But are they REALLY brothers?

In the video post that Dan just put up, theologian and adoptive dad Russell Moore relates some theological insights from the questions he was asked when he and his wife adopted from Russia. I’ve transcribed (quickly and roughly) a portion below, but I encourage you to watch the entire 3-minute video.

[When my wife and I began the process of adopting,] I found myself answering questions that really irritated me deeply. We had gone on our first trip to Russia and returned back and we had pictures, and we were showing people pictures of our boys.

The question we consistently were asked — it was two boys — was, “Well, are they brothers?” and my response was, “Well yes, they are now.”

And people who asked the question would say, “Yeah, but are they really brothers?”
Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Timothy Trumper (Part 6)

TrumperThis is the final part of our interview with Dr. Timothy Trumper. Because of the length and richness of his answers, his interview has been posted in six parts. You can read the full interview here.  If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers.

6. Most people who read this blog have adopted children, are considering adopting a child, or are just interested in adoption. What implications might the doctrine of adoption have for couples who have adopted or are interested in adopting a child?

Well, there is one obvious fact. God approves of adoption. I see no evidence to conclude that it is OK for God to adopt, but not for us. It seems unlikely to me that God would take hold of a human practice he doesn’t approve of in order to teach us of what he has done for us in Christ. I rather think that in the Scriptures (specifically in the writings of Paul) God is telling us that social human practices of adoption mirror, albeit faintly, what God has been working out for his people prior to any human conception of adoption.

In making this point I am not saying Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Timothy Trumper (Part 5)

TrumperAs part of our blog’s adoption interview series, I’m interviewing several theologians and New Testament scholars about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. I believe that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.

Because of the length and richness of Dr. Timothy Trumper’s answers, his interview is being posted in six parts. If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers.

5. What difference should the doctrine of adoption make in a Christian’s spiritual life on a daily basis? Continue reading

Interview with Professor Trevor Burke

burkeOur next interview is with New Testament scholar Dr. Trevor J. Burke. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Trevor earned his Ph.D. from University of Glasgow, Scotland. He has taught New Testament in seminaries in Nigeria, Wales, and the Fiji Islands and is currently professor of Bible in Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. One of his research interests is in the family expressions in the letters of the apostle Paul. He is author of the recent title Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor. Here is D. A. Carson’s endorsement for Trevor’s book on adoption:

  • “Not only the importance of God’s family, but also the enormous privilege of belonging to it, are powerfully underscored by Paul’s understanding of what it means to be the adopted sons of God. With such themes in view, a wide array of pastoral implications soon springs to light. In other words, this volume not only probes a neglected theme – it also edifies” (D. A. Carson).

1. Dr. Burke, why did you write this book about theological adoption? Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Timothy Trumper (Part 4)

TrumperAs part of our blog’s adoption interview series, I’m interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. I believe that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.

Because of the length and richness of Dr. Timothy Trumper’s answers, his interview is being posted in six parts. If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers.

In part 4 Tim addresses what I believe is a very important issue. Many who preach, teach, or write about theological adoption combine John’s new birth model of entrance into God’s family with Paul’s adoption model. This is unfortunate for a number of reasons, one being that it prevents us from recognizing the full significance of Paul’s doctrine of adoption.  So let me encourage you to take a few minutes to read this part of my interview with Dr. Trumper.

4. What is the difference between the apostle John’s model of entrance into God’s family and Paul’s? Why do you believe it is important to distinguish them?

Good question! The first thing to say is that these differences are not absolute. Both authors have in mind the same Father. Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Robert Peterson

PetersonOur next interview of a theologian is with Dr. Robert Peterson, professor of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to teaching on the seminary level, Dr. Peterson has extensive experience as a pastor, including church planting efforts, and has preached in Uganda and Peru on short-term mission trips. His pastoral experience is reflected in the practical emphases in his systematic theology classes.

Dr. Peterson is the author of Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children. In it he considers the beauty of God’s grace through the lens of the wonderful doctrine of adoption. His treatment of this great doctrine is accompanied by moving personal stories of father-child relationships. You can listen to him lecture in seminary on union with Christ and adoption here.

1. Dr. Peterson, why did you write this book about theological adoption?

I wrote Adopted By God because the Bible’s teaching on adoption was so neglected. In 1688, an important theology book by Francis Turretin was published in which he subordinated adoption to justification. This book became a standard theology text, whose example other writers of influential theology books followed, including Charles Hodge, Louis Berkhof, and Millard Erickson. These books are partially responsible for adoption’s neglect by teachers and preachers who studied them. Justification is vitally important, but adoption deserves more attention than it has received.

2. What do you cherish most about the doctrine of adoption?

I cherish the fact that it powerfully communicates the grace of God to believers, as powerfully as any biblical teaching. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Adoption intimately communicates the Trinity’s love for each individual believer as well as for the people of God as a whole. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:4-6).

3. What’s your favorite biblical text on adoption and why? Continue reading

Interview with theologian Dr. Timothy Trumper (Part 3)

TrumperAs part of our blog’s adoption interview series, I’m interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. I believe that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.

Because of the length and richness of Dr. Timothy Trumper’s answers, his interview is being posted in six parts. If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers.

3. Why is it important to consider Paul’s use of adoption within the larger story of redemption? What role does it play? Continue reading

Interview with theologian Dr. Timothy Trumper (Part 2)

TrumperAs part of our blog’s adoption interview series, I’m interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. I believe that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.

Because of the length and richness of Dr. Timothy Trumper’s answers, his interview will be posted in six parts (you can read part 1 here). If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers. Here’s part 2:

2. Why do you believe it is important for the doctrine of adoption to be recovered?

Well, the general answer is that the recovery of adoption would contribute markedly to the completion of the church’s theological task. More specifically, it would show Christians of a Reformed persuasion how they can even out the largely unrecognized lopsided features of their theology in a manner reflective of the balance of Scripture, the earlier example of Calvin and, to some degree, the Westminster Standards. Allow me to explain.

First, the recovery of adoption would help us express what we are saved to as much as what we have been saved from. Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Timothy Trumper (Part 1)

As part of our blog’s adoption interview series, I’m interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. I believe that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.Trumper

Our fourth theologian interview is with Dr. Timothy Trumper (you can read the others here). Dr. Trumper is a native of Wales (UK). He was converted at the age of 15 and felt constrained to preach God’s Word while he was as a student of politics at the University of Wales. He then trained for the pastorate at the Free Church of Scotland College, Edinburgh (1989-1993).

While studying theology Dr. Trumper he was captivated by the doctrine of adoption (Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:4-6; Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4). As a result, he enrolled in doctoral studies at New College, University of Edinburgh. It is there that he gave himself to a concentrated study on adoption. His dissertation is “An Historical Study of the Doctrine of Adoption in the Calvinistic Tradition” (Ph.D. thesis: University of Edinburgh, 2001). Dr. Trumper taught at Westminster Seminary from 1999-2003. He is presently Senior Minister at Seventh Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI.

Because of the length and richness of Dr. Trumper’s answers, his interview will be posted in six parts. If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers. Here are a few excerpts from the interview to encourage you to read all six parts as they are published:

The recovery of adoption would help us express what we are saved to as much as what we have been saved from. The great Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield summed up this imbalance by reference to what he called ‘Miserable Sinner Christianity’. Now, undoubtedly, we are miserable sinners. That is after all why we come to Christ. But is this the final word on who we are as God’s people? Surely not! The NT mentions a number of themes depicting the new standing we have in Christ, one of the richest of which is adoptive sonship. The recovery of this motif would enable us to even out our respective emphases on the retrospective and prospective aspects of the atonement. Stated alternatively, it would help us to be as forthcoming about what we are in Christ as about what we have been in Adam.”

The recovery of adoption would help us prioritize the identities we Christians share in Christ over against other identifying factors that threaten division within the household of God (Eph. 2:19). We are not predestined (literally pre-horizoned [Eph. 1:5]) first and foremost to be male or female, Jew or Gentile (Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:11-22), or even to be educated or uneducated, or rich or poor, but to be sons of our God. This should be our primary consciousness. This prioritization has massive pastoral ramifications. I think, for instance, of second-generation ethnic Americans who are confused as to whether their primary identity is American or Chinese, Korean, Polish, Dutch, African, Hispanic or whatever. Christians have a way out of the dilemma. They can think of themselves first and foremost as sons and/or daughters of God. For in his family, rightly understood and outworked, race and color is put in its place. Differences in both are accepted, yet neither can legitimately overshadow the ultimate basis of the unity we possess in Christ.”

“Adoption speaks of hope. This hope Paul depicts by means of the word “inheritance” (Rom. 8:17f.). Not only has God given his family members a promise of the inheritance, in granting us his Spirit he has also given us a downpayment on it (Eph. 1:13-14). We come by the inheritance not because of what we do, but because of who we are in Christ. The inheritance is, then, a free gift of the grace of adoption. This we shall come into in its fullness on the day of redemption (“the adoption” [Rom. 8:23]). From that day on we shall experience the consummation of God’s saving purposes, and shall do so as much in our bodies as in our souls.”

Here’s part one of the interview with Dr. Trumper. In it he surveys the history of the doctrine of adoption within the church. It’s lengthy but worthy of a careful reading.

1. One of your desires for the church is that she would recover the doctrine of adoption. You’ve written elsewhere that adoption has not received its due attention within the history of the church. Why do you believe that adoption has been overshadowed by other doctrines? Continue reading