For this post, I am heavily indebted to the work of John and Paula Sandford (their website is here). However, I was exposed to their insights many, many years ago, and no longer have access to their materials, so please forgive me if in any way I have misstated what they teach. Also, note that I am not an expert in Carl Jung, and his own thinking was certainly more intricate than what is presented here.
The psychologist Carl Jung noted that in every society, it seemed there were certain categories of people, where the people all behaved and believed in a certain way. For example, every society has old wise men, tricksters, etc. These people are easily recognizable by their mannerisms and way of speaking. You see them, and you can identify them almost instantly. And, by and large, this kind of thing often crosses cultural lines.
When you see a man with a crew cut and a stern face who is neatly dressed, more often than not, you know what he is about, regardless of what country you are in. Likely, he will have links to the military or the police. Or, if not, he will share some kinship and similar characteristics with those in the military or police. I spent nearly my entire childhood living on military bases. Trust me, I can not only spot a soldier wearing civies from nearly a mile away, but I can even give you a good guess as to his rank–and it does not matter what country I am in. But you could too, if you had the practice and knew what you were looking for.
So, by and large, we are surrounded by categories of people who share certain commonalities in the way they behave and think. This does not mean that they are necessarily completely conformist in everything they think or do. There is some variation in the way people think and behave. It also does not mean that everyone who behaves a certain way automatically thinks they same way as others who share his lifestyle, or vice versa. If you recall the 1960s, there were people who dressed as hippies and who lived the hippie lifestyle, but who were fairly right-wing in their political orientation. On the other hand, there were those who had short hair and who wore flannel shirts, but who in their hearts were every bit as radical as members of the SDS. There were exceptions, but these exceptions were rare (not as rare as one might suppose, but nevertheless rare). However, by and large, a person who wears the uniform of his group conforms to the thought and behavior patterns of his group. And when you see a person wearing that uniform, you know what you are getting.
Jung called these categories of people archetypes. Now, because Jung has been embraced by many new age thinkers, many people automatically write off everything he said as wrong. However, a great many of Jung’s observations were right on the mark. And, if you think about it, his observations regarding archetypes were self-evidently true. His explanation as to why archetypes exist, on the other hand, was wrong. He speculated that there was a collective unconscious shared by the human race. This only makes sense if you are a Buddhist or are dabbling in new age mysticism. Everyone else knows that it is bunk.
As to why these archetypes exist, part of it has to do with tradition, and part of it is spiritual, but not in the way Jung thought.
In the case of soldiers, there are practical reasons why they think and behave they way they do, and practical reasons why soldiers around the world might think and behave that same way. There is thus an archetypical soldier, but this archetype need not have a spiritual element. The world is full of such kinds of archetypes. Some archetypes have been created by people, as they serve a good purpose.
Further–and this an important preface to the following discussion–not all archetypes are bad, nor are all archetypal behaviors bad. Merely because someone wears their hair in a certain way, or wears a hoodie, it does not mean that they are a bad person, or that they are being conformist. Archetypes represent stereotypical behaviors and thought patterns. However, merely because a person’s behaviors or thoughts intersect with an archetype in one or more points, it does not give us license to stereotype them. We are not here to judge, but to bring freedom. And there is an element where, by stereotyping or judging another person, we actually reinforce the pressure on them to conform to the stereotype. That is, they become that which we judge them as.
John and Paula Sandford’s insight was to tie many of these archetypes to spiritual forces trying to control human beings. Indeed, in Ephesians 6: 12, Paul says,
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
First on the list of the things were are struggling against are “principalities”. The Greek word used here is “arché”, and this Greek word serves at the root for the word “archetype”. “Arché” means “that which came first” or “that which is first”. Here were are talking about very old spirits who have been on Earth since the very beginning, and who seek to control human affairs. They do this by putting their stamp on people, by making people conform to their image. And this is exactly what “archetype” means: “First stamp”, in the sense of an original pattern or prototype. These principalities are not only powerful spiritual beings who seek to control people, but they are prototypes for human behavior. Although these are spiritual beings, as they have been on Earth since it was created, interfering with human affairs, they very much define “worldliness”. Once you understand this, it throws a whole new light on Romans 12: 2:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
“The pattern of this world” is identical in meaning to “archetype”.
So, how do these archetypes–the ones wielded by these principalities–work?
Think about it from the viewpoint of the conservation of effort. Principalities cannot be everywhere at once, and cannot directly control every individual, so they establish a pattern of behavior and thought. Through sin, people get locked onto this pattern of behavior and thought, and if they let it, it will control their whole life.
This is why so many people who are homosexuals have a certain set of easily identifiable mannerisms and behaviors that are true for homosexuals in every country of the world, and which have been true throughout the ages. Not that all homosexuals follow this pattern. However, once someone follows the homosexual lifestyle, there is a tendency to fall into a pattern of behavior and thought. They have become captive to that archetype, and by extension to the principality. This is also why Paul says,
When you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.
Galatians 4: 8.
Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
2 Timothy 25-26.
Looking at America right now, it is evident that dark spiritual forces are at work, trying to rend the country apart, and they are doing it through the use of archetypes. Many people can easily see these archetypes at work on one side of the political spectrum, but are oblivious to the archetypes on the other, and are equally oblivious to how pernicious the whole thing is.
Should we name names and talk about specific instances? Or should we just leave it as it is and let the reader decide?
The problem is that it has become impossible to hold an honest conversation any longer. People on both sides of the fence are so filled with anger, resentment, and yes, racism and hate, and when you try to reason with them, they just resort to type–to archetype. We see the other side as monsters, and indeed, because of that judgment, they become the monsters that we see. Instead of repenting, proud people tend to own the judgments we hurl at them, to defend the indefensible, to defend what just a short time before they viewed as evil. Judging others can have the effect of enforcing conformity to archetype on the part of both the judge and the one being judged. And in this atmosphere, even when a word of caution and reason is given, it appears that all people can hear is judgment. So instead of repenting for what they should know to be sin, they get their hackles raised and start snarling and foaming at the mouth.
Come, let us reason together. Pride comes before a fall, but the meek will inherit the earth. Everyone knows this. It is time for God’s people in the US to put aside their pride, and turn to each other in meekness and love, realizing that in meekness we find our true strength.
Yet, many will not listen, so what shall we do?
First, let’s go back to what Jesus said:
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7: 1-5.
Jesus did not say that we should not try to take the splinter out of our neighbor’s eye. Rather, he said that we should take the log out of our own eye first. Right now, it seems that most Americans are spending all their time complaining about the splinter in their neighbor’s eye, when they have a log in their own. So the first order of business is to take the log out of your eye.
Second, we need to heed Paul’s words in Romans 12: 2. In every area where we have conformed to the pattern of this world, we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Reading the Bible, meditating on God’s word, prayer, and worship are all transformational acts.
Third, we need to keep in mind 2 Timothy 25: “Opponents must be gently instructed”. Hurling accusations at people, responding to them in anger or in kind, and name-calling will only keep the cycle going, and will not result in any kind of reconciliation.
Last, we need to heed Ephesians 6: 10-18,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.