My wife and I are fans of the sitcom "Big Bang Theory." Our favorite character is "Sheldon," a science genius who was obviously patterned after someone who has Aspergers disease. Since my wife is a Speech Pathologist who provides therapy for children and adults with Aspergers, I enjoy the benefit of her expertise as we watch the show. She'll often say, "That's exactly what an aspie [the nickname those with the disease call themselves] would say," or "I have a patient who does the same thing as Sheldon." Then, she'll give me a private tutorial about the behavior and thought-processes of those who have Aspergers. For example, many aspies cannot make sense of metaphor. Most have a hard time putting together a narrative in order to tell a story. Many have what we would call a rather ego-centric worldview--if it doesn't pertain to them, then what difference does it make? They also have a high sense of infallibility. And on and on.
All of this got me to thinking: can someone with Aspergers "be saved"?
Now, before I explain what I mean by asking such a provocative question, let me say I'm convinced that there must be many Christians who have Aspergers disease.
What I'm getting at is this: if a person can't make sense of metaphor, if narratives are confusing to them, if a person believes they are infallible [read: they are NOT sinners]--all of which most evangelicals would think are constitutive of the gospel--then how can they come to a "saving knowledge" of Jesus Christ? Or, another way of putting the question, is our typical doctrine of salvation too narrowly defined? Have we established a soteriology that accounts only for people like us, i.e., people who think like us?
Of course, most evangelicals already have an inclusive soteriology, e.g., children, mentally handicapped, perhaps even pagans who have never heard the gospel. Yet, what we typically mean by "hearing the gospel" is based on our understanding of the gospel. So, what if someone can't "understand" the gospel like we do, does it mean they don't believe?