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Theology and Down Syndrome
Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity
By Amos Yong
While the struggle for disability rights has transformed secular ethics and public policy, traditional Christian teaching has been slow to account for disability in its theological imagination. Amos Yong crafts both a theology of disability and a theology informed by disability. The result is a Christian theology that not only connects with our present social, medical, and scientific understanding of disability but also one that empowers a set of best practices appropriate to our late modern context.
Table of Contents
Anticipating Down Syndrome and Disability
Narrating and Imagining Down Syndrome and Disability
2 The Blind, the Deaf, and the Lame
Biblical and Historical Trajectories
Down Syndrome and Disability in the Modern World
3 Medicalizing Down Syndrome
Disability in the World of Modern science
4 Deconstructing and Reconstructing Disability
Late Modern Discourses
5 Disability in Feminist, Cultural, and World Religious Perspective
Renewing Theology and Late Modernity
Enabling a Disabled World
6 Renewing the Doctrines of Creation, Providence & the Imago Dei
Rehabilitating Downs and Disability
7 Renewing Ecclesiology
Down Syndrome, Disability & the Community of Those being Redeemed
8 Renewing Soteriology
On saving Down Syndrome and Disability
9 Resurrecting Down Syndrome and Disability
Heaven and the Healing of the World
Amos Yong says he hopes this is an edifying work on theology and Down syndrome. It is certainly that—but much more. Yong has done nothing less than provide the most comprehensive analysis we have of the philosophical issues surrounding Down syndrome. But more importantly, drawing on an account of the Holy Spirit, he helps us better appreciate how focusing on disability makes us re-think fundamental theological categories. I highly commend this book not only to those concerned with disability but to anyone who wants to think better about what it means to be a Christian in today’s world.
—Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School
This critically important theological consideration of people with disabilities challenges the oppressions that they have experienced at the hands and words of our religious traditions. Along with the work advanced in the Disabilities Studies movements, Yong provides a sustained discussion of theological perspectives on disability to keep pace. Yong explores the implications of a re-reading of sacred texts that have traditionally marginalized people with disabilities to engage as well the themes of creation, Christology, theological anthropology, ecclesiology, soteriology and eschatology that are used here to liberate instead. Finally, with his own creative approach to the Spirit, Yong makes the pneumatical imagination the center of his argument for the equality of all persons –careful not to deny the difference that a disability makes, before the Spirit all are disabled. This work is also noteworthy for its focus on Down syndrome and how people with Down syndrome in their own words understand themselves and their experiences in a world that is all-too-often unwelcoming.
—Mary Jo Iozzio, Professor of Moral Theology, Barry University
Sometimes a book comes along which not only moves a field on but also changes its direction. Yong's work is just such a book. His careful and systematic theological analysis of disability offers insights and perspectives that allow his readers to grasp the meaning of disability and humanness in ways that are fresh, sometimes startling and disturbing, but always poignant and transformative. Yong's work is a significant contribution to disability theology and deserves to be taken seriously.
—John Swinton, Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, School of Divinity, Religious Studies and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen
Theology and Down Syndrome is that rare gem, a genuinely groundbreaking study. Its original contribution to systematic theology is to develop a theological anthropology by considering a particular special example rather than working from theoretical premises alone. It addresses several contemporary concerns in disability studies by reframing them in a thoroughly theological manner. The study is well seasoned with poignant biographical observations, judicious surveys of the major religious traditions on the topic of disability, and a critical awareness of the modern history of Down syndrome. This challenging and stimulating look at Down syndrome is a must read for any Christian academic or layperson interested in what it means to be a human being.
—Brian Brock, Lecturer in Moral and Practical Theology, University of Aberdeen
With a sharp eye on church history, a compassionate heart that sees the world from the perspective of a scholar who is also a sibling of a man with Down Syndrome, an impressive analytical vision of modern disability perspectives, and the fresh insights of a voice from Pentecostal theology, Amos Yong is doing just what his title says, “Reimagining disability.” The book is a new, important, and wonderful contribution to the growing exploration of theology from the perspective of disability and of disability from the perspective of theology.
—Bill Gaventa, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School/UMDNJ
Amos Yong (Ph.D. Boston University) is Professor of Theology and Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.