Becoming the Baptized Body
Disability and the Practice of Christian Community
Studies in Religion, Theology, and Disability
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Sales Date: 2022-07-30
252 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 in
- Published: July 2022
Baptism offers the distinctive practice of Christian initiation, rooted in Jesus' own baptism, ministry, death, and resurrection. Too often, however, people with intellectual disabilities are excluded from this core Christian practice and so barred from full inclusion in the life of discipleship. How can the work of the Triune God in baptism renew Christian imagination toward an embrace of baptismal identities and vocations among disabled Christians?
In Becoming the Baptized Body Sarah Jean Barton explores how baptismal theologies and practices shape Christian imagination, identity, and community. Privileging perspectives informed by disability experience through theological qualitative research, Becoming the Baptized Body demonstrates how theology done together can expansively enliven imagination around baptismal practices and how they intersect with the human experience of disability. Through a lively tapestry of stories, theological insights, and partnerships with Christians who experience intellectual disability, Barton resists theological abstraction and engages and expands the field of disability theology.
With a methodological commitment to inclusive research and a focus on ecclesial practice, Barton brings theologians of disability, biblical accounts of baptism, baptismal liturgies, and theological voices from across the ecumenical spectrum in conversation with Christians shaped by intellectual disability. Becoming the Baptized Body explores how the real-world experiences of disabled Christians enrich and expand received Christian theological traditions and illustrates avenues for vibrant participation and formation for all believers.
Critically important and advancing disability research with concrete examples of the ethnographic turn, Barton’s participatory research methods and conclusions witness persons with intellectual disability as ‘people inextricably caught up in one another’ in the communion of the faithful, as the image of God, and by a baptismal hermeneutic of inclusion as members of the Body of Christ/the Church. Practical, insightful, and liberating, Barton’s work is welcome to the corpus of Baylor’s commitment to disability studies. Barton here confirms the value and power of this commitment.~Mary Jo Iozzio, Professor of Moral Theology, School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College
What is baptism? What is it for? To read this book is to receive, with its author, the baptismal witness of Christians with intellectual disabilities. That witness illumines, inter alia, the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ baptism, the Book of Common Prayer’s baptismal choreography, and the practice of pastoral care. Sarah Barton’s inquiries traverse ecclesiology, pneumatology, and hamartiology. Finally, with her co-researchers, Barton is after nothing less than what baptism shows us about being human.~Lauren F. Winner, Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality, Duke Divinity School
Sarah Barton has provided disability theology and the church a consequential vision for and instantiation of collaborative theology alongside people with intellectual disabilities. Barton and her conversation partners demonstrate how the lived experience of intellectual disability can serve as a hermeneutical lens through which congregations can be challenged to rethink disablement, identity, and community. The baptismal font is presented as the orienting site for developing an inclusive theology of personhood in a way that contests dominant theological evaluations and articulations of personhood. In its method and its message, this book is profound.~Benjamin T. Conner, Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Center for Disability and Ministry, Western Theological Seminary
Dr. Barton’s scholarly yet accessible book about our baptismal theology and the reality of disabilities is a timely work that needs to be read and discussed by clergy and lay leaders, and indeed all who take seriously Jesus’ Way of Love.~Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and author of Love Is the Way and The Power of Love