Disability and the Way of Jesus: Holistic Healing in the Gospels and the Church

Reviewed by: G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.



Title: Disability and the Way of Jesus: Holistic Healing in the Gospels and the Church

Author: Bethany McKinney Fox

Publisher: IVP Academic (InterVarsity Press)

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Length: 224 pages


Can wanting people to be healed be a harmful thing? As Bethany McKinney Fox notes throughout this book, many people in the disability community would say, “yes.” They’ve frequently found urgings for them to seek miraculous healing or people praying for them without permission to be invasive, sending a message that they’re not really human until God fixes them. So, what does a healing ministry that seeks people’s betterment while also valuing them look like? Fox argues the answer can be found in the Gospels’ stories about Jesus performing miraculous healings. She analyzes how different groups of people (medical doctors, theologians who have disabilities, pastors who run healing ministries) interpret these “healing narratives” and then provides her own interpretation, laying out thoughts for how churches can make healing a safe, loving activity that mirrors Jesus’s work.

Fox takes a humbling, often difficult topic and provides excellent insights. She makes a compelling case that healing actually involves much more than just people’s medical problems being fixed, creating a powerful picture of church ministries that display radical love and humility.

Some scholars may be upset by the fact Fox references some more liberal theologians in this book, but context is key here. In a chapter summarizing theologians who’ve examined the healing narratives from a disability perspective, she includes several who question the Gospels’ accuracy – but she doesn’t openly endorse their views, just describes their work as an objective researcher noting major trends. Similarly, Fox references Historical Jesus by John Dominic Crossan in one chapter – but doesn’t seem to take Crossan’s approach to the Gospels. Rather, she quotes Crossan’s book for its insights into Jesus as a healer. When Fox gives her own analysis of Jesus’ healings, she takes a more conservative view, describing the Gospels as historically accurate texts.

All told, this book may not be for laymen, but it gives scholars and ministry leaders great material for healing like Jesus healed.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

4 stars

Intended Audience

Scholars interested in the theology underpinnings of healing ministry, church leaders trying to create Gospel-centered healing ministries.

Christian Impact

This book will force readers to face their biases against people with disabilities and pursue a Biblically based view of health, illness, and healing.



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Disability and the Way of Jesus: Holistic Healing in the Gospels and the Church

About Ceil Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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