Developing a Biblical View of Persons

Developing a Biblical View of Persons November 23, 2018

The world is bustling.  The economy is probably getting something like a shot of vitamin B today, since it is “Black Friday.”  I hope you’re enjoying time with family and loved ones.  This is the final post in a series on one of my first attempts at a Biblical view of persons.

Although I haven’t stated it openly on each post, I have been in a series of writings.  I developed them from a seminary paper entitled “Nine Biblical Factors of Personality, Abnormality, and Change in the Creation Account.”[1]

This is perhaps one of my earliest graduate level papers on developing a Biblical view of persons.  Since that time, I have completed another seminary degree, so my views have grown a little.  The basic approach is to do Word studies on mankind in the Creation account and related New Testament Scriptures.

The framework is basic abnormal psychology, throughout all of the posts.  What is the personality?  Is there a norm, or what are norms?  What is the expected level of human flourishing?  For this question, I look at Adam.  I explore what God may have created man to be.

The second question is what has become abnormal?  Where is the dysfunction, so to speak?  In the posts, I tentatively answer this question in the section entitled Adam’s Fall.  We have marred some aspects of our personhood by original sin.

Saint Aignan Church | Adam and Eve
Eure-et-Loire, Chartres, France | gettyimages.com

 

The third question is how do we change?  How do we adapt, cope, or even overcome our deficiencies?  To answer this question, I direct our eyes to Christ in the sections entitled The 2nd Adam.

Biblical View of Persons

The nine factors of human personality in the creation account can be seen as fundamental aspects of man present in the beginning, marred by the fall, and redeemed through the work of Jesus Christ.  The focus of this paper is to reflect on a guiding framework for human personality, abnormality, and the process of change.  Applications are made to the helping professions.

The nine factors do not represent a complete view of persons, but only key elements.  They serve as a basis for organizing Biblical and psychological aspects of man.

Body, spirit, soul, and will are all unified in the concept of a wholeness that links the man back to God.

Eden (environment), dominion (position), relationship, and power, are all factors that place the man in context.

All of these nine factors are universal factors that are common to all men.

Future Research

Future research may examine four factors that make individuals unique.  A stewardship factor would explore man’s ability to organize his talents and surroundings to accomplish something unique; the existential idea of finding significance and meaning.  James Fowler states, “there is truthfully nothing more sacred to a man or a woman than the meaning of his or her life, his or her value or purpose in being.”[2]

A development factor is evident in the creation account as the concepts of lifespan and life stages emerge.

Genesis 2.17, 24: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die . . . Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (King James Version)

God has created the role of marriage and family another factor marred by the fall, and blessed by redemption.

The fourth unique factor is motivation.  Each person has universal motivations such as hunger, sexuality, and reproduction.

Genesis 1.29: And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Helping relationships are blessed by God to facilitate change in individual’s lives.  When Christians offer soul care and disciple others, they have the distinct advantage of using psychological and Biblical truths as a guide.  The nine factors are merely a guide for integrating truth into the helping endeavor.


Questions and Closing Prayer:

1. If you’re in a helping profession, ministry, or serving in your congregation in any way, what are some good reasons for developing a basic Biblical view of persons?

2. Are there ways that you can practically implement such a view of persons in your ministry or discipline?

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, when you walked the Earth you preferred the title Son of Man.  You chose be fully God, yet fully man.

Thank you that you were not only perfect, you were a man of sorrows acquainted with grief.  You knew our struggles, our weaknesses, and our temptations.  You chose to know us.  Thank you that you were without sin.  You were whole, so that you could remind us what we’re meant to be, what it means to be fully human.

The views of man are as vast as the sea, so guide us by the preeminent truth of your Word first, and everything else second.  Teach us to see others and ourselves as you do, so that we can be your ambassadors, once again participating in your ongoing creativity in the world.

May we be conduits of the graces afforded to us by the Spirit, to the everlasting glory of our Father, in the name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen


notes:

[1] Jared V. Ingle, “Nine Biblical Factors of Personality, Abnormality, and Change in the Creation Account,” (paper presented in Interpersonal Techniques in Helping Relationships, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, MO, December 9, 2003).

Toward a Biblical Concept of Personality

On Holism, Holiness, and Wholeness

The Image, the Body, and Renewal

On the Mystery of Spirit and Salvation

The Regeneration of the Soul

Motivation and the Will

External Factors of Personality

[2] James W. Fowler, Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian: Adult Development and Christian Faith (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000), 106.


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