To say that people “change [in character]” is a widespread
verbalization that we all understand. Saturday it deemed on me that
this is correct as a phenomenological verbalization, but not from a
psychological viewpoint. This difference has consequences for everyday
life. Let me explain:
To “change” in character would imply that we forget some of our
former character attributes. But character attributes are the best
learned attributes of our personality, else they would not be called
“character”. They’re stored in long-term memory and therefore safe from
forgetting. We can never lose any of our character attributes, from a
What seems to be a change is rather the addition of something new:
we may acquire new character attributes and start acting according to
them instead of according to the old ones. This is a change,
phenomenologically, but learning, psychologically. The old attributes
are still there, but latently, non-active. They’re overdriven by new
attributes, probably because we like the new ones better.
This thought says practically: if you want to “change” in character,
you need to learn. And for learning, you need to know something you
don’t and experience something you didn’t. This is called “new”
knowledge and experiences — so to “change” in character, extend your
knowledge and / or exchange your circumstances.
And from a Christian viewpoint, the interpretation would be as
follows: Christians contain all their character attributes from the
time when they were not Christians. These are called “flesh” or
“fleshly” sometimes. To be a “new creation” means or should mean that
these attributes are no longer active (at least, they should not be).
The inactivation is effectuated by “learning new attributes”
(sanctification), but foremost by “being given new attributes for free”
(as that’s the effect of being filled with the Holy Spirit).
Start date: 2008-04-28
Post date: 2008-04-28
Version date: 2008-04-28 (for last meaningful change)