AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN HUMANISM
(Module I)

The importance of Clarifying One’s Concept of Person

To light the basic aspects of the person, on whom all our actions must be focused.

To regard the person as a complex being, possessing different characteristics, even contradictions and yet whole.

To fully understand the person in order to regard him/her with the deepest respect possible.

Definition of Terms

Humanism – concept/view of person which believes in the primacy of the human being, i.e., the actualization of human potentials, enhancement of human experience and contribution to happiness, social justice, democracy, and a peaceful world.

Authentic – for all people, for all aspect of human life and for all times

Christian – believing and following Jesus Christ, who by being human, has revealed to us what it means to live and become a person.

 

Framework of Discussion

A person essentially relates to himself, to other persons, to society, to material things and to God.

1. In relation to Self

Has Intellect and Free will

Everyone is endowed with natural capacities and abilities. Primary among them is the ability to reason and to decide freely. The person has the ability to choose among options: to work for or disregard truth and goodness.

And because of intellect and free will, everyone has inalienable rights to free expression, to information, to education, to assembly, to worship and to collective action. Therefore the person has the right to seek truth and act in freedom.

With freedom comes responsibility – the duty to respect the rights of fellow humans and to be accountable for his/her acts. While one enjoys freedom, one does not have the right to hamper or curtail the freedom of others. Rather, to promote the welfare of everyone.

Has Dignity (Ps, 8:5)

Everyone is bestowed with dignity. It is not something which can be given or taken away at will.

It cannot be destroyed even if recognition is being denied.

The person, by virtue of his/her dignity, is an end and not a means or a tool. This dignity demands absolute respect; therefore it cannot accept the manipulation of persons as justified, even if the end is apparently good.

Jesus Christ, showed His full recognition of the dignity of person through His forgiveness, acceptance and affirmation of the rejection persons and the sinners --- throughout His Ministry.

Is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26)

This underline the freedom and dignity of the human person. There in each person a "God- likeness" for god "breathed life-giving breath in his nostrils"…(Gen. 2-27).  The person, therefore is a co-creator, co-worker and co-savior of God. Creation and Salvation is an on-going process; and we are all part of it. We are called to engage ourselves in it. In the process, we affirm that the self is not alienated from the creation process, for it is being created continuously.

The person is an embodied spirit---composed of both body and spirit. To see the person primarily as only a body is to see the person as an animal. By his/her capacity for interior life, she/he outstrips thewhole universe of things. (Gaudium et spes). On the other hand, to treat the person as primarily spirit is to treat the person as an angel. The only treatment that is true is that which regards the person as a composite whole—body and spirit.

The person is called to be like God in the affirmation of truth and love—which is the principle and purpose of freedom and dignity.

Is Ambivalent

The person is primarily good. In him/her is the ability to go beyond selfish interest and to work for justice and goodness. On the other hand, the person has the tendency toward evil and the capacity of selfishness and oppression. His/her desires may be drawn to a false good which the world dictates. This implies that there is a great danger in empowering a person with absolute authority and influence. There is a need for checks and balances if we are to help deter a person from succumbing to natural weaknesses.

Another implication is that there must be constant choosing/opting to do the good. Because of our ambivalence, it takes practice to be/do good. There is a need to be aware of our weaknesses for only then can we be open to the possibility of conversion. Furthermore, there is a need for constant vigilance and discernment against evil.

In Jesus Christ, we see a person who truly strove to do good. Constant prayer and discernment guided Him to seek the will of the Father and act correspondingly in freedom. He was tempted. (Luke 4:1-13), but in Him we see the capacity of the person to go beyond temptation.

Is Limited

Though endowed with great capacities and potentials, the person is limited. Firstly, is the limitation in life span. But we see that the significance of death lies in how life was lived -- whether we constantly opted for the good or not. The meaning of one’s life extends to one’s death.

Secondly, the person is limited in capacity to know, in actual knowledge, and in capacity to do.

The truth unfolds, and we can only know so much at a given time. This implies the need for an on-going questioning of personal values, for openness to criticism, for sharing and communications – because there is no monopoly of the truth.

Is Unique

Everyone is singular – no two persons are alike. Everyone has her/his own personal story of  history worth listening to.

The uniqueness of the person has to be respected. The emphasis of collectivity should not be made at the expense of the uniqueness and dignity of each person.

 

2. In Relation to Fellow Humans

Is a Social Being

God did not create the person as a "solitary being", but wishes him/her to be a "social being"  (Gen. 2:18-23). Every individual is oriented towards other people and needs their company. No one came to this world by him/her self alone, our being here is made possible through others in the very phenomenon of conception and birth.

The person fulfills the self with and through others. Through and with others’ help, a person’s limitations are filled up and potentials furthered. Thus, it is imperative that people cooperate with each other in order to better the quality of their lives in society.

The person can only grow and realize his/her vocation in relation with others. Yet he/she is not totally dependent on others, that he/she can still stand alone. But there is a need for reciprocal bonds governed by truth and justice – not self-sufficiency nor absence of relationships.

Is Equal Value with Other Persons

Many of our values and structures operate on an implicit "postulate of inequality" (the hidden

Assumptions that some people are naturally inferior to others). But while natural inequality exist among people, God has gifted all with equal dignity. We are all equal in basic rights and basic needs on a person-to-person level and on a nation-to-nation level. This equality is not synonymous to uniformity, but an equality amidst uniqueness. Thus all persons are to be treated as equals: regardless of status and sex – which calls for gender equality. The relationship must be just and suffused with love.

 

3. In Relation to Society

The persons’ relationship to society is not only to other people or to groups of people but to structures as well.

Structure : mirror the dominant values of people are a crystallization of a people’s political attitudes, way of life and economic relationships are organized patterns of interrelated rights and obligations of persons and groups in a society analyzed in terms of status, roles, social norms and social institutions which bind a people together

As Intervenor

Persons create social structures to respond to similar needs and for the good/welfare of all. The person affects structures and structures affect the person. Failure to analyze and criticize existing structures means agreeing with or sanctioning them. Since, the structures were put up by people – the people has the capacity to maintain, stabilize and strengthen just structures. On the other hand, people has also the capacity to change and create a new, if the structures were unjust. But this can only achieved through each person’s active participation.

A person is part of and shaped by the past. But because history is still being made, the person also shapes future events. The person, therefore, can help change and direct society and the history of the nation.

Is a Patriot

The country is considered a person’s bigger family, since he/she is inextricably linked with others and society. We are responsible and accountable tot the future generation for the situation they would have.

4. In Relation to the Material World

Is a material being

The person needs the resources of the material world for his/her personal and social fulfillment. This is a manifestation of the bodily dimension of the person.

Is a worker

The person interacts with the world through his/her work. In doing so, the Lord’s mandate to have "dominion over the earth" is exercised. Work means to fulfill one’s personhood and to glorify God – our Creator. And in as much that the worker has dignity, so does his/her labor.

Is a Caretaker

The things of this world are for all people to use. They are to be used, not adored, nor amassed.

We are caretakers of this world – not the owners of it. Ownership is only a secondary right to use.

All the earth’s resources must benefit all. Now and for the succeeding generations. As caretakers, we are responsible for the preservation and development of the earth. When the earth is abused, life itself is endangered. No one has the right to destroy the earth. No one has the right to manufacture anything that could destroy it. No one, and no generation has the right to treat the earth as if it were their own; not do they have the right to decide what the next generation needs.

Is above Materials Things

There is a need for simplicity of lifestyle – to live only according to what we need to survive and enhance our personhood. The things of this world were given to us to help us know, love and serve God. Anything that is a hindrance like wealth should be rejected.

5. In Relation to God

Is trancendent

The person needs to relate to a Greater Being. The materiality and temporality is transcended because of the touch of the divine in each person.

The person has but one final goal: God. He/She is called to know, love and serve God. And to contantly choose that which would help in fulfilling this, everyone has a God – given mission to fulfill. And we must work here and now for the thereafter.

Has a conscience

"Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of the person. There (he/she) is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his/her depths" (Gaudium et Spes)

Is dependent on God

The person constantly and continually tends to and goes back to God. This dependence is not opposed to human freedom; for human freedom takes its meaning and consistency in the person’s truly fulfills his/her freedom.

Is a child of God

By virtue of the Incarnation and the Redemption of Christ, persons have been raised to the level of being children of God. The right to the kingdom of God has been earned for them.

 

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