What does healing mean for people with disabilities?

The Gospels are filled with accounts of Jesus offering physical healing. But even as churches today seek to follow the way of Jesus, people with disabilities all too often experience the very opposite of healing and life-giving community: exclusion, judgment, barriers. Misinterpretation and misapplication of biblical healing narratives can do great damage, yet those who take the Bible as authoritative mustn't avoid these passages either.

Bethany McKinney Fox believes that Christian communities are better off when people with disabilities are an integral part of our common life. In Disability and the Way of Jesus, she considers how the stories of Jesus' healings can guide us toward mutual thriving.

How did Jesus' original audience understand his works of healing, and how should we relate to these texts today? After examining the healing narratives in their biblical and cultural contexts, Fox considers perspectives from medical doctors, disability scholars, and pastors to more fully understand what Jesus does as he heals and how he points the way for relationships with people with disabilities. Personal reflections from Christians with disabilities are featured throughout the book, which concludes with suggestions for concrete practices adaptable to a variety of church settings.

Bridging biblical studies, ethics, and disability studies with the work of practitioners, Fox provides a unique resource that is both theologically grounded and winsomely practical. Disability and the Way of Jesus provides new lenses on holistic healing for scholars, laypeople, and church and parachurch leaders who care about welcoming all people as Jesus would.

"Disability comes not in one but many forms, so it should not be surprising that the message of Jesus as healer is good news to people with disabilities in more ways than just that they might be cured (what temporarily able-bodied people, those not disabled, usually presume). Disability and the Way of Jesus shows how different first century and contemporary readings of the Gospels envision holistic healing and empowers the church to live more fully into such good news so it can be a more welcoming space for all people."

Amos Yong, professor of theology and mission, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This is a fascinating and interesting book, very well documented, about healing—which is not just curing but helping a disabled person to fully accept his or her physical and mental impairments and to discover and love the beauty of their inner being. How did Jesus heal and why? And how is a disciple of Jesus called to become a true healer? This opens up the need of every person to be healed from their fear of entering into a real and authentic relationship with people with disabilities. We all need to learn to love and to respect people as they are and to see their beauty sometimes hidden behind their impairments. This book by Bethany McKinney Fox is excellent, filled with deeply Christian insights."

Jean Vanier, founder of l'Arche

"Bethany McKinney Fox's book is a joy to read. She uses research, exegesis, multidisciplinary perspectives, and her own experience of living with and listening to people with disabilities to produce a book that honestly and boldly looks straight at the healing stories of Jesus in the Gospels. This is a book for any pastor or lay group, not just those committed to inclusive ministries. Her writing is both clear and engaging while creatively stretching our vision, disrupting some of our assumptions, and deepening our understanding of healing. I cannot imagine preaching or writing about these healing stories without pulling this back off my shelf and reminding myself of what Dr. Fox has to say."

Bill Gaventa, director, Summer Institute on Theology and Disability

"With a working knowledge of multiple disciplines, including biblical criticism, pastoral care, philosophy of medicine, disability studies, and the history of the Christian tradition, Dr. Bethany Fox has managed to create a work that is both erudite and deeply practical. Disability and the Way of Jesus is relevant and incisive, drawing the biblical narrative into conversation with voices of persons today who have encountered the church as unhealing. Sensitive to multiple perspectives, yet critical of the status quo, this book challenges readers to consider how we can better understand healing as it relates to persons with disabilities. Eloquent yet simply written, this book is essential reading for pastors, teachers, and anyone wishing to create more inclusive and welcoming churches."

Devan Stahl, assistant professor of clinical ethics, Michigan State University

"Reading Bethany McKinney Fox's work is like taking a long, transformative walk, a walk that anyone committed to practicing the gospel will want to take with her—churches and small groups included. On page after page, she demonstrates insight and care in her approach to the testimonies of disabled persons, western physicians, pastors and theologians, and the New Testament evangelists. Fox carries us along so that we see better than we did before (as we begin to see through her eyes) how our study of Scripture and our patterns of discipleship and ecclesial life can better reflect 'the way of Jesus.'"

Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary
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CONTENTS

Introduction
1. Bridging the Gap
2. The First-Century Context of Jesus the Healer
3. Physicians Interpret the Gospels’ Healing Narratives
4. Honoring the Lived Experience of Disability in the Gospel Healing Narratives
5. Pastors Discuss Their Churches’ Healing Practices and the Healing Activity of Jesus
6. The Seven Marks of Healing in the Way of Jesus
7. The Seven Marks of Healing in Action
Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index

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Bethany McKinney Fox (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the director of student success and adjunct professor of Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary. She has worked previously at San Francisco Theological Seminary, First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, and L'Arche Wavecrest. Fox lives in Los Angeles, where she is a founding pastor at Beloved Everybody Church.

BY Bethany McKinney Fox

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