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I met with a pastor from another denomination last week and we were both enjoying comparing personality types of different Christian denominations. I shared how I experience the four gospel writers as unique personality types as well. Mark is straight forward: “Repent be baptized and be done with it NOW!” Matthew wants to dot every “i” and cross every “t” as he says over and over again. “This was to fulfill the Scripture…” Luke is poetic, musical, subtle and an advocate for the poor and left out. John’s words are deep and heavy duty trying to get us to go deeper into God’s love, though sometimes sounding like someone from California, “I am in you and you are in me and we are in God!” Each follower of Jesus, past, present and future, have their own characteristics and experiences of Jesus.

Likewise, there appears to be a denomination for almost any taste, whether being control freaks or more’ loosey goosey’ or somewhere in the middle. Some have strict rules, some few rules and some almost no rules. Some live more out of their heads, guts or hearts than others; and some are highly educated while others trust their own interpretations of Scripture.

I will not get in trouble by naming what I perceive to be the personality types of other denominations but I can share what I perceive to be the personality type of my own as an example of a denomination that has its own personality type. I think, in Meyers Briggs terminology (a personality measuring tool) we are INFP. Our introversion can often prevent us from telling others who we are. We are known as open minded and a bit “loosey goosey” on our beliefs and we are more like a herd of cats than sheep. We are more intuitive and private about our beliefs. We say if you want to know what we believe, come pray with us for thirty years or so and you might get it. We are open theologically and always wanting to learn or grow. Some consider that wishy-washy and others consider it wise. We would rather worship together than argue together. I am fond of saying that Luke was an Episcopalian.

That is just one example and my theory is that each denomination habits own personality type and has many gifts and challenges and that we need to listen to one another’s perspectives, to appreciate one another and maybe we all might better hear the Spirit of God speaking to God’s people. It is no accident that we have four versions of the Gospel. We need all four and we need each other to better embrace the full Gospel of our Lord. Appreciating one another’s uniqueness and similarity could help our whole society so that rather than arguing about how right we are we might come to appreciate the gift of other’s perspectives.

“For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face.” I Corinthians 13.12 KJV. Rev. Shumard is priest in charge of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Casper. You may contact him at jshumie@aol.com.

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