Jesus and Personality Theory: Exploring the Five-Factor Model, By James R. Beck

Jesus & Personality Theory

Exploring the Five-Factor Model

by James R. Beck

Jesus & Personality Theory
  • Length: 276 pages
  • Published: January 22, 1999
  • Item Code: 1925
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-1925-6

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In recent years researchers in human personality have come to a rarely achieved near unanimous conclusion: human personality is structured around a very few major traits, probably five in number. These factors, sometimes called the Big Five and represented by the acronym OCEAN, are

  • Openness to experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

How does this Five-Factor Model fit with a Christian understanding of human nature? How does it compare or contrast with the way Jesus lived, taught and counseled? James Beck looks at prominent themes in the teaching and ministry of Jesus and how they relate to the five personality factors. Here is a study of the Christian implications of the new model--a study that will offer fresh insights for students, pastors and therapists alike.

"This book is a powerful and encouraging model of how one Christian psychotherapist derives his foundational insights into human personality from Scripture, and especially from the teaching and behavior of Jesus. Here is no simplistic proof-texting but careful exegesis. Along the way, numerous claims of modern psychology are confirmed, while other ones are challenged. Anyone who reads this book and still believes that Christian counseling cannot be thoroughly biblically rooted simply does not understand the Bible, much less Christian counseling!?"

Craig Blomberg, professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

"While many authors talk about integrating psychological and theological perspectives on human personality, it is refreshing to see someone succeed. Beck has masterfully blended modern personality psychology with biblical views of human functioning, showing how each is essential for a complete understanding of how humans both are and ought to be. The science of personality can yield valuable insights into the teaching and counseling of Jesus. Conversely, Beck convincingly demonstrates that Jesus is the ultimate authority on human personality. This book is a concrete illustration of how the search for truth regarding human nature requires both revelation and experimentation. Thank you, James Beck, for showing us how to do integration the right way. This is a book to get excited about!?"

Robert A. Emmons, professor of Psychology, University of California--Davis

"For long years the relationship between psychotherapy and biblical faith has been a hotly debated issue, especially among evangelicals. In this wide-ranging discussion, informed by an impressive command of both theological sources and therapeutic theories, James Beck gives a definitive reply to that question. This is the best example I have come across thus far of how much-mooted integration is to be achieved. It demonstrates that the truths and teachings of Scripture dovetail with the soundest of contemporary counseling approaches. But this book is not for counselors and psychologists only. By no means! Beck?s treatment of biblical materials is illuminating and yet down-to-earth. I hope that this lucid work of scholarship will win the appreciative readership it deserves."

Vernon C. Grounds, Chancellor, Denver Seminary

"By examining the highly reputed and empirically established five-factor model of personality in light of equally tested teachings of Christ, Beck has done the Christian community a great service. Whether acknowledged or not, he has done the same for psychology."

Peter C. Hill, professor of psychology, Grove City College; editor, Journal of Psychology and Christianity

"You may not agree with all of his conclusions. But after reading this book you will have a better understanding of Christ and of yourself--and a new appreciation for the practicality and relevance of God's authoritative Word."

Gary J. Oliver, executive director, The Center for Marriage and Family Studies

"A book that should be required reading for all clergy and Christian counselors!"

David G. Benner, professor of psychology, Redeemer College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada; director, Institute for Psychospiritual Health


1. Jesus As the Wonderful Counselor
2. Jesus the Big Five

Section One: Openness to Experience
Introduction: Jesus Our Experiential Life
3. Spread Joy
4. Experience Hope

Section Two: Conscientiousness
Introduction: Jesus Our Motivational Life
5. Display Mercy
6. Pursue Justice

Section Three: Extraversion
Introduction: Jesus Our Interpersonal Life
7. Show Love
8. Be Trustworthy

Section Four: Agreeableness
Introduction: Jesus Our Attitudinal Life
9. Enjoy Peace
10. Live in Acceptance

Section Five: Neuroticism
Introduction: Jesus Our Emotional Life
11. Offer Accept Confession
12. Seek Grant Forgiveness


James R. Beck

James R. Beck, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor and the chair of the counseling department at Denver Seminary. His six previous books include Helping Worriers (coauthored with David Moore) and The Healing Words of Jesus.