Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit

Carl Jung, Neo-gnosticism, and the MBTI



A report by the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird,

Past National Chair of ARM Canada

In 1991, I had the wonderful privilege of attending the Episcopal Renewal Ministries(ERM) Leadership Training Institute (LTI) in Evergreen, Colorado.  Since then, I and others encouraged Anglican Renewal Ministries Canada to endorse the LTI approach, reporting in the ARM Canada magazine with articles about our helpful LTI experiences.  ARM Canada, through our LTI Director, Rev. Murray Henderson, has since run a number of very helpful Clergy and Lay LTIs across Canada, which have been well received and appreciated.

Through listening to the tapes by Leanne Payne and Dr. Jeffrey Satinover from the 1995 Kelowna Prayer Conference, I came across some new data that challenged me to do some rethinking about the Jungian nature of the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator) used in the current ARM Canada LTIs.  Dr. Jeffrey Satinover’s critique of Jungianism came with unique credibility, given his background as an eminent Jungian scholar, analyst, and past President of the C.G. Jung Foundation.  I began to do some reading on Carl Jung, and mailed each ARM Board member a copy of the two audio tapes by Payne and Satinover.  The ARM Board at our April 1996 meeting took an initial look at the Jungian nature of the MBTI, and whether we should continue to use the MBTI in our LTIs.  Our ARM Board agreed to do some investigating on this topic and report back with some information to discuss at the November 1996 ARM Board meeting.

Currently approximately two and a half million people are ‘initiated’ each year into the MBTI process. [1] According to Peter B. Myers, it is now the most extensively used personality instrument in history. [2]  There is even a MBTI version for children, called the MMTIC (Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children)[3], and a simplified adult MBTI-like tool for the general public, known as the Keirsey-Bates Indicator.  A most helpful resource in analyzing the MBTI is the English Grove Booklet by Rev.  Robert Innes, of St. John’s College, Durham, entitled Personality Indicators & the Spiritual Life.  Innes focused on “the two indicators most widely used by Christian groups – Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram.”[4]  One of the key questions for the ARM Board to settle is whether the MBTI is an integral part of Jungian neo-gnosticism, or alternately, that it may be a detachable benevolent portion of Jung’s philosophy in an otherwise suspect context.  To use a visual picture, is the MBTI the ‘marijuana’, the low-level entry drug that potentially opens the door to the more hard-core Jungian involvement, or is it just a harmless sugar tablet? To get at this question, I have broken my analysis down into smaller, more concrete questions.

1. Is the MBTI actually connected with Carl Jung?

The Rev. Canon Charles Fulton, President of ERM, commented in a June 17th, 1996 letter that “We have certainly had some concerns over the MBTI over the years and its Jungian nature”.  Rev. Fred Goodwin, Rector of National Ministries for ERM, commented in a September 18th, 1996 letter that “…we (ERM) no longer use the MBTI in our teachings…we’ve not included it in the last couple of years – believing that there are many other models and issues that need to be discussed with clergy and lay leaders.”  In Isabel Briggs-Myers’ book Introduction To Type (1983), she comments that the MBTI is “based on Jung’s theory of psychological types.”[5]  In the book People Types and Tiger Stripes written by Jungian practitioner Dr. Gordon Lawrence, he states that “The (MBTI) Indicator was developed specifically to carry Carl Jung’s theory of type (Jung, 1921, 1971) into practical application.”[6]  In the Grove Book on personality indicators, Robert Innes comments that “Carl Jung’s psychology lies behind…the MBTI”.[7]

The Buros Mental Measurement YearBook (1989, 10th Edition) notes that the MBTI “…is a construct-oriented test that is inextricably linked with Jung’s (1923) theory of psychological types.”[8]  As to the evidence of validity, Buros characterizes the stability of type classification over time as “somewhat disappointing.”[9]  The Jungian/MBTI stance, as expressed by Dr. Gordon Lawrence, former President of the Association for Psychological Types, is that MBTI “types are a fact”, not a theory.[10]  After reviewing the statistical evidence relating to the MBTI, however, Dr.  Paul Kline, Professor of Psychometrics at Exeter University, commented that “There has been no clear support for the 8-fold categorization, despite the popularity of the MBTI.”[11]  Mario Bergner, a colleague of Leanne Payne in Pastoral Care Ministries, observed in a July 2nd, 1996 letter that “of all the different types of psychological testing, forced choice tests (such as the MBTI) are considered the least valid.”  More specifically, Bergner noted that “the validity of the MBTI is at zero because the test is based on a Jungian understanding of the soul which cannot be measured for good or bad.”  The official MBTI view, as expressed by Dr. Gordon Lawrence, is that MBTI personality designations are “as unchangeable as the stripes on a tiger”.[12]  Bergner, in contrast, does not believe that all of humanity can be unchangeably boxed into 16 temperament types, and is concerned about cases where people are being rejected for job applications, because they don’t fit certain MBTI categories.

 2. What is Carl Jung’s Relation to Neo-Gnosticism? 

Carl Jung is described by Merill Berger, a Jungian psychologist, as “the psychologist of the 21st century”.[13]  Dr. Satinover says “Because of his great influence in propagating gnostic philosophy and morals in churches & synagogues, Jung deserves a closer look.  The moral relativism that released upon us the sexual revolution is rooted in an outlook of which (Jung) is the most brilliant contemporary expositor.”[14]  One could say without overstatement that Carl Jung is the Father of Neo-Gnosticism & the New Age Movement.  That is why Satinover comments that “One of the most powerful modern forms of Gnosticism is without question Jungian psychology, both within or without the Church”.[15]  Carl Jung “explicitly identified depth psychology, especially his own, as heir to the apostolic tradition, especially in what he considered its superior handling of the problem of evil.”[16]  Jung claimed that “In the ancient world, the Gnostics, whose arguments were very much influenced by psychic experience, tackled the problem of evil on a broader basis than the Church Fathers.”[17] Dr. Satinover notes that “Whatever the system, and however the different stages are purportedly marked, the ultimate aim, the innermost circle of all Gnostic systems, is a mystical vision of the union of good and evil.”[18]

Jung, says Satinover, “devoted most of his adult life to a study of alchemy; he also explicated both antique hermeticism and the ‘christian’ gnostics; his earliest writings were about spiritualism…”[19]  In his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung claimed: “The possibility of a comparison with alchemy, and the uninterrupted intellectual chain back to Gnosticism, gave substance to my psychology.”[20]  Most people are not aware that Jung collected one of the largest amassing of spiritualistic writings found on the European continent.[21] Dr. James Hillman, the former director for the Jungian Institute in Zurich, commented, “(Jung) wrote the first introduction to Zen Buddhism, he…brought in (Greek Mythology), the gods and the goddesses, the myths,…he was interested in astrology…”[22]

In 1929, Jung wrote a commentary on the Secret of the Golden Flower, which he said was “not only a Taoist text concerned with Chinese Yoga, but is also an alchemical treatise.”[23]  He comments that “…it was the text of the Golden Flower that first put me on the right track.  For in medieval alchemy we have the long-sought connecting link between Gnosis (i.e. of the Gnostics) and the processes of the collective unconscious that can be observed in modern man…”[24]  Dr. Richard Noll comments that “the divinatory methods of the I Ching, used often by Jung in the 1920s and 1930s, were a part of the initial training program of the C.G. Jung Institute of Zurich in 1948, and its use is widely advocated today in Jungian Analytic-Training Institutes throughout the world.”[25]

During the hippie movement of the 1960’s, the Rock Opera Hair boldly proclaimed the alleged dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  Once again Carl Jung foreshadowed this emphasis in a 1940 letter to his former assistant, Godwin Baynes: “1940 is the year when we approach the meridian of the first star in Aquarius.  It is the premonitory earthquake of the New Age.”[26]  In Jung’s book Aion, he holds that “…the appearance of Christ coincided with the beginning of a new aeon, the age of the Fishes.  A sychronicity exists between the life of Christ and the objective astronomical event, the entrance of the spring equinox into the sign of Pisces.”[27] In a letter written by Jung to Sigmund Freud, he said: “My evenings are taken up very largely with astrology.  I made horoscopic calculations in order to find a clue to the core of psychological truth…I dare say that we shall one day discover in astrology a good deal of knowledge which has been intuitively projected into the heavens.”[28]

Jung’s family had occult linkage on both sides, from his paternal Grandfather’s Freemasonry involvement as Grandmaster of the Swiss Lodge[29], and his maternal family’s long-term involvement with seances  and ghosts.  John Kerr, author of A Most Dangerous Method, comments that Jung was heavily involved for many years with his mother and two female cousins in hypnotically induced seances.  Jung eventually wrote up the seances as his medical dissertation.[30]  Jung acquired a spirit guide and guru named ‘Philemon’[who was described by Jung as ‘an old man with the horns of a bull…and the wings of a fisher’].  Before being Philemon, this creature appeared to Jung as ‘Elijah’, and then finally mutated to ‘Ka’, an Egyptian earth-soul that ‘came from below’.[31]  It may be worth reflecting upon why Jung designated his Bollingen Tower  as the Shrine of Philemon.[32]

Jung himself was the son of a Swiss Pastor caught in an intellectual faith crisis.  When younger, Carl Jung had a life-changing dream of a subterranean phallic god which reappeared “whenever anyone spoke too emphatically about Lord Jesus.”[33]  Jung commented that “…the ‘man-eater’ in general was symbolized by the phallus, so that the dark Lord Jesus, the Jesuit and the phallus were identical.”[34]  This “initiation into the realm of darkness”[35] radically shaped Jung’s approach to Jesus: “Lord Jesus never became quite real for me, never quite acceptable, never quite lovable, for again and again I would think of his underground counterpart…Lord Jesus seemed to me in some ways a god of death…Secretly, his love and kindness, which I always heard praised, appeared doubtful to me…”[36]  The next major spiritual breakthrough in his life was what Jung described as a “blasphemous vision”[37] of God dropping his dung on the local Cathedral.  This vision, said Jung, gave him an intense “experience of divine grace”.[38]

3. How serious is  the Jungian Reconciliation of Good and Evil? 

Leanne Payne says of  Dr. Jeffrey Satinover that “like (C.S.) Lewis, he knows that we can never reconcile (synthesize) good and evil, and this synthesis is the greatest threat facing not only Christendom but all mankind today.”[39]  Dr. Satinover sees the temptation facing our generation that”…on a theological plane, we succumb to the dangerous fantasy that Good and Evil will be reunited in a higher oneness.”[40]

One of Jung’s key emphases was that the “dark side” of human nature needed to be “integrated” into a single, overarching “wholeness” in order to form a less strict and difficult definition of goodness.[41]  “For Jung”, says Satinover, “good and evil evolved into two equal, balanced, cosmic principles that belong together in one overarching synthesis.  This relativization of good and evil by their reconciliation is the heart of the ancient doctrines of gnosticism, which also located spirituality, hence morality, within man himself.  Hence ‘the union of opposites’.”[42]

Jung believed that “the Christ-symbol lacks wholeness in the modern psychological sense, since it does not include the dark side of things…”[43]  For Jung, it was regrettable that Christ in his goodness lacked a shadow side, and God the Father, who is the Light, lacked darkness.[44]  He spoke of “…an archetype  such as…the still pending answer to the Gnostic question as to the origin of evil, or, to put it another way, the incompleteness of the Christian God-image”[45]  Jung sought a solution to this dilemma in the Holy Spirit who united the split in the moral opposites symbolized by Christ and Satan.[46]  “Looked at from a quaternary standpoint”, writes Jung, “the Holy Ghost is a reconciliation of opposites and hence the answer to the suffering in the Godhead which Christ personifies.”[47]  Thus for Jung, says John Dourley, the Spirit unites the exclusively spiritual reality of Christ with that which is identified with the devil, including ‘the dark world of nature-bound man’, the chthonic side of nature excluded by Christianity from the Christ image.[48]  In a similar vein, Jung saw the alchemical figure of Mercurius as a compensation for the one-sideness of the symbol of Christ.[49]  That is why Jung believed that “It is possible for a man to attain totality, to become whole, only with the co-operation of the spirit of darkness…”[50]

4. How Much Influence does Jungian Neo-Gnosticism have on the Church? 

There are key individuals promoting the Jungian gospel to the Church, such as Morton Kelsey, John Sanford(not John & Paula Sandford), Thomas Moore, Joseph Campbell, and Bishop John Spong.  Thomas Moore, a former Roman Catholic monk, is widely popular with a new generation of soul-seekers, through his best-seller: Care of the Soul.  John Sanford, the son of the late Agnes Sanford, is an Episcopal Priest and Jungian analyst, with several books promoting the Jungian way.  Morton Kelsey is another Episcopal Priest who has subtly woven the Jungian gospel through virtually every one of his books, specially those aimed for the Charismatic renewal constituency.  Satinover describes Kelsey as having “made a career of such compromise”, noting that Kelsey has now proceeded in his latest book Sacrament of Sexuality to approve of the normalization of homosexuality.[51]

Joseph Campbell, cited by Satinover as a disciple of Jung, is famous for his public TV series on “The Power of Myth”.[52]  Bishop John Spong, who has written two books (Resurrection: Myth or Reality & The Easter Moment) denying the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, gives Joseph Campbell credit for shaping his views on Jesus’ resurrection.  “I was touched by Campbell’s ability to seek the truth of myths while refusing to literalize the rational explanation of those myths…Campbell allowed me to appreciate such timeless themes as virgin births, incarnations, physical resurrections, and cosmic ascensions…Slowly, ever so slowly, but equally ever so surely, a separation began to occur for me between the experience captured for us Christians in the word Easter and the interpretation of that experience found in both the Christian Scriptures and the developing Christian traditions…”[53]  Few people have realized that Bishop Spong’s spiritual grandfather is none other than Carl Jung.

“Jung’s direct and indirect impact on mainstream Christianity – and thus on Western culture,” says Satinover, “ has been incalculable.  It is no exaggeration to say that the theological positions of most mainstream denominations in their approach to pastoral care, as well as in their doctrines and liturgy – have become more or less identical with Jung’s psychological/symbolic theology.”[54]   It is not just the more ‘liberal’ groups, however, that are embracing the Jungian/MBTI approach.  In a good number of Evangelical theological colleges, the MBTI is being imposed upon the student body as a basic course requirement, despite the official Jungian stance that “The client has the choice of taking the MBTI or not. Even subtle pressure should be avoided.”[55]

While in theological school, I became aware of the strong influence of Dr. Paul Tillich on many modern clergy.  In recently reading C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich [written by John Dourley, a Jungian analyst & Roman priest from Ottawa],  I came to realize that Tillich and Jung are ‘theological twins’.  In a tribute given at a Memorial for Jung’s death, Tillich gave to Jung’s thought the status of an ontology because its depth and universality constituted a ‘doctrine of being’.[56] It turns out that Tillich is heavily in debt in Jung for his view of God as the supposed “Ground of Being”.  As well, both Tillich and Jung, says Dourley, “understand the self to be that centering force within the psyche which brings together the opposites or polarities, whose dynamic interplay makes up life itself.”[57]  As a Jungian popularizer, Tillich saw life as “made up of the flow of energy between opposing poles or opposites.”[58]

So many current theological emphases in today’s church can be traced directly back to Carl Jung.  For example, with the loss of confidence in the Missionary imperative, many mainline church administrators today sound remarkably like Jung when he said: “What we from our point of view call colonization, missions to the heathen, spread of civilization, etc, has another face – the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry – a face worthy of a race of pirates and highwaymen.”[59]  In speaking of Buddhism and Christianity, Jung taught the now familiar inter-faith dialogue line, that “Both paths are right.”[60]  Jung spoke of Jesus, Mani, Buddha, and Lao-Tse as ‘pillars of the spirit’, saying “I could give none preference over the other.”[61] The English Theologian Don Cupitt says that Jung pioneered the multi-faith approach now widespread in the Church.[62]

For those of us who wonder why some Anglicans are mistakenly calling themselves “co-creators with God”,  the theological roots can again be traced back to Jung: “…man is indispensable for the completion of creation; that, in fact, he himself is the 2nd creator of the world, who alone has given to the world its objective existence…”[63]  In light of our current Canadian controversies around “Mother Goddess” hymnbooks,  it is interesting to read in the MBTI source book, Psychological Types( Carl Jung, 1921) about the “Gnostic prototype, viz, Sophia, an immensely significant symbol for the Gnosis.”[64]  Carl Jung is indeed the Grandfather of much of our current theology.

5.  What is the connection between ‘Archetypes’, the Unconscious and the MBTI?

Keirsey and Bates are strong MBTI supporters who have identified the link between the MBTI psychological types and Jungian archetypes.  In their book Please Understand Me, they state Jung’s belief that “..all have the same multitude of instincts (i.e. archetypes) to drive them from within.”  Jung therefore “invented the ‘function types’ or ‘psychological types’” to combine the uniformity of the archetypes with the diversity of human functioning.[65]  In their best-selling MBTI book: Gifts Differing, Isabel Myers Briggs and Peter B. Myers speak openly about Jungian Archetypes as “those symbols, myths, and concepts that appear to be inborn and shared by members of a civilization”.[66]

Dr. Richard Noll holds in his book The Jung Cult that such Jungian ideas as the “collective unconscious” and the theory of the archetypes come as much from late 19th century occultism, neopaganism, and social Darwinian teaching, as they do from natural science.[67]  Jung’s post-Freudian work (after 1912), especially his theories of the collective unconscious and the archetypes, could not have been constructed, says Noll, without the works of G.R.S. Mead on Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and the Mithraic Liturgy.  Starting in 1911, Jung quoted Mead, a practicing Theosophist, regularly in his works through his entire life.[68]  Richard Webster holds that “the Unconscious is not simply an occult entity for whose real existence there is no palpable evidence.  It is an illusion produced by language – a kind of intellectual hallucination.”[69]

Jung was a master at creating obscure, scientific-sounding concepts, usually adapted from occultic literature.  Jung held that “the collective unconsciousness is the sediment of all the experience of the universe of all time, and is also the image of the universe that has been in process of formation from untold ages.  In the course of time, certain features became prominent in this image, the so-called dominants (later called archetypes by Jung).”[70]  [Much of Jung’s teaching on archetypes is so obscure that I have placed the relevant data in the footnotes of this report, for the more motivated reader.]

In his phylogenetic racial theory, Jung assumes that acquired cultural attitudes, and hence Jungian archetypes, can actually be transmitted by genetic inheritance.  Richard Webster, however, explodes Jung’s phylogenetic theory as biologically untenable.[71] Peter B. Medawar, a distinguished biologist, wrote in the New York Review of Books (Jan. 23, 1975): “The opinion is gaining ground that doctrinaire psychoanalytic theory is the most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the 20th century: and a terminal product as well – something akin to a dinosaur or zeppelin in the history of ideas, a vast structure of radically unsound design and with no posterity.”

“This work Psychological Types (1921), said Jung, “sprung originally from my need to define the way in which my outlook differs from Freud’s and Adler’s.  In attempting to answer this question, I came across the problem of types, for it is one’s psychological type which from the outset determines and limits a person’s judgment.”[72]  In words strangely reminiscent of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology, Jung teaches in Psychological Types (PT) that “The unconscious, regarded as the historical background of the psyche, contains in a concentrated form the entire succession of engrams (imprints), which from time to time have determined the psychic structure as it now exists.”[73]

Jung held in PT that “The magician…has access to the unconscious that is still pagan, where the opposites still lie together in their primeval naiveté, beyond the reach of ‘sinfulness’, but liable, when accepted into conscious life, to beget evil as well as good with the same primeval and therefore daemonic force.”[74]  Jung entitled an entire section in PT: “Concerning  the Brahmanic Conception of the Reconciling Symbol”.  Jung notes: “Brahman therefore must signify the irrational union of the opposites – hence their final overcoming…These quotations show that Brahman is the reconciliation and dissolution of the opposites – hence standing beyond them as an irrational factor.”[75]

My recurring question is: “Do we in ARM Canada  wish to  be directly or indirectly sanctioning this kind of teaching?”  Symbolically, the  MBTI can be thought of as a “freeze-dried” version of Jung’s Psychological Types (1921). Since PT teaches extensively about Jung’s archetypes and collective unconscious, it seems clear to me that to endorse the ‘freeze-dried’ MBTI is ultimately to endorse Jung’s archetypal, occultic philosophy.

6.  What is the Relationship between Neo-gnosticism and the MBTI?

Dr. Richard Noll of Harvard University comments that “We know that (Wilhelm) Ostwald was a significant influence on Jung in the formation of his theory of psychological types.”[76]  Jung mentioned Ostwald’s division of men of genius into classics and romantics in his first public presentation on psychological types at the Psychoanalytic Congress in Munich in September 1913.  The classics and the romantics corresponded, according to Jung, to the introverted type and the extraverted type.  Long quotations from Ostwald appear in other of Jung’s work between 1913 and 1921 – precisely the period of Ostwald’s most outspoken advocacy of eugenics, nature worship, and German imperialism through the Monistenbund, a Monistic Alliance led by Ostwald.  An entire chapter of Jung’s Psychological Types is devoted favorably to these same ideas of Ostwald.”[77]  Is any link, however,  between Ostwald’s Germanic anti-Semitism and Jung merely an exercise in ‘guilt-by-association’?  The newly emerging hard data would suggest otherwise.  The influence of Germanic anti-Semitism on Jungianism can now be seen in a secret quota clause designed to limit Jewish membership to 10% in the Analytical Psychology Club of Zurich.  Jung’s secret Jewish quota was in effect from 1916 to 1950, and only came to public light in 1989.[78]

“The book on types (PT)”, says Jung, “yielded the view that every judgment made by an individual is conditioned by his personality type and that every point of view is necessarily relative.  This raised the question of the unity which much compensate this diversity, and it led me directly to the Chinese concept of Tao.”[79]  Put simply, the MBTI conceptually leads to Taoism.  Jung held that the central concept of his psychology was “the process of individuation”.  Interesting the subtitle of the PT book, which The MBTI claims to represent, is “…or The Psychology of Individuation”.  Philip Davis, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of P.E.I. comments, “In this lengthy process of ‘individuation’, one learns that one’s personality incorporates a series of polar opposites: rationality and irrationality, the ‘animal’ and the ‘spiritual’, ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, and so on.  The goal of the (Jungian) exercise is the reconciliation of the opposites, bringing them all into a harmony that results in ‘self-actualization’.”[80]  Once again, it seems that aspect after aspect of this seemingly innocuous personality test leads back to Jung’s fundamental philosophic and religious teachings.

Two of Jung’s ‘most influential archetypes’ are the anima & animus, described by Jung as “psychological bisexuality”.[81]  Jung teaches in PT that every man has a female soul (anima) and every woman has a male soul (animus).[82]  Noll comments that “Jung’s first encounter with the feminine entity he later called the anima seems to have begun with his use of mediumistic techniques…”[83]  Based on the recently discovered personal diary of Sabina Spielrein, John Kerr claims that Jung’s so-called anima “the woman within” which he spoke to, was none other than his idealized image of his former mistress, patient, and fellow therapist, Sabina Spielrein.[84]  After breaking with both Spielrein and Freud,  Jung felt his own soul vanish as if it had flown away to the land of the dead.  Shortly after, while his children were plagued by nightmares and the house was seemingly haunted, Jung heard a chorus of spirits cry out demanding: ‘We have come back from Jerusalem where we have not found what we sought.’[85]

In response to these spirits, Jung wrote his Seven Sermons to the Dead.   In these seven messages Jung ‘reveals’, in agreement with the 2nd century Gnostic writer Basilides,  the True and Ultimate God as Abraxas, who combines Jesus and Satan, good and evil all in one.[86]  This is why Jung held that “Light is followed by shadow, the other side of the Creator.”[87]  Dr. Noll, a clinical psychologist and post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, holds that “Jung was waging war against Christianity and its distant, absolute, unreachable God and was training his disciples to listen to the voice of the dead and to become gods themselves.”[88]

7.  What Does the MBTI Prototype Book “Psychological Types” teach about Opposites?

Consistently Jung teaches about reconciliation of opposites, even of good and evil.  Jung comments in MDR : “…a large part of my life work has revolved around the problem of opposites and especially their alchemical symbolism…”[89]  Through experiencing Goethe’s Faust, Jung came to believe in the ‘universal power’ of evil and “its mysterious role it played in delivering man from darkness and suffering.”[90] “Most of all”, said Jung, “(Faust) awakened in me the problem of opposites, of good and evil, of mind and matter, of light and darkness.”[91]  Being influenced as well by the Yin-Yang of Taoism, Jung believed that “Everything requires for its existence its opposite, or it fades into nothingness.”[92]

Dr. Gordon Lawrence, a strong Jungian/MBTI supporter, teaches that “In Jung’s theory, the two kinds of perception – sensing and intuition – are polar opposites of each other.  Similarly, thinking judgment and feeling judgment are polar opposites.”[93]  It seems to me that the setting up of the psychological polar opposites in PT functions as a useful prelude for gnostic reconciliation of all opposites.  The MBTI helps condition our minds into thinking about the existence of polar opposites, and their alleged barriers to perfect wholeness.  In the PT book, Jung comments that “One may be sure therefore, that, interwoven in the new symbol with its living beauty, there is also the element of evil, for, if not, it would lack the glow of life as well as beauty, since life and beauty are naturally indifferent to morality.”[94]  My question for the ARM Board is: “Do we accept Jung’s ‘polar opposites’ view that there can be no life and beauty without evil?”

“We must beware”, said Jung, “of thinking of good and evil as absolute opposites…The criterion of ethical action can no longer consist in the simple view that good has the force of a categorical imperative, while so -called evil can resolutely be shunned.  Recognition of the reality of evil necessarily relativizes the good, and the evil likewise, converting both into halves of a paradoxical whole.”[95]  Here is where Jung ties in his ethical relativism to the PT/MBTI worldview: “In practical terms, this means that good and evil are no longer so self-evident.  We have to realize that each represents a judgment.”[96]

Jung saw the reconciliation of opposites as a sign of great sophistication: “(Chinese philosophy) never failed to acknowledge the polarity and paradoxity of all life.  The opposites always balanced one another – a sign of high culture.  Onesideness, though it lends momentum, is a sign of barbarism.”[97]  It would not be too far off to describe Jung as a gnostic Taoist.  In PT, Jung comments that “The Indian (Brahman-Atman teaching) conception teaches liberation from the opposites, by which every sort of affective style and emotional hold to the object is understood…Yoga is a method by which the libido is systematically ‘drawn in’ and thereby released from the bondage of opposites.”[98]

While in India in 1938, Jung says that he “was principally concerned with the question of the psychological nature of evil.”[99] He was “impressed again and again by the fact that these people were able to integrate so-called ‘evil’ without ‘losing face’…To the oriental, good and evil are meaningfully contained in nature, and are merely varying degrees of the same thing.  I saw that Indian spirituality contains as much of evil as of good…one does not really believe in evil, and one does not really believe in good.”[100]

In a comment reminiscent of our 1990’s relativistic culture, Jung said of Hindu thought:

“Good or evil are then regarded at most as my good or my evil, as whatever seems to me good or evil”.[101]  To accept the eight polarities within the MBTI predisposes one to embrace Jung’s teaching that the psyche “cannot set up any absolute truths, for its own polarity determines the relativity of its statements.”[102]  Jung was also a strong promoter of the occultic mandala, a circular picture with a sun or star usually at the centre. Sun worship, as personified in the mandala, is perhaps the key to fully understanding Jung.[103]  Jung taught that the mandala [Sanskrit for ‘circle’] was “the simplest model of a concept of wholeness, and one which spontaneously arises in the mind as a representation of the struggle and reconciliation of opposites.”[104]

In conclusion, to endorse the MBTI  is to endorse Jung’s book Psychological Types, since the MBTI proponents consistently say that the MBTI “was developed specifically to carry Carl Jung’s theory of types (1921, 1971) into practical application.”[105]  Let us seek the Lord in unity as he reveals his heart for us in this matter.

p.s. ARM Canada decided unanimously in November 1997 after much prayer and reflection to no longer use the MBTI in the Clergy and Lay Leadership Training Institutes.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in Anglicans for Renewal Canada

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada


[1] Isabel Briggs Myers with Peter B. Myers,  Gifts Differing, Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Press, Inc., 1980,p. xvii.  Many charismatics have a soft spot for this book, because it quotes portions of scripture from Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.  The actual link, however, between those bible passages, and  the Jung/Myers-Briggs theories is rather questionable.

In an October 29th, 1996 letter from Rev. Fred Goodwin, Rector of National Ministries for ERM,  Fred Goodwin commented: “I would suggest that in light of your concerns, you drop the MBTI and use some of the material out on small group ministry and discipling instead—which we find are desperate needs for leadership training in the church.”

[2]  Ibid., p.210; also Dr. Gordon Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, p. xi;  A book Prayer & Temperament written by Msgr. Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey in 1984 has been very effective in winning Roman Catholics and Anglicans to the MBTI.  The book claims that the MBTI designations will make you either oriented to Ignatian prayer (if you are SJ), Augustinian prayer (if you are NF), Franciscan prayer(if you are SP), or Thomistic prayer(if you are NT).  In the MBTI, the four sets of types are Extravert(E) & Introvert(I), Sensate(S) & Intuitive(N), Thinking(T) & Feeling(F), and Judging(J) & Perceiving(P).  None of these 8 innocuous-sounding type names mean what they sound like.  Instead each of the 8 type names has unique and mysterious, perhaps even occultic, definitions given by Jung himself in a massive section at the back of Psychological Types.

[3] Dr. Gordon Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, Gainesville, FL: Center for Applications of Psychological Types, 1979, p. 222

[4] Robert Innes, Personality Indicators and The Spiritual Life, Grove Books Ltd., Cambridge, 1996, p.3;  The Ennegram is significantly occultic in nature and origin, coming from Sufi, numerology, and Arica New-Age sources.  George Gurideff, Oscar Ichazo of Esalen Institute, and Claudio Naranjo are the prominent New Agers who have popularized it, and then introduced it, through Fr. Bob Oschs SJ, into the Christian Church.  For more information, I recommend Robert Innes’ booklet and Mitchell Pacwa SJ article’s “Tell Me Who I Am, O Ennegram” Christian Research Journal, Fall 1991, pp. 14ff.

[5] Isabel Briggs Myers, Introduction to Type, Palo Alto, CA: Consulting

Psychologists Press, 1983, p.4

[6] Dr. Gordon Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, p. 6, also p. x

[7] Robert Innes, Personality Indicators and The Spiritual Life, p.8

[8] The Buros Mental Measurement YearBook (1989, 10th Edition), p. 93

[9] Ibid., p. 93

[10] Dr. Gordon Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, p.150

[11] Dr. Paul Kline, Personality: The Psychometric View: Routledge, 1993, p.136

[12] Dr. Gordon Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, Back Cover

[13]  Merill Berger & Stephen Segaller, The Wisdom of the Dreams, C.G. Jung Foundation, New York, NY, Shamballa Publications, Front Cover

[14] Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Baker Book House Co., 1996, p. 238

[15] Jeffrey Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 27.  Jung has “blended psychological reductionism with gnostic spirituality to produce a modern variant of mystical, pagan polytheism in which the multiple ‘images of the instincts’ (his ‘archetypes’) are worshipped as gods”, Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p. 238

[16] Ibid., p. 238

[17] Dr. Carl Jung, Aion, Collected Works, Vol. 9, 2 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959), p. 10

[18] Jeffrey Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 23

[19] Ibid., p. 27, Ft. 28

[20] Carl Jung & Aniela Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, translated from the German by Richard & Clara Winston, Vintage Books-Random House, 1961/1989, p. 205

[21] Jeffrey Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 28

[22] The Wisdom of the Dreams: Carl Gustav Jung: a Stephen Segaller Video, Vol. 3, “ A World of Dreams”. Jung also wrote the first western commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.( Psychology & the East, p. 60)

[23] Carl Jung, Psychology & the East, London & New York: Ark Paper Back, 1978/1986, p. 3

[24]  Ibid., p. 6

[25] Dr. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult.: Origins of a Charismatic Movement, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994, p. 333

[26] Merill Berger & Stephen Segaller, The Wisdom of the Dreams, p. 162;  Jung & Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 340

[27] Jung & Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 221

[28] Richard Webster, Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science, & Psychoanalysis, Basic Books: Harper Collins, 1995, p. 385.   Jung comments: “For instance, it appears that the signs of the zodiac are character pictures, in other words, libido symbols which depict the typical qualities of the libido at a given moment…”

[29] Jung & Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.232

[30] John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: the Story of Jung, Freud, & Sabina Spielrein, New York, Alfred Knopf Books, 1993, p. 50 & 54

[31] Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 37;  The spirit guide Philemon/Elijah later mutated into Salome, who addressed Jung in a self-directed trance vision as Christ.  Jung ‘saw’ himself assume the posture of a victim of crucifixion, with a snake coiled around him, and his face transformed into that of a lion from the Mithraic mystery religion.(C.G.  Jung, Analytical Psychology :Princeton University Press, 1989:, p. 96, 98)

[32] Jung & Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.223.  “Shrine of Philemon: Repentance of Faust” was the inscription carved in stone by Jung over the entrance of the Bollingen Tower, where he lived and wrote.

[33] Ibid., p. 12

[34] Ibid., p. 12

[35] Ibid., p. 15

[36] Ibid., p. 13

[37] Ibid., p. 58.   Jung concluded from this ‘Cathedral’ experience that “God Himself can…condemn a person to blasphemy” Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 74

[38] Ibid., p. 55

[39] Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 3

[40] Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p. 238

[41] Ibid.,  p. 240

[42] Ibid.,  p 240.  Keirsey & Bates, authors of Please Understand Me, and creators of the more popularized Keirsey-Bates adaptation of the MBTI, teach openly in their book on the Jungian “shadow…It’s as if, in being attracted to our opposite, we grope around for that rejected, abandoned, or unlived half of ourselves…(p.68)”

[43] Jung, Aion, Collected Works, p. 41

[44] John P. Dourley, C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich: The Psyche as Sacrament, Inner City Books, 1981, p. 63 “(Jung) also feels that it is questionable in that (the Christ symbol) contains no trace of the shadow side of life.”  Fr. Dourley, a Jungian analyst, also comments on p. 63 about Jung’s “criticism of the Christian conception of a God in who there is no darkness.”

[45] Jung & Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 318

[46] Dourley, C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich, p. 70

[47] Carl Jung, ‘A Psychological Approach to The Trinity’, CW11,  para. 260

[48] Ibid., para. 263

[49] Carl Jung, ‘The Spirit Mercurius’, Alchemical Studies, CW13,  para. 295.   Jung comments, “As early as 1944, in Psychology and Alchemy, I had been able to demonstrate the parallelism between the Christ figure and the central concept of the alchemists, the lapis or stone.” MDR, p.210

[50] C.G. Jung, ‘The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairy Tales, CW9, para. 453

[51] Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p. 241

[52] Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 9;  Joseph Campbell in fact worked personally with Jung and published through the Jungian-controlled Bollingen Foundation , ( Philip Davis, “The Swiss Maharishi”, Touchstone Issue 92, Spring 1996, p.11)

[53] The Right Reverend John Spong, Resurrection: Reality or Myth, Harper, 1994, p.  xi.  His parallel book is The Easter Moment.

[54] Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p.240. Satinover dryly comments that “in the United States, the Episcopal Church has more or less become a branch of Jungian psychology, theologically and liturgically.” (Empty Self ,p. 27, Footnote. 27)

[55] Dr. Gordon Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, p. 218

[56] A Memorial Meeting : New York, Analytical Psychology Club, 1962, p. 31

[57] Dourley, C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich, p. 17

[58] Ibid., p. 48  The persistent modern emphasis on the so-called ‘inner child’ makes a lot more sense when seen as a spin-off from Jung’s teaching that the symbol of the child is “that final goal that reconciles the opposites.” (Dourley, p. 83)

[59] Ibid., p. 248

[60] Ibid., p. 279

[61] Dourley, C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich, p. 65

[62] The Wisdom of the Dream, p. 99

[63] Jung, MDR, p. 256

[64] Carl Jung, Psychological Types: or the Psychology of Individuation, Princeton University Press, 1921/1971, p. 290.  Dr. Jeffrey Satinover memorably comments as a former Jungian that ‘Goddess worship’ is not the cure for misogyny, but it is its precondition, whether overtly or unconsciously. (The Empty Self, p. 9);  Marija Bimbutas, the late professor of archeology at UCLA, included Jung and more than a half dozen of his noted disciples in the bibliographies to her books on the alleged matriarchies of the Balkans:The Language of the Goddess(1989)and The Civilization of the Goddess(1991),(Philip Davis,”The Swiss Maharishi”, Touchstone Issue 92, Spring 1996, p.13)

[65] David Keirsey & Marilyn Bates, Please Understand Me, Del Mar, CA: Promothean Books, p. 3

[66] Isabel Myers Briggs & Peter B. Myers, Gifts Differing, p. xiv

[67] Richard Noll, The Jung Cult, front cover

[68] Ibid., p. 69  Dr. Noll comments: “I therefore argue that the Jung cult and its present day movement is in fact a ‘Nietzschean religion’”, p. 137;  Frederick Nietzsche’s stated view on Christianity is: “The Christian Church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie.” (Canadian Atheist, Issue 8: 1996, p. 1)

[69] Richard Webster, Why Freud was Wrong, p.250

[70] Jung, Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology, ‘The Psychology of Unconscious Processes’) p. 432  These dominants, said Jung, “are the ruling powers, the gods; that is, the representations resulting from dominating laws and principles, from average regularities in the issue of images that the brain has received as a consequence of secular processes.”(p. 432)

[71] Webster, Why Freud was Wrong p. 387

[72] Berger & Segaller,  Wisdom of the Dreams; p. 103,  MDR, p. 207

[73] Jung, Psychological Types, p. 211

[74] Ibid., p. 233  It would be interesting to research how much Jungian reading George Lucas did in preparing to produce his Blockbuster Star Wars. [i.e. The Force be with you].  The deity-like Force in Stars Wars was either good or evil, depending how you tapped into it..

[75] Ibid., p. 245-46

[76] Noll, The Jung Cult, p. 51

[77] Ibid., p. 69

[78] Ibid., p. 259

[79] Jung, MDR p. 207; Carl Jung, Psychology & the East, p. 15 “The wise Chinese would say in the words of the I Ching: ‘When Yang has reached its greatest strength, the dark power of yin is born within its depths, for night begins at midday when yang breaks up and begins to change into yin.”

[80] Ibid., p. 209;  Philip Davis,”The Swiss Maharishi”, Touchstone Issue 92, Spring 1996, p.12

[81] Ibid., p. 391;  Henri F. Ellenberger makes a strong case that Jung borrowed his matriarchy and anima/animus theories from Bachofen, an academic likened by some to the scientific credibility of Erik Von Daniken of The Chariots of the Gods and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of TM and its Yogic Flying. (Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious, Penguin Press, 1970, pp. 218-223);  Philip Davis, “The Swiss Maharishi”, Touchstone Issue 92, Spring 1996, p.13); Richard Noll, The Jung Cult, p. 188-90

[82] Jung, Psychological Types, p. 595

[83] Noll, The Jung Cult, p. 202-203;  Philip Davis comments: “Jung’s therapeutic technique of ‘active imagination’ is now revealed as a sanitized version of the sort of trance employed by spiritualistic mediums and Theosophical travelers, with whom Jung was personally familiar.” (Philip Davis,”The Swiss Maharishi”, Touchstone Issue 92, Spring 1996, p.14)

[84] John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method, p. 12; 49;191; 498 “…there (the Russian-born Spielrein) remained (in almost complete obscurity) until the publication of the Freud/Jung correspondence in 1974.”;p. 502;503: After the collapse of the Spielrein affair, John Kerr notes that “Jung’s condition had so deteriorated that his wife allowed Toni Wolff openly to become his mistress, and a sometime member of the household, simply because she was the only person who could calm him down.”;  p. 507- Jung’s stone bear carving in his Bollingen Tower specifically symbolized the anima .  Curiously the inscription said: “Russia gets the ball rolling”;  In a letter to Freud, Jung commented: “the prerequisite for a good marriage…is the license to be

unfaithful.”  The Freud/Jung Letters, trans. by R. Manheim & R. Hull (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988), p. 289

[85] Ibid., p. 503; MDR, p.190

[86] MDR, p. 378

[87] MDR, p. 328

[88] Noll, The Jung Cult, p. 224

[89] MDR, p. 233

[90] Ibid., p. 60

[91] Ibid., p. 235

[92] Jung, Psychology & the East, p. 184

[93] Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, p. 113

[94] Jung, Psychological Types, p. 235

[95] MDR, p. 329

[96] Ibid., p. 329

[97] Jung, Psychology & The East, p. 11

[98] Jung, Psychological Types, p. 149-50

[99] MDR, p. 275

[100] Ibid., p. 275

[101] Ibid., p. 275

[102] Ibid., p.350

[103] Noll, The Jung Cult, p. 137

[104] MDR, p. 335

[105] Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, p. 6

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Author: edhird

I was the Rector of St. Simon's Church North Vancouver, B.C for 31 years, from 1987 to 2018. Ordained in 1980, I have also served at St. Philip's Vancouver and St. Matthew's Abbotsford. My wife Janice and I have three sons James, Mark, and Andrew. I was Past President and Chaplain for Alpha Canada. While serving as the National Chair for Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada, I was one of three co-signers of the Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials For the past 31 years, I have been privileged to write over 500 articles as a columnist on spiritual issues for local North Vancouver newspapers. In the last number of years, I have had the opportunity to speak at conferences and retreats in Honduras, Rwanda, Uganda, Washington State, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Ontario. My book For Better, For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship, coauthored with Janice Hird, can be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Better-Worse-Discovering-lasting-relationship/dp/0978202236/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1535555614&sr=8-1 My sequel Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit, with a foreword by Dr JI Packer, is online with Amazon.com in both paperback http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/097820221X/ref=redir_mdp_mobile and ebook form http://tiny.cc/tanhmx . In Canada, Amazon.ca has it available in paperback http://tiny.cc/dknhmx and ebook http://tiny.cc/wmhmmx . It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook). Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form. Nook gives a sample of the book to read online: http://tiny.cc/vj3bmx . Indigo also offers the Kobo ebook version: http://tiny.cc/kreonx . You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook: http://tiny.cc/1ukiox The book 'Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit' focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus' healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how North Americans can embrace a holistically healthy life. In order to obtain a signed copy in North America of the prequel book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada', Blue Sky, or God's Firestarters, please send a $25 etransfer to ed_hird@telus.net . Cheques are also acceptable.

13 thoughts on “Carl Jung, Neo-gnosticism, and the MBTI

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  3. hello. wonderful info about this wise man. i learned a lot. i was in his house taking some pictures that you can see, of his weird house in Bollingen, swuiss.;

    hope you like it.


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  8. Thank you very much for your very important information.

    Unfortunately I have, for to many year, been involved in so called spirituality inspired by Jung and eastern traditions.

    I have also been forced to done some research on Jung,. Sorry, English is not my native language – and I hope it´s readable, even some foul or disturbing word.
    Link, http://jobnetmm.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/jung-memories/


  9. Pingback: Typology Exposed: Jung, MBTI, Enneagram, and more

  10. At college it was either Jung or Freud. I failed to see how two such diverse views could both be studied side by side, and I rejected Freud out of hand. Jung’s findings, however, resonated with me, and much later I came to appreciate the MBTI, which I have found to be practical and helpful in dealing with life’s interactions. If we throw out the MBTI, on what grounds are we doling so: (a) because it doesn’t work or in not insightful? OR (b) because it may lead people away from dependence on Christ? For me, it has helped me in my Christian life; helped me to pray more accurately both for myself and for others. What would we replace it with if it is ditched? It’s been said that Jung was a lousy theologian but a brilliant psychologist. I tend to agree. http://www.rufflemission.org


  11. Pingback: Dr Jean Houston and the Labyrinth Movement | Edhird's Blog

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