Over the last week, I have begun to listen to an audio recording of Jonathan Edwards’ seminal work, Religious Affections.  Edwards wrote this treatise at the end of the First Great Awakening, during a period when emotional and “Spirit-filled” expressions of faith had come under especially intense scrutiny among many Christians. Although God’s Spirit had been working mightily and extraordinarily throughout the colonies for several years, many who had seemed to experience deeply heartfelt and even miraculous conversions to Christianity had fallen away from Christ. This added fuel to the arguments posed by numerous believers that displays of emotion were unnecessary and undesirable for true Christians, and even that such “religious affections” indicated that a person’s faith was not genuine. Edwards wrote Religious Affections as an attempt to restore balance to the place of deep and prolonged feelings and their expressions in the lives of God’s saints.
Part II of this exposition is concerned with “Showing what are no certain signs that religious affections are gracious, or that they are Not” – that is, “false positives” of authentic Christian faith.  One of Edward’s assertions in this section is that “It is no sign that affections are gracious, or that they are otherwise, that persons did not make them themselves, or excite them of their own contrivance and by their own strength.” Edwards argues that although strong impressions and impulses regarding belief in Christ may indeed be caused by powers outside of those who experience them, these affections are not necessarily indicative of God’s salvation, and may not even be from God Himself, despite their great passion and sincerity.
This got me thinking about the events and feelings that served as catalysts for my family’s adoption journey. My own “conversion” to the pursuit of adoption occurred with strong feelings and impressions that I took to be from the Lord. (They certainly were of my own doing!) However, in light of Edwards’ treatment of such affections, I began to wonder if these experiences are enough to confirm that the leading I sense is actually from God, or if they might be from somewhere else.
With this concern in mind, I started looking at the Scriptures to better understand God’s point of view adoption. I began this study with a fairly good idea of what I would find. (You might have a hunch, too.) However, I was surprised to discover just how much God’s Word has to say on the matter of adoption. I did not expect the Bible to deal with this subject with the breadth and depth I encountered.
My hope is to unpack what the Bible has to say about adoption in a series of posts over the coming weeks. I think a careful study of this topic is in order, as it will help me to walk the path of adoption with confidence that this is an endeavor close to the heart of God, and not some fleeting urge fabricated by my fickle mind or picked up by my all-too-itching ears. Understanding the Lord’s perspective on adoption is also likely to provide stability and encouragement when the going gets tough and the future looks uncertain.