Disability is "tragically but redemptively fundamental" to discipleship, Tom Reynolds has written, for it "opens up our vulnerability and dependence upon each other and God." In this issue he critiques "the cult of normalcy," which is the social construction of what is "normal" in order to hide or eliminate bodies that are deemed "disabled."

In the strange new world within the Bible," John Swinton explains, "disability is not simply a focus for the outworking of compassion and healing; "God uses disabled bodies to carry out the key tasks of the coming kingdom." The story of Zacchaeus, Amos Yong suggests, challenges the ableist assumption that disability is a problem needing to be fixed or eliminated.

Examining the growing use of prenatal testing to screen for selective abortion, Brian Brock warns that "'prenatal care' and 'prenatal screening' become antonyms in practice when the refusal to test is portrayed as unnecessarily risky and aborting a disabled child is portrayed as a relief."

Kay Toombs describes the intentional Christian community where she lives as "'an alternative culture' in which it is possible to fully embrace the vulnerability that accompanies disability." Jason Whitt addresses the difficult question: "Is there room in the baptismal waters and at the Lord's Supper table for persons with profound intellectual disability?"

The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to explore our calling to walk beside one another in friendship and learn from one another with our weakness and impairments. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.

Download the entire Disability issue and the set of six Study Guides. Or, download individual pieces by clicking the titles below.



  • "Desperate," by Heidi J. Hornik, on the Byzantine mosaic Jesus Cures the Woman Who Bleeds
  • "Lasting Wounds," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Caravaggio, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
  • "Unexpected Healing," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Nicholas Poussin, Saints Peter and John Healing the Lame Man

Hymn and Worship Service

Inspirational Piece

Book Reviews

  • "Travelling in the Ark," by Heiki Peckruhn
    • Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier, Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness
    • Kevin Reimer, Living L'Arche: Stories of Compassion, Love, and Disability
    • Hans Reiners, ed., The Paradox of Disability: Responses to Jean Vanier and L'Arche Communities from Theology and the Sciences
    • Jean Vanier, Becoming Human
  • "Lowering Barriers for People with Disabilities," by Jackie Mills-Fernald
    • Special Needs, Special Ministry
    • Eric W. Carter, Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities: A Guide for Service Providers, Families and Congregations
    • Barbara J. Newman, Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities
    • Jim Pierson, Exceptional Teaching: A Comprehensive Guide for Including Students with Disabilities

Study Guides and Lesson Plans (Download the set of six Study Guides)

Further Reading: