disability and theology #7

For the previous posts on disability and theology click HERE.
For full references, download the reference list HERE.

In his humanity, and particularly in his suffering to the point of death, Jesus shares our human vulnerability in a very embodied way. There are some really quite challenging pieces of work out there that call us to think about the ways in which we could say God is therefore disabled (e.g. by Nancy Eiesland’s The Disabled God).

Now I’m not sure I’m on board with their whole agenda, but I do think it’s quite profound that Jesus not only suffers, but also bears the physical reminders of his suffering in his resurrected body. Any understanding of the victory and power of God that neglects the amount of weakness and patient suffering involved in that victory ought to be suspect.

Likewise, any approach to disability that refuses to recognise the profound sense in which in Christ God takes up the cause of the weak and broken — indeed, of all human beings in the weakness and brokenness of our sin and vulnerability to death — fails to reflect the hope of the gospel.

It is God’s power and wisdom that is displayed in the ‘weakness and foolishness’ of the cross (cf. 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31). God’s identification with weak and vulnerable humanity in Jesus is motivated by love and specifically aimed at dealing decisively with the human plight of sin, death and alienation from God.

However, while there is a significant sense in which Jesus joins us in our vulnerability — sharing our limitations and frailties — he does so in power and freedom, as the one with the authority to lay down his life and take it up again (John 10: 18) This is what gives his purposeful solidarity with and self-giving for humankind on the cross its character as a victory. This victory is announced in the resurrection, in which Jesus overcomes sin and death. Indeed, we share in this victory through our participation in his death and resurrection by taking up our cross and following him.

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