Book Review: "Disability and the Way of Jesus"
Written by our team member Amy Hartmann, The Banquet Network’s Administrative Assistant who received this book for free in return for a review.
As a seminary graduate with my Masters in Biblical Counseling as well as working for The Banquet Network, putting into practice theological understandings of how the Church is to be equipped in ministering to those marginalized by disabilities is vastly important. Disability and the Way of Jesus: Holistic Healing in the Gospels and the Church by Bethany McKinney Fox was an interesting read with a broad range of biblical interpretations of the purpose of Jesus’ healing ministry and how the Church should respond today. Fox highlighted the importance of understanding culture and context both from a biblical lens and in understanding people today. However, it is important to keep in mind that culture changes, not people and the mandate Jesus gave His followers to expand His Kingdom and welcome everyone to the banquet table. Disability ministry can be such a broad circle that often times can be overwhelming to know how to reach the margins with the gospel, but it’s important to keep our focus on the example Christ gave us in Scripture through His interactions with the sick, the disabled, and the oppressed.
Fox gathered intriguing interpretations of scholars with different hermeneutics as well as the personal opinions and experiences of those who deal with disabilities concerning more than the medical and bodily aspect but relational and spiritual healing as well. One critique I personally would give to make her book better would to have more of a Christ-centered lens to interpreting the gospel stories and emphasize His worthiness (p. 74-75). Rather than focusing on the identity of the broken people He interacted with and understanding that we can interpret the Bible looking at the person of Christ without devaluing those who are often oppressed and excluded because of their disabilities. Fox interviewed church leaders of various denominations refining their central idea of Jesus’ healing ministry in reaching the disabled and how their churches practice it today. She ends her book emphasizing the important call that Christian churches of all denominations, beliefs, and practices should engage “wisdom, discernment, creativity, and inspiration from the Holy Spirit…to embody the way of Jesus…being a place for holistic healing and transformation…” (p. 155) despite their differences. This book identifies practical resources for churches to engage people with disabilities and transform their congregation with the good news of the gospel.