by a wall. The difference is a very real, and significant difference. It is easy to find a middle ground between opposites, but not between neighbors. Calminians are basically people trying to sit on the wall, not really understanding the context of the debate. They have overly simplified understandings of Arminianism and Calvinism that project them as opposites. Seeing them as opposites, they view their own position as somewhere in the middle. But when you actually look at the true defining wall of Arminianism and Calvinism, they always fall on one side or the other.

November 13, 2008

Embarrassing Love

"You just don’t get folk shouting “Glory glory!” or “XXX has saved my life” about baseball, sex, sailing, food, atheism or any other fad, sect or religion in the sustained and sincere way you have it in the Church. "

Find this quote and many other beautiful expressions of the Christian faith on this post: Yeah, Christians do some unexplainable things. I think it is important to celebrate the unique aspects of Christian faith.

I recently watched a debate between Alister McGrath and Richard Dawkins. Dawkins comments to McGrath about traveling the world, and talking to various theists, and says that deciding to be a Christian gives McGrath some very strange bedfellows. McGrath points out that one has strange bedfellows if one is committed to any ideology, regardless of whether it is theist or not. (Apparrently Dawkins believes it is wrong to connect Atheism to Marxism which is grounded on Atheism, but thinks its fine to lump Christianity and Radical Islam together. Can we say hypocritical?)

One of the great things about Christianity is, unlike atheism, we really can account for those of us that are a little... off. Atheists believe that they believe what they believe because they are "logical". To some degree, an illogical atheist, to them, is oxymoronic. So when they encounter one, because there are lots, they become confused.

However, Jesus died to save sinners. The defining attribute of Christianity is love and mercy, and though I can say with assurance that any body which lacks this quality is not Christian, when it comes to those who lack it in my own church, I see them with mercy, and reach out to them with a love that strives to them improve. We are provided a context of imperfection, and the doctrine of sanctification that claims that God is still working on us.

So though there are Christians who embarrass me because of their behavior, I do know what to do with them. I love them. Let us stand in unity, and seek to improve the church, not perfect. Perfection is divine work. Let's leave it in His hands.

November 12, 2008

A Very True Cartoon

This is a very true cartoon about how the media tends to spin things:

November 11, 2008

Understanding Personality Typology: The Personality Types (part V)

This is the final post in my personality typology series. Many of you may be breathing a sign of relief. Others may have simply stopped reading. Others may be on the edge of their seats. Personally, I'm just excited to be done.

I am sure that this post is the one that many of you were most interested to read. Personally, I enjoy discussing the system more than I enjoy describing the results, but one cannot deny the populace... both of you. I might also add that this whole series is based off of my personal, informal understanding of these things, so please take it with a grain of salt. So, out of a completely assumed public demand, I give you the 16 personality types:

(The following list is organized first by functional pairs [Sensing and iNtuitive vs. Thinking and Feeling], then by Lifestyle [Judging and Perceiving], then by dominance [Extroversion and Introversion]. This organization was chosen to make it easier to see how dominance, extroversion, and introversion affect how the personality functions.)
Sensing Thinking
  • ESTJ
    You see the world around you in terms of rules, laws, structures, and systems. Your primary aspiration in life is to see these rules and laws enforced, and ensure that these structures and systems are functional. Your development and justification of these laws and rules is based upon a deep repository of personal concrete experiences, where these laws and rules were demonstrated. Furthermore, the importance which you grant the various structures and systems around you is based upon this same repository of experiences.

    Because your memory is the main source of your understanding, and because you take in new memories through your five senses, the things that you prioritize are usually the things directly around you. What you can see, taste, touch, smell, and hear is more important than the vague world of thoughts and ideas. This also means that the rules and laws that you have developed in your mind are an aspect of the tangible world: they just are. You live in a world a fact, where things should be the way they should be.

    But most of your energy is spent in maintaining the order of this world around you. You strive to keep all things in order through practical common sense methodology. You often become frustrated with people who get in the way of achieving these goals, and confused when other people do not share them. You also tend to be very active in ensuring that your goals come to pass.

    To remain healthy, do not just use your repository of memories and facts to justify your goals, actions, and set of rules and criticize others who oppose them. Remember to be critical of your own view too, and keep in mind the many times in which exceptions to these rules have happened, as well as being open to new information that may come along. It is a basic principle of life that there are many things that you do not know, and you may be wrong about. One must be open to correction and new ways of addressing problems. Furthermore, be critical of the various systems that you have invested yourself in. Even if you have seen how they have been important in your life, think critically about whether they are important to the greater world around you (in other words, to others).

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  • ISTJ
  • You are focused on reflecting upon your personal life experiences. From these experiences, you draw conclusions about your place in the world and your function in life. You use a set of principles, which you have learned from these experiences, to achieve this role to the best of your ability. You also use this logic and set of principles to understand and evaluate new input you may receive from the world around you.

    Because your analysis of your personal past experiences are grounded in objective logic, you are very concerned about living according to the rules and standards of the world which you have seen demonstrated in your life. You may, to some degree, be concerned about how others perceive you, but you are more concerned about applying these rules and standards to keep your world stable. Since these rules and standards are based upon past experiences, you are not a big fan of change. Consistency is akin to stability, and something to which you see yourself as an advocate.

    But your energy is primarily spent in your personal reflections. You spend a great deal of your energy cataloguing and then reflecting on the various things that have happened in your life and facts which you have learned, and then pondering their relevance. Your sense of relevance isn’t really philosophical, but practical. Often your reflections are about whether or not something worked, or whether or not that task was/is worth your time, or whether you lived up to your responsibility in this or that area. Because of this, you are a hard and diligent worker, and often define yourself by your employment. Indeed, your competence is the primary marker of your sense of self-worth.

    To remain healthy do not just use your thinking function to “flush out” new information that contradicts your established view of yourself and the world. In other words, instead of judging only the new data by the old, also remember to judge the old data by the new. If you do not learn to do this, you won’t be able to deal with change in your life. Don’t be afraid to challenge your sense of things, but instead see it as an opportunity to improve yourself and to be a more functional human being.

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  • ESTP
  • You see the world around you primarily through your present experience. Very focused in “the now” you seek to, well, do things. You are happiest when you are active. The activities that you love to do the most are one’s which challenge your problem solving skills, since you assess who you are and what you can do based on your aptitude.

    Because you assess your own sense of self-worth from a set of principles and through an objective logic, you have a tremendous concern about whether or not you are in line with the way that the world works. Do you measure up? Are you competent? These are very significant questions for you, and they are answered through an analysis of your personal experience. You also have a set of rules by which you live your life, which may or may not be similar to the world around you. These rules are grounded in your own experience and way of thinking, rather than on a reliance on the outside world. However, you stick to these principles with vigor, but are not necessarily concerned about whether they are followed by the rest of the world.

    But your energy is primarily spent in actually going out and experiencing things. Much of this is seen as testing your mettle, but some of it is just to see what something is like. You want to know what the world is like, and you attempt to do so through experiencing it through your five senses. This also means that you are easily bored with theory or talk. You want to do. Though the link above says that an ESTP has a “let’s get things done” kind of attitude, I’m not so sure about that. It is more, “let’s get things started.” They like to see the ball rolling, but isn’t really that concerned about seeing it get to its destination. To you the world is sort of like a game or sport, where your goal in life is to win. This can make you rather competitive, but it is the challenge of it that you truly enjoy.

    To be healthy, use your thinking function as more than just a tool to figure out how to work out your various plans. Though you do need to think about how to do the things you do, also learn to think about which things you should do, or whether you really need to do something right now at all. You need to learn to discern the actual consequences of your actions, and not just the best way to move ahead. What you do really does affect others, and not all experiences are worth having. Developing this discernment will be key for you to develop a stable and happy life.

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  • ISTP
  • You are often focused on figuring out the things around you. Though you often work with your hands, what you really enjoy is simply solving problems. You have this cheerful disposition about the world, often being content to play with the various puzzles that you find around you. While the ESTP sees the world as a big game to be played and conquered, you see the world as a big puzzle with which you can test your deep and reflective intellect.

    Because you understand the world around you through your five senses, you have a keen understanding of the physical world. You may have once heard of the Sir Isaac Newton, but you never had to study to figure out the basic laws of motion and physics. You simply know that if you do this, this is what will occur. Because of this, you can quickly figure out how a physical systems work. The few times when you can’t, your curiosity often gets the better of you, and you just need to see how it works. Perhaps your parents have told you how you loved to take everything apart when you were a child. Indeed, your curiosity often causes you to act rather recklessly, since you have a drive to know, not only how something works, but what you can do with it. This is where your desire to tinker often comes from, as well as using the things that you have worked on.

    But you spend most of your energy simply thinking. You probably aren’t thinking about high philosophy, or other “useless” stuff like that. Instead, you think about yourself, your environment, and, as I have said before, how things function. You are highly meditative, and because of this, you have a clear sense of the people in your life. Indeed, out of all the different thinking types, you are the most personable, since your natural cheer and loyalty grants you a lot of forgiveness for any lack of social etiquette. You have very strong principles with which you stick to without question. These are truths about the world. Because of this, you are probably very loyal to both the people around you and to the causes that you believe in.

    In order to remain healthy, you need to assess the value of the various things that you are doing, and see whether or not they have any real effect in the world. Often, you can become so into a particular puzzle or skill that you have, that you lose all sense of the rest of the world. Therefore, try to experience things outside of your comfort zone. Go out into the world, and get to know it better. Absorb as much of that world as you can, and then go home, and reflect on those experiences. It’ll be fun.

    Sensing Feeling
    • ESFJ
    • You see the world around you in terms of morals, people, and societal structures. Your primary orientation in life is to see these morals upheld, and the people in the world healthy. However, the world is defined by who you can see, touch, hear, etc… Additionally, your sense of morality is drawn from your deep repository of personal experiences.

      Because your memory is the main source of your understanding of what the world is, and because you take in new memories through your five senses, your world is the people who you personally know. You want to see them taken care of, and you oppose any order or power which may harm them. Your understanding of what constitutes care is very practical and physical. You have a deep memory for their facial expressions, mannerisms, etc, and often can seem to read their thoughts because of it. Your memory is also the source of your understanding of morality, which you have derived from examining how people around you function. Your morality is based on what the society around you views as moral, not necessarily a deep contemplation of moral problems.

      But most of your energy is spent actually taking care of these people. Your understanding of who they are and what they want is a means to an end. Your goal is actually to provide those things. You manipulate, to some degree, the various social structures around you for the sake of seeing these people taken care of. You also are one of the first to go to these people and try to help personally. Through your sense of morality, you judge the social structures and the people in your life. It is through this that you decide which actions to take, which people to take care of, and which structures to uphold or oppose.

      To remain healthy, do not just use your memories to justify your sense of morality, or your actions. You need to allow yourself to take in more data, and judge your own actions morally. Also, because of your deep memory, you often forget that people do, in fact, change. This may cause you to hold grudges, or miss the wickedness in someone. You need to take in new data on the people in your life and know; not only who they have been, but who they have become. Therefore, do not be content with making sure that people are healthy and taken care of, but also strive to understand the various people in your life too. If your world view is accurate, then you should not feel threatened by new data. In other words, let your morality be shaped by your experiences instead of using your morality to judge which experiences and facts you choose to consider.

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    • ISFJ
    • You are focused on reflecting upon your personal life experiences. From these life experiences, you draw an understanding of what the world is. This world is defined by the people in your life, and the various social relationships and structures within which they live. Also, from these experiences, you draw a set of moral standards from which you understand who the people around you are. Your life goal is to see this world around you exist peacefully with the people around you safe and healthy.

      Because your understanding of your personal past experiences is grounded on your understanding of moral standards and social reasoning, you are very concerned about maintaining the goodness and righteousness that you have seen from your own history. You possess a set of individuals within your mind with whom you are concerned, and you reflect on what you know about their own lives, especially upon what you have personally witnessed. If one of these persons is dealing with a bad situation, you have a desire to help them. You want to see everyone get along, and are an agent for harmony among your friends.

      But most of your energy is spent trying to know the people in your immediate social circle as well as possible. You define for yourself a role within this social circle, but this is a relational role, not a functional one. You are more likely to think of yourself as a parent rather than a leader for instance. Because you are introverted sensing, the people who make up the world are the people whom you have personal experience with. And you are extremely loyal to these people. Thus, the more experiences you have with a person, the more loyal you are to that person. Because of this, you tend to want to serve the people around you, though you are not as concerned about the people whom you don’t know. You also understand these people through your 5 senses. So you are very attentive to their physical needs, as well as their physical mannerisms and expressions. You also know these people based upon your personal history with them. They are defined by what they have done with you. The more data you have about a person, the more accurately you read them.
      To remain healthy, you need to use your feeling function to look beyond your already present group of friends. An unhealthy ISFJ will use their feeling function to judge new people as evil, and known people as good, restricting further and further their already tight group of friends. Eventually, this may result in their group of friends be whittled down to just themselves, living alone without purpose and a tortured view of self-righteousness. Instead, go out and meet some new people, and use these encounters to bring a deeper sense of morality to your group of friends. You don’t have to be a socialite. Instead, recognize that your friends, and especially you, may be the ones who are actually immoral, not the world, and venture out into the world to develop a better sense of morality that you can bring back to the group to create greater harmony with your friends.

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    • ESFP
    • You primarily see the world through you current experience. Your world is defined by the people physically around you . Therefore, your world view is tied up to the people with whom you are currently socializing. You are happiest when you are making others happy, making you a fun person to be around.

      Because your world is defined by the people around you, you are guided by certain social rules and moral standards which you have developed over the years. You don’t use these moral standards to judge everyone else. They’re great. Instead, you use them to judge yourself. Are you doing the right thing? Are you doing the moral thing? What you decide to do, and who you decide to hang out with is defined by these moral standards and social rules. Because of this, you are very sensitive to feeling guilty or righteous.

      But most of your energy is spent on the here and now, and experiencing the world around you. Since this world is made up of people, what you crave is to do things with people. You want to experience life with them, even the hard times. When something bad happens to you, you want to have people with you to share the experience. If something bad happens to someone else, you are willing to share the experience with them. However, you also want to share the good times with people as well, and to have them share their good times with you. The good times don’t mean as much unless you have someone to share it with. Though often you thrust yourself as the center of attention, this isn’t for vanity’s sake, but to share what is happening to you with them. It is an invitation to intamacy and a statement of trust.

      To remain healthy, you have to avoid using your sense of morals and logic to justify the activities you want to do. Instead, you need to use this logic to judge your own actions, and see whether or not you really are having a positive influence in the world. If you don’t do this, you’ll justify everything you do, making of self-obsorbed and hedonistic. Therefore, don’t be afraid to self-examine. In the end, life is more fun making the world around you happy.

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    • ISFP
    • You are often focused on trying to understand how you relate to the people around you. You are interested in how the various people around you are feeling, and what you can do to make them happier. You act as a sort of life companion, content simply being with the people you care about as you go through life, constantly being their source of inspiration, joy, and consolation. However, you also enjoy expressing your own inner-self, allowing people the opportunity to experience who you are.

      Because your understanding of the world around you is based upon your current experience, and because your world is defined by the people around you, you are very in-tune with the current atmosphere. In fact, you are rather sensitive to it, and your mood will shift itself to conform to the mood in the room. You are happy when the people around you are happy, and sad when they are sad. Though you enjoy being with people, this sensitivity can be so powerful, that you don’t want to be around too many. Being very sensitive, you often can be overloaded with too much input.

      But most of your energy is spent in trying to keep yourself in line with the various moral standards and social rules you have developed. This is why you tend to be a sort of life companion, as you seek to be a good person, responsible to those who are around you. This means that you tend to be strongly devoted to a small group of people, whom you seek to experience life with. When you do act out, it is by expression of yourself. Because you live to experience others, this expression is an invitation that you give to people whom you trust to experience you. When people reject this expression, you feel that they are rejecting you personally, and you take this very hard. Though you project a care-free spirit, you are actually very serious about life, especially your own.

      To remain healthy, ISFPs must seek to experience life outside of their defined social group. If you don’t learn to balance your feeling function with your sensing function, you will use each current experience as simply further proof you are already right. You will filter out the information that contradicts your conclusions and focus only on what supports them. Your personal investment in your conclusions means that you will take disagreement as an attack on self. Instead, use your attention to physical details to notice that there are people who may disagree withyou, but still love you very deeply. Challenges to your current value system can actually be used to enhance it, and are not necessarily a threat to who you are.

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    Intuitive Feeling
    • ENFJ
    • You see the world around you in terms of morals, people, and societal structures. Your primary orientation in life is to see these morals realized, and the people in the world healthy. You have a keen insight into how the world should be, which guides you in your goals.
      Because your view the world based on an internal framework of understanding, you have developed for yourself a keen sense of how the world should be. This sense has grown out of years of personal experience and trials, through which you have internalized particular life lessons. Many times, you assume this sense to be correct, and use it as a reference from which you understand the various events that are going on in your life. You have also developed an intuitive understanding of people. This means you have an instinct about what people feel or need, as well as the best and right thing to say.
      But most of your energy is spent trying to see that your internal sense is realized in the world. You are a pursuer of justice and morality, looking to see wrongs corrected and rights rewarded. You work to improve the lives of the people around you. You live for others, sometimes to the neglect of yourself. However, unlike the ESFJ, you understand people's needs more in terms of their inner personal lives, rather than physical needs. The ESFJ will get a person a blanket, or some food, but you would prefer to talk to the person, and help them deal with their problems.
      To remain healthy, you need to seek out the opinions of others and open up your imagination to other ways of viewing things. Often, you may develop you internal understanding of things in a way that justifies your initial reaction to things. Many times this will manifest as quickly putting the people you meet into "good" and "bad" categories, and afterwards developing a case for keeping them there. Instead, you need to listen to other people's ideas and perspectives, with a humble awareness that they may be more correct. Also, you have a very strong internal network of understanding. Take some time to really reflect on situations using this. A good exercise is to come to a decision about what a person's motivations may have been until you can imagine at least 5 others. You have the capability of doing this, if you learn to develop it.
      One more word. Because your understanding of yourself is also based on this sense of intuition, you are more vulnerable to personal attacks than most types. This is not a weakness, but a strength, since it becomes a reservoir for the passion that you channel into your life. However, do not let it get the better of you. Please be slow to assume either the worst or the best about yourself. Be open to setting yourself within the grey.

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    • INFJ
    • You are focused on reflecting on your understanding of both yourself and the world around you. You are essentially constructing an internal world, which you are seeking to keep consistent. This world is primarily made up of the people who you know. These people are mapped by their relationship with you, and their relationships with each other.
      Because you have developed this internal world through the use of subjective social logic, it is structured using social rules and relationships, and assessed by a set of moral standards. Because of this, you have a very strong and thorough definition of each person you know. Additionally, the morals you have established in your mind are nigh indelible.
      But most of your energy is spent reflecting upon your internal world. Though this is a very similar internal world to the ENFJ, yours is far more intricate and detailed, simply because of the amount of attention you have given to it. You have a great memory for ideas and relationships. This memory is based around the people in your lives, their relationship with you, and with each other. You have a deep loyalty to these people, and your sense of self and happiness is tied up in theirs. Who you are is defined by who you are to them. In your mind, you have a sense as to what would make your loved ones happier. You seek to understand what harmony would look like, and what it would take to get there.
      To remain healthy, you must learn to assess new data after it has gone through your intuition instead of before. If you feel like you are too bombarded with information, or if you feel like your world is threatened, you will feel tempted to use your feeling function to dismiss unwanted data. This needs to happen to some degree, for the human mind can't handle everything. But you can't really know which data is unwanted until you have assessed it with your intuition. Therefore, attempt to be aware of your own motivations when making your decisions, and recognize your subjectivity. This will give you a better foundation from which you can defend your loved ones.

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    • ENFP
    • You are focused on understanding the world around. This leaves you in a constant state of observation and curiosity. Furthermore, you understand the world in terms of people and social structures. Thus, you are drawn to attempt to understand society as best you can, and through that understanding, realize your place within it.
      Because you see the world around you in terms of people and moral standards, you are intent at placing yourself within the context of these people. You craft for yourself a role which is defined functionally in society, which to attempt to live out as morally as possible. You consistently ask yourself if you are moral enough, and whether you are letting the people around you down.
      But, you spend most of your energy simply trying to understand the world. Because, to you, the world is defined socially, you attempt to see all of the various social structures in the world. Unlike an Ni, you don't construct your own understanding of the world which you attempt to keep consistent. Instead, you are trying your best to understand the current world. It is more of a present understanding of how things are now, and it is from this understanding that you act. Your actions may seem to others to be spontaneous, but they are actually based off of an intuitive understanding of people and society. Because you have this understanding of the world, you also have a keen sense of where things might go in the future, allowing you to see all of the possibilities in life. These are seen as possibilities for yourself in living out your developed self-identity.
      In order to remain healthy, an ENFP must remember to be self reflective. Because you see so many possibilities around you, if left unchecked, you may constantly seek out these possibilities, forgetting to live up to your responsibilities. If you allow yourself to become enslaved to this impulse, you may begin to use your feeling function to justify what it is that you're doing. Instead, you need to remember to examine yourself based off of your morals to ensure you are living a good a moral life. You also need to use your judging function to critically examine the information that you are taking in.

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    • INFP
    • You are on a life journey of self discovery, as you are constantly attempting to discover who you are, and what you are called to in life. As you are on this journey, you are guiding by strong moral standards to which you are committed.
      Because your understanding of reality is intuitive, you see so much possibility in the world. You have a deep curiosity about things, since the world appears as a constant source of inspiration and mystery. You have a drive to understand it better. Though, like the ENFP, you have spontaneity about your understanding of the world, you are less inclined to act out on it, preferring to keep these flashes of possibility to yourself. When they are expressed, it is often through means of expression which are more moderate, commonly art.
      But most of your energy is spent in better defining who you are, and maintaining your moral standards. Because you are a feeling type, you see yourself in terms of social structures, and thus you attempt to define yourself based off of the various people in your life. Therefore, on some level, you know your goal in life is to make the world better. But this world is understood abstractly rather than physically. While the ISFP tends to be furiously loyal to the individuals in their lives, you more tend to be furiously loyal to your causes. If you make the world better, it'll help the people in your life. This doesn't mean that you are disinterested in the people around you. Quite the contrary. You possess a deep well of compassion on all, and seek to help each person. Indeed, the problems of the people around you are often what inspire you to pursue the causes about which you are so passionate.
      To remain healthy, you need to look beyond yourself, and see whether or not your actions are truly helping others. If left unchecked, an INFP may assume that because their intentions are good, that their actions must also be. They then use their intuitive function only to see the good in their actions, and often only the bad in those that oppose them. To balance this out, you must attempt to understand the world around you before coming to your judgments about your actions. Truly study an issue, and allow some of your ideas to be challenged by what you find. Remember, a challenge to one of your beliefs is not an attack against you. You are more than just your beliefs and causes. Sometimes your cause isn't worth fighting for. You cannot take that as an attack on your self. Allow yourself to be defined by God, who does have a purpose and a calling on your life. Pursue Him, and He will guide you on your quest for self-understanding.

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    Intuitive Thinking
    • ENTJ
    • Your primary orientation is to see the world in terms of systems and purposes. Your aspiration in life is to improve these various systems so that they most logically and efficiently achieve these purposes. A things value/worth is determined by how consistent its purpose is with your internal sense of the way the world should operate.
      Because your perception of things is determined by an introverted intuition, you have a highly developed complex understanding of everything. You have an expectation that the world operates in a logically consistent fashion, and because of this assumption, you have attempted to have a basic understanding of this operation to allow you to accomplish the things you wish to accomplish. Because you have developed this understanding through a long history of simply reflecting on the occurrences in your life, of which you have a great memory, you assume your understanding to simply be "common sense". Though you enjoy higher learning, you feel that it is a bit superfluous, and simply judge this learning based off of your "common sense" understanding. I might also add that because of this, you tend only to understand the things which are of personal importance to you.
      But most of your energy is spent "fixing the world" around you. Your intuition gives you the insight to see how things might be improved, but your extroverted thinking compels you to see these intuitions realized. This makes you highly motivated and decisive. Also, because you are more intuitive then an ESTP, you have very good people skills. This makes you a natural leader. Indeed, you seem to lead accidentally. People follow confidence, which you have a lot of. Therefore, you act as a strong wind which pushes the various ships in your vicinity toward the rich new country which you envision. However, despite you apparent great understanding of people, you tend to have a rather poor understanding of how others think. This is because you understand people in terms of cause and effect and are simply good at predicting their reactions. If left unchecked, this can make you rather manipulative, even without meaning to be.
      To remain healthy, you need to learn to stop and ponder about what it is that you are doing. Your decisive nature can cause you to act before you fully understand a situation. Also, your confidence in the common sense of your understanding can cause you to rule out contrary opinions before they are fully assessed. You need to take the time to examine your internal framework critically, and seek out the full breadth of opinion/data on a topic. Having your internal framework critiqued is not a challenge to your goals, but an attempt to ensure that your highest goals are successful. In the end, you want to make sure that the world runs efficiently, and part of an efficient system is appropriate and regular feedback, both positive and negative. Therefore, the same must go for your thinking.

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    • INTJ
    • You primary orientation in life is to develop a consistent and functional understanding of the world. This understanding is guided by the question of "why?" rather than "how?" and developed through an analysis of your personal experiences in life. This analysis is enacted by an objective mode of thinking.
      Because you analyze the world through an extroverted thinking function, you see the world in terms of systems which are there to accomplish goals and are guided by logical and definable laws. You use this thinking function to determine which aspects of the outside world are reasonable sources of understanding, and which ones are not.
      But because you spend most of your energy developing your internal understanding of things, you naturally become "the expert". Ni doesn't simply mean that you develop a deep internal framework, but this internal framework is how you deal with yourself, and thus is concentrated on the things which you have deemed to be the most important. The things that you care about, you understand and an incredible level of depth. Additionally, since you understand these things in an intuitive way, you see them in terms of their purpose and possibilities. It also means that these things may not be physical things. Intuitives do not base their understanding based on their senses, so you are not limited to considering things which can be observed through senses. Actually, you can have more trouble understanding them than a Sensing type. Like the ENTJs, there is an expectation that the world works in a consistent efficient fusion, and if it isn't presently, then it should.
      In order to remain healthy, you need to use your judging function to compare you internal framework to the outside world, and see if it really does line up with reality. You may feel a temptation to see all things which disagree with your internal world as irrelevant or illogical. You need to resist this temptation take the time to really reflect on new information. I know that sometimes you feel like you don't have the time to do this. That is a fair defense. But if that is the case, then you can take the time to analize it later, especially if it is something critical.

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    • ENTP
    • Your primary orientation is to try to understand and appreciate the external world. This world is understood in an objective logical way. You want to know why things are the way that they are, and what this means for you and those you care about. (I might add that this is my personality type)
      Because you analyze the world in an objective logical way, you sometimes overlook things like social graces and expectations. Things are appreciated by their purpose and function, rather than the affect it creates in those around you. This may cause others to think of you as insensitive. Because this thinking is focused internally, it is used to think about how your various insights into the world apply to your life. Additionally, the basic rules and principles which you have accepted in your life act as the guides to your actions as you attempt to determine your own purpose in life. An inability to determine a purpose for you life will leave you depressed, and trapped in a constant search.
      But the vast majority of your energy is spent simply trying to understand the world, and then send an expression of that understanding back into it. The result, if left unchecked, can be a schemer who is constantly acting on a new scheme for personal achievement. However, if healthy, you act as a vision castor, who devises new and inspirational ways of seeing the world and doing things. The expression of your understanding can be in starting various projects or in simply describing your ideas to others. However, the important thing is the expression of them and to see if they really work. Once that has been accomplished, an ENTP is content to pass the project off to someone else. Also, like an Se, an Ne lives for the present, and tends to simply want to enjoy life. However, this is a present understanding, rather than a present sensation. This causes the ENTP to never feel content in their understanding of things, and to constantly try to look at things deeper. This will also keep you rather open minded in your understanding, since new data is seen as a new toy to play with. The verb "to ponder" can bring great excitement to the heart of an ENTP, though you would probably prefer to converse (unlike the ENTJ who prefers to debate).
      To remain healthy, the ENTP needs to use their extroverted thinking to critique their own activities, and determine whether or not they are accomplishing the things they need to be. I know from personal experience that if you are an ENTP, you can get so caught up in you pursuit of understanding that you can lose track of the little things, like responsibility. What you do has a serious effect on your life, and you need to stop and critique that effect.

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    • INTP
    • Your primary orientation in life is thinking about who you are and what is your function in life. Whatever this function may be, it is envisioned within a world full of possibilities, which the INTP feels compelled to explore to better understand themselves.
      Because the way that the INTP interacts with the world is by intuitively investigating it, they readily enjoy thinking about. You may spend a great deal of time simply meditating on the way that the world works. There will be less of an impulse to express your understanding than the ENTP, so there will be less of a tendency to jump from project to project. However, there may be a tendency to be spontaneous on which topic is the most interesting for you to be considering. But your topics of interest will be more narrowly defined than the ENTP, since they will be selected based off of your understanding of self.
      But you spend most of your energy on seeking to understand your role in life, and to developing principles based on your intuitions. Because you are a thinking type, you see yourself in terms of objective purpose. When you determine what that purpose may be, you attempt to achieve that purpose using your intuitive understanding of the world, which tends to manifest itself in terms of new and creative solutions. However, due to your intuition, this role is almost always some celebration of the action of thought. A deep love of abstract thought and critical thinking often causes you to be an apologist of such things.
      In order to remain healthy, you need to truly see whether or not your actions are helpful. If left unchecked, you can use your intuition to filter out the negative feedback to your various actions. This leaves you incapable of objectively examining yourself. Instead, you need to open yourself up to other ideas. Make sure that you fully study and consider an issue before you make your decision, and listen to the input of others, even if you don't like what they have to say.

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    Source: Note how I didn't use this site's names for the personality types. Personally, I think giving each type a name actually takes away from the power of Myers-Briggs, not to mention being invariably inaccurate. Also, click on the image of the tree on the bottom of each Personality Profile page to see more about keeping your personality healthy.

    November 3, 2008

    An Interesting Article on Postmodernity

    Here is an excellent essay, written by Dr. Steven Mizrach, posted by Dr. Ben Witherington III, regarding postmodernism. For those who don't know, postmodernism is a... collection of various attempts to figure out where we are. They believe that modernity has failed, and that we are moving out of that paradigm to a new one naturally. None of them are trying to force it. Instead, they are merely commenting on, acknowledging its existance and guessing where it is going to go. In various subjects of study, they act as sports commentators, making guesses about who's going to win, what's going to happen, and what the key elements are that are going to determine things.

    I find the conversation quite interesting. I, too, have a postmodern mindset, but I don't support post-modernism. By that, I mean that I believe modernism has failed, and like to discuss where we currently are in society. The difference, is that I don't particularly care who wins, because I believe in the eschatological promises of Jesus Christ, and the eventual culmination of history. I have accepted Christianity as the way and truth. However, there doesn't mean I'm not interested in see what the world tries to do next. Whatever happens in the world, Christians need to be aware of it to speak the gospel into it, and let the light of Christ shine.

    I feel that this movement is liberating Christianity from the confines of modernism, but if we are not careful, we may become trapped again into whatever this new world is that postmodernism is predicting. We are called to be something other than the world, not to conform ourselves to it.

    Please enjoy: The Architechure of the Postmodern Mind, Part IV