Reimagining Relationship: What Autism Reveals About What it Means to Relate to God
Popular expressions of contemporary Christianity emphasize a version of the faith is not a religion, but a relationship. What would such a statement mean for people on the autism spectrum whose diagnosis in DSM-5 describes their kind of relating with words like disability, deficiency, and disorder? Are they to be considered disabled in their ability to relate to God? The answer is no. By first identifying the way that projection is at play in our phenomenology of relationships, this project takes the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder found in DSM-5 and locates examples where the Bible witnesses to God behaving in a similar manner. This overlap of neurodiverse relational patterns and divine conduct does two things: First, it provides an opportunity for people on the spectrum to find their kind of relating in the God of the Bible. Second, it expands the palette of language and metaphor the church can draw upon to describe how people relate to God and how God relates to people. The final chapter includes captured learnings and examples for how a work like this can be implemented in parish ministry. In all this, autism reveals both where our relational theology is insufficient, as well as where new avenues of Christian faithfulness lie.
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