What Is Christian Narcissism?
What is a Christian Narcissist?
Dr. David Orrison, pastor for over 30 years and has a PhD in Theology from Trinity Seminary, describes a narcissistic Christian as follows:
Narcissistic Christians are:
- Christians saved by Jesus Christ and follow Christ's teachings
- People who exhibit characteristics or narcissism
- Uses the church, the Bible, and Christian teachings to fulfill their own emotional and relational significance
Note: Christian narcissism is not a clinical psychiatric disorder. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a psychiatric disorder classified in the DSM-IV or diagnostic the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition.
Christian Narcissism has been termed by non-professionals to give terminology to Christians who display Narcissism along with extreme Christian ideology.
What is Narcissism?
To understand Christian narcissism, one needs to understand narcissism.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, is a clinical psychological personality disorder where the person is overly preoccupied with himself/herself. The narcissist has a distorted self image, intense mood swings, lacks understanding of others, and has a sense of superiority. Narcissists see his/her interests and opinions as the only ones that really matter. Rarely does a narcissist admit they are wrong.
According to Medical News Today a person with narcissistic personality disorder typically shows some of the symptoms listed below:
- They believe they are special, above others and rules
- They believe they have a right for special treatment
- Obsessed with themselves
- Difficulties maintain long term relationships
- When hurt they feel and act like a victim
- Responds to criticism with anger, humiliation or shame
- They boast about their own talents, achievements and importance
- They have an exaggerated sense of self regarding their looks, intelligence and success
- They have difficulties maintaining healthy relationships
- Overly sensitive
- Seek attention from others and positive reinforcement
- Lack empathy towards others
- They may believe their skills in romance are superior to anybody else's
Some Christians have their ego so attached to biblical teachings they do not know where they end and the truth of God's word begins. A Christian narcissist uses the Bible and teachings of Jesus Christ to fulfill their own emotional and relational significance. They often approach others with rigidity, condemnation and confrontation all in the name of God. They state what they do is for God's Glory, but at the end of the day, it’s all about them. Dr. David Orrison explains Christian narcissism further.
Christian narcissist seems like an oxymoron, a term that has two contradictory parts. Narcissism is a flesh pattern that developed in early life and became the coping mechanism of choice in handling the stresses of life. This happened while the person was very young and has been reinforced constantly throughout life. That means that if such a person would become a believer he or she would almost certainly continue to struggle with narcissistic behavior in relationships. I am tempted to say that there cannot be such a creature, yet I do know some. In fact, many churches have them.
Christian behavior is easy to fake and many in the church are naïve and gullible and are particularly vulnerable to the manipulations and deceit of the narcissist. The church is a prime hunting ground for narcissists, with little real accountability and significant opportunity for attention and promotion.
Profile of a Christian Narcissist:
- Overly devoted, or extreme devotion to his religious group
- Places great emphasis and control of others on the proper conduct or rights, rituals and ceremonies
- Center of attention at prayer groups, services, and other church functions
- Feels they have divine providence and a grandiose connection to God
- Believes they are doing others a service by condemning them, pointing out their flaws and wrongdoing
- Believes their uniqueness is purposeful, they are meant to lead and reform others
A Christian narcissist knows the Bible through and through. They can use Bible verses to slice and dice others in conversations. When speaking with a Christian narcissist they assert their point of view as right and can usually find a Bible verse to back up their view claiming it comes from God because it is in the Bible. Their dogma and agenda is confrontational with little to no respect to other's point of view, religious thoughts and beliefs. They may even claim they are more biblically scholarly than others when confronted with contradicting Bible verses.
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How to Deal with a Christian Narcissist
- Learn about narcissism and know that even Christians can have personality disorders
- Narcissists usually win in conversations because they fatigue others, the best option is not to go toe to toe with a Christian Narcissist
- Try not to engage in a conversation that is going nowhere
- Try to avoid them
- Keep your expectations realistic, you probably will not change their minds
- Set boundaries
- Half truths are more dangerous than falsehoods. Though they are quoting from the Bible, their truths and interpretations of the Bible can be wrong. If you are confused by their teachings seek wise counsel from a Christian who is not narcissistic.
How to Know you are Dealing with a Christian Narcissist
Have you encountered a Christian narcissist? Tell your story below.
You know you have encountered a Christian narcissist when:
- In conversation they never get tongue-tied. They can change the conversation in a different direction, or offer a Bible verse to state how right they are and how wrong you are.
- They are crafty, cunning, sly, and clever to make sure they get their religious point across or their religious agenda completed.
- They leave little room in the conversation for your point of view.
- When asking a question, they really do not want to hear your answer, but use your answer to further get their point across and demolish your beliefs.
- Although they may say they are humble and try to come across with humility, they have an arrogance about them.
- They lack remorse and rarely would you hear them say, they are wrong or sorry.
- You feel you cannot 'connect' with them. They seem distant and cold.
- They are always right, and you will alwlays be wrong in their eyes, there is no middle ground.
- You feel exhausted, baffled and confused after speaking with a narcissistic Christian.
- You may feel your personal relationship with Christ and your beliefs do not match with their Chrstian ideology. Their beliefs although, Christian, may seem forgien to you.
- Their behavior does not always match up with what they preach.
- They always have the last word.
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