Moore selected as Christianity Today featured author

Communications Staff — July 13, 2010

Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote the cover story for the July issue of Christianity Today magazine. Moore addressed the priority of adoption for families and the church.

The piece, titled “Abba Changes Everything: Why every Christian is called to rescue orphans,” reflects on the experience Moore and his wife Maria had while adopting their two sons, Benjamin and Timothy. The article opens with the Moore’s walking through the sterile halls of an orphanage in the former Soviet Union.  

“We could hear babies rocking themselves back and forth, the crib slats gently bumping against the walls,” Moore wrote. “These children did not cry, because infants eventually learn to stop crying if no one ever responds to their calls for food, for comfort, for love. No one ever responded to these children. So they stopped.”

Moore wrote that on the last day of their trip, he and Maria had to tell their boys goodbye and return home to wait for the legal paperwork to be completed.  

“After hugging and kissing them, we walked out into the quiet hallway as Maria shook with tears. And that’s when we heard the scream,” Moore wrote.

“Little Maxim (now Benjamin) fell back in his crib and let out a guttural yell. It seemed he knew, maybe for the first time, that he would be heard. On some primal level, he knew he had a father and mother now. I will never forget how the hairs on my arms stood up as I heard the yell. I was struck, maybe for the first time, by the force of the Abba cry passages in the New Testament, ones I had memorized in Vacation Bible School. And I was surprised by how little I had gotten it until now.”

Gospel and mission

Moore wrote, “Families, the Bible tells us, reflect something eternally true about God. It is God’s fatherhood after which every family in heaven and on earth is named (Eph. 3:14-15). We know what human parenting should look like based on our Father’s behavior toward us.”

The reverse is also true, Moore wrote. Jesus tells us that our fathers’ provision and discipline show us God’s active love toward us (Matt. 7:9-11; Heb. 12:5-17). The same principle is at work in adoption, Moore said. Adoption is, on one hand, Gospel – our identity and inheritance are grounded in our adoption in Christ. Adoption is also missional – our adoption spurs us to join Christ in advocating for the poor, the marginalized, the abandoned and the fatherless.

No natural-born children of God

Scripture tells us that Jesus’ Spirit lets our hearts cry “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6), Moore wrote.

Moore reminded readers that Jesus cried “Abba, Father” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Heb. 5:7; Mark 14:36).

Similarly, Moore said, “the doctrine of adoption shows us that we ‘groan’ with the creation itself ‘as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies’ (Rom. 8:23). It is the scream of the crucified.”

Moore contends that the Gospel of adoption challenges Christians to recognize each other as spiritual orphans. The Abba cry of our adoption defines who we are and what family we belong to.

Orphan care: spiritual warfare

Moore wrote that our adoption in Christ makes us loving siblings, whom the Spirit has taken from the babble of Babel to the oneness of Pentecost.

“Our churches ought to be showing the families therein how love and belonging transcend categories of the flesh,” Moore said. “Instead, though, it seems God is using families who adopt to teach the church. In fact, perhaps we so often wonder whether adopted children can really be brothers and sisters because we so rarely see it displayed in our pews. Some – maybe even you – might wonder how an African American family could love a white Ukrainian baby, how a Haitian teenager could call Swedish parents Mom and Dad.”

Adoption and orphan care can ultimately make the church a counterculture, Moore wrote. Orphan care isn’t charity; it’s spiritual warfare.

A Kingdom of rescued children

Moore wrote that Scripture characterizes the Kingdom of Christ as a Kingdom of rescued children. Contending for orphans – born and unborn – announces what the Kingdom of God looks like and to whom it belongs.

“Let’s remember that we were orphans once, and that someone came looking for us, someone who taught us to call him “Abba.” Let’s be ambassadors for the One who loves the little children, all the children of the world. Like him, let’s welcome children into our homes, our churches, and our lives, especially those we are not supposed to want,” Moore wrote.

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