In die Skriflig
On-line version ISSN 1018-6441
LOUW, Daniel J. Virtuous suffering and the predicament of being handicapped. Towards a theology of the 'disabled God puffing in a wheelchair'. In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2014, vol.48, n.1, pp. 01-10. ISSN 1018-6441.
The reality of disablement, being handicapped and physical disfigurement, opens up anew the theological debate regarding God-images in human suffering. It is argued that the Hellenistic understanding of the power of God, God as a pantokrator [Almighty], presupposes the immutability of an apathetic God. In terms of the logic of a cause-effect paradigm, God becomes the deterministic principle behind human suffering. With reference to a theologia crucis [theology of the Cross], the paradigm of theopaschitic theology proposes a pathetic understanding of God. Weakness and vulnerability (astheneia) describes an authentic identification of God with human suffering. Forsakenness (derelictio) reframes power as compassionate weakness or vulnerability and divine disability. The disabled God is, in terms of the New Testament a connection between divine compassion and human predicament (ta splanchna), the passionate God. Bowel categories make it possible to speak of the 'puffing God in the wheelchair'. A theology of the cross should be supplemented by a theology of ability (theologia resurrectionis). The resurrection introduces the spiritual ability parrhesia - the transformation of the weakness of suffering into the fortigenitics of hope.