05 December 2006

What are we for?

Over on Connexions, Kim Fabricius reports on a lecture by Dr. Frances Young on The Vocation of People with Severe Learning Disabilities.

It sounds like a stunning lecture and Kim's post is definitely worth reading.

When I was growing up, the denomination to which I belonged had a debate about whether or not people with severe learning disabilities could be saved, if they could not understand the gospel message. Although that denomination - thank goodness - has now decided that God will be merciful to such people, there were a number of leaders at the time (this was in the 1960s) who thought that those who could not understand the gospel message could not be saved. (Sounds like "salvation by cognition"!)

Dr. Young's idea - that the vocation of those with severe learning difficulties is to bring the gospel to the rest of us - seems much more like the sort of thing that a God of Good News would do.


crystal said...
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crystal said...

I hadn't heard of salvation by cognition .... that would leave out those who are mentally impaired and small children. If understanding is the way to salvation, I'm in trouble too.

I remember a sermon I once read that gave an example of salvation ... two people have a test coming up. One studies night and day, the other goes out partying and never cracks a book - both pass the test.

PamBG said...

Just to be clear "salvation by cognition" is a term I made up, but I think that's what such an attitude would suggest. The denomination in which I grew up were very old-school, non-charismatic, rationalist (and fairly academic) evangelicals.

I'm quite challenged by the idea in Kim's post about those with severe learning difficulties having the vocation to teach the rest of us the Gospel.

If you follow this train of thought logically using a Girardian lens, then that is actually the vocation of anyone who is excluded, oppressed or scape-goatted. It's very humbling and makes me realise how far short of the mark I fall!