Providing gospel-centered resources to mobilize the church for global orphan care.

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Special Video Invite from Haiti

by Dan Cruver Published Aug 16, 2014

Michael Robison (who is in Haiti right now finalizing the adoption of their daughter) sent this special video inviting you to join him at our October 17-18 national conference in Greenville, SC. Thanks, Michael!

Learn more about this year’s conference

or

Register now.

Cutting Through All the Noise…

by Dan Cruver Published Aug 13, 2014

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We are cutting through all the noise to give you the best voices out there on the issues that matter most… Main session speakers for our October 17-18 national conference include:

Dr. Elizabeth Bartholet (Harvard Law), Dr. John Sowers (The Mentoring Project), Jedd Medefind (Christian Alliance for Orphans), and Brandon Hatmaker (author of Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture)

Dr. Susan Hillis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Dr. Toney Parks (Served as consultant to Senator Ralph Anderson’s “Organized Gang Task Force”), Elizabeth Styffe, Chris Marlow (Help One Now), Mike Rusch (Pure Charity), Johnston Moore (Home Forever), Rick Morton (KnowOrphans), Daniel Bennett (A Passion for the Fatherless), Scott Vair (World Orphans), Phil Darke (In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence), and Alex Krutov (The Harbor St. Petersburg, Russia)

Join us as we think deeply and biblically about

Adoption ethics and practice

Family preservation and reunification

Indigenous, international, and domestic adoption

Foster care and orphan care practices

Our primary objective for this year’s gathering is to maximize our time together by providing important conversations with people who are key leaders, thinkers, and practitioners in the global orphan movement. We want to facilitate extended conversations that matter — conversations that uniquely address the complex spectrum of care needed for orphans globally.

Every main session talk will be followed a 20 minute onstage conversation in which leaders within the evangelical orphan care and adoption movement discuss the topic and its implication for orphan care and adoption.

Learn more.

Are you interested in adoption?

by Dan Cruver Published Aug 12, 2014

If you are on the path to adoption or are considering the possibility of adopting a child, join us October 17-18 in Greenville, South Carolina for our 2014 national conference. You’ll have the opportunity to sit down with the agencies/organizations listed below (as well as others) and attend workshops that will expertly answer the questions you are asking. If you want to better equip yourself to adopt, join us in Greenville and know that these adoption agencies will bring a generosity of knowledge and wisdom.

Learn more.


America World - adoption page
Pathways - blog post logo
Nightlight Christian Black

Early-Bird Rate Ends Friday!

by Dan Cruver Published Aug 11, 2014

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Early-bird registration ($89 per person) for our October 17-18 national conference in the Upstate of South Carolina ends this Friday, August 15th. If you are planning on joining us, you will save $10 by registering this week.

Join John Sowers, Dr. Elizabeth Bartholet (Harvard Law), Jedd Medefind, Brandon Hatmaker, Johnny Carr, Elizabeth Styffe, Rick Morton, and many others as we consider this year’s conference theme: Urgency & Complexity: Biblical and Ethical Approaches to the Orphan Crisis. Register now!

Learn more about this year’s conference.

Congrational Coalition on Adoption Institute- Angels in Adoption

From U.S. Senator Tim Scott’s website:

Charleston, SC—U.S. Senator Tim Scott will honor South Carolina native Dan Cruver as a 2014 Angel in Adoption at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institutes’s 2014 Ceremony for the tremendous work he has done in helping to mobilize churches for the care of vulnerable and orphaned children.

Dan Cruver, who lives with his wife Melissa and three children (two of whom are adopted) in Travelers Rest, SC, has worked tirelessly to help people open their hearts and homes to children in need.  Cruver is the founder and director of Together for Adoption (T4A), which provides teaching, training, and other resources to local churches as well as globally through national and international conferences.   T4A works to equip individuals, churches, and organizations theologically with the proper foundation and motivation of caring for orphaned and vulnerable children in our communities.

The Angels in Adoption program, through the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, provides a way for members of Congress to honor and thank those in their communities that work hard every day to help this very vulnerable population of young people.

About Angels in Adoption from the Congressional Coalition of Adoption’ (CCIA) website:

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption™ Program honors individuals, couples, and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions on behalf of children in need of families.

As the name implies, these are individuals whose contributions in the fields of adoption or foster care have had a national impact. Past recipients of this award include Korie and Willie Robertson, Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley, Ne-Yo, PEOPLE Magazine, Nia Vardalos, Scott Fujita, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, First Lady Laura Bush, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Kristin Chenoweth, Rhea Perlman, Deborra-lee Furness, Bruce Willis, Al Roker, Muhammad Ali, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Henry Winkler, and CBS Studios.

In addition to giving Members of Congress a firsthand look at the foster care and adoption related work taking place throughout the country, the Angels in Adoption™ program seeks to draw media attention to raise public awareness about the positive difference adoption makes in the life of a child. Last year’s event alone resulted in 140 human interest stories being published in newspapers throughout the nation. These stories serve as inspiration for others to step forward to consider fostering or adopting. The Angels in Adoption™ travel to Washington D.C. to participate in three days of events all designed to train them in using their personal experience to affect change on behalf of children in need of homes and to celebrate their hard work and dedication to the issue.

Angels in Adoption

Join the Conversation: T4A NatCon 2014

by Dan Cruver Published Jul 28, 2014

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We are very passionate about our primary objective for this year’s conference gathering: to maximize our time together by providing important conversations with people who are key leaders, thinkers, and practitioners in the global orphan movement. We want to facilitate extended conversations that matter — conversations that uniquely address the complex spectrum of care needed for orphans globally.

This year’s conference theme is Urgency & Complexity: Biblical & Ethical Approaches to the Orphan Crisis. If you join us, you’ll leave Greenville having thought deeply and biblically about family preservation and reunification, indigenous and international adoption, foster care, and domestic adoption. Every main session talk will be followed a 20 minute onstage conversation in which leaders within the evangelical orphan care and adoption movement discuss the topic and its implication for orphan care and adoption. We can make a difference for the sake of orphaned and vulnerable children…

Our main session speakers who serve as our conversation leaders this year include John Sowers, Dr. Elizabeth Bartholet (Harvard Law), Brandon Hatmaker, Jedd Medefind, Elizabeth Styffe, Mike Rusch, Dr. Susan Hillis, Johnny Carr, Chris Marlow, Dr. Toney Parks, Alex Krutov, Johnston Moore, Rick Morton, Daniel Bennett, Scott Vair, Phil Darke, and many others. We’re also excited to have Randall Goodgame lead worship this year.

We hope to see you October 17-18 in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina! Join the conversation!

Learn more about this year’s conference.
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Note: Because of the amazing generosity of our host church, we are providing free childcare this year. Space is limited, so register your children soon!

Scripture pages

1. Distinguishing the Filial and Familial Language of Scripture (continued)

Having outlined the three basic facts of adoption ~ the uniqueness of the biblical term huiothesia, Paul’s exclusive use of it (Rom. 8:15, 23, 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5), and his utilization of the term to cover the whole scope of redemptive history (Eph. 1:5; Rom. 9:4; Gal. 4:5 [Rom. 8:15]; Rom. 8:23) ~ we now come to the unscrambling of the New Testament’s language of adoption and new birth.

This is necessary because, more often than not, theologians throughout church history have either not seen or chosen to override the specifics of the biblical language relative to each theme.  The effect of this two-way suffusion has been greatest on adoption. Firstly, because it is the more neglected of the two biblical themes, and, secondly, because its redemptive-historical contours have not been well understood. Generally, the conflation of the New Testament’s language of adoption and the new birth has required either the flattening out of Paul’s redemptive-historical unfolding of adoption, or the ignoring of it altogether in what is in effect a limiting of the scope of adoption to its application. These tendencies are very characteristic of Puritan treatments of adoption. They afford the neat inclusion of adoption in the order of salvation (ordo salutis), but they drop along the way something of the wealth of Paul’s redemptive-historical perspective and of Calvin’s exposition of it.

(ii) Basic Contrasts with the New Birth

The disentangling of conflated versions of adoption and the new birth is not as difficult as one might imagine. Consider that:

  • Whereas Paul uses filial or familial language chiefly in connection with adoption, John and others like Peter use it primarily in the context of the new birth. If John refers to adoption at all ~ and that is a big “if” ~ he does so but in passing in John 1:12 (“the right to become children of God”) and in Revelation  21:7  (an atypical use of “son” [see below]).
  • Whereas the adopted are said to have been slaves prior to their adoption (implicitly in Eph. 2:1-2; explicitly in Gal. 3:23-4:7), the new born are said to have been children of the devil (1 John 3:10).
  • Whereas the adopted become sons of God (hence huiothesia or “the placing of a son”), those born again are described alternatively by John as children of God (tekna theou).  The contrast is one of degree rather than of kind, for sometimes Paul refers to the adopted as children (e.g., Rom. 8: 16, 17, 21; 9:8), while John can refer to the new born as sons (Rev. 21:7).
  • Whereas there is at the heart of adoption a union of the Son (huios) and the sons (huioi), John distinguishes between Christ as Son (huios) and the new born as children (tekna). That said, those born anew as children of God are gradually conformed to the image of the Son. This likely explains why John eventually labels the born again as sons of God when anticipating the new earth (Rev. 21:7).
  • Whereas the adopted enter the household of God (e.g., Eph. 2:19), those born from above enter the kingdom of God (e.g., John 3:3).
  • Whereas the adoption motif is a graphic expression of the concept of divine acceptance, the new birth motif expresses the concept of regeneration or new life.
  • Whereas the motifs of adoption and the new birth have their distinctive features, the concepts they represent contribute harmoniously and coherently to the one gospel found in Scripture. The explanation of this gospel is summed up by the doctrine of salvation (soteriology).

In summary, I am not saying that the mantra “Adoption gives us the status of sons, the new birth the nature of sons” is wrong, but that the manner by which theologians have arrived at this equation has typically allowed the divineness of Scripture to absorb its humanness. To state things alternatively, the demands of a neat system of theology have led to the playing down of the history of redemption and the authorial diversity of the New Testament. These two features of Scripture are the sine qua non of a clear and accurate understanding of adoption.
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[A more extensive consideration of the biblical data is found in Tim (J. R.) Trumper, "The Metaphorical Import of Adoption: A Plea for Realisation.I: The Adoption Metaphor in Biblical Usage," Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 14:2 (Autumn 1996), 129-45.]
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For more from the ministry of Tim J.R. Trumper, go to:

www.fromhisfullness.com (personal); www.7thref.org (church)

Orphans on a Bridge to Nowhere…

by Dan Cruver Published Jul 2, 2014

A must read. Bridge to Nowhere blog

Read More. It’s a must read..

Learn more about ChriStory

by Dan Cruver Published Jun 30, 2014

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Lesson 1: Audio for “Jesus, The True Eden for Us”
Lesson 2: Audio for “Jesus, The New Creation for Us (Part 1)”
Lesson 3: Teacher Notes for “Jesus, The New Creation for Us (Part 2)”
Lesson 4: Audio & Teacher Notes for “Jesus is Eden” (John 9)
Lesson 5: Jesus is the New Creation (Part 3)

This class on Christology is one of the adult Sunday School classes at Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Travelers Rest, SC taught by Dan Cruver. This blog is for one of the Sunday school classes for June, July, and August at Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Travelers Rest, SC. Each blog post will relate directly to the weekly lessons.

Class Title: “ChriStory: The Epic Tale of Man’s Stunning Union with Christ”

Class Description: In Luke 24:13-35, Jesus teaches us to make sense of our stories and lives just as Jesus did of his: by reading our own lives in light of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension as witnessed to in the Scriptures. This Christological practice is exactly what the apostle Paul did when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). For the Christian, the study of Christology is learning to read and understand our own lives in light of Christ’s Story for his glory and our joy.

Dan is the director of Together for Adoption and the editor and primary author of <Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba, Father.

Register Now for T4A NatCon 2014

by Dan Cruver Published Jun 25, 2014

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Online registration is now open for our October 17-18 Together for Adoption 2014 National Conference to be held in beautiful Greenville, SC.

Join the Conversation

Our primary objective for this year’s gathering is to maximize our time together by providing important conversations with people who are key leaders, thinkers, and practitioners in the global orphan movement. We want to facilitate extended conversations that matter — conversations that uniquely address the complex spectrum of care needed for orphans globally.

This year’s conference theme is Urgency & Complexity: Biblical & Ethical Approaches to the Orphan Crisis. If you join us, you’ll leave Greenville having thought deeply and biblically about family preservation and reunification, indigenous and international adoption, foster care, and domestic adoption. Every main session talk will be followed a 20 minute onstage conversation in which leaders within the evangelical orphan care and adoption movement discuss the topic and its implication for orphan care and adoption. We can make a difference for the sake of orphaned and vulnerable children…

Speakers include Brandon Hatmaker, Dr. Elizabeth Bartholet (Harvard Law Professor), John Sowers, Jedd Medefind, Jason Kovacs, Dan Cruver, Elizabeth Styffe, Mike Rusch, Dr. Susan Hillis, Chris Marlow, Johnston Moore, Rick Morton, Daniel Bennett, Scott Vair, Phil Darke, Alex Krutov, and many others. Visit our conference website to learn more about this year’s speakers and exhibitor partners.

Special Announcement

Note: Childcare is free this year. Space is limited, so signup soon! Learn more about childcare.
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Visit our conference website to learn about T4A NatCon 2014.
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Or . . . Register Now!

1. Distinguishing the Filial and Familial Language of Scripture

(i) Basic Facts about Adoption

Having committed ourselves to construct the doctrine of adoption from the ground up, and having mapped out the six issues necessary for a solid foundation, we now begin to consider the biblical data.

There’s historical and theological rationale for doing so. Historically, pastors and theologians have hurried their attention to the filial and familial terms the Bible uses. As a result they have too often confused the specifics of the filial and familial language of Scripture, typically ignoring along the way the distinctive structures of the images it portrays. Theologically, an insight into the Bible’s language of adoption reminds us not to make premature negations of its importance.

Three facts are essential for correct understanding.

First, there is only one term in Scripture for the adoption of the sons of God. The term is huiothesia, meaning literally “the placing of a son.”  Seen in the contexts of its New Testament usage, the term embraces both the act of God the Father in adopting his sons and the resultant state of sonship.

Some failing to perceive in huiothesia the richness of both the adoptive act and the adoptive state opt for the more general translation of “sonship.” Some others translate huiothesia as “sonship” in contexts where the adoptive state is intended (e.g., in the N.I.V. in Rom. 8:15 and Galatians 4:5). Others, concerned for the neatness of their system of theology, find the translation “sonship” more convenient than adoption, for it affords an easier connection to the New Testament’s language of the new birth with its references to the children of God. Still others, have found “sonship” a convenient translation en route to Universalism (Thomas Erskine of Linlathen) or to the redefining of justification (N.T. Wright).

Second, Paul is the only biblical author to make use of huiothesia. The term is not found in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures), nor is it used by other New Testament authors. Paul uses it in the follow order:

Romans 8:15: “For you did not receive the Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

Romans 8:23: “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Romans 9:4: “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.”

Galatians 4:4-5: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Ephesians 1:5: ” . . . he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will . . .”

Third, these five references cover the entire history of redemption.  We’ll have more to say of this when we come to our dippings into biblical theology. Sufficient to say at this point that we can rearrange these “huiothesian” texts according to the respective chapters of redemptive history to which they refer. When we consider them as milestones along the trajectory stretching from the first things (protology) to the last things (eschatology), they line up as follows:

Ephesians 1:5: ” . . . he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will . . .”

Romans 9:4: “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.”

Galatians 4:4-5: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent for th his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Romans 8:15: “For you did not receive the Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

Romans 8:23: “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

A firm grasp on these three facts disentangles adoption from the filial and familial terms of other biblical writers, grants us a clear sight of what we are considering, and begins to reveal to us that adoption possesses an importance out of all proportion to the number of its references in Scripture. To borrow a thought from the Southern Presbyterian Benjamin Morgan Palmer, no other term embraces so much of the whole system of grace as adoption.

* All Bible verses are taken from the E.S.V.

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For more from the ministry of Tim J.R. Trumper, go to:

www.fromhisfullness.com (personal); www.7thref.org (church)

Identification

Let’s not be put off by the label “metaphorical theology”! The discussion of metaphor can be a lot more interesting than it sounds. Not only does it take us to places rarely considered in either theological or popular studies of adoption, it focuses on the way some of the most graphic images of Scripture work in conveying God’s truth.

Since the subject is deep, we’re proceeding slowly and methodically. Having explained our temporary transitioning away from our journey through the writings of the church, and envisioned several benefits of considering the particular biblical language of adoption (huiothesia or “the placing of a son), we now complete our preamble to the world of metaphor by identifying specific issues pertaining to the use of the term.

All we can do here is map out the order in which we’ll digest the upcoming nuggets. This is as useful to me as I hope it will be to you, as we seek to keep track of where we are going. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, and in some places will have few guides to rely on, it is nevertheless important that we ponder the most fundamental questions. After all, they relate to a profound matter: the manner in which believers in Christ are sons of God and members of his household.

“Why go so deep?”, you may wonder. Well, if the recovery of adoption in Christian belief is to amount to anything more than a rehashing of historic treatments of the theme, we must build from the very fabric of Scripture and not from some of the assumptions of historical interpretations. I do not say that these treatments were inevitably wrong, but we need to be sure that they were right, even if just for our own satisfaction.

Permit me to illustrate this from my pastoral visits to one of the local hospitals. If visitors enter from one side of the building and head for the elevator, they get in on the first floor. But if they enter the hospital from a different direction, they get into the elevator on the second. This may help them get to their visit quicker, but they won’t necessarily benefit from the receptionist on the first floor who passes out the hospital floor plan.

Now since most treatments of adoption begin on the second floor and not the first, they omit some fundamental questions. Such as:

1. Are all the colorful filial or familial terms of the New Testament speaking of the same doctrine or teaching? If not, contrary to many you read, how do we distinguish the terms utilized?

2. Are we to take terms like “adoption” literally, metaphorically, or in some other way?

3. If God’s adoption of his people is literal, what does that say of societal adoption?

4. If, alternatively, God’s adoption of his people is metaphorical, what impact does that have on our understanding of the way the Bible uses the language of adoption?

5. Furthermore, where did the metaphor of adoption come from? Among those understanding adoption to be metaphorical, it is either assumed or argued that it came from a Semitic, Roman, or Greek practice.

6. How do we make use of the language of adoption in getting to the heart of the matter and its devotional and practical application?

As different opinions prevail on a number of these issues, I will likely at points just present the pros and cons of each respective position. In some instances I imagine having to take a line in order to press forward. Yet, the holding of these discussions should at least instill the necessary humility and caution in advancing to the consideration of adoption in biblical, systematic, and practical theology.

All in good time!

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For more from the ministry of Tim J.R. Trumper, go to:

www.fromhisfullness.com (personal); www.7thref.org (church)

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