individuals have taken personality tests over the years. Many simply
take these tests as a matter of course and are not affected by them one
way or another. Others, however, have been denied jobs and other
opportunities as a result of taking personality tests. Most, however,
obtain a view of themselves that is distorted, exaggerated, or far off
the mark, but which may be received as true, either because there are
enough generalities that apply to all people to make the test appear
accurate or because they believe the mystique of hidden knowledge being
revealed by the test.
the poor validity of personality tests in our book Four Temperaments,
Astrology & Personality Testing and also in our book Missions &
PsychoHeresy. However, in spite of the poor validity, people rely on
these tests to determine all kinds of things about themselves and
others. These tests are used in criminal court cases, in custody cases,
for employment, for various kinds of certification and credentials
(i.e., teacher credentials), in counseling, in self-improvement
seminars, and for various other purposes and in numerous other
situations. Psychology Today (Vol. 32, No. 3) reports:
For a new
generation of job seekers, a polished resume may not be enough. They
may need a winning personality, literally. More and more employers
these days are asking job candidates to take personality tests as part
of the hiring process. In fact, personality testing is now a $400
million industry, according to an estimate by the Association of Test
is business in the world and weíre not surprised that the world would
use these tests. However, we are greatly concerned about the confidence
exhibited by Christians regarding these tests. Because of our knowledge
of the failures of these tests and the misinformation eagerly received
by those who already have the blessed truth of Scripture, we began to
express our concern. As we did, we found out about people whose lives
had been negatively impacted through the use of these tests. Therefore
we decided to look into the missionary candidating process. We found
that the great majority of the largest missionary agencies use such
loomed in our minds:
1. Can a
missionary candidate refuse to be screened by a mental health
professional or psychological test without being discriminated against
for doing so?
2. Has any
missionary candidate refused such screening?
The facts are
that missionary candidates know that refusing the psychoexpert screening
and psych tests will lead to being rejected by the mission agency.
Missionaries have told us that as a candidate you just do it because it
is excerpted from a copy of a letter sent to us from a couple who had
been subjected to such psychological testing:
process of psychological testing strikes me as having several serious
(1) In the
tests used, certain "norms" are provided as to how the
majority of people perform. Do these norms really reflect what is
right or wrong for Christians? How can the norms of lost men be used
to determine the quality of my character?
norms are a product of comparing people with other people. This is
strictly forbidden in the Scriptures. We do not dare to classify or
"compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they
measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among
themselves, are not wise" (2 Cor. 10:12).
(3) We are
tested by God in the milieu for the purpose of proving our character.
The artificial environment of the assessment center and its tests
simply cannot take the place of the tests God has put me through
during the last 30 years, and especially in the last 3 years of my
4) It was
pointed out to us that one of the reasons that psychological tests
were being used was, "Who do you get your references from? From
your pastors and elders who are your friends, right? And what are they
going to do but give you really good reports, right?" The
understanding was that the testing would get to the real truth. This
attitude is unbiblical and expressive of a very low opinion of the
pastors, elders, and Christian friends who are being asked to give
their assessments. The premise that these men cannot be trusted,
therefore psychological tests which can be trusted must be used and
depended upon, is patently wrong.
assessment center seems to be pursuing a process of worldly wisdom to
achieve its goals. "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than
men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:25).
Does this testing program operate on that premise? It does not. How
many Pauls and Jeremiahs would make it through these tests? We are in
danger of cutting off the head of anyone who stands out as being not
"normal." Many men of God are not altogether
"normal," as I am sure you know.
written to us and described the devastation they experienced when they
were told that their psychological tests did not match the profiles the
"Christian" organizations were looking for. Some have
described how they were undermined by the descriptions that were spewed
out by the test results.
possibility of being rejected for missionary service, personality tests
can have devastating affects on people. Some billow in pride and others
cringe in despair. Others are simply frustrated.
described having been required by an orthopedic doctor to take the MMPI
because of a medical problem with back pain. She wrote:
I was told
that I could not leave any answers blank. That can present a
problem for some people like me. I donít attend movies. So the
statement about enjoying movies is not fair. If I say I enjoy them Iím
lying, since I donít attend. If I say I donít enjoy them, then I
look like an anti-social person. Thereís no other choice. The same
thing about the statement stating that my sex life is satisfactory. As
a virgin, I have no "sex" life. If I say itís
satisfactory, it is assumed that Iím having sex. If I say itís not
satisfactory, itís assumed Iím having sex and not enjoying it. Yet
I had to answer one way or the other. In fact, the lady giving
the test would not allow me to leave until she checked to see that every
blank was filled. What unfairness!
question stated that there is a devil in my afterlife. For Christians
there wonít be a devil in their afterlife and yet we believe there
is a devil. Again, how can this be properly answered?
I was also
given an MMPI when I attended a pain clinic. At least there I was
allowed to leave blanks, although the test was returned to me and I
was told I had to respond to more question than I had done. All this
foolishness, just trying to get medical help for a medical
While these are
personal responses to various tests, Christians are to examine
everything according to the Scriptures. Furthermore, we are admonished
to examine ourselves in the light of Godís Word.
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