HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE DISCIPLES' PERSONALITIES WERE REALLY LIKE?
Each Disciple's personality profile is based on Biblical sources and early Church tradition. We assume the depiction of each Disciple in Scripture is (1) representative of his true personality and (2) accurate according to the perceptions of the people who knew him.
WHAT KIND OF PERSONALITY THEORY ARE YOU USING?
We use a personality typology, which states that every person fits into a certain "type" that explains important parts of their thinking and behavior. A typology is not intended to tell you everything about your personality, but to offer broad strokes that help place your personality in the context of other people who are very similar or very different from you.
ARE YOU SAYING EVERYONE IN A PERSONALITY TYPE IS EXACTLY ALIKE?
Not at all! In fact, since we believe everyone is made in the image of God, our uniqueness springs from the varying degrees to which we reflect certain aspects of God. Additionally, the way in which these aspects interact with each other in the context of each individual's biological, familial, and social circumstances is a recipe for infinite variety in human personality. That means that every person will, to varying degrees, act or think in ways that are "against type." Oftentimes, these parts of our personality are the most interesting and give the best insights into opportunities for growth and self-understanding.
WHAT ARE THE ASPECTS OF GOD?
According to the vision of God in Ezekiel Chapter 1, God can be thought to possess four faces: a Man, a Lion, an Ox, and an Eagle. Early Church tradition equated these four living creatures (called the Tetramorph) with the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, respectively, because each Gospel was understood to accentuate a different aspect of God. For our theory, we acknowledge this history and supplement it by considering how each Gospel was written in a specific style to appeal to a different aspect of the human personality. After careful examination of the contents and styles of each Gospel, we have distilled their themes and combined them with an adaptation of a more modern concept (John Wesley's Quadrilateral) to rename these aspects: Tradition, Experience, Reason and Revelation.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THESE ASPECTS...
The first aspect, Tradition, is symbolized by a Man because it represents all of the accumulated human wisdom, customs and institutions passed down through the generations. The second aspect, Experience, is symbolized by a Lion because it represents immediate action, power and strength. The third aspect, Reason, is symbolized by an Ox because it represents stubborn, piercing pursuit of truth through the specialized knowledge of scholars and priests. Lastly, the fourth aspect, Revelation, is symbolized by an Eagle because it represents transcendent soaring to the heavens to glimpse hidden mysteries.
Additionally, the four aspects can be divided into two categories: Information Gathering vs. Information Processing. Tradition and Experience are both methods of Gathering Information, while Reason and Revelation are methods of Processing Information. Each personality type tends to favor either gathering or processing, and has a favored method of doing each.
For example, Peter favored gathering information (instead of processing information), and his favored method of gathering was learning through personal Experience (instead of Tradition). When he did process information, however, he did it through a spirit of Revelation (instead of Reason). So we can say that Peter's primary method of seeking truth was Experience, and his secondary method was Revelation. This makes Peter a hybrid between a Lion and an Eagle, thus a Winged Lion.
WESLEY'S QUADRILATERAL DOESN'T INCLUDE "REVELATION" AND PLACES "SCRIPTURE" ABOVE ALL THE OTHERS. WHAT GIVES?
Scripture is certainly the basis for all understanding of Christian Truth. However, Scripture itself is the result of a combination of Tradition, Experience, Reason and Divine Revelation. Therefore, we have included Revelation as the fourth aspect of God and Man. Every personality type embraces a combination of these aspects with different emphases.
YOU SAID THAT PEOPLE REFLECT CERTAIN ASPECTS OF GOD MORE THAN OTHERS, BUT SHOULDN'T WE TRY TO REFLECT ALL OF GOD'S ASPECTS EQUALLY?
Ideally, humans would be able to reflect God's fullness in perfect balance, just as Jesus did. However, our human nature is not capable of meeting that standard on its own. Instead, our limited personalities are forced to choose between the four aspects, with very few people able to master more than two (and quite a few people mastering only one) on human power alone. Practically speaking, this means that every person will have a "favorite" aspect that they naturally emphasize, and which dominates their personality. As we grow, we can learn to emphasize a supporting aspect, but we cannot go much further than that with our own power. One important strategy for developing our supporting aspects is to surround ourselves with people whose personality types reflect aspects that are not our primary strengths.
But, in order to truly develop the remaining aspects, we must go through a lifelong process of sacrificing our natural personality and being transformed into the supernatural personality God always intended for us. That process is a personal journey that no single theory can account for. However, we believe understanding your natural personality is a vital first step in learning to offer God a worthy sacrifice. In this regard, we take inspiration from the Parable of the Talents, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!"
THERE WERE 12 DISCIPLES, BUT YOU ONLY HAVE 8 DISCIPLE TYPES...WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS?
There are two overlapping reasons why we only offer 8 Disciple Types:
1) There simply isn't enough differentiating information given in Scripture to make a complete character analysis of 3 Disciples: James Son of Zebedee, Jude Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot. Additionally, the account given of Judas Iscariot in the Gospels, while detailed, was not written in an attempt to offer a balanced perspective of the man, due to his status as a despised villain. With that in mind, we try not to overstate our understanding of these men.
2) We theorize that the reason these Disciples are not as prominent in the Gospels is that their personalities were not as highly developed during the time periods covered in Scripture (although they may have developed later). To the degree that these Disciples do feature in our theory, they represent examples of how a personality is limited when it is dominated by a primary aspect without developing supporting aspects.
SINCE THE DISCIPLES WERE ALL MEN, DOES THAT MEAN THE PERSONALITY TYPES BASED ON THEM ONLY APPLY TO MEN?
No. The Disciple Types, though necessarily based on (and named after) real historical men, apply as much to women as to men. It is true, however, that depending on social attitudes and gender roles, the ways in which a woman's personality dynamics manifest themselves may seem on the surface to be different from a man. With that in mind, each Disciple's eBook includes a section on a Biblical woman who matches that type. The hope is that this inclusion will help make these types more relatable for all people, regardless of gender.
YOU MENTIONED THAT CERTAIN PERSONALITY TYPES CAN HELP US GROW. TELL ME MORE...
Some personality types naturally get along better with each other. They challenge each other in productive ways that foster growth while minimizing conflict. You probably notice this in your own life as certain people just seem easier to talk to, or you feel like a better person when they're around. The Bible offers us many clues about which Disciples got along best with each other, and we offer those relationship dynamics as suggestions for your own life.
WILL YOU TELL ME WHICH PERSONALITY TYPE I SHOULD DATE/MARRY?
Romantic chemistry is an extremely complicated thing. There is no specific type that any other type should always (or never) marry. Rather, we seek to provide suggestions about which types challenge each other and encourage growth. That may come in the form of a spouse, or a friend, a sibling, parent, pastor, neighbor, pen pal...you get the idea. We can't tell you who to spend time with, but we can give you the tools to become more aware of the people you surround yourself with.
IF MY PERSONALITY TYPE IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH ANOTHER TYPE, IS IT OKAY TO DISLIKE THOSE TYPES OF PEOPLE?
It's a simple fact that there are certain people you are not going to like, and personality can explain a lot of those dynamics. But rather than using personality types as an excuse for your dislike, it's much better to use them to understand the other person and figure out what you may have to teach each other.
Sometimes people of different personality types can see things so differently from the way we do, it can feel like they are threatening everything we value. But rather than feeling threatened and holding tighter to the things we value, that may be just the moment God is calling us to sacrifice our natural personality. So, rather than justifying our dislike, it is far better to see it as an opportunity to sacrifice and grow.
THIS ALL SEEMS A BIT TOO MUCH LIKE A HOROSCOPE. ARE YOU SURE THIS IS BIBLICAL?
At the time much of the Old Testament was written down during the Babylonian Exile, Astrology (the basis of horoscopes) was considered to be the pinnacle of science. The most intelligent people in Babylon believed in the power of Astrology to explain everything from Psychology to Meteorology. It is amazing, then, to consider how subversive the Old Testament would have seemed to the elites of Babylonian society. In Genesis 37, Jacob's family is likened to the sun, moon and stars, and in Genesis 49 Jacob offers his sons horoscope-like blessings. Later in Numbers 2, the 12 tribes of Israel camp around the tabernacle in direct reference to the 12 zodiac signs. Then, in Ezekiel, the four faces of God are understood to be direct references to the fixed signs of the zodiac (Aquarius, Leo, Taurus and Scorpio), and these same four creatures appear again in Revelation 4. It is not surprising, then, that an analysis of the 12 Disciples (themselves a reference to the 12 tribes of Israel) would bear some resemblance to what we today call "horoscopes."
ARE YOU SUGGESTING THE BIBLE ENDORSES ASTROLOGY?
No. Quite the opposite, in fact. At every turn, the Bible takes the pinnacle of human understanding and replaces it with God. Every time humans come close to believing we understand the nature of ourselves or the universe, God takes that which we think we understand and turns it on its head. For the Babylonians, it was Astrology that needed to be overturned and replaced, and God did just that by redefining their symbols as his own. For our postmodern scientific times, our confidence in psychology may need similar disruption. God willing, that is what this theory attempts to achieve.