Table of Contents
Part IX: The Unique Relationship Between
the First Adam and the Last Adam
The Character of the First Adam and
of the Last Adam
WE HAVE been
exploring the relationship between the First and the Last Adam
and have seen how appropriate was the latter title as applied
to the Lord. But the discussion has centred upon these two representatives
of the race physiologically considered. What of the spiritual
aspect of this relationship? And by "spiritual" I mean
that which has reference to personality.
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Every student of the New Testament
is familiar with the concept of the "Body" of Christ.
In the first section when we were dealing with the body of the
First and the Last Adam, we had in view the living organism,
the physical substance which could be seen and touched. But now
we are no longer thinking of that which is physical but of that
which is spiritual. In the former instance the word "body"
was not capitalized, but henceforth because it is a much greater
thing, it is capitalized. This is the Body, the mystical Body
of Christ which is the church. All who have been redeemed are
members of a Body, a Body which according to Paul, though spiritual
in nature is as fully articulate as a physical body is, having
"hands," "feet," "limbs," and "organs
of sense" -- all knitted together and joined to the head
which is Christ. In a mystical union with Him, the church which
is His Body allows the Lord to re-incarnate Himself personally
in the world.
We have, then, the spiritual Body
of the Last Adam, which is an expression of His nature not in
any single individual but corporately in a host of redeemed men
and women. We might expect, by analogy, that there is also concurrently
a "Body" of the First Adam, likewise not expressing
itself in any single individual but collectively in a host of
unredeemed men and woman. Where is this Body of the First
Adam? It is mankind, the whole of society, which is variously
referred to in
Scripture as "this
world," or even more simply "all in Adam." It
is clear from these observations that the reference is no longer
to Adam as unfallen, but fallen.
In what sense can unredeemed humanity,
in which the only unifying feature is a singleness of selfish
purpose, be looked upon as a Body, an organic whole, a giant
self ? Perhaps we may gain some light on this by considering
a problem of lesser proportions, namely, the meaning of the phenomenon
of self-consciousness when applied to the individual. One of
the questions which is of particular interest to psychologists
is how a number of powers of sense (hearing, seeing, etc.) can
be integrated and unified into a single consciousness. With every
increase in our knowledge of the functioning of the living body,
the problem becomes more complex, for not only does it seem that
these powers of sense are unified, but that untold millions of
cells, each of which appears to have an autonomy of its own,
takes part in this total process of integration.
Speaking of these individual cells,
George A. Dorsey stated: (2)
Protoplasm is known only by
the body it keeps; but whether one cell is the entire body or
only one in a body of billions of cells, every cell has certain
properties or functions. It is self-supporting; it has its own
definite wall or is so cohesive that its outer surface serves
the purpose. It must get rid of waste. It moves. Its movements
may be of the flowing kind or "ameboid"-- part or parts
of it flow out in processes, like the movements of the ameba.
Or, it may be covered in whole or in part by fine cilia, which
set up whipping movements.
It is excitable or irritable: when
touched it moves. It responds to certain stimuli. It has conductivity:
a stimulus on one side may lead to movement on the opposite side.
It can coordinate its movements, as it does in the harmonious
actions of the cilia or the pseudopoda in ameboid movements.
It grows, or has the power of reproduction.
This then is
the cell, in every sense a term for a living thing, and while
it has no self-consciousness, it does have consciousness to the
extent that it is both excitable and irritable. Moreover, these
cells seem to "know what they are about." Paul W. Weiss,
of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, expressed
the matter as follows: (3)
At the moment of its creation
or very soon after, each of the millions of cells that make up
a living organism seems to know its destiny. It knows whether
it will become part of an eye or a leg or a chicken feather.
It knows also how to find and group itself in the proper arrangement
with other like cells to make up the living fabric of eyes, legs,
feathers, skin and so forth.
2. Dorsey, G. A., Why We Behave Like Human
Beings, Blue Ribbon Books, New York, 1925, pp.77, 78.
3. Weiss, Paul W., "Cracking Life's Code," Science
Newsletter, Washington, D.C., May 5, 1956, p.275.
from the chicken and separated from their original site and from
each other, days before feather germs had appeared, got together
and made feathers.
Experiments imply that a random
assortment of skin cells that never had been part of a feather,
can, as a group, set up conditions -- a "field" --
which will then cause members of the group to move and grow in
concert and in accordance with a typical pattern of organogenesis.
Some years ago
a film was shown to us in the University of Toronto in which
the process of photosynthesis had been captured by the camera,
slowed up, and greatly magnified so that it could be watched.
It seems unlikely that anyone who saw that film will ever forget
the way in which the little green cells shoved and elbowed their
way along the pathways appointed, like early shoppers racing
to an opening sale and jostling one another out of the way as
they went. Having picked up their wares, they could afford to
make a more leisurely return journey. It would, of course, be
quite wrong to attribute feelings to these cells, but the description
certainly fits the appearance very well.
Sir Charles Sherrington had occasion
to watch this kind of thing, and he described it in another connection.
We seem to watch battalions
of specific catalysts, lined up, each waiting stop-watch in hand,
for its moment to play the part assigned to it, a step in one
or another great thousand-linked chain process. . . .
The total system is organized.
. . . In this great company along with stop-watches, run
dials telling how confreres and substrates are getting on, so
that at zero time each takes its turn. Let that catastrophe befall
which is death, and these catalysts become a disorderly mob.
. . .
In one of the
papers published by the E. W. Hazen Foundation, Edward McCrady,
writing on the general topic of teaching biology in college,
neatly sums up this phenomenon of life in which the many become
I, for instance, certainly have
a stream of consciousness which I, as a whole, experience; and
yet I include within myself millions of white blood cells which
give impressive evidence of experiencing their own individual
streams of consciousness of which I'm not directly aware. It
is both entertaining and instructive to watch living leukocytes
crawling about within transparent tissues of the living tadpole's
tail. They give every indication of choosing their paths, experiencing
uncertainty, making decisions, changing their minds, feeling
contacts, etc., that we observe in larger individuals. . . .
So I feel compelled to accept the
conclusion that I am a community of individuals who have somehow
become integrated into a higher order of
4. Sherrington, Sir Charles, Man on His
Nature, Cambridge University Press, 1940, p.78.
5. McCrady, Edward, Religious Perspectives in College Teaching:
in Biology, Hazen Foundation, New Haven, Connecticut, 1950,
individuality, endowed with a higher
order of mind which somehow coordinates and harmonizes the activities
of the lesser individuals within me.
however, is that purely naturalistic evolutionary concepts, at
least as currently formulated, are not sufficient to account
for this fact. But the process does not stop here. There is a
collective consciousness, though Jung refers to it as the "collective
but the idea is the same, for the individual consciousnesses
within any given species seem also to be summed up as an overall
consciousness. It is conceivable that in any such species if
the number of individual consciousnesses is too small, the "greater
self" becomes sickly and dies. In nature, there is a minimum
number of animals required to keep the species alive, and when
they are reduced below this number, special steps must be taken
to preserve the species from extinction. It is like a "body"
that has wasted beyond recovery.
Man is a species, Homo sapiens.
As such he, too, appears to have a giant self. Erich Sauer, speaking
of this, observed: (7)
The sum total of all natural
men forms an enormous racially articulated organism, and each
individual, through his mere birth, is inescapably a member thereof.
He is "in Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Humanity is not simply a numerical
total of many distinct individual persons, but one single colossal
"body," which according to its origin and nature in
a myriad, manifold, and differentiated branches, sets forth its
first father, Adam.
then, is the Body of Adam, as real and as articulate as the Body
of Christ. There is, however, this fundamental difference: the
Body of Adam is sinful. This explains a number of things, as
Kenneth Walker pointed out, (8) "Tolstoy was very puzzled by the fact . . .
that men in masses are able to commit crimes of which they could
never be guilty when acting as individuals." Again, William
Temple said: (9)
The worst things that happen
do not happen because a few people are monstrously wicked, but
because most people are like us. When we grasp this, we begin
to realize that our need is not merely for moving quietly on
in the way we are going; our need is for radical change, to find
a power that is going to turn us into something else.
6. Jung, C. Gustav, The Psychology of the
Unconscious, translated by Beatrice Hinkle, Dodd Mead, New
York, 1947. See also British Medical Journal, Feb.
9, 1952, pp.31f. for some interesting comments.
7. Sauer, Erich, The Dawn of World Redemption, Eerdmans,
Grand Rapids, 1953, p.57.
8. Tolstoy: quoted Kenneth Walker, Meaning and Purpose, Pelican
Books, London, 1950, p.158.
9. Temple, Archbishop William, William Temple's Teaching,
Macmillan, London, 1944, p.62.
Most of us are persuaded
that some men are more wicked than others. We may all agree in
our more truthful moments that we are not very good, but we would
be reluctant to admit ourselves capable of doing anything very
wicked indeed. Scripture does not encourage this view at all.
It has gone out of its way to show that much more depends upon
opportunity than upon any supposed superior goodness on our part.
We need to remember that Israel's most godly king, David, and
Israel's most wicked king, Ahab, when faced with a temptation
behaved in exactly the same terrible way. They did so simply
because they were kings, and therefore unlike ourselves
had the power to do virtually what they willed. So the sweet
Psalmist of Israel and the wicked husband of Jezebel began by
coveting, went on to stealing, and ended up as murderers -- both
of them (2 Samuel 11:1-27 and 1 Kings 21:1-29). And we think
of coveting as such a harmless thing that we christen it culturally
as a virtue, "ambition." In other words, man's capability
for wickedness is almost immeasurable, however "good"
he may seem to be.
Thomas Hobbes understood this rather
well and took the view that because the human race is composed
of such a multitude of lawless and unruly wills, it could not
survive unless some surrender is made of the autonomy of these
"cells" to a central directing authority. He called
this giant "Leviathan." On the title page of the edition
of 1651, there is a picture of a huge man rising high above the
earth with a crown on its head. At first glance it looks as though
the body is covered with scales, but a more careful view reveals
that the body is actually composed of people. Seeing that the
human body operates successfully only when controlled by a single
authority (i.e., the central nervous system), Hobbes argued that
mankind must submit for his own good to a similar kind of central
This is more than consent, or
concern; it is a real unity of all men, in one and the same person,
made by covenant of every man with every man, in such manner,
as if every man should say to every man, "I authorize and
give up my right of governing myself to this man on this condition,
that thou give up thy right to him and authorize all his actions
in like manner."
This done, the multitude so united
in one person, is called a commonwealth. This is the generation
of that great Leviathan, or rather to speak more reverently,
of that mortal god, to which we owe, under the immortal God,
our peace and defense. For by this authority, given him by every
particular man in the commonwealth, he hath the use of so much
power and strength conferred upon him that by terror thereof
he is enabled to form the wills of them all. . .
And in him consisteth the essence
of the Commonwealth; which to define
10. Hobbes, Thomas, Leviathan, Blackwells,
Oxford, n.date, p.112.
it, is one person, of whose acts
and great multitude by mutual covenance one with another, have
made themselves every one the author. . . .
In this remarkable
passage, Hobbes has clearly seen how a number of individuals
can be so united into a giant self as to be thenceforth personally
responsible everyone for the things undertaken by everyone else.
In this sense, every member of the Body of Adam is responsible
for the wickedness of man wherever it expresses itself. It is
not enough for a man to say, "If I had been so-and-so, I
would not have done it." Wickedness is a disease of the
Body of Adam which affects every cell. It is not because some
of the cells have escaped this infection that they are apparently
healthy, nor is it because some of the cells are fundamentally
more diseased that in them wickedness comes to a head. Tempting
though it is to make such assumptions, one only has to remember
David and Ahab. It is largely a matter of accident and of opportunity.
No part of this Body of Adam has escaped the disease. This is
what it means when it says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin
entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed
upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).
John Taylor summed it up by saying:
Man is a single organism in
which we are all involved. Fallen humanity is "the body
of sin" of which Adam is the head, an organism that is still
growing and branching, working out through history the innate
disobedience which leads on to self-destruction.
Thus, as the
many are greater than the one, so the potential wickedness of
a fallen Adam is compounded in his children who in each succeeding
generation have added to the awful total which the weapons of
civilization seem only to augment. But as this Body grows more
corrupt, another Body is being called into being of which the
head is the Last Adam and whose destiny by contrast is to achieve
"the stature of a perfect man" to which we "all"
contribute "in unity," i.e., as one Body of believers
(Ephesians 4:13). Thus in this Body, and in parallel though opposite
fashion, the righteousness of unfallen Adam, Christ, is likewise
compounded in His children, for which cause He said that it was
expedient for Him to go, that thereafter as His Body grew through
the ages, "greater works" than He had done might be
accomplished (John 14:12).
But while this second Body holds
promise within itself of ultimate perfection corporately, to
the individual who is a member of it
11. Taylor, John, Man in the Midst,
Highway Press, London, 1955, p.64.
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there is great personal
gain in a number of ways, some of them not always recognized.
When Adam was first created he
was truly man, but his mere creation did not guarantee
this, for animals too were created. It was the special circumstance
of his creation that set him apart, for he was made "in
the image of God" (Genesis 1:26). But what does this mean?
Well, Scripture shows that this image constitutes a special kind
of relationship, a "belonging relationship," one that
means belonging to God as a son to a Father. It means that man
has such a soul that he seeks God as a son seeks his father,
seeks his fellowship, seeks his approval, seeks his help, seeks
his forgiveness, and rests in the security of this intimate relationship
at all times whether in health or sickness, in life or death
and most of the time he takes this wonderful relationship very
much for granted, so that it forms the basis of that peace which
the world cannot possibly give.
When Adam fell, however, this image
was lost, the relationship was destroyed, and in fact -- by definition
-- man ceased to be truly man any longer. Adam's children were
thereafter born in his own image (Genesis 5:3) and not
in God's image, with one exception, the Lord Jesus Christ (2
Corinthians 4:4; Colossoans 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). This relationship
with God is what distinguishes man as Man.
It is a sobering thought therefore,
that those who are still "in Adam" are not looked upon
in Scripture as true men and aggregates of them are not looked
upon as "people." This is stated simply and clearly
in 1 Peter 2: 10, although the meaning of this passage is apt
to be missed. True "people" are those who bear the
image of God, and this image must be re-created as expressly
stated in Colossians 3:10. Only thus can the individual achieve
the status of true manhood, being conformed to the image of His
Son (Romans 8:29) and as a brother of the Lord becoming by that
relationship a child of God, with membership in the communion
of saints and the Body of Christ. O. Hallesby put it very aptly
this way: (12)
If I had to tell you in one
short sentence why I became a Christian, I think that in order
to be as simple and
as clear as possible, I should say that I did it to become a
this not mean that Christians will be all of a kind, without
individualism and therefore without "character" in
the accepted sense? No, no more than the non-Christian. The total
potential of personality that was once summed up in Adam has
since been fragmented into the world's many thousand million
12. Hallesby, O., Why I Am a Christian,
Inter-Varsity Press, London, 1953, p.44.
Each has his own personality,
though the expression of it is sometimes masked by the demands
of cultural conformity. These potentials were latent in the First
Adam, so that individualistic though each man is he nevertheless
represents "a fragment of the First Adam."
In the Last Adam the First Adam
is present again in his greatest of all sons, and out of Him
by supernatural generation is being created a new line of men
each of whom -- let it be said reverently -- represents "a
fragment of the Last Adam." In each instance these fragments
could be reconstituted into a single "individual" who
gives his character to the larger Body. For out of this one first
man, Adam, have been derived young and old, male and female,
brown, yellow, black, and white, each with his or her own appropriate
character. We can say "male and female," for we know
that Eve was taken out of Adam (Genesis 2:21,22). And we know
that all colours and races of men were likewise derived out of
him, for God has made of one blood all nations that dwell upon
the earth (Acts 17:26). Indeed, as human beings we all have one
father (Malachi 2:10). Different as are men from women, or French
from Chinese, each was nevertheless latent in Adam. Whoever stood
in the presence of Adam was standing in the presence of the human
race and in his mind's eye, had he been perceptive enough, he
might have discerned in this one individual, both in character
and physique, the potential which in due time was to express
itself with such infinite variety.
What of those who stood in the
presence of the Last Adam? What did they see? In some
way that is perhaps impossible to explain, the Lord must have
been seen it (and let me say it with reverence) by Negroes as
a Negro, by the Indians as an Indian, by the Hebrews as a Hebrew,
and by the Romans as a Roman. It is not possible to re-create
visually the image of One who so summed up all the races of mankind
in Himself. All pictorial representations of the Lord are racially
biassed and to this extent completely deceiving. I am convinced
that it was for this reason that likenesses of the Lord in any
form at all were absolutely forbidden, and I feel we do a great
wrong when we insist upon painting pictures of what the Lord
looked like -- even for teaching purposes. I suspect that children
do not need these aids to their imagination and that in a Sunday
school class in one of our big cities where there are likely
to be present not merely white children, but also Negro and Chinese
children, a picture of the Lord does more harm than good. It
may leave an indelible impression in the minds of children from
other lands that the Lord was really one of us and not one of
them. At an unconscious level there is a tendency to
equate Christian behaviour
with our own. Insofar as ours is Christian, there is nothing
wrong with this; but much of our behaviour, though acceptable
among ourselves, belongs in the context of our particular culture
and not necessarily in the context of other cultures. While we
are beginning to realize this and such a realization is reflected
in changing missionary policies, we have unfortunately committed
ourselves to the acceptance of pictorial representations of the
Lord which, to my mind, are entirely contrary to Scripture.
The indwelling of Christ in the
believer, whereby through the Holy Spirit some appropriate measure
of the perfect character of the Second Adam is restored and displaces
the fallen nature of the First Adam, results in no set pattern
of godliness peculiar to any one culture. True manhood can find
expression in as many different ways as there are people who
have been derived by natural generation out of the First Adam.
A Chinese Christian can be just as beautifully Christlike while
yet retaining the distinctiveness of Chinese personality as an
Englishman or an African Negro. They, too, retain their cultural
identity. Dan Crawford, in his beautiful book of recollections,
after twenty-two years without a break in Central Africa, put
it very aptly when he said, "With the converted African,
Christ's mercy, like water in a vase, takes the shape of the
vessel that holds it." (13) There can be as much diversity of character in the
Last Adam's Body as in the First. We should not frown upon the
existence of differences.
Moreover, Eve was taken out of
Adam while he was yet unfallen, so that one must assume that
at first all those qualities of character which we think of as
specifically feminine were once resident in Adam. When Adam was
divided into two people, the potential of his personality shared
in the division. Now and again we see people who have the strength
of a lion coupled in some strange way with the gentleness and
meekness of a lamb. It was so in the Last Adam. He too was both
Lion and Lamb. He could knit with furious fingers a whip of cords
with which to drive out in His anger those who defiled the house
of God; and no one dared to challenge Him. Yet, again and again,
the gentleness of His spirit impresses itself upon us. He wept
at the grave of Lazarus, even though He knew that He had within
Himself the power to raise Lazarus from the dead and was indeed
about to exercise it. Gustav Jung, the famous European psychiatrist,
was convinced that if personalities could be arranged in some
kind of order from the superior to the inferior, at the very
13. Crawford, Dan, Thinking Black, Morgan
Scott, London, 1914, p.484.
the list one would have
to place those who seemed somehow to combine within themselves
in almost equal measure male and female personality traits. (14) He held such people to
be most creative, but he believed also that they were most sensitively
and delicately balanced, with all that such sensitivity involves.
Surely in the Lord Jesus Christ male and female personality were
completely and perfectly united. And for this very reason the
development of Christian character, whether in a woman or in
a man, is the consequence of the same circumstance, namely, the
indwelling of the Lord. And this truth must be applied with equal
force, not merely to male and female, but to young and old, to
brown, yellow, black, and white.
In one of those rare moments of
sudden clarity, the following words were penned by the author
a few years ago:
Why is it that Christ is the
contemporary of every age and has no nationality? Why does He
belong to all races? How is it possible that such diverse peoples
as the Chinese and the French, for example, can or have seen
in Him the ideal Man? One may collect pictures from all parts
of the world, inspired by an attempt to visualize what Jesus
Christ was like, in which each culture sees Him as One of its
own sons, indeed -- its Son par excellence.
It seems that such figures as Moses,
Plato, Confucius, Ghandi, Dostoevsky, Napoleon, Hannibal, Ghengis
Khan, Lincoln, Churchill -- will remain "great" in
the estimation of the world, but each is quite clearly a nationally
Jesus Christ is the one Figure
still officially unrecognized by His own nation, yet claimed
by all others. In Him is the whole race -- truly the sum total
of all human personality potential, uniquely the Son of MAN.
Is it any wonder
that His Body should be completed by the gathering together of
redeemed individuals from every tribe and nation under heaven,
each of whom individually and all of whom together reflect His
person, as the children of Adam individually and as a race
together reflect his?
Thus, all in Adam are dying, as
all in Christ are being made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). And
although the individual in Christ is the hope of glory, Christ
in the individual is the guarantee of becoming a real person,
a human being, because the image of God is once more restored
within his soul. Understood in this way, it is clear that although
we in our narrowness of thinking and acting may sometimes leave
the impression that He belongs more to us than to those of other
cultures, the impression is a completely false one. The same
Lord is the same Saviour in the same way for all men, because
of the unique relationship between the First Adam and the Last
14. Jung, C. Gustav, quoted by W. H. Sheldon,
The Varieties of Human Physique, Harper Brothers, New
York, 1946, p.257.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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