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About the Author

Dan Cruver and his wife, Melissa, are parents of a multi-ethnic family of three children. Dan is the director of Together for Adoption, an organization that provides gospel-centered resources to mobilize the church for global orphan care. Dan is a frequent conference speaker and writer. He has a M.S. in Counseling and 90+ hours toward a Ph.D. in Theology. Prior to directing Together for Adoption, Dan was a college professor of Bible and Theology and a Pastor of Family Ministries.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Reclaimed: The Theology of Adoption 29 Jan. 2011
By Fred Sanders - Published on
Format: Paperback
In 1864, Scottish theologian Robert Candlish gave a series of lectures in Edinburgh on the theology of the Fatherhood of God. As he ended those lectures, he said "I do so with the feeling that, however inadequately I have handled my great theme, I have at least thrown out some suggestive thoughts, and in the hope that more competent workmen may enter into my labour and rear a better structure. For I cannot divest myself of the impression that the subject has not hitherto been adequately treated in the Church."

Candlish knew his church history well, but it seemed to him that the church fathers had not adequately described the adoption of believers into God's family, because their best energies had (rightly) gone toward establishing the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. And the reformers, in (rightly) securing the believer's justification by faith, had not allowed "the subject of adoption or the sonship of Christ's disciples... to occupy the place and receive the prominence to which it is on scriptural grounds entitled." Candlish intended no insult to the fathers or the reformers: "Their hands were full." And until the Trinity and salvation by faith were in place, the theology of adoption didn't have a chance.

But now, Candlish argued that the time had come to investigate the theology of adoption by the Father more fully:

I have long had the impression that in the region of that great truth there lies a rich field of precious ore yet to be surveyed and explored, and that, somewhere in that direction, theology has fresh work to do, and fresh treasures to bring out of the storehouse of the Divine Word.

What would it take to bring out the riches of the biblical doctrine of adoption? It would take more than a good theology book: Candlish's was pretty darn good, and in the intervening 150 years or so there have been some even better ones. It would either take a big doctrinal fight (like the ones that clarified and elaborated the other major doctrines), or some kind of revival movement that stirred up Christians at the level of their spiritual experience and their daily practices, motivating them to reflect doctrinally on what was happening.

Something like the former (a doctrinal fight) is what happened in Candlish's day: Liberal Protestantism began pushing an uncommonly mushy doctrine of God's universal fatherhood. The universal Fatherhood of God was supposed to secure the universal Brotherhood of Man, at least in the Neighborhood of Boston as we all slid into unitarian universalism and rented our our empty churches to Alcoholics Anonymous groups. Candlish had already devoted a book to refuting F.D. Maurice's British version of the FOGBOM theology, and that conflict with the heresy of liberalism is what woke him up to the riches of an orthodox theology of Fatherhood and adoption.

But I think something like the latter, a revival, is happening right now in evangelical theology. There is a movement underway in which Christians, and even whole congregations, are committing themselves and their resources to caring for orphans, partly by adoption. The most important book about it so far is Russell Moore's Adopted for Life, and the most important organization is Together for Adoption. The movement got started with basic, biblical teaching about the gospel and holistic mission. It picked up speed with a network of projects and organizations committed to orphan care. And to this theological observer, it looks like it may have the momentum to reinvigorate evangelical systematic theology. Yes, even the big tomes of doctrine, and the research articles safely hidden in the theology journals! In belated fulfillment of Candlish's prophecy, theology is about to discover adoption and give it the attention it deserves.

The most promising sign I've seen so far is the new book Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father. This is a short (just over 100 pages), readable, popular-level introduction to the theology of adoption, and it is perfectly positioned at the intersection of the practical, the spiritual, and the doctrinal. It's published by the innovative little publisher Cruciform Press, and I expect its sales will be driven by word of mouth through the orphan care network, and by the fact that it's got a big ol' classic John Piper chapter in it (Chapter 8: Adoption, The Heart of the Gospel).

Dan Cruver is the editor and also the anchorman who provides the first four chapters, which give the doctrinal foundation. Check out the titles of chapters two to four:

Adoption and the Trinity
Adoption and the Incarnation
Adoption and Our Union with Christ

Theologically speaking, I don't need much more than a glance at that table of contents to know that this book is on a firm foundation. And reading the (short -did I mention short?) chapters proves that Cruver has a fine theological mind that knows how to observe the proper order of things, starting with God, moving through the mediator, down into the experience of redemption. It's a few short steps from adoption to the biggest doctrines of Christian theology, and Cruver takes them.

The whole book is guided by the same deep theological insight. And if you consider that this book is going to be finding its way into the hands of people who are child-proofing their houses, working out passport issues, and giving sacrificially to orphanages, you may see why I say there is a movement going on. A book like Reclaiming Adoption is carrying out the theological task of catechesis, teaching Christians in mid-mission to think more, and think better, about the gospel they are living in. That is going to pay off in the quiet halls of evangelical theology.

In a brief essay (at his blog and reprinted in the book's study guide), Cruver asks himself the question, "Do we really have time for theology when orphans need our help now?" And he answers,

Yes, we do. If theology is ultimately about our participation in the love between the Father and the Son, then nothing can better mobilize and energize us to care for orphans now than theology.

In fact, the whole tenor of Together for Adoption's ministry is that "what orphans need ... is Christians who are deeply theological."

When thousands of orphans are being rescued and supported, it may seem small-minded to say that the most exciting thing about this movement is that it might be moving the neglected theological doctrine of adoption onto the agenda of evangelical systematic theology. But I'll stand by that, because I take theology to be one meaningful indicator of the spiritual health of the church, and an important tether to spiritual reality. Plus we've been waiting since 1864 for Candlish's prophecy to come true.

And the beauty of the current surge of attention to adoption is that it doesn't come with any temptation to choose between theology and practice. At its best, in church after church, it's doing both.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Service flows from Sonship 30 Dec. 2010
By James B. Davis - Published on
Format: Paperback
"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.

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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Adoption: The good news of the gospel 24 Jan. 2011
By Aaron Armstrong - Published on
Format: Paperback
What comes to mind when you hear the word "adoption"?

If you're like me, your mind first goes to adopting a child. Giving a safe home and a loving family is one of the greatest gifts that one can give to a child. Yet, if we read the Scriptures, it's clear that this term "adoption" carries with it so much more than the (very important) giving a family to an orphaned child.

That's because adoption is not only horizontal, but also vertical. Interestingly, though, we've not spent a great deal of time articulating the theology behind it. Indeed, over the course of the first 1900 years of Christian history, there are "only six creeds that contain a section on theological adoption" (p. 8).

That's what inspired Dan Cruver to write Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father. In this book, Cruver (along with contributors John Piper, Scotty Smith, Richard D. Phillips and Jason Kovacs) explains what it means to be adopted by God the Father, its implications for orphan care and how it transforms our witness in the world.

Reclaiming Adoption packs a convicting punch. As Cruver unpacks the importance of the doctrine of adoption, he shows readers just how much it impacts everything. To understand the love of God for His people--those He chose to adopt before He even created the universe--completely transforms how we think, live, feel and act. Cruver writes,

"Christians who doubt God's love for them will not mobilize for mission. Unless we know the Father delights in us even as he delights in Jesus, we will lack the emotional capital necessary to resist complacency and actively engage in missional living. The only people who can truly turn their eyes outward in mission are those who knowingly live within and enjoy the loving gaze of their heavenly Father. . . . If we are not confident of his love, our eyes will turn inward, and our primary concerns will be our needs, our lack, our disappointment, rather than the needs of those around us." (p. 18)

Cruver proceeds to illustrate this truth by showing how the doctrine of adoption is tied to the Trinity, the incarnation and our union with Christ.

We need the Trinity because "a god who existed in all eternity past as one person would be a god eternally turned in upon himself. Such a being could not love because by its nature love turns outward." (p. 25). But because God is Trinity, because He is eternally three Persons yet one Being, He is not only loving, but He is love (c.f. 1 John 4:8). He exists in an eternal communion of love. And through adoption, we are brought into this communion through Jesus.

Likewise, if there were three gods, rather than one who is three Persons, "we could not be sure that what we get with one we also get with the other two" (p. 38). But because Christ is God the Son, we are secure in the love of God. Because He is God, He is the only one who has ever lived who perfectly obeyed the Law. He is the only one who could accomplish our redemption. Indeed, were He not God, we would be utterly lost for there would be nowhere for us to rest securely. However, as Cruver writes, "My security . . . lies in who Jesus was for me in his own Person through the whole course of his incarnate life" (p. 48).

Finally, because we are adopted in Christ, we are in union with Him. Indeed, the two are completely inseparable. "[U]nion with Christ means that we never do anything independently of him," writes Cruver (p. 52). If this is so, adoption--union with Christ--drastically changes our perspective on lives in this world. It means we're to live our lives on mission in service of Christ, seeking to bring people into communion with God. And our adoption is our empowerment for mission now and forever. That's good news, isn't it?

Alongside Cruver's work are essays by Scotty Smith, John Piper, Richard Philips and Jason Kovacs. And you might be wondering, given the impressive roster, if there was one who stood out above the rest. While every contribution was excellent, and their merits could be discussed at length, it was Cruver's work that stood head and shoulders above the rest. He was very thorough, thoughtful and handled the subject with great care and Scripture with great affection.

J.I. Packer once said that the gospel could be summed in three words: "adoption through propitiation." In Reclaiming Adoption, Cruver and company excel in illustrating this reality and inspiring a desire to respond to the great love with which our heavenly Father has loved us. I would highly recommend you read Reclaiming Adoption to any reader seeking to better understand the love of God and the great news of the gospel.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Dense in a Good Way 16 Aug. 2011
By Crossward - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reclaiming Adoption is a collection of essays compiled by Dan Cruver, the director of the national Together for Adoption ministry. At 107 pages, it's a small book and you'd think you'd just kind of breeze through it. But the subject matter is a bit more dense so I found myself pausing often, meditating on what I just read.

In short, the book walks you through the various aspects of the theology of adoption and its implications. The essay chapters are pretty short but they pack a lot of information into them. This book really deserves to be twice as big because a lot of the ideas merit being fleshed out a good deal. (Note: I suspect this is not entirely the authors' and editor's faults. Cruciform Press, the publisher, attempts to keep its books in the 100-page range. The authors work well within these constraints.) While the doctrine of adoption itself is sorely undertaught or mis-applied in our churches and this book attempts to "reclaim" it, the book also takes some things for granted. For example, Cruver's chapter "Adoption and Our Union with Christ" says this:

Personally, I suspect that Paul intentionally used "adoption" as a shorthand or code word for our union with Christ. Adoption and union are that closely joined.

If we can be adopted without being in Christ, there is no need for Jesus.
If we can be in Christ without being adopted by the Father, there is no Trinity.
If adoption and union with Christ are not essentially the same thing, there is no gospel.

(p. 51)

Now those are some very bold statements but, unfortunately, the ideas aren't fleshed out - at least not fully. The context helps me understand what he's getting at but these statements almost seem as though they are just tossed in there to support his larger point (the prominence that adoption should have in the gospel). On the other hand, maybe I'm just being lazy. The book did cause me to pause and process it on my own rather than nodding my head through it. Even so, I found myself nodding anyway!

The book is loaded with some insightful gems and causes you to look at the gospel and your relation to it in challenging ways. In that same chapter, Cruver says, "Our missional engagement as Christians is not an imitation of Christ and his mission. It is a participation in Christ and his mission." (p. 53) Several pages later, Richard D. Phillips says, "If we will fully embrace what God's Word teaches about what we have been saved to [not just from] - the structure, content, privileges, and obligations of our personal relationship with God - our experience of the gospel will be revolutionized... We have been saved to God through adoption." (p. 58) These types of statements, really, are quite life-changing because, like any gospel-saturated statement, it places the emphasis squarely on the person of Christ. They change how you look at your salvation and your missional calling.

Generally speaking, adoption is given a hand-wave in our churches. We really just don't quite "get it" - what it means that we were spiritual orphans, brought together under one Father as a family, and called to engage in his family business. It's given so little attention that, at first, it's hard to swallow how ingrained it is in the gospel but the authors do a good job of bringing that truth to light. Reclaiming Adoption explores what it means to adopted, to understand our identity as a child of God, and the impact that should have on our view of "true religion" - caring for orphans and widows.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A must-read for all Christians and adoptive parents alike 30 Dec. 2010
By Joel J. Miller - Published on
Format: Paperback
There is a unique phenomenon sweeping across America right now. A groundswell of Christians and entire churches are stepping up to care for and adopt orphans. Many of the most influential pastors in this country, like Rick Warren, are devoting significant time at the pulpit to getting the word out--that God calls us to care for those without hope and without families (James 1:27).

The writers of this book, Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father, provide a possible explanation for this: Christians have a perspective on orphans and adoption through the gospel that the rest of the world does not.

An understanding of our own adoption in Christ enables us to rightly understand and appreciate human adoption. Grasping the scope and weight of our vertical adoption provides the biblical foundation we need to comprehend and respond to God's call for us to adopt horizontally.

Essentially a collection of essays by leading evangelical thinkers and adoption advocates, Reclaiming Adoption takes us deep into the heart of Abba Father for his children. Authors John Piper, Dan Cruver, Scotty Smith, Jason Kovacs, and Richard D. Phillips provide an intentionally theological perspective on adoption that manages to be simultaneously inspirational and practical.

As an adoptive parent, what I appreciate most about this book is that it puts words and clearly articulated theology to something I have known intuitively for a long time.

"The ultimate purpose of human adoption by Christians, therefore, is not to give orphans parents, as important as that is. It is to place them in a Christian home that they might be positioned to receive the gospel, so that within that family, the world might witness a representation of God taking in and genuinely loving the helpless, the hopeless, and the despised."

The purpose of adoption, as editor Dan Cruver explains, is primarily evangelical, both to the adopted child and to the community that witnesses the adoption. Through Christ, we are drawn into communion with the Trinity--we are adopted--and from that place we are called to invite others into the Family of families as well. Human adoption gives us a chance to join God is the redemptive work that he is already doing through Christ in us and in all of humanity.

"Adoption and our care for the fatherless provide a visible demonstration of the gospel. Our adoption of children serves as a window into Christ's rescue of us. Adoption displays gospel-justice. Adoption displays the patient, persistent pursuit and sovereign choice of God for us. Adoption displays the heart of God for rescuing a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. Because of what God has done for us in Christ, adoption and orphan care are signs that God's kingdom and rule are present in our world and will one day come in all their fullness."

Reclaiming Adoption is an invaluable resource for those who desire to better understand what it means to be adopted in Christ. It is also vital for anyone seeking to comprehend or advocate for human adoption as one of the most powerful ways we can proclaim the good news of the gospel to a world desperately in need.
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