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Question and Answer

Four Personality Types?


Does the OPC have any position on the popular books and courses on the so-called 4 personality types (Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Melancholic)? Some say it is occultic and some say it is useful in developing communication skills.


There is a variety of positions in the OPC on this matter. The denomination has not published anything regarding personality types. Some would find them useful; some would find them useful in some sense; some would find them objectionable. This is not a confessional or constitutional matter for the OPC; it never has been.

One way to look at the issue is to recall Paul’s words: all things are lawful, but all things do not edify (1 Corinthians 10:23). In the context Paul is talking about building up a brother. Do nothing that will tear someone down. I believe the principle to which Paul appeals applies quite well.

These personality types may be useful sometimes in understanding where another person is coming from. Used in that way and for the other’s benefit does not seem hurtful. However, if the types are used so as to label someone or put them in a constraint wherein they are evaluated in every detail of their lives according to these personality types, my own opinion is that then they are not being used to build up. People are then being put in a box. In my own life, I find that I fit several of these types depending on the issue. I have found them beneficial as an aid in understanding myself and others as long as they are used wisely and within bounds. Others will disagree with me. Just remember, people do not always fit these categories, or they may fit several at once.

Second, that some say personality types are occultic is not surprising. I can’t speak to that issue, but I am sure you have gathered where I stand. If these types were occultic, I am sure that the OPC would have something to say about them. Her silence speaks wisdom to me.

I hope that this has been of some small help to you. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me.

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"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

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