JFM Forum: K. ErikThoennes on Adoption -- By: Lauren Foster
JFM 2:1 (Fall/Winter 2011) p. 52
K. ErikThoennes on Adoption
K. ErikThoennes (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology and pastor of Grace Evangelical Free Church in La Mirada, California. Dr.Thoennes is committed to teaching biblical and systematic theology so that he and his students love God and people more fully. His research interests include godly jealousy, the atonement, the exclusivity of Christ, and theology of culture.
W. Ryan Steenburg: What are the theological implications of literal adoption, and then what are the spiritual implications of adoption?
K. Erik Thoennes: The most powerful theological element of this issue for me has been paralleling God’s position in the adoption metaphor for the first time of my life. I’ve known God loves me. I’ve known that He chose me from the foundation of the world. But I’ve always been on the other side of that metaphor. Even though I was never adopted, I saw it from the side of the adoptee. Now, to be the one who has adopted—the father who adopted—these two little girls has been just amazing in my comprehension of what it means to be chosen by God and adopted by God, welcomed into his family. I love what J.I. Packer gets at in Knowing God: That it’s a great thing to be declared righteous by God. It’s a great thing to be forgiven by God, still greater to be declared righteous by God, but even greater to be adopted by God into his family. So to play the role of God the Father in this adoption metaphor in life has been wonderful for my understanding of the gospel, especially because my girls have such a hard time believing that I love them forever, that I love them with a true love of a father and I won’t abandon them the way their birth families did. I spend a lot of my time trying to help them believe this. And so, just as I have a tendency with God to doubt and wonder if he really loves me that way, that much, and that permanently, to be rehearsing the grand finale of the gospel of adoption in that way, that gospel core that is rehearsed in human adoption, has become a powerful practice that I’m grateful for.
WRS: How did adoption change your marriage or your relationship with your wife as you went through the process?
KET: There was that phase where we had adopted our girls in our hearts but it was still in a legal process. We had to wait almost a year before we could actually consummate the adoption by going and picking them up at the orphanage in Taiwan. But during that year we would send them pictures of what’s to come—their room, us, the church family, their grandparents, the friends that they would have when they came. We were
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