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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III


Part V

Part VI

Part VII



Vol.3: Man in Adam and in Christ

Chapter 1

Where Does Personality Come From?
Where Does it Begin?

     OUTSIDE THE WIND howled about the tent, and the temperature hovered around 40 degrees below. But inside the inner tent the small party was warm and comfortable. Even if they had been cold, it would not have mattered very much for they had important work to do that absorbed all their attention. In the centre of a small circle, an old man held at arm's length a thin thong of hide about eighteen inches long, at the end of which dangled a small object with no particular shape except that one end of it was somewhat pointed. The thong had been given a number of twists which had started it revolving, first clockwise, and then counter-clockwise. Each time, the number of revolutions was less, and each time it unwound in one direction and began to rewind the other way, one of those watching intently in the circle would utter the name of some well-known forebearer who was now dead. Off to one side, a mother sat holding her week-old baby. Six or seven names had now been called and it was evident that the revolving object had lost most of its momentum and would soon cease to turn. The intervals between the calling of names grew shorter and tension mounted. At last a name was called and a moment later the hanging object made its last revolution and came to a halt. The mother gently woke her sleeping child and called him by the name which was now to be his.
     For this Chukchee family in Siberia this was not merely a casual name-giving ceremony. It was an official invitation to the forebearer whose name had been decided upon by the revolving object, to come back into the family circle reincarnated in the little child. The child thenceforth had a soul. Before this time, it could if necessary have been destroyed without incurring the wrath of the Creator, for it had no soul. Now they knew it would grow up to be like the man whose name it bore. And this knowledge would be reinforced when the child, in due time knowing of the exploits of his forebearer, would consciously or unconsciously seek to emulate him. It was no surprise to this Chukchee

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family therefore, that the name so suited the character of the child as he grew up.

Primitive Man's View

     This little incident which was being enacted in very much the same way in widely separated parts of the world not many years ago, illustrates how primitive people answered the question, Whence does man's personality arise? That children often look and behave like their parents or grandparents was quickly noted by people whose lives were simple and whose interests centred largely in their own family circle. It is not surprising, therefore, that they should suppose the simplest explanation to be some form of reincarnation. Indeed, it was the hope of the aged that they would soon be invited back again.
    Sometimes people of even lower cultural status than the Chukchee held what is perhaps a more sophisticated view. The Ainu, for example, believed that the mother provided only the body, but the father provided the spirit. Having little material wealth, they attached more importance to the things of the spirit, and the father's contribution was therefore considered to have been made at greater cost to himself.
(1) In many parts of the world this has been believed so firmly that it is the father who becomes ill when a child is born. In a few such societies, physical paternity is denied categorically, so completely spiritual is the father's part. In fact, to a Trobriand father it was an insult to him to say that his children looked in any way like him. (2) It sounds unbelievable that an intelligent people should deny that the father had any part in generating a child. However, even in recent times in one of our large cities, a man and his wife did not make this discovery until the birth of their 13th child. (3)
     The Lango of the Upper Nile believe that the spirit or personality in the child comes from "yok," a non-personal essence of spirit permeating everything and manifesting itself in various forms. Among the Balinese, a newborn child is particularly sacred till the 290th day because its soul has recently come from the other world. Many primitive people believe that babies must be handled exceedingly carefully, not shaken too much since the soul is not yet lodged very securely. Since the Eskimo child is not a person till it is named, it is not murder to destroy it prior to that time.
(4) Although this may sound strange to us,

1. Murdock, George P., Our Primitive Contemporaries, Macmillan, New York, 1951, p.179.
2. Goldenweiser, Alexander, Anthropology, Crofts, New York, 1945, p.419.
3. Referred to in Science, vol.89, 1939, p.234.
4. Garber, Clark M., "Eskimo Infanticide," Scientific Monthly, Feb., 1947, pp.98-102. See also Leon Eisenberg, "The Human Nature of Human Nature," Science, vol.176, 1972, p.126b.

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there was a time in Europe when unbaptized babies could not be buried in a Christian graveyard because it was not certain that they had a soul, since they had not yet been named. Their fate was unknown. Even among ourselves, it is common to refer to a child as "it," because we share this feeling that personality is slow in coming.
     One needs to be exceedingly careful here, but it may be worth pointing out that in Luke 1:35, the unborn Child is referred to in the words of Scripture as "that holy thing." It may be said further that the New Testament suggests that many people believed in some form of reincarnation. This is probably the background of Nicodemus' question, "Can a man enter a second time into his mother's womb?" and is reflected in Matthew 11:14, for example, where John the Baptist is said to have been Elijah. (5) It should be made clear that this is no proof of reincarnation, but evidence only that the concept was understood by the Jewish people in our Lord's day.
     It will be apparent from the foregoing that the name of a person is of fundamental importance. In fact, in some cultures it is kept a profound secret from all but a few close friends, and a nickname is used instead. The name was the person, and possessing the person's name gave one a peculiar power over that person. Again this is not to support the theory, but the refusal of the Lord to declare His Name to Manoah when He said that His was secret, was an accommodation to Manoah's way of thinking (Judges 13:18).
     If a Chukchee child were to become ill in the days or weeks that followed birth his parents would conclude that they had invited the wrong person into the family and the child's name could be changed. This would go on as often as it was felt necessary until the child grew well. He was now a different person. This too is reflected in Scripture when a new name is given to the one who has become a new creature in Christ Jesus, because, as we shall see, he has become entirely another person by a process of reincarnation.
     We have one notable example in recent times of a mentally ill child who, in her state of bewilderment claimed that she was nameless but later at one stage in her development, when she began to recover went through an extraordinary process of "giving birth" to a new self for which she at once adopted a name. We shall refer to this again later.

5. Brown, A. R., writing on "The Andaman Islanders", in A Reader in General Anthropology, edited by Carleton S. Coon, Holt, New York, 1948, p.196. He has this to say which seems clearly to reflect a viewpoint similar to that of Nicodemus: "If a baby dies and within a year or two the Andamanese mother again becomes pregnant, it is said that it is the same baby born again; and the name of the deceased child is given to it. . . . It is only those who die in infancy that are thus reincarnated." Nicodemus asked, "How can a man be re-born when he is old?"

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In fact, not a few of these concepts, which appear so strange at first sight, will be found to be remarkably reflected in the experience of regeneration.

Philosophical Considerations

     Among civilized but pagan nations, the more thoughtful members often discussed the origin and time of arrival of the soul or personality. One of the key problems was to decide whether a newly created soul started life with no form or structure like a "blank sheet of paper" (to use Aristotle's term), or whether there were some "givens." The latter view has been termed the "adult suit of clothes" concept. It is a view which assumes that some law or the will of the gods has already "laid out" for each newly created soul a complete "pattern" of development which is analogous to a tailor-made suit. The child merely grows into it. Or to use another simile, it is like a mold into which the metal is poured, forcing it to take the pre-determined form.
     This is, of course, entirely fatalistic. Though based on quite different premises, a similar fatalistic attitude is reflected in modern thought. This is the official view held by those who believe that personality is simply the result of the interplay of chemistry and physics, and nothing more.
(6) It is argued logically that if we knew enough of the chemistry of the child, we could probably predict almost everything that he would become. And this belief is reinforced by the more recent discoveries of the profound changes which can be wrought in personality by various drugs whose action is purely chemical. John B. Watson (7) and the behaviourists in general are spokesmen for this school of thought.
     It might be supposed that this would undermine all sense of responsibility. The wicked man need not concern himself with the consequences of his behaviour. He has no power to act in any other way. But in fairness it should be pointed out that the force of this argument is neatly evaded by saying that while a man cannot be blamed for what he is, he can be blamed for being completely satisfied with what he is. The alcoholic may be under a compulsion beyond his control, for example, but he becomes morally responsible when he simply doesn't care. This helps as some sort of answer for hereditary factors. With respect to cultural determinants, George H. Mead proposed an interesting way out by arguing that although environment forms an unbroken chain to bind the personality, the individual is himself one of

6. For example, V. H. Mottram, The Physical Basis of Personality, Penguin, London, 1944.
7. Watson, John B., Psychology from the Standpoint of the Behaviourist, Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1919.

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the links in the chain and to this extent can introduce some measure of freedom for himself. (8) So much for the suit-of-clothes concept.
     As for the blank-sheet-of-paper concept, the only assumption is that development of the personality is not compelled to reach a specific stature. This is not to deny that in its development heredity and culture do not continually limit or modify the personality as it matures. This is a kind of moderate determinism and seems to be more realistic. It is as though the blank sheet of paper was of a given size and permitted only so much to be written upon it, but it does not have to be covered with writing. In the former theory, the personality inevitably reaches its maximum potential; in the latter concept, this is not necessarily so. The individual may fail to achieve maturity.
     We have to consider, then, both heredity and culture as influencing factors, and the interplay between them has been neatly phrased the nature-nurture problem. We have thus far treated this problem from the philosophical view only. We now turn to the scientific evidence.

The Psychological Findings

     For psychologists and educationists as well as the philosophers, the interaction of nature and nurture, heredity and environment, is a matter of profound importance and interest. Since this is not a textbook of psychology and our only objective is to point up the fundamental issues, it may be sufficient to refer briefly to the views held by Jung and Freud. These two agreed initially in the opinion that personality starts at zero, and under the influence of the cultural environment it begins to take a certain form and structure which represents the response of the individual to his life situation, as permitted or modified by his own physical constitution. Freud held firmly to the view that the personality was pretty well determined by the time the child was five years old. However, in his wide experience interviewing patients, Carl Jung came to recognize that there were aspects of the individual's personality which could not be accounted for in terms of the life history of the subject. He therefore believed that the personality did not start merely as a blank sheet of paper, but began with something already given which, for want of a better term, was called the "X" factor. (9) We have, then, this picture: The body receives its

8. Mead, G. H., Mind, Self, and Society, University of Chicago, 1948, p.25.
9. See an editorial in the British Medical Journal, Feb. 9, 1952, p.315, entitled "A Great Thinker." The editor observes: "Jung recognizes two divisions in the Unconscious, the personal unconscious . . . and a non-personal or Collective layer not derived from personal experience, but in-born. . . His analysis of abnormal people (and so-called normal people, too) constantly revealed material which he could not account for in terms of the life history of the patient. This is the x factor -- the Collective Unconscious. The two volumes which give the best overall introduction of his theories in this direction are: The Psychology of the Unconscious, translated by Beatrice M. Hinkle, Dodd, Mead, 1947; and Psychological Types, translated by H. G. Baynes, Kegan Paul, 1949.

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constitution by inheritance. The soul, or personality, comes from some unknown source and starts, not as a completely blank sheet to be written upon by the possessor at will, but with some quality or form which to a certain extent determines how the personality will ultimately develop. Carl Jung tends to favour the concept of a created individual "soul." He and Freud, of course, parted company.
     In the course of time, Jung's views have been developed and elaborated by a host of others, and some of the implications should be mentioned briefly here, since we meet them again when we come to deal with the summation of man in Adam. Jung came to view this unknown quantity "X" as being perhaps in some way definitive of Homo sapiens as a species. That is to say, any creature which has this particular form of "X" is a member of the human race and at certain fundamental levels will behave as a human being, and not as an animal. It was also suggested that this unknown quantity is shared by all men in such a way that in any given crowd there exists at a very deep level, a spiritual entity termed by Jung the "collective unconscious," which reveals itself rather frighteningly in times of mass hysteria as a kind of giant "mind." Also at this level we may have some factual basis for so-called national or racial character. At the other extreme, the incompatibility which may exist between two people of a certain type, and the strange compatibility which sometimes knits people together in a particularly close bond may also be rooted at this very deep level. It then becomes an innate compatibility or incompatibility which the individual can do very little to change, any more than one can change physical characteristics which are also "givens." It could even be argued that animals likewise have some kind of "X" factor, which enables a species to recognize its own members and to reject those of another species no matter how close they may seem to be superficially. A species becomes a giant organism with a single consciousness. Abram Kardiner, (10) somewhat like Jung, held that there was,

. . . a psychic substructure, perhaps physiologically determined, which is common to mankind. This may further be elaborated by individual and innate personality trends. These potentialities are acted upon by common cultural pressures, and result in central tendencies to which the term Modal Personality has been assigned.

10. Kardiner, Abram, quoted by Melville J. Herskovits, "Man and His Works," Knopf, New York, 1950, p.53.

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     By "Modal Personality" is meant that common personality type which we associate with national character. The Chinese is quite distinct, so we think, from the Frenchman. We stereotype each nationality and although opinions differ about the details, there is a large measure of agreement that such modal personalities are real. William McDougall, a psychologist of no mean stature, some years ago made the following observation: (11)

     Any man possesses at the very start of his life numerous well-defined tendencies to future behavior. Between the situations which he will meet and the responses which he will make to them, pre-formed bonds exist. It is already determined by the constitution of the two germs (supplied by the parents), that under certain circumstances he will see, hear, and feel, and act in certain ways.
     The behavior of a man in the family, in business, in the state, in religion, and in every other affair of life is rooted in his unlearned, original equipment of instincts and capacities.

     It should at once be added that the question of whether man has any instincts left is still a moot one. McDougall was one of those who believed that he had. However, the basis of something which we may prefer to call by another name, but which is much the same thing, seems to have been recovered in part in Jung's unknown factor "X."
     Furthermore, it may turn out that when this "X" factor has been redeemed, it provides the basis of that almost immediate recognition which one Christian may have of another at a very deep level of consciousness. As the unredeemed factor enables man to recognize man, the redeemed factor may not only enable Christian to recognize Christian, but non-Christian to recognize a Christian as something disturbingly other than himself.
    To bring these threads of thought together, we may summarize by saying that whereas personality is limited in its development partly by heredity and partly by cultural environment, the individual does not necessarily make full use of the potentials supplied by either of these. In fact, he may reject a large part of the latter, but in so doing tends to become abnormal. The "X" factor guarantees that the personality that develops will be essentially human, i.e., Adamic. This is by no means the whole picture as will be seen later, but it serves to recapitulate what has been said so far.

The Scriptural View

     We do not wish in this Paper to become involved in the issue of whether man is a dichotomy or a trichotomy. This is the subject of

11. McDougall, William., quoted by John Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1940, p.512.

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another Paper. But it seems desirable to propose the following tentative interpretation with respect to the question of when the soul is introduced. In the case of Adam the situation is fairly clear. If we are to take the record at its face value, Adam's body was created, and then God breathed into his nostrils by a process akin to artificial respiration and Adam drew his first breath. With this first breath, he became a living soul. It can be shown from a number of Scriptures that the drawing of the first breath is equated with the introduction of the soul, as the expiration of the last breath is equated with its departure. This may be a quite incorrect use of the term soul. The point is not important for the moment, since we are merely distinguishing between the individual as a person and the body as a corpse. That a child may show movement in the womb and yet be stillborn suggests that such movement is evidence of physical life (perhaps lived by proxy), rather than independent life as a person. We have spoken of the first Adam as having a complete body before receiving a soul. The situation was almost unique. (12) However, further light is provided from Hebrews 10:5-7 with respect to the second Adam. In this instance, it is not until the body is "perfectly prepared" (so in the Greek) that the Person who was to complete that body and thus render it a whole man, left His estate in heaven and became incarnate in human flesh. We are not forgetting the incident in Luke 1:41 where Elizabeth's child leaped in the womb when Mary visited her. This, too, is a subject of a separate paper.
     Unsatisfactory though these remarks undoubtedly are, they are intended to suggest that it is not until a child draws its first breath and thereby becomes an independent source of life that God introduces into it a soul or personality. And although some of these thoughts may appear heterodox and have a measure of unwelcome novelty about them, several related Doorway Papers will help to bring out the beautiful consistency and harmony of Scripture with itself in the treatment of this particular problem. (13) So we now pass to a consideration of the components of personality.

12. The use of the word "almost" in this sentence is deliberate. There is one other instance of such a creation of life which has escaped general notice because of the circumstances. Adam's body was perfect, and God added to it a spirit to make it a living person. The body of Lazarus was very imperfect (John 11:39), and yet the same Lord called the spirit back into it instantly rendering the body fit for its reception, and thereby restoring the living person. Both are instantaneous creation.
13. See The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5 in The Doorway Papers Series.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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