On Being a Person

Christian history is full of attempts to understand the nature of human being. The biblical witness to the Christian story, tells us that what and who we are, and are becoming, everything has to do with the tripersonal God to whom we belong (Eph. 1:3). As God’s image-bearer, who is regarded as both individual and corporate person; human “being” and identity are grounded in the reality of the triune communion of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. A human being lives in relationship to the other as God’s creature. A human being is differentiated from other creatures in his uniqueness as the image-bearer of God. This differentiation is a structure of human being as a corporate person. Ray Anderson called this structure co-humanity, which is the material content of the principle of differentiation. In his fundamental existence, “human exists with regard to the other.” According to Anderson, the actual form of humanity in its original form is co-humanity, from which all of our knowledge of the human is derived.

This means that the Christian self and identity is determined by God’s call and by relationship with the other human beings. As a human being, we cannot live alone or isolated from other human beings. Our humanity is determined by our social relationship with the others. This is how we become a person. A Christian person is a social self, a relational self, a self who exists in being-in-relation with others selves. Just as the triune God in himself is relational, so do we in our very humanity are relational beings. We need the other in determining our identity as well as the other needs us. This reciprocal existence does not dissolve individual being into corporate being, but results in a determination of humanity in its singularity as well as its plurality.

However, this affirmation is not enough to solve the problem which I invoked. For the relationship with the others also has created conflicts. The otherness of the other as the precondition for relationship is also the source of conflicts among human beings. The difference among humans, for instance color of skin, race, culture, faith, ideology, etc., has been used as the condition of “exclusion”. The self, in its relationship with the other self, has always had a potency of maintaining “exclusive identity” which lead to exclusion of the other selves.

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(You can read the rest of this post on page “Article” under the title Constituting a Person)

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