Providing gospel-centered resources to mobilize the church for global orphan care.


A Conference for such a time as this…

by Dan Cruver Published Aug 26, 2013

T4A 2013 AdWe believe that our upcoming October 4-5 national conference at Southern Seminary is strategically and uniquely positioned for such a time as this. Over the last several months, the evangelical orphan care movement has been hit hard with intense criticism. Kathryn Joyce’s newly-released book, The Child Catchers, and the recent NPR program on “How Evangelical Christians Are Preaching The New Gospel Of Adoption” are evidence of this fact.

Although our most vocal critics often misrepresent the movement, we can help ourselves significantly by simply making sure that what we say about adoption better reflects Scripture’s teaching on it.

Were we orphans or slaves?

For example, many of us use “orphan/son“ language when talking about Scripture’s teaching on spiritual adoption and its implications for orphan care and horizontal adoption. We sometimes say things like this about the Christian’s motivation to adopt:

“When we were spiritual orphans, God sent his Son so that we might be adopted into his family. Who better, then, to adopt earthly orphans than those who have been adopted by God?”

I totally get this way of framing one of the reasons Christians are motivated to adopt. I’ve made similar statements myself!

But…the Apostle Paul (whom we could call ‘the Apostle of Adoption’ since he’s the only writer in Scripture to use the word ‘adoption’) never uses “orphan/son” language. He never describes believers as “orphans” who have become children of God. Rather, he always describes us as “slaves” who have entered into the freedom of sonship (click here to see this slave/son emphasis in two of Paul’s adoption texts).

Paul also uses the language of slavery to describe the condition of creation as a whole. In his climactic text on adoption, Paul personifies creation as waiting to “be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21-23). As a consequence of the Fall of man, both the entire human race and all creation entered into a bondage that is characterized both by spiritual and physical corruption and decay (Romans 8:18-21).

So what?

Biblically speaking, then, Paul intends for us to understand spiritual adoption as God’s comprehensive redemptive activity to free the created order from its bondage to decay and us from our bondage to sin and decay.

This way of understanding Scripture’s teaching on adoption has profound implications and applications for how we address the global orphan crisis. That’s why we’ve made this perspective the focus of our October 4-5 national conference at Southern Seminary in Louisville. We believe that our upcoming October 4-5 national conference at Southern Seminary is strategically and uniquely positioned for such a time as this. We hope you will consider joining us for this timely conference!

Leaders you will learn from include: Scotty SmithNoel Piper, Mike Reeves (author of Delighting in the Trinity), Johnny Carr (author of Orphan Justice), Dr. Sharen Ford, Dr. Randy Stinson, Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, Elizabeth Styffe, Dr. Susan Hillis and many, many others.

Learn more about our conference at SBTS.

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