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Interview with R. Scott Clark (Part Two)

by Dan Cruver Published Jul 21, 2008

r-scott-clark.jpgThis is the second part of a two-part interview I did with Dr. R. Scott Clark this past November (read part one here). Dr. Clark is Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary California. He previously taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson), and Concordia University (Irvine). Dr. Clark is also presently Associate Pastor of the Oceanside United Reformed Church, where he preaches and teaches regularly.

Dr. Clark’s blog.

5. What difference should the doctrine of adoption make in a Christian’s spiritual life on a daily basis?

Like all gospel truths, this one should form the basis for our Christian life. In Christ we are to die daily, moment-by-moment to sin and live daily, moment-by-moment to Christ. This touches on the choices we make, the things we love, the things that occupy our minds and energies. Because our gracious Father, in Christ, by the Spirit, adopts us we can and ought to live in that grace. If we had the consciousness of having once been orphans and having been brought into the household of the King, I think we would, to that same degree, lives worthy of the grace (Eph 4:1) that we have received.

6. More and more couples are considering adopting transracially adoption. What might the doctrine of adoption contribute to our thinking on the issue of transracial adoption?

At the risk of being trite and obvious, what matters in adoption is that we are adopted! It is true that those who are adopted may come from different backgrounds, and that is not an insignificant fact. The importance of our background, however, pales before the fact that we, who were once strangers and aliens (Eph 2:19), have now been included into the royal household. It was in view of these profound truths that Paul declared that in Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). This glorious truth does not obliterate our humanity. We all have a history but that history does not trump God’s unmerited favor. The fact that we are “in Christ” is the first and most important fact that defines our identity. Our adoption practices ought to reflect this fact. Just as Christ has adopted us from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Rev 5:9) and therefore, having made a wise decision, ought to reflect that sort of love. Our children are members of the covenant of grace, not by solely in virtue of our birth, but by virtue of the fact that we are included in the house. In this regard, we should probably pay closer attention to the way Scripture regards the members of “households.” It was not only children who received the sign and seal of covenant initiation, but also those who were in the household and this was done without regard of national or racial origin.

7. What implications might the doctrine of adoption have for Christians who have adopted or are interested in adopting a child?

Though there are great analogies between adoption in this life and the adoption that we enjoy in Christ, there are differences. Human adoption is an act of love but it means inclusion of sinners into a fallen human family. We sin against our adopted children and they sin against us. We are joint heirs of grace. Thus, human adoption, as distinct from divine adoption, is not a panacea. It is a starting point, a way of thinking about our children and us. Those Christian parents who adopt children do so as those who themselves have been adopted. In other words, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). All parents, whether adoptive or natural parents, need to remind themselves of the fact that they were are recipients of grace with their children. This consciousness of our own sin and of the grace of Christ should color our relationships with our spouses and our children.


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