What does the Bible say about tinder
It is normal to be different
Living inclusion in church and society. A guide from the EKD Council, January 2015
2. Theological orientations
For theology, inclusion is a challenge from outside due to the UN Disability Rights Convention and at the same time its own topic. A comprehensive theology of inclusion is not yet available. Against this background, the following theological considerations of the inclusion debate can only serve as a stimulus for a more in-depth discussion. Similar to z. With regard to feminist theology, for example, which led to an expanded reading perspective of the Holy Scriptures, here too it will be a matter of perceiving familiar texts anew and considering them with a view to inclusion. It remains to be seen whether a theology of inclusion will eventually develop into an inclusive theology. In any case, it is a demanding task to think theology in an inclusive way in all sub-areas. Since inclusion relates indivisibly to all areas of life, theology as a whole is challenged. Given the many dimensions of inclusion, no sub-discipline can claim a monopoly or avoid this challenge.
Not just an academic debate among theologians
Karl Barth and Heinrich Vogel stepped out of the academic space in the discussion about the riddle of suffering that had to endure the severely disabled daughter of Vogel. Vogel hoped that his daughter would no longer have a handicap in the kingdom of God. To Barth it sounded as if God had made a mistake that he would have to correct later. He countered Vogel: “Isn't it a much nicer and stronger hope that there will be revealed what we do not understand now - namely, that this life was not in vain because God did not speak to him in vain: Especially you did I love !? «
2.1 The image of God and human dignity
The most important theological point of reference in the inclusion debate is man's image in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Everyone is created by God as he is, in his own image. This establishes his inviolable dignity. It is an inaccessible and inalienable gift of God, not dependent on characteristics or living conditions. Human dignity does not have to be achieved or earned. She is a gift.
The image of God is a concept of relationship. It is part of human dignity that they are laid out and dependent on relationship and fellowship with God and with one another. Out of the unconditional love of God, life can be shaped in all its diversity, always in the tension between dependence and self-determination or care and autonomy.
The Bible does not think in terms of "essence" and "substance" like Greek philosophy, but in terms of the "relationship" between God and man. No person has to have a certain quality in order to be able to prove that he is in the image of God. And no quality can exclude him from belonging to human existence or from participation in human communities! It is enough just to be human. In the idea of man being made in the image of God, there is at the same time the theological foundation for the equality of man in all his differences. Since man is created in the image of God, people are equal in their diversity, in the sense of equally valuable.
2.2 The diversity of creation
The starting point for many reasons for inclusion is the concept of heterogeneity. In doing so, differences are given equal and secondary status or are interpreted temporally with a view to the biography of a person or, in the perception of difference, always only understood as a construct from the outside. Heterogeneity can therefore be understood as the "connection between diversity, changeability and indeterminacy" .
The unavailable likeness of God protects man from any form of determination through definition, diagnosis or ascription. Keeping images moving and allowing diverse interpretations is the theme of the biblical prohibition of images (Exodus 20: 4). Because when asked about the nature of man, the biblical tradition provides the paradoxical information that people should not make an image of the person in whose image they are made. So they should exist - just like only God himself apart from them - without images, without an image of man. The ban on images protects people from being committed to a definition of the "normal" that is far removed from life, as shown in expectations of health, ability and intellect, in testimonials and certificates, but also in our ideals of beauty. It thus liberates the joy of diversity. All attempts to define a so-called Christian image of man, d. H. Defining the content of the image of God beyond its relational content therefore comes to nothing.
From a creation theological perspective, it is normal to be different. In the first biblical account of creation, people were created as men and women in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). From the very beginning, God's creative act includes discernment (verses 184.108.40.206). His creative act only creates the differentiation of reality. In the plant and animal world, too, he creates "each according to its kind". If God has created man in his image as man and woman in many ways, human diversity is already rooted in the image of God, that is, in God himself. The inner difference of God is also expressed in the trinitarian understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit . It is diversity and unity at the same time. "God is colorful diversity for me" is how a man with a mental disability describes his understanding of God. »This god creates people in many ways in his own image. Human diversity is from the beginning willed by God and according to God. ”This also includes every form of handicap. To think that God accepts people, but not their handicap, would split off an essential part of the personality and violate indivisible dignity. No human is a creation margin of God. Because it is normal in creation theology to be different as a person. God's judgment of the heart for the diversity of creation and man is "very good" (Genesis 1:31). Not in the sense of a perfection of his being, but in the sense of an unequivocal "yes" to the whole person and to the whole creation, including all special features. God's unconditional relational yes of love for everyone is the theological key to inclusion. It shows itself from the beginning in his diverse creative actions.
Ulf Liedke accordingly describes disability as a »given« . Those affected can experience this as a good gift or as a painful imposition or even without such attributions as a mere part of life. A theological anthropology cannot claim a general assessment of disabilities. The term "given" implies a giver who is "the source of life" (Ps 36:10). To him people owe resources and limitations, their development opportunities and the experience that human life is always fragmentary. Human fantasies of omnipotence break over it and can give way to the trust in existence that all people are accepted, gifted and blessed by God.
The diverse perception of man, creation and God is also reflected in the various experiences of faith and interpretations of different biblical books and gospels. In recent years, increasingly newer theological approaches have emerged from the perspective of people with disabilities. They often move in the context of liberation theology and reveal previously hidden dimensions of biblical texts from the perspective of those affected. They reveal when theological frames of reference stigmatize and isolate people with disabilities. At the same time they unfold the emancipatory effect of the Christian-Jewish tradition and its symbols. With a view to the prohibition of images (Exodus 20: 4), it is demanded to move away from the myth of physical or spiritual perfection. A contextual Christology liberates the encounter with the "disabled God" (N. L. Eiesland), who "messes up" the social order so that renewal becomes possible. Because faith develops the power to change the church and society. Ulrich Bach points out that the need for help, deficits and imperfections are part of being human: "Nobody has ground under their feet"; everyone is dependent on supplementation. Jesus was also in need of help. Jesus allows himself to be fixated on the role of the victim - a nothing, a loser by the standards of the world. Nevertheless, the liberating good news goes out from the cross: God's yes applies to every person regardless of their individual limitations! Because without the weakest, neither the Church nor the society in which we live is whole.17
2.3 God acts inclusive
In the context of the life situations of people with disabilities, but also the experience of illness, poverty and exclusion, the question is often asked sooner or later why a good God allows suffering. However, the theodicy question does not lead to a satisfactory answer. For it is obvious that man's limitlessness  and the diversity of suffering are also part of God's good creation.
The Christian faith has its center in an event of suffering, the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus' suffering and death shows that he was completely human and suffered everything that people have to suffer again and again, be it pain, loneliness, fear, powerlessness, right up to violent death. On Golgotha, Jesus himself is the marginalized one who exposes himself to human suffering in all depths (Heb. 4:15). God becomes weak in Jesus and assumes the form of a servant (Phil 2: 7). This self-binding of God is not revised by the resurrection. After Easter, Jesus' weakness remains visible through the stigmata (Jn 20: 24ff.).
The diverse and inclusive actions of God can be seen in a special way in Jesus Christ. His death on the cross and his resurrection are the universal salvation event that applies to all people without exception, includes everyone in God's yes and his offer of justification. This offer out of grace alone does not demand any performance from man. Belief alone, the trustful reliance on God, is sufficient. This is highly inclusive - and provocative.
With God's saving action, human performance and normality expectations are turned upside down. Because “a person sees what is in front of his eyes; but the Lord looks on the heart ”(1 Sam 16: 7). The objection of the elect or those around them to being unsuitable is regularly reported in the biblical calling stories. David and Jeremiah are z. B. too young (Jer 1,6f.). Paul refers to his weakness and a handicap that torments him, but trusts in God's promise: “Let my grace satisfy you; for my strength is mighty in the weak ”(2 Cor 12: 9). And the disciples of Jesus in no way correspond to current ideas of the elite. (In view of the position of women in society for many centuries, the churches could not have imagined that there could also be female disciples.) Measured against what is "in front of our eyes", they were all unsuitable. Nevertheless, they were and are important building blocks of the Church. God's voting behavior is "foolish" and turns human selection criteria upside down. He also chooses what is weak, small, insignificant, insignificant and ugly in the eyes of others (1 Cor 1: 26ff; Deuteronomy 7: 6-8), and thus radically questions our ideas of normality. The calling of Moses sets interesting and inclusive accents. God calls Moses to be the leader of his people and sends him to Pharaoh to free Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Moses knows many reasons why he is unsuitable. He has a speech impediment. He doesn't want to take the job. But God does not accept the objection. God counters him that people with disabilities are his creatures. “Who made man's mouth? Or who made the mute, or the deaf, or the sighted, or the blind? Didn't I do it, Lord? "(Exodus 4:11) God's creatures are good, very good even (Genesis 1:31). Good does not mean perfect. It doesn't mean they don't need help. From the beginning, God's creatures are described as limited beings. And the limits are as diverse as the skills. What Did Moses Help? Not the hint that he is God's good creature - he keeps his fear of going before Pharaoh. His handicap does not go away either. His brother helps him. He has Aaron by his side, a person he can rely on and who will help him where it is needed. And Aaron can talk. Today we would say: Aaron is his personal assistant.
2.4 The whole person
This is accompanied by a new perception of the human body. In order to be able to communicate successfully with people who have an increased need for assistance, a theology is required that perceives and respects the whole person, including their specific body. Jesus is not just a man of words, narration and preaching. He does indeed meet people very closely. He even touches people who are considered untouchable. He touches the ear (Lk 22:51) or the eyes (Mt 9.29; Mk 8.23) with the hand or the tongue with saliva (Mk 7.33). In many biblical stories, physical contact is also sought from the other side. One of the summaries states: "And all who touched him were made well" (Mt 14.36; cf. Mk 8.22). Obviously the blessing - the life-renewing power - came bodily from Jesus. Children were brought to him for him to touch. Against the resistance of his disciples he embraced her and "embraced" her (Mk 10:16). From the washing of the feet to the anointing to meal and feeding stories, there are numerous example narratives of Jesus' friendliness to the body. And finally: Jesus' friendliness to the body does not end with his death. Even the risen Christ lets his followers feel his own wounds (Jn 20:27).
Bible texts are therefore to be questioned about their corporeality. They can also be opened up through body experience. God encounters in sensory perception, but also beyond it. In order to experience God, we do not need cognitive competence. God meets people according to the measure of their abilities. It's about more than reason or language, it's also about gestures, touches, looks. These diverse forms of communication can also lead to a changed spirituality.
With the rediscovery of the corporeal in modern theology, a changed perception of the biblical miracle stories began. They increasingly stand for a holistic understanding of the biblical message, especially since multi-dimensional approaches are also proving themselves in medicine and in some therapeutic concepts. Salvation and healing are closely linked in the New Testament . However, healing is not only understood as the elimination of illness and suffering, but as a sign of the beginning of the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ. Miracles are signs that point beyond themselves and thus encourage us to trust in the changeability of life and the world. That is why Jesus often says at the end of the healing stories: "Your faith has saved you" (Mk 10.52; Lk 7.50). Faith and trust in God can bring shattered self-confidence back to life.
Such "post-critical" approaches to biblical miracles do not meet with unanimous approval. The unreflected equation of salvation and healing is often criticized by theologians with disabilities. Biblical miracle stories could make people with disabilities want to be healed themselves. However, this wish can also generate pressure if healing becomes a criterion of faith. People with disabilities could miss the opportunity to accept their life as it is. Regarding the kingdom of God, it does not matter whether a person is strong or weak, healthy or sick. Otherwise, from a diaconal perspective, "each of our institutions in the field of assistance for the handicapped would be a counter-evidence, maintained by the Church, against the rule of Christ in our world" .
The New Testament has an ambivalent relationship to miracles. In the horizon of the near kingdom of God they are not in opposition to the cross. From the point of view of the cross they are interpreted as the decisive event for faith. In this respect, people - even if they have a disability - can definitely find themselves as believers in the "healed". Because the salvation that Jesus the Messiah brings is independent of the healing.
The paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda
An example of the interpretation of miracles as "signs" of Jesus' messiahship is the healing of a paralyzed person at the pool of Bethesda (Jn 5: 1 ff.). This waits for a miracle for 38 years. His hope dies over it. A later version of the text tells a legend: An angel of God descends from time to time to bathe. The water is churning. Whoever reaches the water first will be healed, no matter what illness they have. Apparently, for the people telling this story, it is nothing special that miracles happen - and that they don't happen. Healing and suffering are given out at random.
Jesus does not walk past this person, but speaks to him. When asked whether he would like to get well, the paralyzed person cannot even express his longing. He only replies resignedly: I have no one. At the same time - while he is staring at the pond - the miracle has already happened. But different from what he expected. The miracle: Jesus did not overlook him! He has overcome the barriers! Jesus says: Get up, take your bed and go. The sign indicates who Jesus is. Even more, the evangelist confesses: Jesus speaks the word that changes the situation; he himself is that word.
Theology can give important impulses to the current inclusion debate. But it is not free from ambivalent contemporary historical ties - and therefore not free from guilt and alienation. In the history of theology up to the present there are always approaches and representations with an exclusive and derogatory effect. In the "Historia von einer Wechselkinde zu Dessau", Luther interpreted disability as the work of the devil. Until well into the 19th century, disability was often seen as a moralizing punishment from God, as a test of faith, as punishment imposed on children for the sin of their fathers and mothers (cf. Jn 9: 1-3).
Assuming a punitive and retributive God, a simple cause-effect pattern was developed that often denied people with disabilities the image of God and thus their dignity or even their right to life. In the sense of a theological aesthetic, z. B. the pietistic theologian J. K. Lavater, the beauty of a person refers to the closeness to God. Physical deficiency, on the other hand, was interpreted by him as distant from God. Also in theological-anthropological drafts of the recent past, essential features of man's likeness were seen in the upright gait of man, his responsiveness, language ability, cosmopolitanism or understanding. The theological controversy over the question of properties, what makes man human, has apparently not yet been completely overcome.
The purposeful interpretation of the handicap as an educational measure of God (cf. Heb 12: 6) also proves to be unsuitable. It privatizes disability and leads to de-solidarization. Disability is sometimes seen as "the cross to be carried" (Mt 16:24) or as "the wages of sin" (Rom 6:23) with regard to the reality of death in the world. It is questionable, however, whether these biblical references can rightly be associated in this exclusive way with the phenomenon of disability.
The sustainable impulses to turn to children and adults with disabilities were often motivated by Jewish-Christian charity (Leviticus 19:18; Mt 19:19). Diaconal thought patterns play a central role here. A special emphasis is placed on the idea that Christ himself meets in the suffering person (Mt 25: 31ff). Especially in the church context, the insight grew early on that people with disabilities must be helped. However, an inclusive theology also describes the ambivalence of caring attention. Sometimes it has a dominant or even suppressive character. That is why the roles of helpers and those in need must not become entrenched. Living with one another is not the same as living for one another. In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the merciful and the suffering are praised together as blessed (Mt 5: 3–12).
Excluding and derogatory effects of theological statements about people have been warned by various critics for years. The physically handicapped theologian Ulrich Bach has the exclusive special status of
People with disabilities in the image of man criticized as "social racism in theology and the church". In his "Theologie nach Hadamar" (Hadamar was one of the so-called "killing institutions" for people with disabilities during the National Socialist era, cf. 3.3) he establishes the anthropological principle that statements about human existence must be formulated in an inclusive way. A general sentence about people must apply to every single person without exception! Therefore all special theology must be replaced by a "ground level" theology .
Theological thought patterns are to be examined for their effect. Are they at the heart of the gospel? Are you excluding? Do you hurt? How realistic are these interpretations for people who have to live with restrictions? What are their effects on the coexistence of the different people?
2.6 In search of an inclusive church
If in the course of the inclusion debate diversity is spoken of as an opportunity for society and the church, it finds a theological starting point in the Pauline motif of the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:26). Paul understands the Christian community as a complementary community in which giving and receiving are self-evident functions of the one body of Christ. Because the dignity and value of life are God's gift, weakness, illness, disability and poverty cannot impair this dignity; strength, health, intelligence and wealth add nothing to it (EKD Synod 2006) . All members of the body of Christ have diverse gifts and equally diverse needs for support. The distinction between "normal" and "abnormal" is artificial. In the horizon of a Christian image of man, there must be no division between helpers and recipients of help, between above and below, between stands and arena. The world in which we live is more of a kind of “patient collective” (Ulrich Bach). Turned positively, one can also speak of the church as an "encouraging community" (Esther Bollag). This rules out any condescending attitude or powerful dominance of one over the other. Everyone is in need of help; not only at the beginning and end of life - also in many places in between. All are always givers and takers. Therefore, the caring approach misses the inclusive goal.
The term inclusion is to be understood comprehensively. From a Christian perspective, people are imperfect beings. Nobody can pull themselves out of the swamp by their own head. The claim to autonomy turns out to be unrealistic and hostile to life. Nobody can make sense of their existence on their own. Human dignity is not based on personal accomplishments. Four hundred years ago the English poet and preacher John Donne formulated the catchy phrase: "No man is an island", no one is an island. To be human means to be in a relationship. We are integrated in local and global contexts, in a network that can carry us, but which also makes us vulnerable. Anyone who understands the church as an inclusive community no longer thinks in two areas in which a majority integrates a minority, but has already set out to meet people on an equal footing. In the worship community this should be - and become - a natural togetherness.
The fact that the experience of the kingdom of God is sketched out as an ecclesiastical “utopia” that cannot be experienced in this world, but can be experienced in this world, is already proven by the New Testament findings. The diversity of people in ancient times is not only enriching diversity, but also a social explosive. Using the example of the difficult Lord's Supper practice in Corinth, Paul develops his model of a body of Christ theology that depicts and overcomes the diverse social, intercultural, religious and gender conflicts (cf. 1 Cor 11: 17ff).
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