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Disability, Providence, and Ethics
Bridging Gaps, Transforming Lives
Human disability raises the hardest questions of human existence and leads directly to the problem of causality—the underlying intuition that someone, divine or human, must have been at fault.
Christian theology has responded with almost singular attention to Providence, the expression of divine will in the world as the cause of all things. This preoccupation holds captive the Christian imagination, leaving the Church ill equipped to engage the human reality of disability. Theological reflection, argues Hans Reinders, can arise only as a second-order activity that follows after real attention to the experience of disability.
Disability, Providence, and Ethics offers a more excellent way to address this difficult subject. Reinders guides readers away from an identification of disability with tragedy—via lament—to the possibility of theological hope and its expression of God’s presence. In particular, Reinders reconsiders two of the main traditional sources in Christian thought about Providence, the biblical text of Job and the theological work of John Calvin. Throughout the book, first-person accounts of disability open up biblical texts and Christian theology—rather than the other way around. In the end, a theology of Providence begins with the presence of the Spirit, not with the problem of causality.
Foreword by Stanley Hauerwas
1. Disability and Divine Providence
2. Cosmic Fairness?
3. Providence: Intervention and transformation
4. Does the Cosmos Contain Keys?
5. A Man Named Job
6. Fons Omnium Bonorum (The Fountain of All That Is Good)
7. Providence in Christ
8. Stories We Live By
"The Dutch theologian Hans Reinders, one of the most interesting thinkers working at the intersections of theology, philosophy, and disability studies, discusses in this well-written and engaging book the theology of providence in relation to the experience of disability."
—Arne Rasmusson, University of Gothenburg, First Things
“Reinders' text authentically responds to the potency of risky deep waters with deep multi-vocal care, consistently supporting his premise that community, through Christ's Holy Spirit, transforms new ways to see and live.”
—Debra Paxton-Buursma, Christian Scholars Review
"This book impressively embodies the spirit of interdisciplinary scholarship prevalent within the field of Christian ethics today. In the course of the book Reinders engages literatures from disability studies, first-hand non-fiction writings, biblical studies and systematic theology—all without losing his own constructive agenda...this is ultimately not just a book about disability, but about what it means for contingent, finite creatures to trust in the providential care of God while living in a world in which they are not in control of their lives.”
—Matthew R. Jantzen, Studies in Christian Ethics
"In this magnificent work, Hans Reinders presents divine providence in a manner that refuses to evade the hardest questions of lived human existence."
—Brian Brock, Reader in Moral and Practical Theology, University of Aberdeen
"…An important contribution to the necessary conversation on Christian theology and our human experiences of impairments and disabilities."
—Arne Fritzson, Ecumenical Disabilities Advocate Network
"…Disability, Providence, and Ethics is a probing and instructive book that is sure to be an important addition to the growing literature on theology and disability. Attentive to stories of disability in the lives of people, Hans Reinders roots providence in pastoral discernment as a hope-filled expression of God's transformative nearness. And the result challenges common perceptions of disability."
—Thomas E. Reynolds, Associate Professor of Theology, Emmanuel College
"The practical methodology, perceptive questions, and community-based wisdom found here will benefit all readers—with or without disabilities—who are seeking to adapt and create meaning in a complicated and ruptured world."
—Debbie Creamer, Interpretation
Hans S. Reinders is Professor of Ethics and Bernard Lievegoed Professor of Ethics and Disability at VU University in Amsterdam.
More Information Available
Other books by:
Hans S. Reinders
Books in Series:
Studies in Religion, Theology, and Disability
Becoming Friends of Time - Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship
Disability and World Religions - An Introduction
Disability, Providence, and Ethics - Bridging Gaps, Transforming Lives
Madness - American Protestant Responses to Mental Illness