Tuesday, I started explaining how your mind style influences (to some extent at least) how you view God. If nothing else, your mind style should be looked at as a kind of baseline that can either be balanced out with biblical teaching, or taken to an extreme. It doesn’t determine your view of God, but it certainly influences it.
When we talked last, the focus was on the two sequential mind styles. Not to oversimplify, but concrete sequentials value God being immutable (unchangeable) as well as just and righteous (never breaks rules and punishes those who do). Similarly, abstract sequentials value God being omniscient and omnipotent (knows everything and controls everything). Because they are both sequentials, they will value theological systems that are highly organized and logical.
Since I’m a sequential, these two mind styles are kind of my opposite, but my second highest score is concrete random, and most of my best friends have also been concrete randoms. Both concrete randoms and abstract randoms make up roughly 40-50% of the population, which means that in a given group, there will usually be a 50-50 split between sequentials and randoms. From a ministerial standpoint, those of us who are leaders would do well to understand the different mind styles and be aware of how we might unnecessarily screen out those opposite us.
For starters abstract randoms prefer story over system. A small group leader or pastor who always pushing a system of doctrine disconnected from the story of Scripture will probably not connect well with an abstract random. They connect by personal stories and examples and so would rather hear the story of the Bible than have you explain the theological system of the Bible.
When it comes to God, it is most important for the abstract random to know that God is personal, and that he loves them specifically. Though you could push this too far, I don’t think that it is too outlandish to suggest that abstract randoms would lean more toward an Arminian view of God since it prioritizes God’s love, sometimes to the exclusion of other attributes. I don’t think it is wrong to say that love is fundamental to who God is, but I don’t particularly follow the Arminian logic.
Nevertheless, an abstract random is naturally going to have a difficult time with the doctrine of election if it looks at all like God is being arbitrary. Because abstract random is the more feeling oriented mind style, anything that looks like cold logical deduction in Christian theology is going to be a turn off.
Much like abstract randoms, concrete randoms would also prefer you tell a story. While abstract randoms are looking for personal relevance, concrete randoms are looking for compelling reasons. They are also very creative and always up for a challenge. Because of this, they value God being creative as well. At a personal level, they want to know God values their uniqueness, and also that he is forgiving. Though concrete randoms like challenges, the random part of their mind style means that sometimes other responsibilities fall thru the cracks when pursuing a challenge and they want to know that God (and others) will forgive their mess-ups.
Concrete randoms may chafe as well at the mere thought of a “system” when it comes to theology. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I would not be surprised in the least if someone like Rob Bell were a concrete random. He is certainly very creative in his presentations, both in his books and on the platform. He also seems to value forgiveness quite a bit, and Love Wins raised many questions along those lines. Likewise, he seems to eschew the idea of theological systems (remember Velvet Elvis?) and prefers instead a more fluid approach. He illustrates his ideas well with stories, and ends up standing in stark contrast to many of the well known pastors and theologians out there who are (I would think) predominately one type of sequential.
Do I know all this for a fact?
No, not at all.
But, I do know that concrete randoms think a certain way, and Rob Bell seems to be the poster boy for that kind of mind style.
Does this mean that if you are a concrete random you are destined to be theologically unorthodox?
It does mean that you need to realize you’re naturally going to want to question things, and that’s ok.
Questions are good and so is dialogue.
Also we need more creativity in theology, and there is hardly a more challenging discipline out there.
But we need that creativity in presentation and ways of discussion, not in doctrine.
The concrete random mind style is a great thing, but when it is channeled to question everything and reject submitting to some kind of publicly accessible Christian creed, it is going to the opposite excess of the abstract sequential who has to logically explain every last detail of Christian theology.
And neither of those is good.
Rather, as the body of Christ, we ought to work together and recognize that our different mind styles influence us to see God differently, but we are all biblically correct. It is just when we make it our way or the highway, we get in trouble.
And that is the lesson in all of this, and probably and introduction to another blog post…
But we’ll have to wait and see (because I’m playing concrete random now and don’t want to commit ahead of time).