From Bad To Worse

My brother recently told me of two incidents of blatant selfishness and disregard for others which he observed in the space of a one week.  Both incidents were from the type of people who 20 or 30 years ago would be expected to show at least some consideration for others.  Insolent pride appears to be increasing, everywhere you turn.  Paul said to Timothy.

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But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

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Many of these descriptions apply to narcissists, implying that in “the last days” narcissism around us will get worse, not better.  Not a pleasant message.  It is presumptuous to declare that we are in the last days, as many over the past centuries have believed it as well, yet we’re still here.  However, it sure feels that we are.

The good news is that “it is darkest right before the dawn”, and those with sincere faith in Jesus are that much closer to a magnificent future.

How do we handle even more difficulty than we already have?  Paul went on to tell Timothy how to respond:

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12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:12-17

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Paul told Timothy

  1. Avoid them
  2. Expect to be persecuted (God tells us elsewhere in the Bible not to fear it.  He will give us the grace needed and reward us in the end)
  3. Expect people to go from bad to worse
  4. Expect people to try to deceive us
  5. Expect people to be easily deceived by others
  6. Continue in the truth you have learned and know
  7. Remember the faith and walk with God of those from whom you learned truth
  8. Remember that it is God’s written word (“sacred writings”) which provide true wisdom and true faith, and everything we need to effectively minister to those around us

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We all desire lives of peace and prosperity.  That will come in far greater measure than we can imagine – in Heaven.  But God knows and informs us that the road between here and there will be bumpy.  If we walk hand-in-hand with Him, He will see us through to that fantastic future.

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Please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective for an overview of what this blog is about

 

 

One Difference Between Secular and Biblical Perspectives

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One of the differences between the secular and Biblical approaches is that the secular psych world is “outside in” – observing characteristics, grouping them, and then labeling them – whereas the Biblical approach is “inside out.”  God alone knows the heart and character of a narcissistic person.  He gives the person with that kind of heart a name and then describes that type of person and the damage they leave in their wake in cascading detail.  Here’s a simple chart illustrating these approaches:

In a sense, the secular psych world is only observing and categorizing the characteristics which God through the Bible has already defined.

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There Is an Evil Underneath

While the descriptions are similar between the secular and Biblical world, God does not view “narcissism” as a mere personality disorder.  He sees narcissistic behavior as an evil that is driven by what is in a person’s heart.

But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 

Matthew 15:18-19

The battle is between good and evil, and it is waged at the heart level.  We can see the outward results of this battle through actions and words, but God sees directly inside.

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“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  I Samuel 16:7

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Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.   Psalm 44:21

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The problem’s source and solution start in the heart.  The mind simply serves the heart.  That’s one explanation for why a narcissist can appear to be self-contradictory by quickly taking the direct opposite position of something he just said.  His mixed signals display the mixed motives of his heart.

People who are casually around narcissists may only find them annoying.  However, those hurt by narcissists are quite aware there is something deeper – an underlying evil.  Call a spade, a spade – it helps when learning to deal with it.  Narcissists typically don’t see themselves as evil – in fact, they usually see the contrary in themselves – but their victims are eventually forced to see them for what they are.

[i] See also Mark 7:21, Luke 6:45

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Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 2

Please see here for part 1

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Jesus further highlighted the link between hypocrisy and judging others in Matthew 7:1-5:

 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:1-5

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The word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 has the same root “krino”[1] as in the word hypocrite.  The hypocrite has a “log in his eye” – a euphemism for a “big problem” or “big character flaw”.  But, out of pride the hypocrite minimizes his own log to be “nothing” – saying to himself “I’m OK”.  He then pretends helpfulness by offering to take the speck (a little problem) out of his brother’s eye, but in fact is acting as a proud judge, setting himself up as superior.

His judgment is proof that he has a problem in the same life area in which he is trying to “help” his brother.

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Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge[2] another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  Romans 2:1

Continue reading

Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 1

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Jesus called the narcissistic scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” seven times in Matthew 23.  There was a reason He emphasized it – He was making clear to them that even though they may have fooled people with their outward appearance of faux-righteousness, He clearly saw through to their proud, greedy hearts.  Hypocrisy is a prime trait of a scoffer/narcissist.

“The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.”[1] Continue reading

Narcissism = Insolent Pride in the Bible

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Proverbs 21:24

24 “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride.

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You may have found this blog because you have a “narcissist” in your life, or  in the life of someone you care about.   At first, you may not have known that you were dealing with a narcissist, but the pain and damage this selfish, arrogant, condescending, domineering person caused might have driven you to search for answers on what was going on, and on how to deal with this difficult person.  As you went online or to books on  Amazon, you read more about who this person is, and how he operates.  And you likely read some explanations as to how he got this way, or advice regarding how to deal with this “narcissist”.  In the process of trying to learn everything possible in your search for answers, you may have decided to explore what the Bible has to say on the subject.

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While the Bible does not specifically refer to “narcissism” –  which takes its name from Greek mythology – it does speak to the subject.

Continue reading

Narcissist Traits – They Will Trash You If You Reprove Them

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As we have discussed previously, “scoffer” is one name to describe those who act with “insolent pride” – the Biblical term for what the secular world calls narcissism.  Therefore, we can learn more about the characteristics of narcissists by looking deeper at what the Bible says about scoffers.

The following table focuses on the fact that narcissists absolutely hate to be told that they are wrong.

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Level

Scoffer (Insolent Pride) Trait

Narcissism Trait

1

Proverbs 15:2 – A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise

A narcissist will first avoid situations where he may be told he is doing something wrong…..no matter how wise the “reprover” might be

2

Proverbs 13:1 – “…A scoffer does not listen to rebuke”

But if a narcissist somehow does find himself in position of being rebuked, he will refuse to listen.  Have you ever tried to rebuke a narcissist?  He will ignore you, verbally fight you, tell you why you are the one who is wrong – anything to keep from admitting that they may be wrong.

3

Proverbs 9:8 – “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you..”

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Proverbs 26:24-26 – “He who hates disguise it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart.  When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart.  Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.”

Not only will a narcissist refuse to listen, but he will also hate you for reproving him.

 

He will disguise his hatred, and even speak graciously to you, but when he has the chance to trash you publicly he will take it.

4

Proverbs 9:7 – “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself…”

This results in a narcissist trashing your reputation.  A narcissist will not hesitate to trash the reputation of those who try to correct them – resulting in dishonor to you for daring to correct them.

Please see “Putting Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism Into Perspective” for background on what this blog is about.

Is Narcissism = Insolent Pride in the Bible?

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One underlying premise of this blog is that what is defined as “narcissism” in the secular world of psychology is equivalent to what is called “insolent pride” in the Bible.   The basis for making this assertion is the substantial, but not necessarily  1:1, overlap of traits.

 

TheBibleOnNarcissists

 

As Narcissistic Personality Disorder is still being researched in the formal field of psychology, and is only generally defined in the world of pop psychology, it does not have a clear, official definition  (see here).   Therefore, it stands to reason that there cannot be a complete 1:1 match between the terms “narcissism” and “insolent pride”, when one of the terms is not precisely defined.   But, there is enough overlap of traits that we can use the term “narcissism” as an approximation for “insolent pride”.

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The reason we are even using the term “narcissism” is that many people who are searching for answers on how to deal with these troublesome people will likely search using the term “narcissism”, as that is the term with which they are most familiar.  But the most precise and real answers will come from the Biblical understanding of “insolent pride”.  That is why we are using the terms synonymously, even though there is not a precise match-up between terms.

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Please see also

Best Match Between Secular and Biblical Definitions of Narcissism

The Divergence of Secular and Biblical Approaches To Narcissism

Secular Definitions – Narcissism Was Formerly Called Megalomania

 

 

 

 

“The People Of The Lie”

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John 9:39-41

39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

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One of the primary traits of the narcissistic Pharisees was their attitude of moral superiority and refusal to acknowledge that they had any sin – even though their inward lives were full of sin.  In this they deceived and lied to both themselves and others.  This can also be seen in Luke 18:9-14, Matthew 23:25-28, and Matthew 9:10-13.

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M Scott Peck was a psychiatrist whose personal journey ultimately led him to commit to Christianity.  By observation and analysis, through the lens of Christianity, he reached the same conclusion that Jesus had already made clear above.

Following are excerpts from a book he wrote on the subject

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Narcissism and The Progression of Fools – Introduction

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We have until now focused this biblical study of what the secular world calls “narcissism” primarily on the term “scoffer”, as one of the labels applied to those with insolent pride – the Biblical analog to the secular term.

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Proverbs 21:24

24 “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride.

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While not specifically called by the English term “fool”, the scoffer is part of a progression of foolishness described in Proverbs, starting with the “simple fool” (or “naive”), and moving all the way to the “committed fool”.  Each is a progressively greater degree of turning away from God’s wisdom, and walking an increasingly proud and self-seeking path which is independent from God.   Pride is a primary root to this self-seeking path independent from God, with increasing insolence up to the level of “insolent pride” (aka “scoffer”) and beyond.   Knowing this progression is helpful in identifying at least one of the ways in which someone can become a narcissist.

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The progression is as follows:

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(Types of Fool)     naive  ->  perverse ->  scoffing  ->   stubborn ->   committed

(Hebrew word)     pthiy  ->     ewil       ->     luts       ->      kecil      ->      nabal Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists* – Crying Out, Seeking God – continued

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James 1:5-8

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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When dealing with an N that is driving us crazy, in addition to crying out “God help me!”, God invites us to ask Him for wisdom.  This is HIS wisdom – not human wisdom – including practical  tips, things of the heart, and even things from God’s perspective.  James says that if you ask for wisdom, He will give it to you – generously.

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But there is an important qualifier to getting this wisdom – “not doubting”.  The doubting here is not so much doubting as to whether you will receive the wisdom, but doubting as to whether you really want it – whether you really want to do things God’s way even if He gave you the clear right answers.   We know this is through James’ statement in verse 7 – ” For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”   Double-mindedness is to have two minds or opinions on the same subject – wanting to do things God’s way, but at the same time wanting what we ourselves want.  With that heart, God could tell us the right answer, and we might not even know we received the answer because we were only looking for the answer we wanted to see.  In order to ask for true wisdom in dealing with the situation, to receive it, and to KNOW that we have received it, we must start with the heart attitude that we will act on the wisdom God gives us without interjecting our own “will” into the matter.

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This invitation to ask for wisdom is in the context of trials, which James describes as tests (we will look into this later).  Of course, our challenge with our narcissist certainly qualifies as a trial and a test.

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James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

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So go ahead – ask for wisdom in how to deal with your challenging narcissist.  But don’t expect to get what you are asking for unless you are truly serious about doing it His way instead of your own way.  All along being aware of the admonition in Proverbs:

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Proverbs 14:12

12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

 

Secular Definitions – Narcissism Was Formerly Called Megalomania

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Megalomania

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This article is about a condition relating to grandiosity. For other uses, see Megalomania (disambiguation).   See also: Narcissistic personality disorder
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Megalomania is a psychopathological condition characterized by fantasies of power, relevance, omnipotence, and by inflated self-esteem.   Historically it was used as a name for narcissistic personality disorder prior to the latter’s first use by Heinz Kohut in 1968, and is used today as a non-clinical equivalent.[1][2] It is not mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)[3] or the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD).

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Etymology

The word megalomania is derived from the Greek μεγαλο- megalo- “large, great”, and μανία mania “madness, frenzy”. Its first attested use in English occurred in 1890, as a translation of the French mégalomanie.

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Early Freudianism

Sigmund Freud commented of the adult neurotic’s sense of omnipotence that “this belief is a frank acknowledgement of a relic of the old megalomania of infancy”.[4] He similarly concluded that “we can detect an element of megalomania in most other forms ofparanoic disorder. We are justified in assuming that this megalomania is essentially of an infantile nature and that, as development proceeds, it is sacrificed to social considerations”.[5]

Edmund Bergler also considered megalomania to be normal in the child,[6] and for it to be reactivated in later life in gambling.[7]Otto Fenichel states that, for those who react in later life to narcissistic hurt with denial, a similar regression to the megalomania of childhood is taking place.[8]

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Object relations

Whereas Freud saw megalomania as an obstacle to psychoanalysis, in the second half of the 20th century object relations theory, both in the States and among British Kleinians, set about revaluing megalomania as a defence mechanism that offered potential access for therapy.[9] Such an approach built on Heinz Kohut‘s view of narcissistic megalomania as an aspect of normal development, by contrast with Kernberg‘s consideration of such grandiosity as a pathological development distortion.[10]

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Everyday

As well as a symptom of pathology, a degree of megalomania is a way of defending against loss in everyday life—a manic defense against the experience of separation and loss.[11] When linked to a position of power, whether military, political, orcontrol-freak bureaucratical,[12] it is likely to lead to miscalculation as a by-product of the subject’s conceit.[13]

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Therapy

Because the megalomaniac tends not to be particularly interested in examining or changing the self,[14] talking cures may be less effective than medication in their treatment.[15] The transference in a talking cure may also be compromised by the patient’s enhancement of any megalomaniac tendencies within the analyst him/herself.[16]

Best Match Between Secular and Biblical Definitions of Narcissism

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. You may be generally unhappy and disappointed when you’re not given the special favors or admiration you believe you deserve. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling.

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The phrase above “inflated sense of their own importance” is the key linkage between the secular and Biblical definitions.  It has echoes of

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Romans 12:3, 16

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith……. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but[n]associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

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“Inflated sense of own importance (Mayo) is approximately = “haughty in mind” (Romans 12:16) = “insolent pride” (Proverbs 21:24).  Therefore, Mayo’s definition (of narcissism) is approximately equal to the Biblical term (insolent pride).

 

Another Narcissism Test

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Narcissism (Insolent Pride) can take many forms.  He (or she) can be the obvious extroverted center of attention, but he can also be introverted and reserved.

The essence of narcissism is not the outward style, but “selfishness and empty conceit” instead of “humility of mind” – as Paul admonished against here……

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Philippians 2:3 – “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…”

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A good secular discussion of this can be found in the following article

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http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/23-signs-youe28099re-secretly-a-narcissist-masquerading-as-a-sensitive-introvert/

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This article includes an interesting test for “introverted narcissism”.  Its worth a look.

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Note:  Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible describes as “insolent pride” – see here

 

 

Status Update

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I have been very very busy with other responsibilities for the past six months, and as a result have not been able to write nearly as much as I would like.  I have a window in the next four months to hopefully begin writing on the more difficult questions of how to deal with narcissists in family relationships and why God allows these people to wreak havoc.

HE has provided some Biblical perspective on those difficult questions, and I am now wrestling with how to discuss those perspectives in this blog format.  The reason I am wrestling is because those subjects need a comprehensive discussion with the key points being made together at the same time.  This blog’s current format of short quick snippets is not currently conducive to that kind of comprehensive discussion.

Anyway, that’s the challenge – we’ll see how it get resolved!

And there are also lots of case studies to dive into, as well as looking much more closely at how Jesus dealt with the narcissists around him.  Should be fun……

 

Progress Update – Searching For Wisdom on Biblical Perspectives on Narcissism

Dear readers,

To give a quick update on the recent “period of silence”……

I have had a spike in other responsibilities for the past 5 months, which has greatly hindered my time, energy, and mental space for writing.  But, during that time I have continued the wisdom search on Biblical Perspectives on Narcissism, and have become more clear on a few things even while I am still searching on others.

  1. The traits and tactics of narcissists / those with insolent pride are becoming increasingly clear.  Once you learn to recognize these traits and tactics, its pretty easy to understand what’s going on.
  2. Narcissists’ big advantage is their ability to “win you over quickly”.  I still need to get a better handle on “early warning signs”.
  3. One BIG issue is how to deal with these people once you recognize them and what they’re doing.  The best way to deal with a narcissist / one with insolent pride varies greatly depending on your relationship to them.  In fact, you could make a major mistake if you apply the wrong tool in a particular situation.  More later on this.
  4. It is becoming increasingly clear how God uses these people for our good and His glory, even though He will also deal with them in the end
  5. I still do not have a very good handle on WHY narcissists are they way they are, how they got that way, and what the “fix” is.  But, I am quite sure that the Bible addresses those issues as well and will continue searching.

 

More to come…………