Saturday, July 01, 2017

God's foundling

Traditionally, Calvinists focus on theological metaphors like the New Birth or death in sin to illustrate the helplessness of the lost. A neglected theological metaphor is adoption. Paradigm-examples include God's "adoption" of David and God's "adoption" of Israel. A graphic example is Ezk 16, where a newborn who was left to die is rescued by a passerby. The adoption metaphor may be related to the OT concern for orphans. And it's a major theological category in the NT. 

Take the scenario of an orphanage. The kids are neglected because they don't receive the kind of individualized attention and affection that normal kids do. They have no one to call their own. No one they belong to. No adult who's their frame of reference.

Suppose an orphan like that is adopted by a loving parent or parents. This is like a second life. Although they preexisted their adoption, there's a sense in which life truly begins for them after their adoption. Now they suddenly have the life they longed for. They are showered with blessings. 

In Arminian theology, the blessings of salvation flow from the headwaters of faith. Blessings contingent on the autonomous act of faith. 

In Reformed theology, the blessings of salvation flow from the headwaters of grace. Blessings contingent on the unilateral act of God. Adoption is an image which powerfully illustrates that difference. 

1 comment:

  1. If adoption is a neglected theological metaphor, it seems to me widely neglected - i.e. not just by Calvinists. Just recently someone objected to me about Calvinism that if I (a Calvinist) knew my Bible, then I would know God loves everyone, because God is a loving father to all. And then I tossed out all of those adoption passages, which immediately stopped that "God is father of everyone" business. I have the suspicion that Arminians neglect covenantal theology as well, e.g., being called out as by a suzerain. But more on that another time.