A Theology of Person -What It Means To Be Human

A Theology of Person Orientation Paper

Introduction: Bishop Desmond Tutu Quote

     The phrase, “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together”  is taken from Dr. Desmond Tutu’s book, “No Future Without Forgiveness.”  Although Bishop Tutu’s book is specifically dealing with racial diversity and reconciliation, I believe the concepts of equality can also be applied to clinical settings, where people come from not only a multitude of cultural backgrounds, but also come from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds, or sometimes claim no spirituality or religion.  However, in a clinical context, each patient deserves the highest quality care, regardless of their background.  As a chaplain, I am responsible for providing them with the highest quality of soul care, regardless of whether they share the same religious preferences as myself.  We will examine some key points which I believe will help us to formulate a robust theology of person, or personhood that can be applied to hospital settings.

     A Christian Theology of Person – For Community, By Community

The Judeo-Christian sacred text, the Bible, establishes a theology of person very early on.  In the first chapter of the first book, Genesis, God tells us that he made human beings to reflect His very nature: Genesis 1:27 The Voice (VOICE) 27 So God did just that. He created humanity in His image, created them male and female.

So we see the God of Israel had very specific intentions for men and women in the beginning.  First, we notice that God uses the word “us” several times in this passage.  Christian tradition tells us that God has revealed Himself as one sentient being with three distinct personages – The Father, Spirit and Son.  One of the main themes of Christianity and the Bible is that human beings rebelled against God and need to be reconciled.  Throughout the Bible, we see the Father, Spirit and Son had specific and unique roles in their plan of reconciling humanity to themselves.  So God decides that because He is a communal being, he created people to be communal beings: 1 Thessalonians 5:23 The Voice (VOICE) 23 So now, may the God of peace make you His own completely and set you apart from the rest. May your spirit, soul, and body be preserved, kept intact and wholly free from any sort of blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus the Anointed. So we see that below the surface, the God of Israel designed human beings to be more than physical, and to live in close emotional proximity to God and to other human beings.  I believe that my personal views on personhood are in line with the Judeo-Christian theology of person.

My Individual View of Personhood

     My individual view of personhood is that human beings were created Imago Dei, meaning in the image of God in Latin. We were made to demonstrate the nature and character of God to the universe.  But the Bible says humanity’s progenitors, Adam and Eve, rebelled.  They caused humanity to condescend into a downward spiral of racism, war, famine, greed, gender inequality, human trafficking, exploitation, murder, genocide, patricide, and many other atrocities.    Yet, vestiges of that image remain, and this is what we as chaplains must keep in mind.  As a Christian chaplain, I am to reflect Christ in the way I minister to patients.  Even if they have no faith to adhere to, they are still made, Imago Dei.  This conviction should infiltrate and invade every aspect of my patient care.

How A Theology of Person Can Be Beneficial In Clinical Settings

     I believe in hospitals where we see bodies and minds that are ravaged by violence, addiction, and disease, we can still hope for humanity’s best, as God still does.  According to the New Testament, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the actual image of God, came to Earth to restore that fallen image in us.  Our ethics, integrity, compassion, empathy, and social and emotional intelligence as chaplains should be fined tuned towards the universality of the image of God in all people.  Our motivation, drive and passion should be for people to see God in us.  By treating all people with the highest respect as our God commands, we demonstrate a high quality theology of person.

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