[Make sure you also read my post about random mind styles and your view of God]
In case you don’t immediately recognize this guy, it’s John Calvin. Hold that thought, because we’ll come back to him. Before we get there, we need to talk a little bit about what mind styles are. You need to go here first so you can read a little more about it, and can take the test (if you haven’t already).
Now, if you’ve taken the test, you’ve gotten an idea of whether you’re predominately one of the following:
- Concrete Sequential
- Abstract Sequential
- Abstract Random
- Concrete Random
I say “predominately” because the way the test works, you score on each one, you just have a preferred mode of operation. However, because it is a mind style, it is something that affects how we think about many different things. Also, because it is a mind style, it is something that is more or less habitual, but just like personal fashion style, is in principle fluid and dynamic.
Much of what I’m going to relay here comes from a handout we worked through in a faculty workshop over a year ago at this point. But with all the transitions last year in my first year teaching out of seminary, I’m just now getting around to processing some of these things.
Not to overgeneralize (but I’m going to anyway), depending on what your predominate mind style is, you may have very different expectations of who God is or should be. To see that, I’m going to sketch each style briefly and then talk about how that affects a person’s view of God.
If you’re reading this, there is roughly a 50% chance you are a concrete sequential. Technically, there is always a 50% chance (you either are or you aren’t), but in this case, roughly half the population falls into this category. If you’re a step by step kind of person, like routine, a might struggle just a tad with perfectionism, you might be a concrete sequential. If you make lists, love scheduling and organizing, you are most definitely a concrete sequential.
Because your mind tends toward sequential reasoning, and because you are a no nonsense kind of person, you want God to be faithful and consistent. You will struggle with the idea of God being like Narnia’s Aslan since he is wild. You’re ok with God being God, just so long as he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Luckily for you, we worship a God is who is like this. However, God’s ways are not your ways, and though he is faithful and consistent, he is also creative. This can lead to some dissonance in your personal relationship with God.
It is also worth noting that there is a slight tension in what you want from God. On the one hand, you want him to be faithful and consistent. On the other hand, you don’t always live up to your own perfectionism and so you want God to be forgiving. But, for God to be consistent, he needs to punish your lack of perfection. Because of that, it can be difficult to rest in the gospel. You may gravitate to the law (since it is a list) but then feel bad when you can’t keep it like you think you should.
Now here is where things get interesting. There is only a 1 in 10 chance you’re an abstract sequential. However, that’s what I am, and that’s also what most of your college professors are. If you’re known for gathering facts and doing research, you’re probably an abstract sequential. You love concepts, and you seek for truth. Because of that, you will naturally gravitate toward studying theology. Further, I’m going to suggest that you’ll gravitate toward a specific kind of theology.
Because as an abstract sequential, you want God to be wise, faithful, and dependable, you’re naturally going to be drawn to the stream of Christianity known as Calvinism because of its emphasis on God’s overarching plan and purpose. Also, it presents a very tightly ordered system of thought, and let’s face it, you love books and there are Calvinists writing books left and right. Granted they aren’t the only ones writing books, but they are writing the kind of books that resonate with an abstract sequential’s way of reasoning.
Now, there are actually two other mindstyles I’ve yet to cover (and if you were paying attention earlier you saw this post published half finished). However, to help make the eventual point, I’m going to talk about those separately. But don’t worry. Since I’m an abstract sequential, I’ll get to it in a semi-timely manner (a concrete sequential would have already finished the next post ahead of time).