The Political Implications of the Christian Concept of Person: Rereading Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Man-yiu LEE

This article attempts to reexamine Dietrich Bonhoeffer's concept of person with reference to Václav Havel's insightful work The Power of the Powerless, and point out that this Christian concept could have political implications. Both Bonhoeffer and Havel insist that people living in a totalitarian or post-totalitarian state must seek to become a real person, though "being real" in a different sense. After such a cross-reference reading, the author sees that Bonhoeffer's theology, especially his concept of person and his belief of being a person in Christ, can exert powerful political influences in a totalitarian system. When everyone lives sincerely, honestly and responsibly, all kinds of role-playing and ideologies that support the system will be overthrown. History can then be rewritten or even created. The notion of "becoming a real person" may seem ordinary, but it can bring out earth-shaking and unexpected changes. This reading also allows us to see that Havel's thoughts also have limitations. As Bonhoeffer points out, to live sincerely, honestly and responsibly, a person must believe in God wholeheartedly and let the image of Jesus Christ transform one's life. In the end, to become a real person is a question of faith, which is related to the change of mind ("I believe in God") and the re-shaping of life ("being in Christ"). This is what Bonhoeffer believes and insists throughout his life.