Review: Russ Moore’s “Adopted for Life”, a Book to Change Lives

Review: Russ Moore’s “Adopted for Life”, a Book to Change Lives June 11, 2009

adopted-for-life-Theology is alive.  It should be felt, not merely taught.  It should reach into all areas of our lives, bringing light and health to them.  The heft of God’s teaching transforms both the way we think and the way we live.

Theologians who embody this kind of approach are rare (though increasing in number, I think).  One who stands out is Russ Moore of Southern Seminary of Louisville, KY.  A systematician, Moore has a capacious mind, a gift for wit and drama, and an imagination that grasps the significance of biblical truth.  He is a pastor-theologian, simultaneously the Dean of the world’s largest seminary and a Teaching Pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville.  He is a proud and loving father of four.

Recently, Moore authored the book Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches (Crossway, 2009).  The book comes highly recommended–no less than sixteen scholars and leaders endorse the book, including such luminaries as Robby George, Chuck Colson, Al Mohler, and John MacArthur.  The diversity of this group alone shows the respect Moore draws from the broader Christian community.

The text itself is full of passion, biblical theology, and humor.  It is not a straight theology of adoption, a personal reflection on adoption, or a handbook on the rudiments of the adoption process.  It is a mixture of all three.  As a result, the text simultaneously teaches, edifies, provokes, and moves the reader. Though a text that purports to cover adoption, it ends up covering much more, and stands in my mind as something of a mini-biblical theology of salvation.

I cannot commend the book highly enough.  In the face of numerous heartbreaking miscarriages, Moore and his wife Maria traveled to Russia to adopt two boys some years ago, the story that provides the backbone of the text.  After beginning with this personal touch, Moore proceeds to cover theological and practical aspects of adoption in midrash-like chapters that set the matter in cosmic perspective.  Adopted for Life is a good title, though The Drama of Adoption might also have captured the spirit of the text.

Many Christians are catching a heart for adoption.  This is a most welcome trend.  I am quite sure that those who are on the fence about adoption will, after reading this powerful book, find themselves irresistibly drawn to contributing to the cause in some way.  The image painted by Moore of his first visit to the Russian orphanage where his sons lay in darkness and filth is indelibly printed in my mind.  It will be in yours, too, and with the rest of the book, it will drive you to pray and to work to contribute to the culture of gospel-centered adoption as an application of the theological doctrine.

I am deeply thankful for this unique and engrossing book.  It is not often that a text incites one to want to thank an author for it.  But I am grateful to Russ Moore for Adopted for Life, and also to Justin Taylor and Crossway Books for pushing this project (and living it out in Justin’s case).  I agree with Al Mohler’s assessment of it: “one of the most compelling books I have ever read.”

In orphanages across the world, children languish, unwanted, unnoticed, unheard.  Their lives have no purpose or beauty.  Most of them will suffer through childhood and go on to an early death, fizzling out like comets in a sky that nobody sees.  It is my hope and prayer that the book will go far and wide, spreading a culture of adoption in Christian churches, causing families to abandon ordinary, easy, low-cost, low-reward Christianity and drive them instead to take on the challenge of adoption.  Whether fertile or infertile, rich or poor, all who live wisely and generously can in some way participate in this outworking of biblical theology.

May we not allow these children to languish and pass away.  May we embrace a culture of life that is costly and full of grace.  May we spend less on ourselves and more on missions and missional adoption.  Let us join the Moores, my own parents, and countless others who have acted on a vision for adoption and make our way into darkened, decrepit orphanages across this earth, bringing light to the abandoned just as Jesus Christ our Lord has brought it to us.

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  • John Michael LaRue

    An excellent review for a phenomenal book. Thanks, Owen!

  • owenstrachan

    Kind of you, John Michael. Thanks for your encouragement. Hope you’re well.

  • Amy

    As a believer for 35 years and a counselor to adult adoptees and “birth” mothers for 13 years, the Holy Spirit within me is deeply grieved by this new teaching. In adoption, both mother and child are separated for life, denied any contact whatsoever with each other forever. Our courts permanently divide them with no hope of reconciliation. Self-knowledge for the adoptee is limited because his/her records are sealed. Many adult adoptees do not know their family history nor have access to their medical records. Adoption causes deep, untold emotional pain and suffering for both mother and child, often scarring them for life. Adoption in America is a relatively new worldly man-made social experiment and legal contract based on secrets and lies that is hardhearted and cruel. Can anyone, after even a cursory read of the Bible, say adoption is of God? Indeed, you will search the scriptures in vain to find any support for the system as it functions today. In fact, if you study the Word of God with an open heart, you will find just the opposite. Permanently separating biological families for life is not God’s design! My hope is to see the church as a whole come out of denial as to the true nature of adoption and then support reform by living New Testament principles, particularly Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Taking in *true* orphans in a guardianship role is scriptural – but falsifying their birth certificates, withholding knowledge of their ethnic heritage and denying them relationships with their biological relatives most certainly is not. This nation is ripe for God’s judgment because of adoption – for not opening closed records, including original birth certificates, to adult adoptees upon their request (hallelujah for the few states that allow this) and continuing to shame and coerce young girls and women into relinquishing their babies against their will. God will forgive but there must be national repentance, including the recanting of Moore’s false gospel of adoption, which actually promotes lifelong family division and destruction under the guise of rescuing genuine orphans. In the last days “…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Peter 2:1, 2)