Table of Contents
Vol.3: Man in Adam and in Christ
Where Does Personality Come From?
Where Does it Begin?
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.
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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
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,
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?"
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.
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
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.
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.
The Psychological Findings
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.
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.
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.
"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
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.
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,
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
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
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.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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13. See The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5 in
The Doorway Papers Series.