The E-I Preference and Scripture
I do think that we can find good examples of how Jesus valued both the inner world of ideas and the outer world of people and things in the Bible. In John, chapter 5, we find an example of how He valued the outer world. In this same passage, I think there is also evidence that Jesus’ great compassion for people came out of a rich inner world that He cultivated with the Father. Jesus visited the pool by the sheep gate and found a large group of disabled people. “One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” (vs. 5-6) Jesus healed this man and then encouraged him to “stop sinning” in verse 14. This is one of many examples of how Jesus experienced compassion for the people that He met and the things that were happening around Him. He actively engaged in the external world of people and things.
In the same chapter of John, we also learn that Jesus does “only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (vs. 19) This suggests a close relationship between the Father and Son that He has cultivated in His inner world. Luke 5:16 tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” It seems that Jesus and the Father exchanged ideas and contemplated possibilities together during these times when Jesus withdrew and spent time in prayer and reflection. This was how He knew what to do when He engaged with the external world.
I believe that we, like Jesus are called to cultivate both our inner and outer world, not just the world that we prefer. As an introvert, I can tell you that I would be more than happy to spend all of my time in prayer and worship at the House of Prayer and then spend quality time with my family or a small group of close friends with what is left over. I think that most introverts could easily become monks and just live in the world of spiritual reflection and the supernatural. But, we would miss incredible opportunities to bless the world around us and share with others the profound mysteries that God reveals to us in our inner world. I cannot speak to the experience of the extrovert, but I imagine that they could spend all of their time interacting with people, actively changing the world for God. But, without taking the time to quiet their hearts and their minds and attend to their inner world, they might miss the voice of the Holy Spirit and the incredible ideas that He wants to take root in them. I hope that we can encourage each other to stay engaged in both worlds and to faithfully cultivate people, things and ideas.
The S-N Preference and Scripture
I am hoping that God will open my eyes to see how the S-N preference appears in the Bible, but I cannot think of any specific verses at this time. I think that one way we can see this play out is in how people perceive God. People who prefer sensing will probably prefer to focus on the literal message of the Bible. They will emphasize the actualities that Scripture gives us. People who prefer intuition are more likely to read between the lines of the Bible to the possibilities that God offers us through Scriptures.
I think of the book “The Case for Christ” when I think of the S preference. This book offers all kinds of historical and Scriptural support to defend Christianity. It presents lots of information that has been clearly organized. I never felt that interested in reading this book because Christianity made sense to me and just seemed right. (Again, I would remind you that I am an N). But, I have friends who prefer to perceive information through their senses and they found this book to be very helpful and a wonderful resource. I also think of Paul defending “The Way” to the Jews using the Law and the Prophets. Again, I suspect that this approach would be very valuable for those of the S preference because it presents a wealth of information in a clear way.
When I study the bible, it usually just makes sense. What I observe there is consistent with what I have already observed to be true in Scripture and in my life. God’s character across the Bible seems consistent to me. There are themes that reappear throughout the books of the Bible and everything ties together nicely when you follow the greatest commandments: to love God wholeheartedly and to love people as you love yourself.
The F-T Preference and Scripture
I think that we can find examples of Jesus making judgments using both the Feeling and the Thinking process as we read the Bible. He was regularly questioned by experts in the law and his answers demonstrated that He has a tremendous ability to reason and think logically. Jesus understands the Law and how it should be fulfilled. In Matthew 12, Jesus successfully refutes the Pharisees’ argument that it is unlawful for his disciples to pick heads of grain to eat on the Sabbath. He also heals a man’s hand to demonstrate the He is Lord of the Sabbath and that it was designed for man’s good, not just God’s glory. In each case, the Pharisees argument is unsuccessful in the face of Jesus rebuttal. We also find examples of Jesus making judgments with intense feeling, as in John 2:13-17 when Jesus makes a whip out of cords and then drives everyone out of the temple courts. In Matthew 14:14, Jesus had compassion on the large crowd and then healed their sick. In Luke 19:41, Jesus weeps when he sees Jerusalem and thinks about their impending destruction. Though He would have known that it was just and the logical consequence of their wicked behavior, Jesus is moved to tears because of His incredible love for His chosen people and city.
I think that this difference in making judgments also plays itself out in the church when we discuss the authority of the Bible and personal prophetic experiences. As Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4) Scripture is the authority that God has given us for righteous living and we should understand it to be His very words for us. We also see a pattern throughout Scripture of God speaking to the prophets about what He intends to do. “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) It would seem that prophecy has to be authenticated by Scripture, but God uses both to speak to His people. In a similar, but lesser way, feelings and thoughts should both be considered in making a decision.
The J-P Preference and Scripture
We cannot perceive and judge at the same time. Most people prefer one process over the other in dealing with the outer world. Those who prefer the perceiving attitude choose to shut off their judgment and avoid making a decision in case new evidence appears. Conversely, those who prefer the judging attitude choose to shut off their perception and make a decision regardless of whether or not new information may become available.
I think of God’s conversation with Abraham about Sodom and Gomorrah when I think about the perceiving attitude. In Genesis 18, God is preparing to deal with Sodom and Gomorrah because of their grievous sins. Abraham is concerned about this judgment and keeps asking God for more information. God is patient with Abraham and answers his questions to reassure him that this judgment is just. Both Sarah and Abraham focused on the actualities of their barrenness and laughed when God told them that they would have a child in their old age. (Gen 17:17, 18:12) This possibility was too hard for them to imagine in the face of their circumstances. I wonder if Abraham and Sarah preferred the perceiving attitude.
When I think of the judging attitude I think of Peter. Jesus called to him as He walked along the water and invited Peter to “fish for people” (Matt 4:19) Immediately, Peter left his nets to follow Jesus. The Bible gives other examples of Peter responding to events in a judging attitude. He rebukes Jesus when He begins to talk about what will happen to Him in Jerusalem (Matt 16:22), disowns Jesus three times after swearing that he would die before doing that, cuts off the high priest’s servant’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane and jumps into the water to swim to Jesus when He appears to Peter after His resurrection. In almost every account involving Peter, I see a man who was most comfortable making decisions.