Disabilities and the Gospel: An Interview with Michael Beates
Tabletalk: What inspired you to write Disability and the Gospel?
Michael Beates: Some thirty years ago, with the birth of our first child, Jessica, my wife and I began a long journey with disability. Seeking answers and some assurance of God’s purposes and plan, I read and researched much about what God has said about disabilities and how the church has responded over the years. Eventually, this led to a doctoral dissertation on the subject. Steve Brown, one of the examiners of the dissertation, encouraged me not to leave the work in that form but to get it out as a book. After some years—and God’s kind providence—this book is in many ways a product of Jessica’s life and influence on my own life and that of my family.
TT: What are the particular emphases that should be presented when sharing the gospel with a disabled person?
MB: Jesus surprised people (in Mark 2) when some friends brought their paralyzed friend for healing. The first thing Jesus did was to forgive the man’s sins. They thought his greatest need was healing, not forgiveness. But Jesus knew his deeper, eternal need. Likewise, no matter what a person’s state, if they are able to understand, the most profound and crucial need is for a person with disabilities to be made right with God by understanding he or she is a sinner in need of God’s forgiving grace in Christ.