Temperament Analysis/Personality Typing*

Christian or Psycho-Occult?

-  A major deception in the church today is the so-called spiritual application of pseudo-psychological temperament theory for individual personality assessment, which in actuality is derived from pagan and occultic philosophies. (The "temperament" can be defined as the unique mental and emotional disposition identifiable as the personality.) The study of the temperaments, which are man-centered, self-oriented, and psycho-paganistic, are being offered to the unwitting as a sophisticated, almost magical way to understand our deepest natures and our personality type. In actuality, Christians could be unknowingly lured into the occult by practicing the temperaments and other New Age personality typologies.

-  The underlying basis for the four temperament types (Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy) is in ancient astrology, which is defined by the Bible as divination:

The "forth-telling" of time and destiny; seeking to foresee the future or discover hidden knowledge about the past, present, or future through occultic methods, such as astrology, channeling, crystal balls, tarot cards, etc.

The casual observance of temperament/personality types brings to memory a time 20 years ago when the most popular question to ask was, "What's your sign?" Now the question is, "What's your temperament type?" Back then, astrology claimed that one acts in a certain way because he was born under a particular sign of the constellation. Now it is believed that a Melancholy will act in a certain way because he has been classified as a melancholy temperament type.

The four temperaments connection to astrology is not accidental, but rather by original design. Both astrology and the temperaments are branches of the same tree -- ancient Babylon! (The practice of astrology is not simply limited to knowing various charts and relating the configurations of the sky with the person's birth. Astrologers have admitted they receive psychic knowledge about people beyond their abilities to use and understand the horoscope. They are evidently given special information concerning individuals through demons. Similarly, anyone who reads auras and types people accordingly receives information from demon spirits.)

-  The twelve zodiac personality types are arranged in four sets with three signs in each set. These are called trigons or triplicities. Each triplicity corresponds with one of the four elements of Empedocles. Furthermore, each triplicity corresponds with one of Hippocrates' four humors. And each triplicity corresponds with one of the four temperaments. From Empedocles to Galen, each person who developed those categories also believed in the influences of the planets and the stars on the elements, humors, and temperaments. Synthesizing ideas from classical Greek medicine and astronomy, a theory of temperaments prevailing well into medieval times held that, for example, a sanguine disposition reflected a particular combination of humors in the body and that, in turn, this combination had been fixed by a certain configuration of the stars at the time of an individual's birth. The four temperaments were finally devalued and considered relics of limited, ancient attempts to understand and deal with individual differences. Although they remained a point of historical novelty, they are often totally ignored in current psychology textbooks. In fact, few scholars give serious attention to the four temperament classifications except as historical reference.

Nevertheless, the four temperaments are more popular than ever today, especially among astrologers and professing evangelical Christians. The twelve signs of the zodiac are arranged according to the elements (fire, earth, air, and water), the humors (yellow bile, black bile, blood, and phlegm), and the temperaments (choleric, melancholy, sanguine, and phlegmatic), three times round in sequence. It was only as various psychologists examined the four temperaments or drew from them to form their own personality theories and categories that the four temperaments have been treated as though they are independent from astrology. Nevertheless, while they may appear to stand on their own, the four temperaments are intrinsically part of astrology. They constitute an inadvertent way for people to practice an astrological kind of psychic and esoteric determinism without casting a horoscope and without even realizing that they are practicing the essence of astrology. Neither astrology nor the four temperaments theory is scientific. Both are deceptive and invalid. Both reinterpret Biblical doctrine. And both are bound to their occult roots. Astrology is anathema to the Christian. And since the four temperaments are an intrinsic component of astrology, the four temperaments should be avoided as well.

-  Under the "Christianization" of the temperaments, one's temperament type is determined by listing both positive and negative word descriptions describing personality traits, thereby describing one's strengths and weaknesses. The category with the most personality traits indicates the appropriate temperament type, which then, according to the theory, somehow magically opens the door to a better and deeper understanding of oneself and others, revealing the true nature of the personality with all its strengths and weaknesses, and facilitates the transformation of one's weaknesses into strengths (see Tim LaHaye's Transformed Temperaments). At this point, the temperament theory is interspersed with Scripture, specifically the Holy Spirit's power and the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23). But attempting to wed temperament theory with the doctrines of salvation and sanctification leads to theological mish-mash that is in essence a religion of works.

The temperament theorists fail to understand that we are unable to exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit by improving our personalities (through the "flesh"), but that the Fruit of the Spirit shines forth only as one possesses the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God (through the Spirit). In fact, examining closely a list of temperament strengths and weaknesses, one will notice that not one of the nine-fold Fruit of the Spirit is even listed! Again, this is because the strengths and weaknesses are by-products of the "flesh," not the Spirit. Temperament theory put into practice is nothing more than a fleshly approach to sanctification. (What actually ends up happening is that one's sinful behavior is relabeled as "weaknesses," thereby replacing personal responsibility with helplessness.)

-  Confusion arises from attempting to wed a pagan system of "strengths" and "weaknesses" -- the four temperaments' astrological polarities -- with Biblical doctrines of man. People who try to wed the four temperaments (or any other such personality types) with Scripture emphasize strengths and weaknesses of each type rather than obedience and disobedience to God. To attempt to deal with these differences through a four temperaments typology undermines the Holy Spirit's work in a person's life. Psychological systems for explaining and understanding man's essence tend to replace relationship with the Lord Jesus with formulas and techniques. Because of the system's pagan nature and the errors involved, a Christian may come into the bondage of trying to fix himself up through modifying his weaknesses and exercising his strengths, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to work in His way. Scripture does not set forth a system of personality differences, but rather one of putting off the old self and putting on the new; of loving God and following His way rather that the way of the self -- of loving one another sacrificially as we already love ourselves. No matter what the individual differences are between people, love is the issue and obedience to the Lord is the response.

Understanding ourselves in terms of typologies is unnecessary for walking after the Spirit and bearing the Fruit of the Spirit. Concentration on such categories only feeds the flesh and ultimately leads to works of the flesh. Focusing on temperament and personality categories, profiles, and tests avoids the real problem of sin and attempts to fix us up with the ways of the world. Any system that focuses on strengths and weaknesses of various temperament types is limited to reaching the greatest potential of what the Bible calls the "old man." In Philippians 1:6, Paul is not talking about people reaching their greatest potential through understanding themselves through temperament categories. He is talking about the Holy Spirit's work in each person through the process of sanctification whereby believers are transformed into the image of Christ. The four temperaments and similar typologies give false power based upon a lie. The Word of God is true. It is quick and powerful. To replace it or assist it with erroneous personality typologies is an insult to the Lord, especially considering the occult relationship.

Nevertheless, the temperament philosophy continues to strive to promote harmonious relationships across the gamut of Christian living through compatibility and the understanding of differences, and the temperament followers continue to claim greater harmony and interaction in personal relationships than those who use the Bible alone. In actuality, the four temperaments and other personality type systems are rival religious systems to Christianity -- part of the philosophical/psychological pool of man-made systems and personal opinions which attempt to explain the nature of man and present methods for change.

-  The leading so-called evangelicals today who consistently peddle the idea of the temperaments as Christian, are Tim LaHaye [Spirit-Controlled Temperament (1967); Transformed Temperaments (1971); and Why You Act the Way You Do (1984)], and Florence Littauer: [Some others in the professing Church promoting temperament typologies, personality inventories, and/or tests of spiritual gifts are Charles Stanley, Larry Burkett, John MacArthur, Gary Ezzo, H. Norman Wright, Ken Voges, Ron Braund, and Hal Lindsey.]

(a) In LaHaye's book Why You Act the Way You Do (as well as in his other books), one can readily see the underlying astrological roots of temperament theory -- he labels Christians as Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy, and applies this to explain why people are "locked-in" to behaving the way they do; according to LaHaye, the strengths and weaknesses of one's temperament type determines how he acts.

(b) Littauer, in her books (After Every Wedding Comes a Marriage, Your Personality Tree, Personality Plus, and Personalities in Power), also espouses the virtues of temperament theory. In fact, Littauer followed in LaHaye's steps after reading his book Spirit-Controlled Temperament. Since that time she has conducted seminars and written a number of books focused on personality types. She encourages self-analysis through understanding and applying the four temperaments because she believes that such knowledge can help people truly become what God intended them to be -- that they can reach their full potential. According to Littauer, God is the One who is using the four temperaments. She says that she is "amazed at how God uses this tool to open people's eyes to themselves and their relationships with others ... We will never reach the potential that is within us until we pull off the [temperament] mask and become the real person God intended us to be;" i.e., she believes that God meant each person to be one of the four temperament types! Littauer's system [she has developed the (unsubstantiated and statistically invalid) Personality Profile Test (PPT)] promises that besides being free to be oneself, an individual will know how to get his own unique-to-his-temperament needs met; she says that if their needs are not met, they are vulnerable to temptation.

-  Christians using LaHaye's and Littauer's books claim that the similarity between astrology and the temperaments results because astrology borrowed the "truth" of God's Word concerning the understanding of personalities through the temperaments and misapplied it as "false belief" through astrology! Yet the Bible knows nothing of personality-typing to understand behavior. Whatever the label Christians will give to the latest fad in New Age personality systems, its origins can be traced to ancient pagan philosophy or occult religions, not the Bible. Even when combined with Biblical teachings, the four temperaments do not become transformed. They are forever being tempered within the confines of determinism. True freedom does not come from figuring out one's temperament according to the relics of the four temperaments and astrology. Jesus already gave us the way to freedom, and that is through believing the Word of God and living by that Truth (John 8:31-32).

True freedom does not come from learning the four temperaments and then redefining the Fruit of the Spirit into so-called temperament traits of the new nature. The four temperaments are rooted in paganism and astrology. Christians do not need pagan beliefs and practices, such as the four temperaments, to grow spiritually. If they did, the Bible would have included such teachings. The four temperaments were certainly available at the time, along with all other pagan practices that were an abomination to God. Instead of incorporating the Greek teachings of the humors and temperaments for self-improvement, Paul insisted that there is only one true Gospel and that "the hope of glory" is "Christ in you."

-  The four temperaments theory of personality is among the worst kinds of psychology. Furthermore, it is a means of opening Christians to other psychological theories dressed in Bible verses. Those who integrate the four temperaments theory of personality are doing the same thing as those who integrate any other personality theory with Christianity, be it Freud's, Jung's, Adler's, Maslow's, Rogers', Hippocrates', Galen's, or Kant's. Those who enthusiastically promote temperament theories, personality profiles, and other typologies are introducing foreign paradigms which originated in paganism. Once such foreign paradigms are introduced, they are used to understand and explain the human condition undergirded by a new interpretation of Scripture.

Note on Psychological Testing: Psychological testing is the categorical term normally applied to the kind of temperament/personality typing discussed in this report. With the rise of science and the use of mathematics in the nineteenth century, hope was raised that mathematical models could be harnessed to understand and explain man and to make predictions about him. The hope still is that, through the use of mathematics, psychological tests can be developed that will use a small sample of man's behavior (as exhibited on the test) to reveal a great deal more about him. The psychological test is an attempt to diagnose some broad and significant aspect of an individual's behavior in order to reveal something about him or to predict how he will perform in the future.

Psychological testing can be categorized under the following three general headings: (1) tests of general intellectual level, (2) tests of separate abilities, and (3) personality tests. A Christian's primary concern should be with the last category, which includes personality inventories and temperament tests [such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the DiSC Personal Profile System (PPS), the Biblical Personal Profiles (BPP), the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis (TJTA), the LaHaye Temperament Analysis (LTA), the Personality Profile Test (PPT), the Spiritual Gifts Inventories (SGI), etc.], all of which have pagan astrology as their basis, and/or were developed by, or were based upon, the underlying theories of men who were godless atheists. As demonstrated in this report, not only are these tests and what they purport to explain unbiblical, but they have also been proven to have extremely poor statistical reliability and validity.

* Must reading for anyone desiring a fuller understanding of this subject would be Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing by Martin and Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA, 1992, 213 pages; and Tempora Mysticism by Shirley Ann Miller, Starburst Publishers, Lancaster, PA, 1991, 169 pages. Unless otherwise stated, all quotes and excerpts used in this report come from these two sources.

Biblical Discernment Ministries - 8/92