“Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.” – J. I. Packer in Knowing God
Dan Cruver’s Reclaiming Adoption affirms Packer’s statement but goes on to show that not only our understanding of Christianity but also our individual and corporate practice of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of the biblical doctrine of adoption.
Once again CruciformPress has jam-packed a little book with lots of gospel truth for the sake of gospel transformation. Reclaiming Adoption is a fountain welling up with a biblical theology of our vertical adoption in Christ that overflows with missional living in our horizontal relationships with our neighbors, the nations, and the next generation.
As a man who is adopted by God, who has adopted two children, and is the Director of Together for Adoption, Dan Cruver writes as one whose entire life is wrapped up in adoption and orphan care. Cruver opens the book with a brief biblical theology of our Father’s adoption of prodigals and then explores other fascinating aspects of our adoption in the next three chapters:
- Adoption and the Trinity: “Through adoption God graciously brings us to participate in the reciprocal love that ever flows between the Father and his Son. Not only is this the very heart of adoption; it is also the very heart of the gospel” (page 27, bold emphasis mine).
- Adoption and the Incarnation: “Through the incarnation, Jesus (fully God and fully man in his one Person) became not merely the means but the place—the locale—where communion with and obedience to God happens in all its unimaginable fullness. It is only in the Person of Christ that God and man meet in loving communion. The understated good news of the gospel is that the humanity of Jesus has become our communion with and obedience to his Father. Only in Jesus can true radical obedience and unending communion be found” (page 43, bold emphasis mine).
- Adoption and Our Union With Christ: “This means that, at its source, missional engagement is not really what we do at all. It is what Jesus does. God is always the initiator. Jesus engages us in mission; we do not engage him. Our missional engagement as Christians is not an imitation of Christ and his mission. It is a participation in Christ and his mission” (page 52, bold emphasis mine).
And as if Cruver’s own practical theology of biblical adoption is not enough (and his chapters are surely worth the price of the book), he has invited other noted pastor-theologians to fill out the final four chapters by weighing in on the subject: John Piper, Scotty Smith, Jason Kovacs, and Richard D. Phillips.
As one who loves the cruciform image of a life that is shaped by the cross into the shape of the cross, I love the book’s emphasis on how our vertical relationship with our Father impacts our horizontal relationships with people, especially the fatherless. This book makes a great companion to Nate Palmer’s Servanthood As Worship as it explains how our service to God and others flows from our sonship. These two books are serving me well as I finish writing my forthcoming book, Cruciform: Living the Cross Shaped Life (stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks).
Perhaps the greatest personal endorsement I can give is to say that Cruver’s book has convinced me and my wife (and even my three children) to seriously pray, asking our Father if He would provide the means and method by which our family might live out of our adoption as Abba’s children by adding another child to our family or giving us the opportunity to care for orphans. I’m excited to see what He does with this.
Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father is another solid contribution to CruciformPress‘ effort to provide gospel-centered reading for gospel-driven living. Each new release makes me happy that I signed up for a monthly subscription, and I’d recommend you do the same (this is one of the very few ways I’d ask you to imitate me, but it’s worth the risk).