The Image of God, Bioethics, and Persons with Profound Intellectual Disabilities

  • Devan Stahl, Ph.D., M.Div.
  • John F. Kilner, Ph.D., A.M., M.Div.
Keywords: agency, destiny, dignity, image of God, intellectual disability, justice, relationality


All people are created in the image of God, which gives every human being a dignity that can never be lost or diminished. This article develops a biblically sound understanding of what it means to be in God’s image. Next, it explores how important such an understanding is for people with disabilities. Finally, it traces out a number of implications of that understanding for people with profound intellectual disability.

Author Biographies

Devan Stahl, Ph.D., M.Div.

Devan Stahl, Ph.D. (St. Louis University), M.Div. (Vanderbilt Divinity School) is Assistant Professor of Clinical Ethics at the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, Michigan State University. She chairs the Bioethics and Christian Theology Affinity Group of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and has published on genetics and disability.

John F. Kilner, Ph.D., A.M., M.Div.

John F. Kilner, Ph.D. and A.M. (Harvard University), M.Div. (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is the Forman Chair of Theology and Ethics, Professor of Bioethics & Contemporary Culture, and Director of Bioethics Programs at Trinity International University. His 20+ books include the recent award-winning Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God (Eerdmans, 2015).

How to Cite
Stahl, D., & Kilner, J. (2019). The Image of God, Bioethics, and Persons with Profound Intellectual Disabilities. Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability, 6(1-2), 19-40. Retrieved from