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

Interview with Sam Storms

sam-stormsAs 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.

Our third interview with a theologian is with Dr. Sam Storms, the founder of Enjoying God Ministries. I thought about interviewing Dr. Storms about spiritual adoption after my brother reminded me that he had written about it in his book The Singing God: Discover the Joy of Being Enjoyed by God (Creation House, 1998). His answers to the questions are very thoughtful and encouraging. As I read them, I found myself rejoicing afresh about my adoption into God’s family. You’ll find yourself rejoicing as well.

1. Why do you believe that adoption is the greatest gift of the gospel next to Jesus’ death for our sins? What makes it so great?

Although we should be careful when we compare the goodness of God’s gifts, I do believe that adoption is near the top of the list. This isn’t in the least to slight justification or forgiveness or the indwelling presence of the Spirit. All God’s saving gifts are precious and perfect. But I consider adoption to be the most marvelous proof of God’s love for us (next to the love demonstrated by the cross itself; cf. Romans 5). I draw this conclusion from what John said in his first epistle:

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! . . . Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-2).

John’s tone and terms virtually bristle with urgency and excitement. “Come quickly and see! Look! Listen! You can’t imagine what I have to tell you!” I like that. Here’s an elderly man nearing the end of life who still gets excited about the love of God. And he did so because he knew that God’s love has bestowed on us the greatest of all blessings: sonship. Here is the measure of God’s love. Here is the test of how deeply He treasures us.

2. Most Christians really don’t struggle believing that adoption brings us into God’s household, but they do struggle believing that God the Father feels the same way about His adopted children as He does about their Elder Brother, Jesus. Can you address this struggle? Continue reading

Interview with Anthony Mathenia: Missionary to Ethiopia and Adoptive Father

Anthony and EllieAs the result of one of our first adoption interviews, I had the opportunity to meet (via e-mail) a missionary who serves in Ethiopia. It did not take much interaction for me to sense a kindred-spirit. Anthony Mathenia is passionate about the gospel and loves the people of Ethiopia deeply. He and his wife, Amber, have served in Ethiopia as missionaries for two years. My interaction with Anthony through e-mail and this interview has served to deepen my love for the gospel and Ethiopia’s orphans and to add to my enthusiasm for our Ethiopia orphan care and adoption programs. You can learn a little about the exciting kingdom work Anthony is doing in Ethiopia here and here.

As you will see from the pictures below, Anthony and Amber are also adoptive parents of a multi-ethnic family. You’ll enjoy reading about their two adoptions.

Cold Water News is Anthony’s personal blog.

1. Anthony, tell us a little about your family and what you do.

I have been married to Amber for six and a half years, and we have two children. Our first child Ellie, who will be four in December, is adopted from Ethiopia. We adopted Ellie when she was six-months old. Our newest addition is our son Isaac, whom we adopted in October 2007 domestically at the age of three months.

We serve as missionaries in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia working there to theologically train local pastors and church planters. We have worked on a short-term basis for over seven years, and moved to Addis just over two years ago.

2. Why did you choose to adopt trans-ethnically in general and from Ethiopia in particular? Continue reading

Interview with Theologian R. Scott Clark

R. Scott ClarkAs 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.

Our second interview with a theologian (you can read the first interview here) is with Dr. R. Scott Clark, Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary California since 1997. Dr. Clark has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson), and Concordia University (Irvine). He is also presently Associate Pastor of the Oceanside United Reformed Church, where he preaches and teaches regularly.

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

There are three things that should be mentioned. First it is the God by whom we have been adopted that makes adoption significant. The God who adopted us is the God who made all that is (Gen 1:1-3; John 1:1-3) and who, by the power of his will and grace, redeemed his people out of sin and bondage (Exod 20:2).

Second, we should remember that spiritual adoption is a significant truth embraced and confessed by the Reformed churches. It is expressed either implicitly or explicitly in our Reformed confessions and it underlies much of what is confessed by the Reformed churches even if the language of adoption is not used explicitly.

For example, the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) uses the truth that we are “also the children of God” as the basis for a question about Christ’s sonship. Though Christ “alone is the eternal, natural Son of God” we are “children of God by adoption, through grace, for his sake” (Q. 33). The Belgic Confession, (1561), speaks the same way (Art. 34). This doctrine is significant enough to the Reformed Churches that it merited an entire, albeit brief, chapter in the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) where we confess that those who are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (WCF ch. 11) are to rest in the fact that we are also “partakers of the grace of adoption.” As a consequence of this free gift we, who are not God’s children by nature, are treated as if we are natural children, as it were. We have the “liberties” that belong to God’s children, we have his name, we have his Spirit, and we have free access to the Father. We are “pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption.” In Christ it is as if we have done all that Christ did for us and, on that basis, we are heirs of all his promises.

Finally, the doctrine of adoption is a biblical doctrine. The Apostle Paul teaches explicitly that those who have true faith (and by that faith) are united to Christ (Gal 2:20; WCF ch. 12). By virtue of that union we have “received the Spirit of adoption as sons.” Therefore, we have the privilege of intimate, personal communion with the Creator and Redeemer God. The Spirit of God testifies to us that we, who believe, are God’s children (Rom 8:15-17). Paul teaches that we have been redeemed by grace alone, through faith alone “so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal 4:5). Indeed, we who believe have been “predestined…for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will….” (Eph 1:5).

2. Do you believe that the doctrine of adoption has received its due attention within the history of the church? Continue reading

Interview with Sue Hill: Ethiopia Adoption

Ken and Sue Hill have 6 children, ages 11, 9, 7, 7, 2, and 11 months old. Their first five children are biological. Their youngest was adopted from Ethiopia this past February. Those of you who have already adopted or are currently pursuing adoption know the financial challenges involved in adoption. It might encourage you to know that the Hills received a check from Shaohannah’s Hope at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert this past September.

The Hill family is currently in the process of adopting a 3 1/2 yr orphan from Africa named Arama. You can visit their adoption donation website here.

1. What initially motivated you to adopt?

In the winter of 2004, I decided to start asking God in my prayers what I could do for Him. I did not know what it would be. But, I wanted to be a vessel for Him in this world. Being a stay-at-home mother of 5, I did not have a lot of extra time. But I kept praying that prayer, hoping God would reveal to me how He wants to use me in this world.

In the spring of 2005, I received an issue of a magazine called “Above Rubies.” It is a Christian magazine written by Nancy Campbell. She encourages mothers in their walk with Christ and teaches them how to have Godly homes. In this particular issue, she wrote about her mission trip to Liberia, West Africa. She wrote about the 14 year long war that took place there. This war and its atrocities left behind many orphans. She wrote about these children and the need for adoptive families. After reading this, I knew God was calling us to the ministry of adoption.

So, I approached my husband. Our youngest at the time was only 4 months old. I asked him to think and pray about it. At first he thought I was a little crazy. He said “Sue, we already have 5 children.” I again asked him to pray about it and he said he would. We also attended a Kingdom Kids adoption conference. At the conference, Steve and Michelle Gardener, who are adoptive parents, spoke about adoption from a Biblical perspective. This really changed my husband’s perspective on things. After 1 year of much prayer and consideration, we stepped out in faith and decided to adopt. There were a lot of unknowns. We knew, however, that our child was in Africa. We did not know how we could afford it financially, but we went ahead and started the process.

2. What kind of responses have you received from extended family and friends about your decision to adopt? Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Dave Garner

davegarnerDr. Dave Garner is the Vice President for Alumni Relations & Educational Advancement at Westminster Theological Seminary. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the doctrine of adoption. It’s entitled “Adoption in Christ” (Westminster Theological Seminary, 2002). He graciously agreed to allow me to interview him about Scripture’s teaching on the theology of adoption and its implications for the earthly practice of adoption. You will find his answers very illuminating.

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

The doctrine of adoption, in its full biblical scope, is vast and rich. To answer this question about what I cherish most is like asking me to choose one thing I love most about my wife… not an easy task. However, you asked the question, so I guess I’ll try to answer it. If forced to isolate the most cherished aspect of adoption, it would be how it divulges the extent to which God cherishes his children. The love of God for me is not abstraction; it is not intangible or unreachable. God’s adoption love is real – determined in the infinite counsel of God’s wisdom and incarnated in his own Son. His love for me is eternally determined, historically demonstrated, personally accomplished, and irrevocably certain. I cherish adoption as a doctrine, because it reveals the unfathomable: God actually cherishes us, his children. He has revealed this love over the course of history, and ultimately and most cogently, in his Son. My adoption is secure and binding in the Sonship of Jesus Christ.

2. Do you believe that the doctrine of adoption has received its due attention within the history of the church? Continue reading

Interview with Jason Kovacs

kovacs_family

Jason Kovacs is an adoptive father of a multi-ethnic family. He’s also one of the bloggers at AdoptiveDads.org.  We met in the blogosphere a few years ago. His love for the gospel and passion for adoption has been a great encouragement to me. I’m looking forward to actually meeting him this next week.

I’m also very pleased to announce that Jason was recently hired as the Director of Ministry Development for the ABBA Fund, a ministry that provides no-interest loans to Christian couples who are pursuing adoption. It also helps churches start adoption assistance funds.

If any of you know of any couples who need financial assistance to adopt, donors who want to give to a great ministry, or a church that would be interested in starting an adoption fund, please contact them.

1. Jason, tell us a little about your family.

My wife and I have been married just over 4 years now. We have three children: Samuel is 4 and the most energetic, tenderhearted kid I know; Keziah is almost 3 and is one of the most spirited little girls I’ve ever met; and Karis just turned 1 and is a little sweetheart. We adopted Samuel and Keziah just over two years ago. Samuel was 23mos old and Keziah was 8 months old. We heard story after story about couples who previously had a hard time getting pregnant after they adopted and we joined the club!

2. What initially motivated you to adopt?

My wife had desired to adopt since she was young. I’m not sure I ever thought seriously about adoption until my time at Bethlehem Baptist Church where John Piper serves as Pastor. It was there that I met family after family that had adopted. Two things especially struck me. One was that many of these couples chose to adopt trans-racially, and second, many adopted not because they couldn’t get pregnant but because they saw it as a way to live out the gospel in a practical way. That had a profound impact on me.

3. What kind of responses have you received from extended family and friends about your decision to adopt? Continue reading

Interview with Chris Nelson: Father of a Multi-Ethnic Family with a Special Needs Child

One of our great desires at Carolina Hope is to help Christians increasingly think about orphan ministry and adoption from a theological perspective. Carolina Hope has commissioned me to explore and articulate the beautiful gospel-connection between uppercase Adoption (i.e. God’s gracious adoption of us) and lowercase adoption (i.e. our adoption of a child) so that Christians become more firmly grounded in the gospel and grow in their understanding of its profound implications for all of life. We are committed to helping Christians in general and both prospective and adoptive families in particular think theologically about all things adoption. This is one of the main reasons for this interview series.

Today’s interview is with Chris Nelson. He and his wife are members of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis. God has created a culture of adoption at Bethlehem. It is a church that embraces the truth that adoption is the heart of the gospel. Bethlehem sees the earthly practice of adoption as a beautiful reflection of what God has done in the gospel.

1. Chris, tell us a little about your family.

My wife Katie and I have been married for 9 years and live in Hopkins, MN. We have a 6 year old adopted son, Andrew, and an 8 month old adopted son, Joseph. Both are from Korea. Andrew has a chromosome abnormality called partial trisomy 18, and Joseph is typically developing. Finding out about Andrew’s chromosome abnormality when he was 2 shook our world…and has been the biggest blessing we’ve received in making us get serious about faith in Christ, and growing to understand what we are truly here for in this world – and it’s not little league and soccer practice.

2. What initially motivated you to adopt? Continue reading

Interview with Rick and Heather Hanna

Rick and Heather Hanna have five childrenthree biological children and two children through adoption. Rick is a pastor and Heather is a homemaker / homeschooling mom. They love the gospel and care deeply about adoption. They live in Columbus, OH.

Here is their transethnic adoption story:

1. What initially motivated you to adopt?

Heather has encouraged others to adopt for many years and prayed for six years that God would show Rick that we were to add more children to our family through adoption. For several years, we prayed together about whether God wanted us to consider adoption. Through God’s direction in a variety of ways, we eventually sensed that God was moving in our lives to take a step of faith and knew that we had more love to give. We wanted to be parents to more children and God began to open doors that brought us our two sweet babies in one year’s time!

2. What kind of responses have you received from extended family and friends about your decision to adopt?

Initially it seemed that some people were shocked. Honestly most people could not understand why a family who already had three biological children would even consider adopting. In time, we were able to talk more about adoption and our family and friends began to understand and to pray for all the steps to happen to bring about these miracles in our lives. Once our children were home, our family and friends lovingly accepted them just as they had all of our children.

3. How do you think the gospel should influence the decision to pursue adoption? Continue reading