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Theology and Philosophy

Disabilities, Resurrected Bodies, and Philosophy

When: June 9, 2022, 1:45 pm - Thursday

Where: Ezell 211

Session 4

Session Abstract

Will there be disabilities in heaven? Many Christians believe there won’t, because the resurrected bodies of the saints will be perfect, and so this means there will be no imperfections such as disability, the thinking goes. But if you ask those who actually have disabilities, many hope and believe there will in fact be some disabilities in heaven—namely their own! In this session, two papers that will be presented will argue this disability perspective is right. That is, they will argue that it is possible both for a mind and a body to be disabled but still be perfect.

 

Paper Abstracts

Jacquelyn Harootunian-Cutts, Saint Louis University, “Heavenly Perfection, Heart’s Desires, and Those Who Lack the Use of Reason”

Cognitive disability raises puzzles for Christian belief in the bodily resurrection; debate abounds regarding whether and how disability will be present in resurrected bodies. As an alternative to current blanket arguments on disability, Eleonore Stump fashions a subjective scale of perfection, allowing for case-by-case instances of disability in heaven. Since this scale seems to rely on cognitive ability, I offer a resolution compatible with the Thomistic metaphysics assumed by Stump: the formation of heart’s desires after death. I argue that God can infuse knowledge into the soul so that those with cognitive disabilities receive knowledge of their lives.

 

Derek Estes, Saint Louis University, “Reflections on the Wounds of Christ: A Thomistic Account of Disability in the Resurrection”

Some philosophers and theologians have argued that Thomas Aquinas views disabilities as imperfections—things that make a person intrinsically worse off. Because the resurrected bodies of the saints will be perfected in every way, this would imply that there will be no disabilities in heaven. In this paper, I argue on the contrary. I examine Aquinas’s reflections on the crucifixion wounds that remain in the resurrected body of Christ and conclude that there is reason to think that, despite what some have argued, Aquinas does not in fact view disabilities as imperfections. Indeed, they may sometimes make one more perfect.

Speakers

David Mahfood, Johnson University, Convener

  • Jacquelyn Harootunian-Cutts, Saint Louis University, “Heavenly Perfection, Heart’s Desires, and Those Who Lack the Use of Reason”
  • Derek Estes, Saint Louis University, “Reflections on the Wounds of Christ: A Thomistic Account of Disability in the Resurrection”
  • Andrea Thornton, Saint Louis University, Respondent

Registration Open Now

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James Cone with conferee at the CSC in 2017

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Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson delivering the CSC plenary address

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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivering the CSC plenary address.

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US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivering the CSC plenary address

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David Brooks engaging conferees during breakfast at the CSC

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