I am reading Jeff McNair’s book, The Church and Disability, which is a published collection of his blog postings for disabledChristianity from 2004 through 2008. Though published as a book, the organization of the blog postings gives it a unique, informal style. After 30 pages in, I think I’m starting to get it.
But when I came to this statement, I almost choked because I have thought the very same thing for readers of The Works of God!
Does it ever occur to you as you read this blog that I am a special education professor (and) not a theologian? It concerns me if it doesn’t concern you. (McNair, p. 16)
I am not a theologian either. Nor am I trained in special education or disability studies. I’m just a dad who loves Jesus, because he first loved me.
Part of my reason for reading all these books on disability or disease and the Bible is to find a sound theological work specific to this subject, and from a Reformed perspective. I haven’t found it yet. And some of what I have found is awful. Thus, we started this blog to say more about our good and sovereign God who creates some intentionally to bring glory to his name through disability.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t very helpful resources out there. Pastor John’s January 24, 2010 sermon, Born Blind for the Glory of God, might be the single most important sermon on the topic I have yet read or heard. Joni Eareckson Tada has spent decades raising the issue of including people with disabilities in the life of the church.
But that Genesis to Revelation unpacking of the disability passages, written to demonstrate love for God and his inspired word, the one that tackles Leviticus 21:16-24 in light of Exodus 4:11 and John 9:1-3 and all of Romans 8? I haven’t found that one yet.
And I am tempted to complain, as Dr. McNair does in ending his post on the subject:
As a result, you have people like me, some better, some worse who are out there trying to make sense of disability from a Christian perspective because those who should be doing the heavy theological lifting are not. (McNair, p. 17)
Yet, I would rather fight that temptation than give in to it. That’s not a criticism of Dr. McNair at all – he is articulating things I have thought myself.
I have concluded that God somehow gets more glory, at least for now, by having unqualified people like Dr. McNair and me press into the issue of disability and the church and the Bible rather than theologians. We don’t have the luxury of standing on educational credentials; I expect that people will question what I have written. I know it makes me more prayerfully dependent and a more careful student of the Bible. And it makes me much more careful in reading what others have to say about disability and the Bible.
And, someday, if God raises up that trained theologian who looks squarely at this issue, with a desire to illuminate and explain while remaining faithful to the text, having been trained in the original languages, with deep affections for God and a clear understanding of his sovereignty over all things – on that day there will be much rejoicing!
Either way, to God be all the glory, and thankfulness to him that we have access to his word and the help of the Holy Spirit in discerning the truth!
And we have Just the Way I Am, a very helpful, God-centered resource to point us directly to God and to his word on the issue of disability.