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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


Part IX


Part IX: The Unique Relationship Between the First Adam and the Last Adam

Chapter 2

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.
     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

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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:

     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.

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     Cells dissociated 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 one: (5)

     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, pp.19, 20.

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individuality, endowed with a higher order of mind which somehow coordinates and harmonizes the activities of the lesser individuals within me.

     McCrady's conclusion, 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 unconscious," (6) 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:

     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.

      This, 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.

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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 authority.

     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,, p.112.

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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:

     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 man.

      But does 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 individuals.

12. Hallesby, O., Why I Am a Christian, Inter-Varsity Press, London, 1953, p.44.

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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

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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 top of

13. Crawford, Dan, Thinking Black, Morgan Scott, London, 1914, p.484.

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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 identifiable figure.
     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 Adam.

14. Jung, C. Gustav, quoted by W. H. Sheldon, The Varieties of Human Physique, Harper Brothers, New York, 1946, p.257.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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