Steve McCoy, Jonathan Dodson, Timmy Brister, and Justin Buzzard are pastors who have blogs that I have regularly followed for several years now. Each of them has contributed in various ways to my growing understanding of the gospel and missional living. So, when it came time to create a list of bloggers whom I wanted to ask if they would consider endorsing Reclaiming Adoption, their names came to mind immediately. All four of these men graciously agreed to endorse the book.
“I’m excited to share this book with those interested in or involved with earthly adoption. But Reclaiming Adoptiondeserves a much wider audience. This is a book about the Gospel, about our heavenly Father’s love for us and our adoption by Him. It’s a book about responding to our adoption by joining God’s mission to spread His love. Read it. It just may change the way you think of earthly adoption. It just may change the way you think of God’s love.”
“Reclaiming Adoption is more than a faddish call to adopt children. It dives deeper and swims further. By exploring the theological depths of the triune God’s saving, adopting love, the authors show us its far-reaching implications for Christian identity, ecclesiology, and mission. Those interested in the doctrine of adoption will benefit significantly by reading this book.”
“I have heard it said that our adoption in Christ is the excellency and apex of God’s salvation. In fact, we’re told that this adoption has cosmic implications as all creation awaits the revelation of once flagrant rebels now glorified children of God (Rom. 8:19). I’m greatly blessed—and I know you will be as well—by the capable guides in Reclaiming Adoption who propel us to the breathtaking views of God’s Trinitarian work of adopting us as His own. Not only that, but this book causes you to take it in chapter by chapter. Having been thrilled by God’s adopting love, you are set free to live from God’s acceptance of you, not striving for it; to go on a rescue mission after rebels because God’s missionary heart has included you.”
“This book can make you come more alive to the heart of the gospel and the mission of the gospel. Reclaiming Adoption says better in 100 pages what many have attempted to say in 1,000 pages. This is a fresh telling of the best news in the universe, good news that changes everything: the fatherless receive a Father!”
—Justin Buzzard, Pastor, San Francisco Bay Area; author of Hebrews: Consider Jesus; blogs at Buzzard Blog
I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead a workshop at The Idea Camp’s upcoming conference on Orphan Care and the Church, to be held February 25-26 in NW Arkansas. Some of the best thinkers in the evangelical orphan care movement will be there to share ideas and facilitate discussion to move those ideas toward implementation.
My workshop will explore how the reality of our Triune God should shape and inform how the Church actually addresses the global orphan crisis and implements ideas like the ones that will be discussed at the conference. I really can’t think of anything that has more relevance for the practical implementation of ideas than the reality of the Trinity does. When the disciples were on the eve of being thrown into the greatest crisis the world has ever known—Jesus’ crucifixion and murder, Jesus ushered them into a profound exploration of the mystery of the Trinity. If Jesus thought Trinitarianism was absolutely essential for the disciples’ implementation of practical Christianity, then I think we would do well to think through how the reality of the Trinity might shape how the Church implements solutions to the global orphan crisis.
When the eternal Son of God became man, he ushered his infinite, flawless communion with the Father into the deepest depths of our sin, pain, and suffering (see Mark 14:36), and he did so that he might create a community of people (the Church) that would serve as his hands and feet in a broken world. Join me February 25-26 at The Idea Camp as we explore Trinitarian solutions to the global orphan crisis.
From Scotty Smith in Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father:
We’re not just in God’s family; we’re in God’s future and estate. In his opening remarks to believers in Colossae, Paul refers to God as ‘the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of life. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son he loves.’
Once again, notice the filial language here: God is presented as the Father who qualifies the unqualified to become his own sons and daughters. Next, the issue of family inheritance is introduced as a part of our adoption. Because we have been legally constituted sons and daughters of God, we have been made his legal heirs. For adopted children, inheritance is not a wage-earning category, but a grace-gift category.
So what kind of inheritance are we talking about? Everyone united by faith to Jesus, our elder Brother, will inherit the entire earth (Matthew 5:5)—that is, all the perfections and wonder of life in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1-22:6). How staggering! What measureless riches are ours in Jesus! The day is coming when all things will be united in Jesus, our elder Brother, “things in heaven and things on earth,” for he is making all things new (Ephesians 1:10). Though we await acquisition of this inheritance, it is already legally ours (Scotty Smith, Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father, pp. 73-74).
We are excited to offer a study guide for Reclaiming Adoption that churches and small groups will be able to use. The guide will be available for free download on January 1, 2011. [Picture below: left side is Reclaiming Adoption's dedication page; right side is the study guide's table of contents.]
Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father has been sent off to the printer for its January 1 release with Cruciform Press. We are very grateful to God for everyone who has contributed to this project. God’s given us a great publisher, amazing co-authors and proofreaders as well as a gifted cover designer (Click on the image below to see a larger version of the cover).
Conrad Mbewe, the pastor of Kabwata Reformed Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, Africa, recently returned home from a visit to the United States. While here, he was surprised to learn how popular the adoption of African children has become in the United States. I found his thoughts about the practice of international adoption and the Westerner’s view of the African context very helpful. His blog post provides a necessary corrective to our sometimes blind enthusiasm. That’s not to say that we should not adopt internationally. This is to say, though, that when we do adopt from African countries, we should do so in a way that serves our African brothers and sisters in Christ and takes their cultural context into account—in a way that doesn’t value our desires and culture over theirs. We also need to remember that international adoption will never be the solution to the global orphan crisis, nor should it be. Rather, international adoption is one small component of a multi-faceted and complex solution. If there is a major component to a solution to the global orphan crisis, I’m convinced it is a gospel-centered movement of indigenous, in-country adoption and orphan care. Our primary focus as American Christians, then, should be to humbly come alongside our African brothers and sisters in Christ to work toward this end. There is so much that I probably should write about this now, but if I did, you would never get to reading Pastor Conrad Mbewe’s very helpful thoughts. Consider this post a conversation starter:
I have just returned from the USA. One of the major changes that I have observed from my earliest days of visiting that nation (i.e. from the late 1990s) is just how many families there are excited about and actually adopting African children. Whereas this phenomenon is not new, it has certainly grown exponentially. What I found rather surprising, however, was the lack of knowledge and appreciation of the African extended family system. So, although I initially set up this blog in order to give my church a peep into the outside world, I thought of writing a blog to inform the West about what is common knowledge back home. Whereas to the Western mind, an orphan, having lost both father and mother, is destined to either be adopted or spend the rest of his or her childhood days in an orphanage, to an African mind, the child still has many fathers and mothers, and consequently many homes to live in. Let me explain. (I apologise in advance for the unusual length of this blog).
In Africa, south of the Sahara, we have a system that is foreign to the social life of people in the West. It is popularly known as the extended family system. It goes something like this. My biological father’s brothers are also my fathers and my biological mother’s sisters are also my mothers. If your mind has processed that, let me add a little more. The wives of my biological father’s brothers are my mothers and the husbands of my biological mother’s sisters are my fathers . . . Often we speak in terms of ba tata mwaiche (younger father) and ba tata mukalamba (older father) when referring to the younger and older brothers of our fathers and ba mayo mwaiche (younger mother) and ba mayo mukalamba (older mother) when referring to the younger and older sisters of our mothers. However, it is not uncommon, especially when one is talking to a foreigner from the West for us to simply say in English “my father” when in the strictest sense we are referring to an uncle.
Read Pastor Conrad Mbewe’s entire blog post. It’s worth reading the comment section as well.
“The Good News . . . is that in Jesus Christ our elder brother, God has received the perfect obedience that his law requires. There is nothing left to merit! He has earned every penny in the heavenly estate. We are indeed saved by works—and not by good intentions—but by works that are perfect, complete, and perpetual to every command. However, it is Christ’s works, not ours, that have secured the eternal inheritance for us” (Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, p. 74).
Here’s an excerpt from the email newsletter that CruciformPress sent out this morning:
Coming January 1 - Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father
Dan Cruver, Editor
John Piper, Scotty Smith, Rick Phillips, Jason Kovacs
“I can’t recall ever hearing about, much less reading, a book like this before. Simply put, this remarkable volume by Dan Cruver and his co-authors fills a much-needed gap in our understanding of what the Bible says both about God’s adoption of us and our adoption of others. What you read here will do more than inform your mind. Yes, it will do that in a wonderfully biblical way, but it will also convict your heart, energize your will, and inflame your affections as you contemplate what God has done in making you His child. I highly recommend it.”
- Sam Storms, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, OK
An excerpt from chapter 2: “Adoption and the Trinity”
The Story behind both the Parable of the Prodigal Sons and our story of adoption is the story of the triune God’s mission in history to share His trinitarian love with us as His adopted sons. Given that we live between the times—between our initial entrance into God’s family (Galatians 4:4-5) and the consummation of our adoption at the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23)—we still battle daily with prodigal tendencies. Hardly a day goes by that we are not tempted merely to go on “mission” with the Father externally, doing what we are “supposed” to do, without being on mission with Him internally. Like the prodigal sons in Luke 15, we are daily tempted to exchange the love of the Father for the things of the Father.
Our hearts all too often long, as Tim Keller writes, for “a successful career, love, material possessions, even family,” instead of God. This is idolatry. An idol, Keller continues, “is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs our heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” But as the elder brother in Luke 15 shows us, our obedience to God can be an idol when it is more important to us than our relationship with God. In other words, we can easily exchange our enjoyment of God internally for our obedience to God externally. Whatever form it takes, our idolatry is therefore a daily threat to Christian faith and action. Although our obedience to God is meant to flow out of our enjoyment of God, living by faith is a daily challenge for us because we enter this world loving the things of the Father rather than the Father himself. Therefore, in order to maintain faithful, long-term engagement in missional living, it is essential that we deepen our understanding and experience of the Trinity, as well as the communion of love that the members of the Trinity enjoy with each other.
We were made by and for the triune God. Consequently, as Cornelius Plantinga writes, all of us “long for wholeness, for fulfillment, and for the final good that believers call God,” whether we realize it or not. But idolatry…
Should the reality of the Trinity inform how the church approaches caring for orphans? That’s a question I’ve been considering for a while now, and it did not take me long to become convinced that the reality of the Trinity should inform how the church approaches orphan care, and radically so. Let me briefly lead you through my thinking on this issue.
Scripture teaches that God is a communion of Persons. In other words, God is Trinity. As Wayne Grudem writes, “God eternally exists as three persons, Father Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God” (Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 226). Scripture reveals that the one triune God has always enjoyed perfect loving communion as three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For all of eternity the Father has loved the Son, the Son has loved the Father, and the Spirit has been the personal bond of that communion. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have eternally been and will forever be a loving communion of Persons. Together, they enjoy eternal belonging.
The good news of Gospel is that God’s gracious provision of adoption is the activity by which He enlarges the circle of communion that has eternally existed between the three Persons of the Trinity! God the Father sent forth His Son into the world (Galatians 4:4-5) that He might bring us to share in the loving communion that He forever enjoys with His eternal Son. Through the work of His Son God graciously brings us to participate in the reciprocal love that ever flows between Him and His Son. It is through union with Jesus, as T. F. Torrance writes, that “we are drawn by the Spirit of the Father and of the Son into the Communion of the Father and the Son” and given the gift of belonging—family belonging. In Christ God comes to those who are without home and hope in this world (Ephesians 2:12) and meets their deepest needs by placing them (us) in an existing Family relationship (the eternal love of the Father and the Son).
Given these two truths about the Trinity, how should the reality of the Trinity inform the church’s approach to orphan care? As Christians, we believe that every aspect of our lives is to be worked out from a center in God and not from a center in ourselves. In other words, as Christians, we are called to think from a God-centered vantage point and not from a man-centered one. Since God is triune, therefore, we must think from Trinity-centered perspective. “In practice, however,” writes Gerrit Dawson, “we more often [think] as unitarians, rarely thinking through what the tri-unity of God means for our life together, our worship and our mission” (Given and Sent in One Love: The True Church of Jesus Christ, p. 23). I’m convinced that the reality and truth of the Trinity should push us more and more toward finding church-centered, family-based, family-friendly solutions for the global orphan crisis. God’s solution for our hopeless and homeless condition as fallen human beings was to give us belonging in His triune family. Shouldn’t that inform how the church thinks about orphan care, whether the orphans we care for are legally adoptable or not?
Darrin Patrick on Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father:
“There is no greater need in our day than theological clarity. We live in a pragmatic, hype-driven, emotionally manipulated spiritual landscape. We need the ancient wisdom of the Bible, not another business book or glory story from some cool church. Dan has brought us near to the heart of God, who by His Spirit cries out in our hearts, ‘Abba, Father.” As you read this book, you will sense the need to embrace your own acceptance as God’s adopted son or daughter.”
Dr. Mike Wittmer and Scott Anderson on Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father:
“Reclaiming Adoption won’t guilt you into doing one more thing for Jesus. It merely wants to celebrate the forgotten truth that changes everything: you’re adopted! This book will flood your heart with gratitude, which if you’re not careful, might inspire you to do something really special for Jesus.”
— Mike Wittmer, Professor of Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Cornerstone University, and author of Don’t Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough
Fear never produces faithful outreach. Doubt does not drive acts of compassion. Those who view God as a harsh master will not be mobilized for mercy ministry. Reclaiming Adoption is a joyous call for believers to return from the ‘far-country’ of fear, doubt, and estrangement from God and, instead, to live in the reality of their glorious adoption in Christ. This book helps us to see that the adopting love of the Triune God is the only lens through which we can make sense of the broken stories of our lives. And by daily delighting in the communion of the Father’s love, we are empowered to move outward in mission to the broken world around us. Make no mistake, O Christian, you are loved by God!
“Jesus protects the fatherless and the widow. And Jesus isn’t dead anymore. The Spirit of Christ is afoot in the churches of the Lord Jesus all over the world, pulling us into Jesus’ mission for the orphan, the stranger, the marginalized. This book is part of that pull. The authors writing here are some of the most fearless thinkers and activists in the Christian orphan care movement. Read. Be empowered. And then join Jesus for the orphans of the world.”
—Russell D. Moore, Author, Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches
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