National Conference 2012

September 14-15 / Atlanta, GA

Hosted by:
Cross Pointe Church

Conference for Pastors

October 4-5 / Louisville, KY

Hosted by: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary & Hope for Orphans

Why a conference on the theology of Adoption?

Why join Sinclair Ferguson, Michael Horton, Robert Smith, Jr., Fred Sanders, and Russell Moore for a conference on the theology of adoption?

The Church has created thousands of creeds and confessions, with more than 150 being created during the Reformation period alone. Yet in scouring almost 1,900 years of Church history, Philip Schaff identified only six creeds that contain a section on theological adoption. To be fair, there are some good reasons for this. The early Church was primarily concerned with defining and defending the doctrines of Christ and the Trinity. Similarly, the Reformation and post-Reformation Church focused largely on defending the doctrine of justification. We can be eternally glad and grateful these battles were resolutely fought and won. At the same time, the tight focus on a relatively small number of doctrines unintentionally prevented the Church from developing thorough scriptural teaching on vertical adoption.

This is largely why Christians tend to interpret the word adoption first (and often only) in terms of adopting children. This is also why the theology of adoption is not on the Christian community’s radar to the extent it ought to be; why God’s Fatherhood and our status as his beloved children are not a regular part of our vocabulary; and why the Church’s engagement in the world is not informed and shaped—to the extent it can and should be—by Scripture’s teaching on our adoption by God.

The recovery of adoption would help us express both what we are saved to and what we have been saved from. Once we were “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3), but now we are sons by adoption (Ephesians 1:4-5). Although we were once the lost sons of Adam and under the just wrath of God, we are now in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6) with a future as marvelous and as sure as the incarnate Son’s (Romans 8:12-30). Scripture’s teaching on adoption enables us to better articulate both what we were in Adam and what we are now in Christ. If we will fully embrace and proclaim what the theology of adoption teaches about what we were and what we are now as sons in the Son, our experience of the gospel will be revolutionized within our churches.

Recovering the theology of adoption would also help us prioritize the identities we Christians share in Christ over against other identifying factors that threaten division within the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). We are not predestined first and foremost to be male or female, Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:11-22), or even to be educated or uneducated, or rich or poor, but to be sons of God the Father. This should be our primary consciousness. The prioritization of identities that the theology of adoption provides has massive pastoral ramifications.

We at Southern Seminary, Hope for Orphans, and Together for Adoption also believe that nothing can mobilize churches to carry out the practice of true religion (“visit orphans and widows in their affliction” – James 1:27) like a robust understanding of our adoption through Christ. Scripture’s story of adoption is the story of God visiting us in our affliction (Romans 8:3-4, 18-23)—like He visited His son Israel in his affliction (Exodus 4:31)— in order to deliver us from it. Therefore, ultimately, we visit orphans and widows in their affliction because God first visited us in ours. If any group of people should be passionate about visiting orphans in their affliction, it should be the children of God. There is no other group of people that should be more easily mobilized to care for orphans. Period. Visiting orphans in their distress mirrors what God has done for us in ours.

If you are a pastor, pastor’s wife, seminarian, or a church adoption and orphan care ministry leader, consider joining us for the first Together for Adoption Conference for Pastors as we work toward the recovery of adoption and explore its implications for church life and practice. Together for Adoption is honored to partner with Southern Seminary for this unique conference.

Read the following interviews on the theology of Adoption and its implications for Church life and practice:

Interview with Dr. David B. Garner, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Philadelphia.

Interview with Dr. Tim J. R. Trumper.

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