Becoming the Baptized Body: Disability and the Practice of Christian Community
In Becoming the Baptized Body, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Theological Ethics Sarah Jean Barton explores how baptismal theologies and practices shape Christian imagination, identity, and community. Baptism offers the distinctive practice of Christian initiation, rooted in Jesus' own baptism, ministry, death, and resurrection. Too often, however, people with intellectual disabilities are excluded from this core Christian practice and so barred from full inclusion in the life of discipleship.
Privileging perspectives informed by disability experience through theological qualitative research, Becoming the Baptized Body explores how theology done together can enliven imagination around baptismal practices and how they intersect with the human experience of disability.
With a commitment to inclusive research and a focus on ecclesial practice, Barton brings theologians of disability, biblical accounts of baptism, baptismal liturgies, and theological voices from across the ecumenical spectrum in conversation with Christians shaped by intellectual disability. Becoming the Baptized Body explores how the real-world experiences of disabled Christians enrich and expand received Christian theological traditions and provides avenues for vibrant participation and formation for all believers.
Barton has dual appointments at Duke Divinity School and Duke University School of Medicine. Her scholarly work focuses on theological ethics, with special attention to disability, liturgy, and pastoral care. Her research engages qualitative and participatory methodologies to partner with under-represented populations in theological scholarship, particularly people with intellectual disabilities.