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What does the term "adoption" tell us about the gospel?

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What is being conveyed in the New Testament concerning the gospel in its use of the term adoption? This post will look at the biblical and cultural evidence in seeking to answer that question.
In the Old Testament In the Old Testament, we find only limited, and then only indirect, references to adoption. This is probably because in Israelite law, there was no provision for adoption per se. Orphans were provided for, not through adoption, but through levirate marriage. There are, however, a few references to adoption-like circumstances in the Old Testament. These tend to be in circumstances where slaves became heirs of the “adopting” owner. We also note in the Old Testament that God chose the nation of Israel to be his “son”--a concept taken up by Paul when he notes that “theirs [Israel’s] is the adoption as sons” (Rom. 9:4).

In the New Testament Though the New Testament's use of the term  adoption (huiothesia in Greek), is limited to Paul’s writings, the concept is found in other…

Relations between the Persons of the Trinity

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Unfortunately, much teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity focuses on how the one is three and the three are one, with little attention given to the actual relations among the divine Persons. In his introduction to the book Retrieving Eternal Generation, Trinitarian theologian Fred Sanders (co-editor of the book), notes that we must not lose sight of the important truth that....
...the Son is eternally begotten (or generated) from the Father. It is not enough to say that the Son is God; we must see that he is God the Son, not just God-in-general. Sonship, or eternal generation, is what gives both form and content to the relation between the Father and the Son: the relation has the form of fromness, and the content of filiality. Whenever the nature of that relation is left unspecified, any articulation of Trinitarian theology becomes brittle and disconnected. Without eternal generation, the constellation of truths that compose the doctrine of the Trinity remain just so many points of…

Thinking with Einstein about truth and freedom

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Here, with the author's permission, is an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Dr. John McKenna, faculty member at GCI's Grace Communion Seminary. John, a student of T.F. Torrance, has served as doctrinal advisor for GCI.

In general, we may say that freedom without truth is mere anarchy; truth without freedom is sheer tyranny.

The integration of freedom and truth is necessary if we are to grasp the reality of the nature of the Word in all of its depths with us. The freedom of truth and the truth of freedom fundamentally provide the ground on which we may stand and understand the reality of the space and time where we have been given our freedom to live and breathe.

The integration of freedom and truth is essential in the depth of the order we discover here. When this integration exists, we have the formation of the fundamental ground on which we may seek to know the nature of the Cosmos that is the Universe where we have been given our freedom to be who we are in God’s Creation.…

Are all born again?

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Note: this is a re-post of a Surprising God post that appeared first in April, 2011. Because I have received questions about this issue, I'm repeating that post here, with a few updates. For much greater detail on what this post summarizes, I commend to you the essay by Gary Deddo, titled "Clarifying our Theological Vision." Also see the "GCI Weekly Update" article titled "Living the Redeemed Life."

A blog reader asked if the understanding that all humanity is included in God's love and life, means that all people are already spiritually alive (i.e. "born again"). My answer is this: to be included in God's life and to be born again are related, but not the same. Let me explain.

Time and again, Scripture proclaims that what God has done (through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of his Son, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) transforms all humanity. Here are some of the verses of Scripture speak…

The Christian life and the ministry of the Holy Spirit

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This post excerpts the conclusion of "Clarifying Our Theological Vision," by Dr. Gary Deddo (click here for the full essay). The essay addresses the nature of the Christian life, which necessarily leads to a discussion of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Created and reconciled for the gift of relationship God, for and through his eternal Son, created and then reconciled to himself all humanity so that we might enjoy a relationship with God that is living, interactive and personal. That relationship, which is the heart and core of salvation, involves sharing (koinonia), by the Spirit, in Jesus' own communion with the Father—a dynamic relationship of obedience, faith, hope and love that was evident throughout his earthly life. Salvation thus results from the co-achievement of all three divine Persons acting together for our benefit. Salvation is the outflow of their internal and eternal good and holy, loving relationship extended to humanity as a gift of grace. That gift i…

Celebrating ten years of The Surprising God blog

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It's hard to believe, but the first post here on The Surprising God blog appeared on September 8, 2007---just about ten years ago. It was written by GCI Pastor Timothy Brassell. Over the years, there have been 540 posts, 1350 comments and 855,000 pageviews.

I'm grateful for the many who have commented and posted, and especially for whatever contribution this blog has made in helping readers grow in understanding, appreciating and living into the stunning reality addressed by an incarnational Trinitarian theology. Here's to ten years more?


Praying for reconciliation in the face of racial hostility

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Given recent events in the US, I feel it appropriate to pause from my regular posts on The Surprising God to address the shocking and divisive racial hostility erupting in many places and ways. This hostility flies in the face of all our Lord Jesus Christ stands for and, through the Spirit, is working toward in our world through his ongoing ministry of reconciliation.
Toward the goal of reconciliation (and the transformation of the heart it entails), I offer below a litany (responsive prayer) by Rich Villodas (8/2017) for the body of Christ to pray in worship. Oh Lord, you are making all things new. Please lead us to participate in what you are doing.
A Litany for Racial Hostility in our CountryLeader: Lord Jesus, your Kingdom is good news for a world caught in racial hostility. We ask that you would give us grace for the deep challenges facing our country.
Response: Oh Lord, only you can make all things new. 
Leader: Lord, we confess our anger and our deep sadness for the hatred in our…