“Congregations without any disabled members are disabled and disabling congregations.” (The Spirit of Life, 193)
A touching moment in the Emergent Village Theological Conversation with Moltmann occurs at the beginning of episode 6, when a participant at the event named Jean, who was born with a disability, thanked Jürgen Moltmann for his impact on her life (audio embedded below the transcript):
Jean: I read in 1975 The Crucified God. You gave me language to describe my reality as a person born with disability, and I claimed myself created in the image of God from your book. How do persons with disabilities, who are both gifts and burdens to the church, have access to full expression of church in the power of the Holy Spirit?
Jürgen Moltmann: A disability concerned me my lifelong, because my older brother was a severely disabled person and he died when euthanasia began in Germany, so I think the church must consist of the disabled and not-disabled persons. A congregations without disabled persons accepted is a disabled church. So, let’s bring our members of our families who have disabilities into our congregations as a part of our community because they all are images of Jesus Christ.
For Moltmann, the issue of disability is very personal: his older brother, Hartwig, was severely disabled and was among the 10,000 disabled people who fell victim to the Nazi euthanasia program. This makes him particularly sensitive to ways in which those in our world and in the church tend not to appropriately value the physically and mentally handicapped. Continue reading