Adopted for Life: New book by Moore paints adoption as picture of the Gospel

Communications Staff — May 4, 2009

What does the adoption of children have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the local church?

Everything, Russell D. Moore asserts in a new book, “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Children Families & Churches.” (Crossway)

Several years ago, Moore and wife Maria adopted two sons, Timothy and Benjamin, from a Russian orphanage. In “Adopted for Life, Moore expertly weaves together the story of the adoption of his two sons with the biblical teaching of God’s adopting of His sons and daughters through Christ.

Moore argues that the church should view the adoption of orphans as a crucial part of its mission precisely because God has adopted helpless sinners to be His sons, Moore points out. Moore serves as dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“As soon as you peer into the truth of the one aspect, you fall headlong into the truth of the other, and vice verse,” Moore writes. “That’s because it’s the way the Gospel is. Jesus reconciles us to God and to each other. As we love our God, we love our neighbor; as we love our neighbor, we love our God. We believe Jesus in heavenly things—our adoption in Christ; so we follow him in earthly things—the adoption of children.

“Without the theological aspect, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as mere metaphor.”

As local churches more clearly grasp—and become grasped by—the Gospel, they will naturally grow more aware of the necessity of earthly adoption, Moore argues.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ means our families and churches ought to be at the forefront of the adoption of orphans close to home and around the world,” Moore writes.

“As we become more attuned to the gospel, we’ll have more of a burden for orphans. As we become more adoption-friendly, we’ll be better able to understand the gospel.

“I want to call us all to consider how encouraging adoption—whether we adopt or whether we help others adopt—can help us peer into the ancient mystery of our faith in Christ and can help us restore the fracturing unity and the atrophied mission of our congregation.”

Moore recounts the difficult lessons that God has taught him as he has reflected upon Scripture in light of his family’s adoption of Timothy and Benjamin. One profound lesson God Moore said God has taught him is that those who are united to Christ possess a family identity that transcends physical bloodlines. This makes up the substance of Chapter 2, entitled, “Are They Brothers? What Some Rude Questions about Adoption Taught Me about the Gospel of Christ.”

“Whether our background is Norwegian or Haitian or Indonesian, if we are united to Christ,” Moore writes, “our family genealogy is found not primarily in the front pages of our dusty old family Bible but inside its pages, in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Our identity is in Christ; so his people are our people, his God our God.”

Over the first three chapters, Moore unfolds both the story of his family’s adoption of two boys and Scripture’s picture of God’s adopting love for His people. Centrally, he argues that a Christian’s true identity is not found in an earthly gene pool, but in Christ, a truth that should make adoption a priority for local congregations.

“Adoption would become a priority in our churches if our churches themselves saw our brotherhood and sisterhood in the church itself rather than in our fleshly identities,” he writes. “Maybe the reason we wonder whether ‘adopted’ children can ‘really’ be brothers and sisters is because we so rarely see it displayed in our pews.”

In chapters 4-8, Moore examines practical issues such as how to know if you should adopt, finances and paperwork, racial identity and health concerns, how churches can encourage adoption and how Christians must think about those who grow up adopted. The author deals with each issue while tying personal sanctification snugly to the Gospel.

Moore writes both the narrative of the adoption of
his sons and the theological aspects of adoption in a deeply personal and heartfelt fashion. Moore, who is the author of other works, including “The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective,” said writing Adopted for Life was deeply edifying, but emotionally challenging. (See related Q&A with Moore)

“The book took me longer to write than anything I’ve ever written. It’s not because I had to spend so much time thinking and researching, it’s just that it was so intense emotionally,” Moore said. But “every time I see my two little boys—and remember the orphans they were—I’m reminded of the number to great to be numbered of orphans languishing in the shadows right now. Writing the book then became, for me, an act of wrestling with demons, fighting for orphans.”

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