Theologizing inclusion: 1 Corinthians 12 and the politics of the body of Christ

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Contemporary disability theologians have increasingly lighted on 1 Corinthians chapter 12 as a classic biblical depiction of what is today known as an inclusive social model. This article traces theological attempts to define the concept of inclusion and advance that emerging consensus by offering a close reading of 1 Cor. chapter 12. St. Paul's famous “body life” chapter offers a conceptually rich and theologically sophisticated account of the spiritual gifts suggesting that every member of the church is to be understood as an active giver or conduit of divine love, a giving that is not reducible to any person's supposed physiological or intellectual deficiencies, nor the supposed gift of people with disabilities to serve as reminders that we are all destined to be dependent on others. The ecclesial discernment being proposed if Christians are to receive the gifts of all members of the Christian community depends on learning to look beyond the sociological and demographic certainties typically attached to individual congregants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-376
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of religion, disability & health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • inclusion
  • 1 Corinthians 12
  • weakness
  • ecclesiology
  • Apostle Paul
  • body of christ


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