Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type


Primary Advisor

Dr. Steven Fettke


This thesis surveys the possibility of a theology of mental illness in order to create an inclusive ecclesiology for modern churches. Mental illness is greatly stigmatized in the Church as demonic or spiritual and moral failing. In combat of such stigma and prejudice to create an inclusive atmosphere in the Church, a positive theology of mental illness understood as a unique gifting is argued for. With the elusive nature of mental illness in both definition and experience taken into account, all aspects of mental illness are considered, such as biology, psychology, and philosophy of mental disorder. The thesis understands mental illness in light of the Imago Dei and considers an adapted model of disability theology to rationalize such ideas. In addition, historical figures displaying symptoms of mental illness are compared with the uniquely gifted individuals in Scripture to see similarities. From these ideas, a theology of mental illness is positively constructed as a unique gifting. With a positive theology of mental illness given, models for practical inclusion are given for clergy and laity to implement.