Does This Cross Have Disabled Access?
The cross, with its power to heal and save from sin, lies at the heart of Christian faith and life. Yet that message has been awkward in the context of disability. The fact that disability and sin often appear together in Scripture, as well as assumptions about them in some healing ministries, have left people with disabilities feeling like outsiders to the gospel. This tension is perhaps also why the growing field of disability theology has not so far grappled more closely with God’s work of atonement through Jesus at the cross. The lecture draws on insights from disability theology and explores whether it is possible to have an account of the atonement, and of healing, that is genuinely inclusive and does not conflate disability and sin. It also asks whether in that way the cross, rather than being a source of tension, could become the best foundation for the continued development of a distinctively Christian theology of disability.
As churches increasingly seek to include people with disabilities, how disability fits into the gospel is a pressing question. Disability and sin often appear together in the Bible, which is awkward. Jesus’ healing signs, as a foretaste of the saving power of the cross, only seem to make matters worse. The lecture asks whether the insights of people with disabilities might help here. Is there a way of understanding God’s saving, healing work at the cross that does not equate disability with sin and that avoids people with disabilities feeling like outsiders?
- David McLachlan
trained and worked as a Baptist minister from 2003, following a career in London. He was pastor of Dormansland Baptist Church in Surrey, where he was involved for many years as a governor of Young Epilepsy, an organisation providing education, accommodation and care for young people with complex neurological conditions. More recently, David has been an associate lecturer at Spurgeons College in London, teaching ministry students. There, he has also been researching the theology of disability since 2013, completing his PhD in 2018. The lecture draws on some of that work. David is married to Mary (also a Baptist minister) and they have four grown-up children. His more active hobbies include climbing, surfing and music.
Wednesday 17 November starting at 19:00
With David McLachlan, Sally Nelson and Debra Reid
Watch the lecture below. To take part in the Q&A please join on YouTube
For more information on the lecture, and if you would like to book David, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Does This Cross Have Disabled Access?: Re-thinking Theologies of Atonement and Disability
The text of this year's Whitley Lecture has also been published as a book, and is available for £5.00 from Amazon.
Accessible Atonement: Disability, theology and the cross of Christ
This year's lecture draws upon this book by David McLachlan, published by Baylor. The publishers have offer a 30% discount for purchases of this book to anyone in connection with the lecture. Click here to download the voucher.
Click here to download previous Whitley Lectures.