Keeping the Feast: The Socializing Dynamics of the Eucharist, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, and Enabling Boundaries for Individuals with Disabilities

Anthony James Stiff* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Faithfully participating in the Eucharist has been a struggle for the body of Christ since the formation of the Church (I Cor 11:17-34). According to Paul, the Eucharist, as a cruciform meal was intended to perform socializing dynamics that pushed against rather than reinforced social fragmentation and marginalization within the Corinthian body (Gerd Theissen and Mark T. Finney). The meal offered the church in Corinth a way to enable boundaries by giving the church a cruciform location for its identity recognition, moral formation, and missional vocation (Yung Suk Kim, Matthew Meyer Boulton, and Joseph H. Hellerman). Like the church in Corinth, the late modern church continues to struggle with faithfully “keeping the feast.” One example of this struggle that this paper explores is the tension that exists between many church’s practices of the Eucharist and the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. The late modern church’s struggle with ableism has ancient roots. Some argue (Saul M. Olyan) that it is present even within the biblical data itself, while others (Amos Yong) argue that ableism is caused by misinterpretations of the biblical data from “normate perspectives” which exclude disability as normal and therefore give way to the stigmatization and marginalization of individuals with disabilities in the church. I argue that when Scripture is read as a whole it offers a more hopeful picture for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities, particularly when it is read in light of the cruciform arc of the redemptive story which is symbolized in the Eucharist meal (Nancy Eiesland, Grant Macaskill, and Edward Foley). 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, with its cruciform picture of the Eucharist feast, offers the late modern church a heuristic model for how to read the biblical data to enable boundaries for individuals with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Disability & Religion
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • boundaries
  • Corinth
  • cruciform
  • disability
  • Eucharist
  • stigmatization

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