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Mini-Course on the Theology of Adoption

by Dan Cruver Published Dec 10, 2012

If you are looking to deepen your understanding of the theology of adoption, start with the six hour-length lectures below. All six of these excellent lectures were given at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for the October 4-5, 2012 Together for Adoption Conference for Pastors & Orphan Care and Adoption Ministry Leaders. Whether you are a lay person, ministry leader, or pastor, you will benefit significantly from these lectures. So, even if you are not a pastor, give these a listen, and while you’re at it, pass them on to your pastor(s) as well.

Theology of Adoption 101 by Dr. David B. Garner (Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary):

Description: Dutch theologian Geerhardus Vos described eschatology as the “mother of theology.” In exploring the unfolding pages of biblical revelation, we discover that at the heart of the Father’s consummate plans for history was the bestowal of a glorified inheritance to his sons and daughters. With an analysis of the content of biblical revelation as a whole, this session will unpack the glorious contours of adoption in view of the unfolded eternal plan of the Creator/Father. The practical and pastoral implications of this realization are as sweet as they are stunning.

Description: Biblical theology has led the way in the current renewal of interest in theological adoption. As Scripture centers on the person and work of Jesus Christ, it ought not surprise us that the theology of adoption is comprehensively Christ-centered. Speaking biblically about adoption then drives us to the astounding interface between Christ’s eternal and incarnate Sonship, and how as the resurrected Son of God he attains for us the full-orbed splendor of being God’s children.

Description: The Christian’s union with the Son of God by the Holy Spirit is vital, making the gospel exhaustively familial. In a world where false religions recoil at the notion of such intimacy with their god(s), this dynamic character of biblical salvation bears critically upon our blessed sonship identity in Christ and upon the familial tasks of missions, evangelism, preaching, and Bible translation. This session will engage the familial contours of the gospel in Jesus Christ the Son of God with an eye to the call of worldwide disciple making.

Theology of Adoption 102 by Dr. Tim J. R. Trumper (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh):
*Download the PDF version of the handout Dr. Trumper used for his three breakout sessions.

Description: Not for the first time in church history, the endeavor is under way to recover the doctrine of adoption. Whereas previous attempts ended up faltering, in part for want of awareness of the extent of the neglect of adoption, the current interest in its recovery already has the benefit of a detailed understanding of its theological history. This has been gleaned from the creeds, confessions, and writings of the church, and brings to light some fascinating trends and facts. These not only demonstrate the reality of the neglect of adoption, they go some way to explain it, and point in the process to the significance benefits accruing to the faith and practice of the church from the recovery of adoption.

Description: While the biblical teaching on adoption is inherently important, it is also strategically so. Stated alternatively, the recovery of adoption not only promises the filling of a lacuna in the field of theology, it offers to break the impasse of a number of present day debates. The session explains this in regard to one major example, namely the debate over the new perspective on Paul, and demonstrates in particular how a biblically sensitive understanding of adoption can mediate effectively the recent exchange between Dr. John Piper and Prof. N. T. Wright. In making the case, Dr. Trumper builds on his own interaction with the new perspective on Paul dating back to 2002, utilizing in the process insights by Prof. Kevin Vanhoozer from the 2010 Wheaton Theology Conference.

Description: Working from a summary of the salient biblical features of adoption—chiefly Paul’s exclusive, metaphorical, Trinitarian, redemptive-historical, and eschatological use of huiothesia—attention is given to the rich array of its spiritual and practical applications. Many of these spiritual applications are not new, having been worked out in the sixteenth-century by John Calvin, the theologian par excellence of adoption. Nevertheless, fresh expression is given to them in light of the present, to which are added up-to-date practical applications for personal, communal, and pastoral use today.

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See the full listing of T4A conference audio. We will continue to add audio every week.


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