A modern conception of flesh: Towards A theology of disability sport

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In this article, I will argue that any well-conceived Christian theology of disability sport must include a modern and diverse perspective on the Pauline concept of “flesh.” In support of my suggestion, I historically consider Christian conceptions of “flesh” and “body” as well as review the more modern perspective provided by John A. T. Robinson in his work, The Body: A Study in Pauline Theology. Considerations of prosthetics, orthotics, and wheelchairs phenomenologically as human-made “flesh,” and their use in the augmentation of God-given flesh in disability sport, are then examined. These considerations are followed by a discussion of the place of these types of “flesh” amidst the notion of the “supercrip” and the potential for super-human performances. My conclusions suggest that, while athletes with disability sometimes enhance their God-given flesh with human-made “flesh” for the sake of athletic participation, this enhancement should not necessarily be viewed as an overemphasis on the spiritual shortcomings of the flesh delineated historically by the Apostle Paul or by specific modern Christian doctrine. Rather, the flesh found in disability sport today—whether God-given or human-made—can be interpreted as a more inclusive depiction of the God-given flesh noted in biblical times modernized to include the ever-progressive development of disability technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-96
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Disability and Religion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 21 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Religious studies


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