Moore calls orphan care movement to lead with Gospel, church and mission at Together for Adoption conference

Communications Staff — October 7, 2009

What is needed in order to battle against the principalities and powers in the heavenly places are more “thumb sucker-sensitive” churches, Russell D. Moore said at the Together for Adoption conference Oct. 2-3 in Franklin, Tenn.

Moore, dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of “Adopted for Life,” delivered the concluding general session at the second annual conference, which drew more than 600 registrants. Other speakers included LifeWay missiologist Ed Stetzer and former Moody Bible Institute president Michael Easley.

Tasked with the topic “Adoption and the Renewal of Creation,” Moore told of his own experience of adopting two boys from a Russian orphanage, recalling the striking, still silence amid the squalor and stench of the place. Finally hearing one of his sons cry out after a day’s visit was “the most horrifyingly beautiful sound I had ever heard,” Moore said, because his son knew that a father would hear him.

Preaching from Romans 8:14-29, Moore argued that adoption and orphan care can teach the church what the Abba cry in Paul’s letter to the church at Rome is all about.

The implications of our being adopted into the household of God in Christ are both personal and cosmic, Moore said. Adoption is a question of identity, and while Satan may have successfully tempted Adam and Eve to sin, he is defeated ultimately in the Son of God’s life, death and resurrection. God will likewise someday raise from the dead those who call on him as Father in order to release all of creation from its bondage to sin and decay.

Those who advocate adoption and orphan care must recognize the broadness of the movement, for it can bring together both those who wear “Geneva gowns and Hawaiian shirts.” But for the burgeoning culture of adoption to continue to cultivate, Moore said, it can’t be just a movement. Instead, it must begin to “bubble up” from within local church communities.

Recognizing their adoption in Christ and walking according to the Spirit ought to move believers out of the kinds of racial divisions and “worship wars” that so often divide their churches, for the church’s primary identity is found not in skin color nor in musical preference but instead in a crucified and resurrected Messiah.

But adoption and orphan care can also call Christian churches back to what it means to long for a renewed creation, Moore said. The sheer reality of the world’s millions of orphans languishing without families ought to cause believers to cry out to God, because such suffering is not the way the world was created to be.

Therefore, Christians concerned about adoption and orphan care must make real sacrifices in overcoming “the vast conspiracy to sell each other stuff” in order to care for the fatherless, Moore said. Churches must live counter-culturally in not accumulating the things of this world, but in crucifying the inheritance in the flesh and longing instead for the inheritance that is theirs in the Kingdom to come.

Moore urged his listeners to repent of the common evangelical mission of parading for the world those that unbelievers would already find impressive, such as movie stars, famous athletes and beauty queens, all with Jesus added on at the end. Instead, churches must care for those who might be deemed unattractive to the world and groan on behalf of those who are orphans without a Father in heaven.

Churches must also repent of creating a culture of orphan-making, including condoning divorce, pornography and enabling men and women to “put off” having children in order to pursue individual ambitions. Likewise, adoption and orphan care is about more than turning poor kids into middle-class kids, Moore said; instead, it is about learning to be so desperate through the Spirit that we learn really to cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Southern Seminary’s own conference on adoption and orphan care, Adopting for Life, will be held on the seminary’s campus Feb. 26-27, 2010. Speakers include Moore, David Platt, Justin Taylor, and Jedd Medefind, and worship will be led by Andrew Peterson. Registration for the conference is now open, and more information is available at

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