What Keys Unlock the Door to Faith for Thinking Types?

How do you look at life? According to the brilliant Swiss-American physicist Albert Einstein, our choice of how to live life is simple. “There are only two ways to live your life”, he reportedly said. “One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Two Types of Thinkers

In Gifts Differing, Isabel Briggs Myers, developer of the renowned personality assessment that carries her name, assumed that Einstein was an Introverted Thinking Type. In other words, his type preferences would have been either ISTP or INTP. A look at the spirituality of Thinking types reveals that Einstein’s statement about miracles provides a good illustration of the two types of Thinkers. It appears that there are Thinkers who reject or struggle with the idea of faith in the supernatural, while at the opposite end of the faith spectrum are Thinkers who seem to move almost effortlessly through miracle-filled worlds. It seems hard to believe that, despite this major difference, both types of people share a preference for Thinking.

My ISTJ Friend is a Believer...

A friend and former Bible class teacher of mine believes that “...the universe is a wondrous place and the evidence of a higher power is all around us in creation.” My friend’s type preferences are ISTJ and his faith in God is central to his life.

...But He is Outnumbered

It would appear, however, that the Thinkers who reject faith are in the majority. As I discussed in a previous article, a study of 3,036 people which was reported in the MBTI Manual stated that the four top-ranking types who said they definitely did not believe in a higher power, and the top four types who weren’t sure, were all Thinking types. INTP, ISTP, and ENTJ made both lists. In the table mentioned above, the top four types professing a definite belief in a higher power were all Feeling types

The Clear T-F Difference

In discussing the question of belief in a higher power, the Manual states on p. 237 that “The clear T-F difference in responding to this question is in accord with the critical approach of Thinking types and the harmony-seeking desire of Feeling types.” The number of Thinkers who indicated that they did not believe or weren’t sure tells us that Thinkers experience challenges to developing and maintaining a life-sustaining faith. Yet, the majority of people of every type who took this survey said they did believe in a higher power, so that means there are indeed religious Thinking types. Apparently, these Thinkers have keys that allow them to unlock the door to enjoyment of a satisfying, life-directing faith, in spite of these challenges.

The Thinker’s Challenges to Belief in a Higher Power

Assuming that this is correct, what are the challenges that tend to determine whether or not Thinkers will have faith in a higher power? To investigate trends in how Thinking types regard God, I looked back at the responses many of you graciously provided, some time ago, to our survey on prayer.

The “critical approach” mentioned above perhaps includes not readily accepting what one is taught as a child or what the majority seem to believe. Rather than going along with what the majority believe, either to keep the peace or because they assume the majority must be right, Thinkers seem to want two things which may be less vital to Feelers. The survey responses seem to indicate that Thinkers want God’s existence to be scientifically provable, and once convinced of God’s existence, they want to feel confident that He can be understood and is worthy of our worship.

The Demand that God’s Existence Be Provable

I suspect that the response a Thinker gets to his questions about God’s existence will help determine whether exploration of this issue will become a spiritual turnoff or lead him toward the road to faith. Are his questions welcomed?

If he is told to just accept and not question traditional church teachings, most likely little will be accomplished toward opening a Thinker’s mind to the possibility of God’s existence. Perhaps believers can most help Thinkers discover the riches of faith by admitting that it is a choice which is based on evidence rather than absolute scientific proof. Perhaps it is not helpful to insist that God’s existence has already been proven or is obvious. After all, aren’t proof and faith mutually exclusive? Thinkers may need time to realize that, as listed in my dictionary, one of the definitions of faith is that it is belief that is not based on proof.

Is God Understandable and Worthy of Worship?

Thinkers seem to shy away from faith unless they are not only convinced that God is real but that He makes sense and can be understood. Some of them may have the impression that a higher power is something or someone they are expected to believe in blindly. It may seem to them that their felt need to understand who they are supposed to believe in isn’t welcomed. Perhaps they find church membership to be based on emotion instead of a more objective understanding of its teachings and beliefs, which would make Thinkers much more comfortable.

The Thinker’s Drive to Understand....

Many of your survey responses on prayer which I reviewed illustrate the truth of the following quote from the book Type Talk by Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen. According to the authors, one of the differences between Thinkers and Feelers is that “Both have feelings, but Feelers prefer to experience them while Thinkers prefer to understand them.” For example, we received a survey response from a non-denominational Christian who said he prays because he hopes “to get closer and further understand my Father.” His type code is ENTP. A Christian man with INTP preferences wrote that “I think some people want more of a fuzzy feel when talking to god but for me I want to understand the mind of God.” A male Christian with ISTJ preferences also said he prays “to get to know God more.”

...Can Either Pull Him Toward God or Push Him Away

While these survey respondents pray for increased understanding of God, we received surveys from other Thinkers who assume He can’t be understood and/or doesn’t make sense. Therefore they reject both Him and the idea of praying to Him, rather than seeking greater understanding of Him. So paradoxically, the idea of believing in a higher power turns some Thinkers off because, to them, belief in such a being doesn’t make sense. For others, perhaps for some of the reasons discussed below, it does make sense and so they seek greater knowledge of the one they believe in.

The Need to Be in Control

Besides their need to decide whether God makes sense and is worthy of belief, a desire to be in control might be another factor which could get in the way of any faith which might be developing in the mind of a Thinker. While at some level it is probably difficult for all people to admit to not being capable of doing everything and to surrender to God, I suspect this is particularly true of Thinkers.

Turning over control to something or someone else might seem to a Thinker to be shirking responsibility. We received a prayer survey response from an atheist with ENTJ preferences who described prayer as relying on an “imaginary superpower” and expecting help and miracles “out of nowhere.” To her a religious person “doesn’t want to take reality as it is and tries to put the responsibility on something” so that the “Lord decides what to do and to happen, not me.”

If There is a God, Do I Have Time for Him?

Once a Thinking type does come to faith in a higher power, further challenges may be ahead in finding comfortable ways of expressing this faith. As we can see, a Thinker’s challenges to faith can be classified as stemming from the nature, real or supposed, of God, or of Thinking types themselves. Included in the latter category could be the Thinker’s perception of what might be involved in believing in a higher power. What kind of worship might be required, and how time- consuming might it be? Perhaps some Thinkers feel the evidence points toward there being a higher power, but they worry about the time and effort that might be needed to worship such a being.

Emotional and Privacy Factors

For example, some Thinkers might be uncomfortable with their assumption that worship must be, or usually is, emotional. Perhaps they have experienced churches where they have seen a lot of hugging and/or members sharing personal issues and being emotionally honest. I suspect this would be especially uncomfortable for ITs.

A female Evangelical Christian with INTJ preferences told us in her prayer survey response that “Prayer is not a very emotional activity on a daily basis and occasionally when it does become that way, it is very uncomfortable.” Certain types of prayer could also present other types of problems for Thinkers.

Privacy, for example, could be an issue for ITs. Does the concept of an omniscient God, and being expected to pray aloud to Him before others, violate the Thinking type’s privacy? Perhaps Thinking types, especially those who also prefer Introversion, would rather not be so well known by others.

Keys to Unlocking These Closed Doors

The authors of Type Talk found that “The conceptual and liberal thinking behind Unitarianism and Christian Science often appeal to Thinkers, especially iNtuitive-Thinkers...Ultimately, of course, one’s religion has mostly to do with one’s heritage and upbringing, although we believe that one’s type may influence the fervor with which one practices a religion (p.211).”

Perhaps this is a way of saying that one of the keys which may help Thinkers move beyond questions to faith is finding a place where they can worship comfortably. Maybe this special place would be one that gives them a satisfying combination of something to think about without applying any pressure. A friend with INTP preferences told me that he enjoys churches where the sermons are about applying Scripture to modern day problems, and where the preacher explains what he thinks about various subjects and wants responses to his sermons. At the same time my friend enjoys the minister leaving things up to people’s own interpretation without telling them what to think. To him a good sermon consists of the minister saying “Here are my findings and what I’ve been thinking. What are you thinking?” He thinks this approach appeals to Thinkers because it allows them to look for inconsistencies.

Intellectual Engagement

I recently spotted a church near my apartment with a sign stating that it teaches people how to think, not what to think. I think that approach would appeal to my friend and many other Thinkers as well, because, sadly, I don’t find it likely that many churches would be comfortable with the Thinker’s drive to follow his or her own interpretation of Scripture. This same friend considered a church he formerly attended to be geared more toward Feeling types in its emphasis on praise and worship than on encouraging the members to think.

In his opinion, some churches show more of an orientation toward Feeling by shying away from deep applications of Scripture, preferring to focus on conversions and keeping sermons simple and accessible to new believers. In contrast, his Thinking preference is satisfied by preaching which gives him something to think about and digest, sermons which are like debates, asking for listeners to respond, instead of just presenting the facts. He also likes being able to push a preacher by asking questions and getting pushed back with challenging answers. In short, he wants to be intellectually engaged.

A Believing Family

The quote above from Type Talk sums up a couple of handy keys which can help unlock the door to faith for a Thinking type. Being raised in a family where a higher power is believed in is one of these keys.

Near the beginning of this article I quoted a friend with ISTJ preferences who believes the universe is a wondrous place. After being raised in a Christian home and serving in various church roles, he has this to say. “I also believe because I have seen God work in my life over and over. He has rescued me, comforted me and transformed me. I wouldn’t be half as nice a person without the measuring stick God laid out for us. That love transforms us.” My friend’s conclusion is that “...all those things add up to an interesting paradox...you don’t have to think...you know. And that is faith.”

My friend with INTP preferences quoted above is also from a believing family. He told me that INTPs need to experience God for themselves, without elaborating how they might do so. Perhaps like my Bible class teacher, he experienced God for himself by seeing Him modeled by his family. For believers like them, apparently, belief based on personal experience satisfies their need to know and understand God.

Getting Older

Of course, one’s belief or lack of belief in God or another form of a higher power need not remain the same throughout life, regardless of one’s type preferences. Surely we all start out wanting, perhaps even demanding, that our faith makes complete sense so we can be proud to share it with the world. Whether or not this attitude changes throughout a Thinker’s lifetime or not, might be one key to whether God will ultimately make intellectual sense to him and he will identify as a person of faith.

In response to my request for a contribution to this article, a co-worker with preferences for INTJ emailed me that he “wanted faith and religion to make sense. I wanted there to be definitiveness. Something clearly reasoned beyond doubt...I took the long, long questioning path and finally knelt down.” In his case, the simple process of growing up apparently had a big impact on his increasing tolerance for his lack of ability to have complete knowledge about God. “I was the dubious young boy. I was the dubious young man. As the adult man, I don’t expect that I can ever receive all the answers to my questions. Not completely. And that’s okay.”

Being Willing to Give Up Control

Another key that may unlock a Thinker’s door to faith may be his or her attitude toward our natural desire to be in control, discussed above. Religious Thinkers may see their need to be in control as something they’d like to overcome with the help of a higher power.

This was evident in some of the prayer survey responses I received while writing my previous article. One Protestant woman with ENTJ preferences defines prayer as a way to “...relinquish my hold on things beyond my control and/or understanding.” One reason she prays is to gain “...guidance in my acceptance of things I cannot change, fix or understand.” A Christian with ESTP preferences tells us that “My own understanding and other people’s cannot provide all the answers. Prayer opens up a new level of understanding. Sometimes it’s helpful when you’ve tried everything humanly possible, to hand over the worry to God.”

What Else is On Your Key Ring?

Thinking type readers, do you live your lives as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle? Have you found a special key whose unique essence makes it a perfect fit to unlock the door concealing the treasures of faith? If so, please share with us your challenges to faith and the keys that help you turn them into opportunities for spiritual discovery and growth!

Gayle Weinraub

A native of New England, Gayle Weinraub has worked in the educational assessment industry in San Antonio, TX since 1995. She first learned about personality type in 1989, became certified to use the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator® assessment in 1998, and has maintained a Web site and blog about personality type since February 2013. When not writing blogs about personality type or searching for what she calls blog food (the ideas and observations which will hopefully eventually turn into blogs), she can usually be found enjoying Volksmarches (a sport involving 10K walks), music, art, reading, movies, stamp collecting, photography, cross–stitch, and her Orange Tabby, Periwinkle. Her type preferences are INFJ.

Comments

Marcia Reisz (not verified) says...

As an INTJ I live my life as if most things are not that miraculous but occasionally miraculous things happen. I think the IN part of me knows that there is more to me than just that babbling voice in my head. Something mystical is there too. I get ideas and inspirations from there. I know it is vast and deep but not under my conscious control.  I think it is my connection to God.

Gracie DeBrock (not verified) says...

I too am an INTJ and the science part of our "recipe" helps to prove the soul theory through "energy". Happy trails... :)

Gayle Weinraub says...

Thanks Gracie!

Gayle Weinraub says...

Thanks for your comment Marcia!

Darrell Gordon (not verified) says...

Hi..I'm an INTJ and a MBTI Certified practioner.  I'm also a devout believer in a loving Creator and grand architect of the world, universe and cosmos (including other dimensions and/or universes yet to be catagorically proven).  I'm always amazed that this type of discussion, regardless of  'type', is always based around the obeserver's "reference standard" of "what I know to be true".  How can anyone be certain of anything, when everyone's reality is different? Our brains differ, our nurture differs, our observations ane experiences all differ.  Who's to say which is correct, and which is not?  Sound strange?  Example:  What if I were to say that 2+2=5.  You say that's impossible, but I may posit that there is (possibly) a reality/universe/dimension where 2+2 DOES equal 5.  Can you prove that there's not?  Just because you can't explain it, or see it, or touch it doesn't mean it's not real. 

You'd think that I, as a strong INTJ (huge emphasis on the 'J') would be driven to catagorically deny a supreme creator, due to lack of evidence, but quite the  opposite is true.  As I study technology, physics, nature, personalities, art, quantum theory, music, etc, etc as an avocation, I DO naturally strive for closure on questions that pop up.  Indeed, my very nature demands it!  But in every instance, resolving one unknown opens a plethora of deeper questions needing more resolution.  Futile! 

So don't focus solely on T/F as an indicator, but also on the P/J dimension and the person's ability to harness the power of the J to drive further searching (P) for resolutions.  The only way I've ever been able to come to terms with the "unknowable while in human form" is through an unshakable belief in a master creator, who created me and thus knows me more than I can ever know myself.  I worship that ultimate creator and depend on him to guide me in the darkness of  my knowledge and pride. 

 

Gayle Weinraub says...

Hi Darrell, what a beautiful comment. I agree with much if not all that you say. FYI the reason I focused on the T/F dichotomy is that was what I was requested to do by the editor who gave me this assignment. Along the way I did think about the other dichotomies as well, but my hands were more than full with my assignment as given. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my thoughts.

Ron Weitnauer (not verified) says...

The most important realizations that I've found (INTJ / Engineer):

The personal incredulity fallacy. "That's just too preposterous. It can't be true." Well, actually, it could be true in spite of your protestations. I'd also add the simple fact that you can't prove God doesn't exist. You simply can't prove a negative.

Your concept of God. If you see God as a Machiavellian, punitive, Calvinist, micromanager type, well, I don't believe in THAT God either, friend. If you buy into the fundamentalist legalistic view: if I break my contract, I'll suffer...you've got it all wrong. You need a more sophisticated and (Christian, frankly) heuristic. God wants a relationship - pure and simple - always has. And that's entirely up to you. Entirely. God gives you plenty of rope to hang yourself, but there's no Quid Pro Quo. God is always waiting for you to get out of your own way.

The bible has been translated and interpreted in ghastly and evil ways. (I know, pure heresy...) Since I've decided to follow the Christian path, ( all the while believing that there are certainly others that are just as valid) and therefore I start with the multiple instances in the New Testament where it states clearly: Jesus=God. Jesus' mission was to show humanity that we've had it all wrong for millenia. If you want to know God's nature, study Jesus. This instantly transformed things for me. It became my Rosetta Stone for all of scripture. Then you start looking at the translations and can see that there are far more benign ways to read some of the stuff that has caused so much evil "in God's name". It was NOT in God's name, believe me.

Lastly, as an Electrical Engineer, I spent some time in a field called information theory. I was shocked to conclude that there is actual, compelling proof that there is an intelligence driving the universe. There's no other explanation. It' get's a bit esoteric, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. A little science will take away your religion. A lot of science will bring it back.

The angry, crazy, shitstorm reaction by believers to militant athiesm has always puzzled me. A very brittle faith, I'd guess. I've never understood why anyone would care what you or anyone else does NOT believe. There are an infinite number of things that both you and I don't believe. Who cares? Why waste your energy finding fault and taking pride in what you don't believe. Explore how engaging and rewarding it is to believe. It's great fun, and much more productive to believe that you are part of something sacred and awesome. If nothing else, believing simply adds some heft to your life.

Go down the rabbit hole. Engage brain. You won't regret it.

 

Gayle Weinraub says...

Ron, I love your comment! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment!

Trajan Rex (not verified) says...

I'm an INTJ and don't find the notion of god all that credible. I'm an agnostic, but am somewhat in the closet about this as I don't want to undermine the faith of those around me. I support and have grown to see the purpose of the ancient religions as they provide some degree of innoculation against the religion I fear the most: The Marxist Religion. And that's the religion that may well get us all killed some day. 

Gayle Weinraub says...

Thanks for your comment!

Inventor (not verified) says...

ENTP, for the record. While this article brings up many relevant points as to objections to faith, I don't understand why one would need to find "keys to unlocking the doors to faith," as if that were a worthy goal in and of itself. Just as it is impossible to prove there is one or more supreme beings, it is also impossible to prove the opposite. But even if there is, what is the point in worship? If to assign credit for things, shouldn't we also blame god for misfortune? Should the baby sea turtle be thankful for it's existence when it is snatched by a seagull shortly after hatching? If god is all powerful and all-knowing, why woud he/she/it care what a bunch of inferior beings believed? If the main goal is for humans to embrace an attitude of gratitude (which I do think has value for one's psyche), can't one just be grateful for one's life and all that is in it, without having to ascribe that to a higher power?

Perhaps the most glaring omission is the role of religion in faith. The discerning thinker can't help but see the many glaring inconsistencies in pratically all religions, most of which were codified long after events transpired and in an age where scientific knowledge was limited. Further, if there is one true god, why are there so many different religions with so many different beliefs and practices? You could say, "well that is the beauty and diversity of how different people express their faith," then why is religion the cause of so much strife and violence throughout the world? Look at hotspots around the globe, and the vast majority of the time they occur around religious differences. And oftentimes, religion is just a proxy for economic disputes, which further erodes its exalted standing.

Sure, it might feel good to give oneself up to a higher power and feel like you a part of something bigger that is going to result in everlasting glory. I'm sure religion and prayers comfort people from life's many troubles. But thinkers are not typically inclinded to abandon their critical thinking as a matter of convenience. Perhaps that is to our detriment, and perhaps ignorance is bliss. Still, I'd rather have my eyes open and seek objective truth, no matter how bleak and lonely that may sometimes be. 

Gayle Weinraub says...

Hi Inventor, thanks for your thoughtful comment which brings up many serious and complex issues. The assignment that was given me was to examine the challenges to faith which Thinkers experience, and to look at how religious Thinkers approach this area of their lives. So that is why my article examines what I call keys. If you saw my previous article which this one links to, you saw the study which indicated that Thinkers tend to struggle more with faith than Feelers. I assume that those who live a life of faith do so because of one or more of these keys which have helped them overcome their barriers to faith. 

Many believers who identify as Christians find, as we read our Bibles, that God loves us and desires a relationship with us as does a parent with his child. That's why He cares what we believe. I believe that worship is more for us than God, as He doesn't need anything. I don't think the point of worship is to assign credit for things, but to acknowledge and praise Him for who he is. I believe that you are correct in your thought that gratitude has value for one's psyche.

Actually Christianity will stand up to an examination of what might appear to be inconsistencies. I was a tough nut to crack myself before I became a believer. As far as there being many different religions, I do not say they result from beauty and diversity but a lack of study of, confusion about or refusal to follow what is in God's Word, the Bible. In John 17 in the Bible Jesus prayed for His followers to be unified, so I don't think He is pleased with, as you said, so many different religions, beliefs and practices. That is also why, as you said, religion is the cause of so much strife and violence in the world.

I think God is pleased with us seeking objective truth. Thanks so much for your comment and may you continue to seek and be blessed as you do so.

Magnuz (not verified) says...

It is very strange and a general error to refer to the scripts of the bible as objective reference or truth.

The ENTP guy above got almost everything I felt urged to mention regarding this article, but when I read this reply to his arguments I’m almost stunned by the non-thinking/non-reflective nature of the writer of the article.

Christianity will not ever stand up to any examination or critisism made by someone who offered the subject more than one fiveminute thought. It is, after all, the worlds second youngest religion and a very effective power/control tool with a strict patriarcal structure.

You need to see the culture around You to understand your behaviour - 45% of Usa citizens believe that the earth is around 6000 years old - in spite of the empirical evidence that’s available. We don’t need Thor, Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, Peter Pan, Jahwe, Ra, Zeus, Oden or any other man made creature to live a good life and fully explain our universe.

There is, actually, several thesis that suggests that this world would be more generous, peaceful, equal and beautiful without any religion at all. That is very hard to understand living in a young society based on empty faith and strong patriarcal structures.

We don’t need any god at all.

 

INTJ

Gayle Weinraub says...

Hello Magnuz, thank you for your comment. There is much that we could discuss, but I will confine myself to your third sentence. There are or have been several unbelievers (some have passed away by now) who, upon offering "the subject more than one fiveminute thought" have become convinced of God's existence. They have become convinced that Christianity does indeed stand up to examination and criticism. Many unbelievers who have become Christians have gone on to write books and articles about why and how their efforts to prove Christianity false in fact led them to the opposite conclusion. These authors include Lee Strobel, whose journey as a journalist setting out to disprove Christianity has resulted in several books and a movie; Frank Morison, an agnostic lawyer who wrote Who Moved the Stone? after his attempts to disprove Christ's resurrection led him in the opposite direction; C.S. Lewis; and John Clayton. I've read all these authors and highly recommend them. You can find more through a Google search. So whatever one may think of God and whether He is necessary or not, it is definitely incorrect to state that Christianity will never stand up to examination.

Magnuz (not verified) says...

Hello Gayle - Thanks for your thoughts on this matter, but that doesn't make it (Christianity/Judaism/Islam) more real or more true than any other faith or religion in this world.

There are - to use Your own kind of arguments - several christian believers that have been enlightened to non-belief after having second thoughts about the nature of religion, the lack of rational thought and their basis of supernatural phenomena.

The pillars in Christianity does not stand up to rational objective criteria as truth, no matter what people think och believe. Try it Yourself - if You dare.

There are several people who have other (and similar) educations and titles that do not see the need for religion (especially not the three abrahamistic/monotheistic): Lawrence Krauss, Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins, Michel Onfray, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking and several others - I'm sure You've heard of a few of them? (I've read most of their works, still a few missing.)

Finding religion for real as an objective truth is always - always - about cherrypicking the best parts. And there are some good parts in each and every religion - I'm not saying otherwise, but that does not make it true or real. One can never deny that religion is about control, power, and money. That's why people want to keep it - just take a look at the built-in hierarcy in the systems: Women are always opressed in one way or another in a society where religious belief is the norm - which is not the case in more atheistic/secular society. The MLM shape of the economic hierarcy is clear to see for everyone who does not look away.

The highest local priest controls the people in his church, and above all is the Vatican. It's structure is plagiated down in the western societies, but with women implemented into the system - this is not very hard to see. Of course it is a very uncomfortable way to come to know the world as it really is and function, and especially in the states, which has religion (sadly enough) so worked into its system.

And above everything else - the proof for the christian god really is non-existent. I don't know the correct english term, but I guess it's something like "proof by contradiction" (mathematical proof) and it does not work on this matter. But there is lots of observable evidence for an almost 13.8 billion years old universe, with a 4.5 billion years old earth, with about 3.8 billion years old signs of early life, and then Charles Darwin will fill in most of the blanks regarding how on earth a bacteria could come to present to us Whitney Houston. The gaps we still lack explanation for I (nor anyone else) cannot fill in.

Gayle Weinraub says...

Hello Magnuz, yes, of course there are believers who have changed their minds after some thought and become unbelievers. I am simply responding to your statement that, if I understand you correctly, no one would take Christianity seriously or believe it after five minutes of thinking about it. My point is that there are many people who have given it years of thought and investigation and have come to and kept the conclusion that it is the truth. I do not deny that others have had faith journeys which led them from belief to unbelief.

ImINTJ (not verified) says...

My thoughts exactly ENTP Inventor - I don't get why I need to have faith?  How does it sustain me?  I have no need for this in my life - I'm perfectly happy in living a god-free life and feel nothing is missing, I just don't have a need to believe in a higher power (I feel like there is a "god gene" and I didn't get it.  I also believe the world is a wondrous place - that has nothing to do with a belief in god.  It has to do with a belief in science and nature and all the things that are still to be discovered and understood.  Wondrousness and faith in a supreme deity are separate things and should not be considered to be related (and why religious think that atheist don't find the world wonderous or amazing astounds me).  To me, even trying to believe in "god" is the same as telling someone that they must believe in the tooth fairy.  Your magical friend that makes you feel good and happy is fine for you but is not something I've ever felt the need for.  INTJ

INTJtoo (not verified) says...

I agree with your comment. I found this article quite biased in that it starts from a place that religious belief is normal or assumed. I was raised atheist and remain so. There is no great architect manipulating our lives. The idea of a single (another assumption of this article) god is a fairy tale and I can’t understand why so many people who are educated claim to believe in it. 

Gayle Weinraub says...

Hello INTJtoo. In case you missed the link in this article to a previous one about belief in a higher power, you may want to check it out. This article seems biased to you because it is based on a study asking people whether they believe in a higher power or not. So yes, that belief is assumed to exist in some people, and that is what I was asked to write about in this article. Thanks for your comment.

Gayle Weinraub says...

Thanks for your comment, INTJ.

mountainlake (not verified) says...

I'm an ENTP and definitely a Christian (I no longer use the term evangelical since that term is so closely associated with right-wing hypocrites).  A verse that has long sustained me is Mark 9:24:  "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"  God gave us brains to use and is not afraid of them.  For me, the key piece of evidence that always brings me back to God is this:  without a higher power of some sort, "wrong" has no meaning - it is reduced to "not my preference."  So someone who does not believe in God or some sort of higher moral authority cannot morally condemn Hitler or any other gross violations of human rights.  Yes, you can criticize human rights violations or adultery or anything else you don't like, based on practical or personal reasons, but you can't say they are morally wrong.  Morality must refer to a a higher standard.  So since I clearly believe that some things are morally wrong, that means I believe in God.  I have lots of other reasons I believe in God, but this is the fail safe logical argument that always reminds me of our loving creator.

Gayle Weinraub says...

Hi mountainlake. Thanks for your comment. I agree with you.

Marcia Reisz (not verified) says...

It seems to me that N vs. S could affect your view of faith as much as T vs. F. An S, especially an ES, may be so immersed in the immediate material world to think about it much. That's how my husband is. He has a nebulous concept of God and whatever that concept is does not influence his life much. I (INTJ) am constantly seeking a closer relationship to God and it affects my life a lot.

Thanks Gayle, for writing this interesting article. It stimulated a thoughtful set of responses. I enjoy hearing other peoples' thought, even the ones radically different than mine.

Gayle Weinraub says...

Thanks for your kind comments, Marcia. I think you are right. If you saw my last article on prayer, I think that dealt some with the S/N dichotomy. In this one my hands were too full with the T/F dichotomy I was asked to look at to touch on S/N or anything else. I think faith and what may predispose one to faith is probably very complex. Blessings to you as you continue to examine it!

Conor Cook (not verified) says...

(INTP Catholic) I commented the last time, so perhaps that still applies here.

I grew up Catholic, receiving the Sacraments and attending Mass, though we did not discuss our faith much or pray together.  However, in high school world history, we read from the Bible, among other world religion texts.  I was one of the few who started to want to know more about my faith, where other classmates started falling away because of what they read.  So it really was the Bible that moved me deeper.

However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and then St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica were indispensable to my development.  Rather than being rigid documents that force belief, they are deep, rich sources of intellectual thought.  It is clear the Catholic Church has a long rational thinking about God and creation.

I find drawn to the expression of faith fostered in worship through the liturgy, where there is also a depth to the prayers and thoughtful care given to the selection of readings, chants, and hymns (as provided by the Church; not to be confused with the Mass as experienced on a weekly basis, which lacks the discipline required by the tradition and magisterium of the Church).  Catholic apologist Bishop Robert Barron makes a point about worship being really "worth-ship," acknowledging the value of God and our complete dependence on Him, even of our very lives (every breath!).

Anyway, my point is that I have found my thinking to be challenged and fostered by this most ancient and dogmatic of religions.

Gayle Weinraub says...

Hi Conor, I'm glad to see you here again. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

Blair Hollis (not verified) says...

Hi, wondering how you discern individuals of faith who struggle with anxiety that are thinkers. One client who is unhappy with his job is struggling to take the next step to committ to counseling. From my perspective as a thinker he still wants to walk around the bushes becasue he cannot visualize the pathway for him to take; so he remains stuck. It's a case of analysis paralysis. So, he wants to beieve God is there to guide him (Faith) but I think he is trying to think this through (lack of Trust) so he is losing what Snyder (2000) calls Hope. Any insight on this?

Gayle Weinraub says...

I'm not familiar with Snyder but I think you may be right. Also, as has been previously commented, another issue which may be at work here is the Sensing/Intuition dichotomy. Sensors tend to focus on the trees whereas those of us who prefer Intuition focus on the forest. If he is an Intuitive, perhaps he sees too many options, if a Sensor, perhaps too few...

Blair Hollis (not verified) says...

So, as an INFP I am clearly a Feeler who not only believes (Faith) but feel His presence (Trust) that manifests hope. So, when we are in the midst of our storm (conflcits) stepping over that boundry as a Thinker to explore what it Feels like to find Trust in Him offers enduring Hope.

Gayle Weinraub says...

Thanks for your comments!

Emy Langlois (not verified) says...

I am an ENTP and I will never participate in religion so long as I live.  Grew up in a Catholic family (though my mother and her siblings weren’t really believers), and by age 10 I thought religion was a farce.  The Catholic schools I attended were focused on sports not smarts and while I had a few teachers who loved my desire to ask “why?”, most hated it.  They used religion to hold people down and try to make them conform. I was lost and alone in the realm of spirituality.  I grew up a little, felt more comfortable with it once my son was born, but the idea of a creator, an architect of the universe resembling a human male as the “father” is something I will never believe.  I believe there is an energy in the universe that can’t be destroyed, as proven by physics, and I think that applies to the human soul as well.  The answers to questions about human consciousness we’ll never understand lead me to believe there’s something greater out there but to imagine it as having human characteristics seems laughable.  But to each his own in their beliefs, as long as those beliefs spread love instead of hate

Gayle Weinraub says...

Hi Emy, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I'm sorry to hear about your negative experiences with church and religion. I think it's important to keep in mind that religion, church and Christianity are not necessarily the same thing or even all from the Bible, which I believe is God's Word and His way of revealing Himself to us. It is important to study the Bible because often religious groups misunderstand and/or distort what is in it. The only way to know for sure what is in it is to read it for ourselves. For instance, where does it say that the architect of the universe resembles only a human male as the "father"? There are many Scriptures which compare God to a female or mother as well as a male. For example, Gen 1:27 says "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female (my emphasis) he created them." There are many other verses referencing God as a female and/or mother, including Isaiah 49:15: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you." There are also many verses about how superior God is to humans, yet we were created in His image. (I personally believe this is referring to our soul and spirit, not our physical bodies.) My point is that it's important for all of us to see what the Bible actually teaches, because it may be very different from what we were taught as kids, and God may not deserve the bad rap we'd like to give him. God bless you! 

Conor Cook (not verified) says...

Indeed, much of what we think of God comes from the imagery we have created of Him, but that is meant to be understood symbolically, as a way to conceptualize the invisible.

In the same way, our bodies, as well as our souls, are made in the image and likeness of God, but not literally.  Our creation as male or female reflects aspects of the divine nature; in our corporality we interact and relate to others in the flesh.  But again, God doesn't have a nose or a mouth, but He breathes the Spirit and speaks the Word.

Gayle Weinraub says...

Yes Conor, thank you! To your first sentence I'd also add the word incomprehensible. I believe that God is so far above and beyond anything we as humans can know or understand, that the only way for Him to describe Himself in terms we can understand is to do just that - use terms we can understand and are familiar with, such as nose and mouth as you mentioned.

Greta (not verified) says...

An INTP’s Perspective (sorry, much too long, but will abbreviate!)
‘Thinkers who reject or struggle with the idea of faith in the supernatural’: I was once agnostic, so not really either. I was brought up nominally Presbyterian w/ practically zero knowledge of God. Maybe my parents thought it was self-evident, & maybe the Presb. church & Sun. Sch. & Catholic sch. I went to thought my parents provided enough teaching. My parents gave me a children’s Bible & celebrated a few Christian holidays, my teachers took me to Mass, & my grandparents had a icon hanging in their living rm, but nobody gave more than a cursory explanation of anything. So I focused on other things, & got irritated when my parents pushed/pulled me into anything religious: everything preliminary had been skipped! Church for me was a place you got to sing pretty songs but had to sit through a nonsensical lecture. And I had existential crises at age 6 or 7. Now I’m a struggler but prevailing.

‘Apparently, [religious] Thinkers have keys that allow them to unlock the door to enjoyment of a satisfying, life-directing faith…’: I wouldn’t call mine a strong faith…but the 1st key (beyond the surface there are more locks!) was just, after being presented w/ the idea of OT prophecies & historical evidence of fulfillment, & considering that 1. there was a immense conspiracy taking place over many 1000s of yrs & involving billions of people, or that 2. the prophecies were true, figuring Occam’s Razor req. the latter. This was at a Lutheran church. My husband was a Byzantine Catholic who had stopped going to church, & I guess had Lutheran friends, & he took me there. But pastors could answer almost none of my Qs. satisfactorily, e.g. if Scripture explains Scripture, what was the mark of Cain & how was it able to be recognized? And what were the Urim & the Thummim? (Was just curious, had prob. > 100 Qs. about S.(not)E.S.) Why don’t we call it ‘Mass’ anymore? (A. ‘Too Catholic.’ 🤔) If even Satan can appear as an angel of light (2Co 11:14), how could we be certain to recognize Christ at the 2nd Coming? (A. ‘You just will.’ 🤨) And Sola Scriptura when no translation is completely acceptable? On what basis is any part accepted or rejected? I should learn Greek then? 😏 And I’m supposed to still read the Bible, apart from patristic commentaries? (😩 It was a chore, b/c I couldn’t understand it well enough, which for an INTP is, as much as humanly possible. 😊 Might as well give me a math book & expect me to reinvent calculus, b/c I was being expected to reinvent theology.) And when I brought up the Apostolic Constitutions, why did people change the subj.? 😄

Speaking of commentaries, something else that helped me was a Bible-study plan I made. I assembled all the books I can find of all the Biblical Canons (Wikipedia has a chart), plus Apocrypha/Pseudepigrapha (except gnostic—that’s heretical), & patristic commentaries. Then I read it in chronological order, e.g. Ge 1–3, ‘Life of Adam & Eve’, Gen 4, 1–3 Enoch, etc. in parallel w/ St Ephraim of Syria’s Commentary on Genesis (has some weird/amazing stuff, like where the moon was & what time of day it was when it was created, & why Isaac had to haul wood up the mt even though the ram was found caught in a thicket). Also Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture & Fr Tadros Malaty’s compilations are very good. And I put the Poetic & Prophetic books into the context of the Historical books, like Isaiah’s prophecy when Isaiah actually appears. This way I have the most cultural context & the most complete meaning of everything, & it all plays out like an epic movie. Someone told me to read the OT & NT at the same time, to not ‘get bogged down’. But bogging down is fine. I can study something thoroughly b/f moving on. I wouldn’t watch a little of the beginning of a movie, a little of the middle, & go back & forth: the plot would be mixed up & I wouldn’t know the reasons for events in the middle. There are prefiguring in the OT, & quotes of the OT in the NT. So I won’t read the Bible out of order. Maybe this works for only NT types though. It is kind of crazy & complicated to organize.

…not readily accepting what one is taught as a child or what the majority seem to believe.’: This is perfect. Going along w/ things as they were or rejecting them summarily? Hasty Conclusions. Analysis was needed. Ultimately, my husband went back to Byz. Cath. & I went too. It turned out my great-grandparents had been converted to Presb. by Scottish missionaries in the ’20s after coming to the U.S. from Belarus, from the territory of the Union of Brest, i.e. Byz. Cath. area. They must have had to hide their icon from the missionaries, 😆 b/c it was that 1 in the living rm decades later. So I was just reclaiming my heritage, anyway.

‘Thinkers want God’s existence to be scientifically provable’: I don’t & never have. That’s a Red Herring. I could ask them, ‘Does there scientifically provably exist a Being, God?’ but what would such a Being be? A naturalistic Entity, b/c Nature is what science addresses. But I hadn’t proven 1st that the hypothetical Entity in Q. were necessarily naturalistic. Hadn’t even proven that everything that exists were so. And if it were, where would the 1st Cause of Nature be, e.g. ultimate Source of the Big Bang, i.e. Reason for all the matter of the universe being in a singularity & then released? ∴ there must be Something beyond Nature. ∴ scientific proof of this is impossible & thus unreasonable. Whatever might be beyond Nature isn’t the subj. of science but of philosophy. And so you say, correctly, ‘it is a choice which is based on evidence’.

‘…Thinkers who assume He can’t be understood…’ ‘…I'd also add the word incomprehensible…’: Reading St Dionysius the Areopagite might help them, NT types, I think. The Mystical Theology is about this, e.g. ‘[T]he universal Cause [i.e. the Divine Nature] transcending all things…is not soul, or mind, or endowed with the faculty of imagination, conjecture, reason, or understanding; nor is It any act of reason or understanding; nor can It be described by the reason or perceived by the understanding…’ &c. God cannot be truly defined, but can be excluded from certain concepts. I might ask them how did the Big Bang come about. They don’t know, & I don’t really know either. But that undefinable Cause, the Divine Essence best approached apophatically, is God. Not a ‘magical sky-god’ 🙄, a guy w/ long white hair & beard & robe sitting on a cloud: that’s Zeus! We Eastern Christians do not depict God the Father. I don’t think that’d make biblical sense: the Bible says Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:13–15). Anyway, we can still learn things about God, according to our limitations. Does anyone believe in love, believe love exists? According to the Bible, that person believes in God, b/c it says God is love (1 Jn 4:8).

‘What kind of worship might be required, and how time-consuming might it be?’: Well, if any of you comes & becomes a Byz. Cath., you will be OK. You are allowed to do things according to your ability. Sin is only ‘falling short’ (lit. trans. of hamartía/hamartánō—see Bible Hub Grk Dict.—not trivial, of course, but not catastrophic either), i.e. you will keep trying, b/c salvation is a process, toward union w/ God. ‘Cath. guilt’ is not a thing for us, e.g. Rom. Caths. may confess again sins they confessed b/f, but Byz. Caths. do not. Confession is for forgiveness & healing; the sins are already forgiven, & thinking about them more than I can’t help would open the old wounds in my soul & poss. send me into despair. And they have to incl. the # of times/sin. Don’t know how someone could keep count, & not become at least a little miserable about it. But we actually have ‘my sins are w/o #’ in a prayer & that’s good enough. My priest says ‘Purgatory’ (quotes b/c I don’t think we have such a definite concept) is ‘not a mini-hell’; no one is tortured there. Priests are very forgiving. They work w/ you & you improve. The kind of worship is somewhat complicated, but you pick it up as you go along. No pressure. The Liturgy is a little longer than Mass but it feels shorter to me b/c it’s extremely beautiful (not that Mass isn’t beautiful, but this permeates my soul—it’s beyond descr.), & there’s so much of everything (more images, more incense, more singing, more chanting, more veneration, more procession…watch a video on Youtube: e.g. St Elias, Brampton; Our Lady of Fatima, SF; St Andrew, El Segundo; & the Russicum). Not like daily Mass, you go only on Sun. & holidays. And there is no Eucharistic Adoration or Rosary. I’d get restless & panicky being quiet & still & trying to meditate.

And you’d get yourself ≥ 1 icon (at least of Jesus Christ or of Jesus & the Virgin Mary) & have it in your house to venerate & pray in front of each day, b/c Biblically, to venerate an image is to venerate who is in it. Definitely helps my prayers, b/c I can’t try to imagine heaven & read a prayer & mean it well & concentrate on both, all at once. You are supposed to pray at least a little. You can make up your own prayers if you want or use books. A priest gave me a set of prayers to pray, & it takes about 20 min. 2×/day, but that might be the most daily prayer asked of ordinary laymen. B/c I have chronic mono & a toddler that needs tons of attention, & am terrible at praying, 😓 generally I don’t pray so much. 😞 The set is memorized, & somehow it’s not hard while I take her on a walk, if I’m well enough. Otherwise, I can manage to pray/think, ‘Bless, O Lord,’ b/f meals, & ‘Give rest to the soul of Your departed servant, O Savior,’ if hearing or reading of the death of someone, & a few med. & short prayers at night. All these latter ones are prob. ~ just 5 min./day.

Another thing that’s significant, but self-discipline not worship, is fasting. (But since I’m sick I have a dispensation.) There is overall more fasting than Roman Catholics have. I think they sometimes have to go w/o meat except fish, & sometimes eat in a day only 2 very sm. meals & 1 normal meal. We fast very often, going w/o meat except shellfish, & w/o dairy, eggs, olive oil, & alcohol, but eating as often as we want & only stopping short of being full. You don’t feel hungry or miserable, just light & healthy & happy. And after the fast you feast—esp. Easter, often a big party at midnight at church, eating & drinking everything you gave up (but just a little drinking—nobody gets drunk 😄).

1 INTP said, ‘INTPs need to experience God for themselves,’ & this is very much experience, also pretty much everything is symbolic, multiplying the experience. ‘Symbol’ comes from ‘synbaleîn, to throw together’, & ultimately it means that physical & metaphysical reality are joined. For example, a cross is not just something that brings to mind Christ, the Crucifixion, etc. It’s an objectively holy channel of Divine Energy/Grace, a link btw us & God.

‘[S]ome Thinkers might be uncomfortable with their assumption that worship must be, or usually is, emotional.’ Pretty much the only other religious exp. I had while young was seeing preachers on TV. I was super-creeped out, & repelled. Not to worry. Byz. Catholicism is practically stoic—well, stoic + joy. Everything religious is rigidly stylized, in a good way. Everyone in icons is solemn & posed undramatically. No sappy pictures w/ people’s eyes rolled up to heaven, ‘praise’ music, gushing prayers, ‘Lord, just’ prayers… No syrupy hymns—they don’t even rhyme. Example: ‘In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith; / an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence / has the reality shown you / unto your flock; / therewithal have you acquired by humility greatness, / by poverty, riches; / O Father hierarch Nicholas, / intercede before Christ our God / that our souls may be saved.’ Personal things you share only w/ the priest at confession. That is hard, but not terribly. You don’t have to face him or look at him, only read a list of sins as vague as you can make it, e.g. ‘covetousness’ or ‘uncleanness’, 😅 a list that gets less bad w/ time, b/c you improve. And he will die a martyr b/f telling anyone. You don’t have to sing/pray out loud. But pretty much everybody does together, so nobody stands out anyway.
   ‘[D]eep applications of Scripture…something to think about without applying any pressure…encouraging the members to think…’ This is good, & we have all of it. But no debating the homily, or 100% private interpretation, as in, the Bible means whatever you want it to mean, how the world ended up w/ polygamists, Westboro Baptists, & every other disturbing splinter group claiming to be ordained, the true Church, &c. There is leeway for interpretation, but if it were to go too far & things were to get really out of hand, a council could be called to define some boundaries. Objective truth exists; it’s not just, ‘Be true to yourself’; psychopaths are true to themselves too! People can debate at coffee hr, & can Q. the priest in any conversation. Mine is great. I can ask him anything. Recently I told him I was confused by the Fatima prophecies, & he admitted he was too, & said some things 1 reads may be untrue, so the Vatican has defined certain things. Defining isn’t to tell people what to think any more than formulating a physics law is: publicized discovery—Byzantines, Catholic & Orthodox, inherited Greek philosophy more than anyone else, so we are ‘how to think’ people too—& relatively few things get defined anyway. And there’s much more to our faith than the Bible. There are many other writings, many practices, many objects, many events…

But all these aren’t fundamental reasons to become Catholic. The reason to choose an idea is truth. My experience: My husband said about the Lutheran churches, ‘Something is missing.’ There was no Byz. Cath. church here, & we ended up at an E. Orthodox church. All my questions were answered & everything was sublimely beautiful, & all logical except that even though Jesus said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery,’ (Mk 10:11,12) they allowed remarriage. I was baptized there anyway. After a few yrs, my husband said he wanted to ‘get back to the Catholic Church’, but he was talking about it like becoming Roman Cath. We went there & the Rite was foreign & confusing to me. The priest taught us a few classes, but then was transferred. The new priest said, ‘No more classes,’ ‘You cannot change Rites,’ ‘The Rite follows the line of the father,’ ‘You are already Byzs.; you already have the Cath. Faith,’ ‘Your children are already Byz. Caths.,’ & ‘I could receive you today.’ A little later I realized that since Christ est. 1 Church (Mt 16:18), 1 Body (Ro 12:5), He wanted it to be & stay whole (Jn 17:20–23), & the Bible warns about people who create divisions (Ro 16:17, Tt 3:10), but there is now a schism in the Church, I didn’t have to wait for the Pope & the Patriarch to finish their reconciliation. It would have made sense to go even alone to the other side of the Schism, & request restoration of communion, for my own part. Also, ‘Cath.’ means ‘whole, universal’ i.e. ‘entire Church for the whole world’, ‘Orth.’ means ‘right-worshipping’ & is short for ‘Orth. Cath.’, & groups that go into schism from the Orth. append further qualifiers. So the Orth. chose a name indicating they broke away. Also, there’s an ancient Eastern rule that an ecumenical (i.e. whole-Church) council is such if it’s called by the Pope or the Emperor. But the Orth. don’t have either anymore. And at the time we left, they were trying to have such a council anyway. It was somewhat disastrous b/c of disagreements b/f it started, resulting in some parties not attending, incl. the biggest by far, the Russians. The chaos demonstrated for me that the Church needs the Pope to arbitrate (& needs the restoration of the monarchies). Anyway, apparently b/c of my Russian Rite baptism, I was made a Russian Cath. (which is super-rare, 💖😁 & like I said, sublimely beautiful). Everything worked out excellently.

Gayle Weinraub says...

Greta, thank you so much for your long and thoughtful comment. Just a couple of thoughts....You mentioned that prophecy fulfillment played a role in your spiritual growth. Me too! That the prophecies were true made the most sense to me and it proved a key for me as well. Also I like your thoughts about how our sins are already forgiven, so why confess them over and over? The Bible tells us that repentence and baptism lead to the forgiveness of sins. Some places where this is discussed are Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19 (which says our sins are blotted out!), and Acts 22:16, which refers to them as being washed away. So you are right to sense that there is something wrong with being expected to confess the same already forgiven sins over and over. Thanks again for taking so much time to read my article and comment. I hope you will soon recover from chronic mono. God bless!

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