Inclusion and Discipleship in the Church in View of the Developmentally Delayed: God Hears Us Through Red Headphones
The developmentally delayed are made in the image of God. They are not meant to be objects of pity or demeaned to being targeted for acts of charity. Rather, by including & building relationships with the developmentally delayed in community, God reveals every human’s inclusion in the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ. God gifts the developmentally delayed & sends them into ministry. More
In this paper, I will focus closely on the “developmentally delayed,” without endeavoring to cover all the physically, intellectually and emotionally disabling situations extant in the world. In chapter 1, I will a) define what is meant by developmentally delayed, b) look at some of the more common causes, c) include some statistics on its prevalence, and d) provide a short history of how this population has been variously perceived through history.
In chapter 2, I will look at the theology of what I call the a) “objective inclusion” of the developmentally delayed and b) ministry with them. This section will include a survey of the subject of imago dei biblically, historically and theologically. I will discuss how different concepts of imago dei have affected the outlook of the church on disabilities historically and also how modern secular thoughts of personhood have affected Western societies’ outlook. This section will include an exegesis of Luke 14:15-23, Jesus’ parable of the banquet, which I feel best informs this aspect of theological inclusion.
My conclusion will draw together both the objective and subjective theology of inclusion and ministry. The developmentally delayed are made in the image of God, just as “the normal” person. Although they may be vulnerable in the world, they are not meant to be merely objects of pity to the church or demeaned to a status of being targeted for practical acts of charity. Rather, by including and building relationships with the developmentally delayed in community, God reveals every human’s inclusion in the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ. In doing this, God gifts the developmentally delayed and sends them into ministry to us, the “normal,” to lead and teach us about humanity and ourselves.