The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

“Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches”

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Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches by Russell D. Moore

Crossway, 2009 (232pp, pbk)

The author of this book, Russell Moore, writes as both practitioner and advocate.  His intensity and passion for his topic ooze from every page.  He contends that the church has neglected its God-given role as a people who care for orphans, a mandate that forms an integral part of the Great Commission.  As such, adoption is not just an issue for childless or child-hungry couples, but a real demonstration of gospel realities in a fallen world.  This book therefore functions as a call to Christians, not least pastors, to put adoption on their agenda as a means of advancing the kingdom of Christ and demonstrating the substance of the good news in Christ.

Dr Moore himself has four children, the first two of whom were adopted from a Russian orphanage, and from this experience he brings many lively insights and helpful counsels.  It is in this combination that the book excels: Dr Moore weaves together the social and spiritual realities of adoption, shining the light from the splendour of sinners brought into the family of God on to the earthier but heaven-tinted issues of human adoption and vice versa.  From this complementary study he draws forth many helpful insights and Scriptural connections.  For example, he has some delightful things to say about the much-neglected Joseph, husband of Mary and head of the home to which God committed the human parenting of his only Son.  The gospel connections are made often and well.  One cannot avoid the thrust of his polemic, or the challenge of his presentation, nor should one seek to do so.

The book is not written merely for those who have adopted or are considering adoption, but is intended as a rallying-cry to the whole church.  Nevertheless, it is more likely to be read by such families, and I have no doubt that they would be well-served by reading this volume, as might those who have themselves been adopted.  For those who are looking for advice about proceeding, there is some excellent, often self-deprecatingly witty counsel, although at times there may be a risk of personal opinion offered as Biblical counsel.  That said, it is in giving practical counsel that Dr Moore’s grasp of the dynamics of a Christian’s adoption by God enables him to assess issues in adoption on the earthly level with gospel-soaked sanity and penetration, sweeping aside silly cavils or shoring up troubled hearts as he goes.

My primary question would be whether or not, in his passionate advocacy of adoption, Dr Moore may at times be in danger of overstating his case.  At some points he seems to interpret Scripture in the light of adoption, reading it into places where it is, at best, hard to find.  The intense focus on this doctrine drags other truths into the adoption vortex and risks subtly distorting them in the process, or pulling them out of their proper place.  Likewise, he tends to see adoption as almost the be-all-and-end-all of ‘social righteousness’.  I am by no means saying that this issue is not important, or that the book is not a powerful and necessary corrective to ignorance and carelessness at this point.  Nevertheless, Dr Moore’s cause is not well-served by making it a crusade in which everything must march under adoption’s banner.

With that gentle caveat, this is a spiritually instructive and practically helpful volume.  It points us back to an often-forgotten aspect of “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father” (Jas 1.27), and calls Christians to consider adoption as a means of demonstrating the heart of the gospel and its sanctifying power, all the more potent in a world in which unwanted children are now murdered before they can be abandoned.  In doing so, it is richly illustrative of the gospel both in its vertical and its horizontal aspects.  If you are a Christian considering any aspect of adoption, you would do well to read and ponder over this book.  Even if you are not, Dr Moore puts the issue on the radar in a genuinely helpful way.  If you have opportunity to encourage or counsel believers who may or ought to be thinking through these issues, this is a resource well worth your investment of time and money.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 10 December 2009 at 13:18

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with , ,

3 Responses

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  1. […] Adopted For Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches Published December 11, 2009 1 Leave a Comment To read a review of this book, click here. […]

  2. Sounds like a very interesting read with some worthwhile points for families and churches alike. I haven’t read it and likely won’t read it any time soon so let me just ask this question of those who have read it. What does he have to say about the balance between couples having children and couples adopting children? Are there situations where couples who are able to have children should instead look towards adoption? Also what does he have to say about when couple is struggling to have their own children, how far should they go down the path of struggling to have their own children before they start down the path of adoption?

    just a couple of questions if anyone who has read the book feels like answering.

    Seth Getz

    Seth Getz

    Friday 11 December 2009 at 22:24

    • I think he would say that adoption should not be viewed as the fall-back option, but that churches and families (including those with children already born into the family) should consider it positively as a means of demonstrating and declaring the realities of the gospel of Christ. Clearly, we are not obliged to adopt, but I do think he would suggest that we are obliged to consider doing so. With regard to the final question, this also is one he does discuss, and he and his wife adopted two sons before they had two additional sons by ‘natural generation’. He is sensitive to those concerns, but also speaks pretty plainly to those who want to exhaust every avenue with a view to having “our own children” before turning to the possibility of adoption as some kind of second-class make-good.

      Others who have read the book, or who have heard Dr Moore speak more on this topic, please feel free to confirm or correct.

      Jeremy Walker

      Tuesday 15 December 2009 at 16:50

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