The Physical Dimension of the Image of God and Its Impact on People with Disabilities

This paper will argue that the physical nature of the image of God is a critical element of theological anthropology that profoundly impacts people with disabilities. Attempts to understand the image of God as a capacity to reason, relate, or some other rational ability historically leads to mistreatment and marginalization. This is especially true for those with profound intellectual disabilities, such as Down Syndrome, non-verbal Autism, etc. An understanding of the physical aspect of the image of God leads to a more dignified response towards those with disabilities and encourages the church to embrace as fellow disciples those who possess the most profound disabling conditions. The argument will be made by examining the history of various interpretations and how those interpretations impacted those deemed to lack in fullness the image of God. The views of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Edwards on the image of God and where they intersect with disability will be examined. Augustine’s “head to toe” approach to infirmities will also contribute to the discussion. This paper will interact with prominent voices such as John Swinton regarding discipleship and John Kilner on the image of God. Finally, this paper will offer several practical suggestions for how people with disabilities should be viewed in light of the image of God.

4 thoughts on “The Physical Dimension of the Image of God and Its Impact on People with Disabilities”

  1. Physical IoG
    Many are not sold on the physical aspect of the IoG. However, full humanness/personhood of those with disabilities is a crucial issue. The development structure needs more specifics.


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