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Evangelical Theology, Second Edition: A…
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Evangelical Theology, Second Edition: A Biblical and Systematic… (edició 2020)

de Michael F. Bird (Autor)

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2035105,362 (4.5)No n'hi ha cap
Evangelical Theology is a systematic theology written from the perspective of a biblical scholar. Michael F. Bird contends that the center, unity, and boundary of the evangelical faith is the evangel (= gospel), as opposed to things like justification by faith or inerrancy. The evangel is the unifying thread in evangelical theology and the theological hermeneutic through which the various loci of theology need to be understood.   Using the gospel as a theological leitmotif--an approach to Christian doctrine that begins with the gospel and sees each loci through the lens of the gospel--this text presents an authentically evangelical theology, as opposed to an ordinary systematic theology written by an evangelical theologian.   According to the author, theology is the drama of gospelizing--performing and living out the gospel in the theatre of Christian life. The text features tables, sidebars, and questions for discussion. The end of every part includes a "What to Take Home" section that gives students a run-down on what they need to know. And since reading theology can often be dry and cerebral, the author applies his unique sense of humor in occasional "Comic Belief" sections so that students may enjoy their learning experience through some theological humor added for good measure.… (més)
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Títol:Evangelical Theology, Second Edition: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction
Autors:Michael F. Bird (Autor)
Informació:Zondervan Academic (2020), Edition: Second, 960 pages
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Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction de Michael F. Bird

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Gordon Spykman in his superb Reformational Theology describes the eclipse of creation in theology. He writes that much of evangelical theology:
gives the impression of bypassing creation in a hasty move to take a shortcut to the cross.
Michael Bird in his evangelical theology doesn’t do that. This is refreshing in an evangelical systematic theology.

What is the single most important thing in evangelicalism? Bird maintains it is the gospel - so he has written a systematic theology that reflects that emphasis. What is the goal of theology? That we would be gospelised! But this raises the question what is the gospel? Is it the redemption of creation, the escape of Christians to heaven, or what? How does Bird view the gospel? He cites with approval Al Wolters who demonstrates that “creation regained” is an underlying theme of the gospel:
The gospel envisages a comprehensive restoration of the created order so that the relational disruption between God and creation caused by the intrusion of evil can be finally resolved. … The gospel is umbilically connected to the wider concepts of covenant and creation.
Such an approach alone would justify the purchase of this book.

Comparison with Grudem’s Systematic Theology is perhaps inevitable. For me Bird's is by far the superior book.

For Grudem the focus is on what does the Bible say, for Bird it is also the engagement with contemporary theological ideas. Though this is a strength of Bird’s approach it may prove to be its weakness as it may well date it.

A look at the contents shows marked differences: Bird starts with God, Grudem with the Bible. Grudem emphasises doctrine, Bird the gospel. In comparison Grudem is lame and pedestrian. This may be in part its age. Bird is a most welcome replacement for Grudem.

I have attempted to summarise some of the differences between Grudem and Bird in the table below.

Other than Spykman’s sadly out of print Reformational Theology I can think of no better summary of theology.
( )
  stevebishop.uk | Jul 23, 2020 |
Doctrinal Theology
  CPI | Aug 1, 2016 |
Gordon Spykman in his superb Reformational Theology describes the eclipse of creation in theology. He writes that much of evangelical theology:
gives the impression of bypassing creation in a hasty move to take a shortcut to the cross.
Michael Bird in his evangelical theology doesn’t do that. This is refreshing in an evangelical systematic theology.

What is the single most important thing in evangelicalism? Bird maintains it is the gospel - so he has written a systematic theology that reflects that emphasis. What is the goal of theology? That we would be gospelised! But this raises the question what is the gospel? Is it the redemption of creation, the escape of Christians to heaven, or what? How does Bird view the gospel? He cites with approval Al Wolters who demonstrates that “creation regained” is an underlying theme of the gospel:
The gospel envisages a comprehensive restoration of the created order so that the relational disruption between God and creation caused by the intrusion of evil can be finally resolved. … The gospel is umbilically connected to the wider concepts of covenant and creation.
Such an approach alone would justify the purchase of this book.

Comparison with Grudem’s Systematic Theology is perhaps inevitable. For me Bird's is by far the superior book.

For Grudem the focus is on what does the Bible say, for Bird it is also the engagement with contemporary theological ideas. Though this is a strength of Bird’s approach it may prove to be its weakness as it may well date it.

A look at the contents shows marked differences: Bird starts with God, Grudem with the Bible. Grudem emphasises doctrine, Bird the gospel. In comparison Grudem is lame and pedestrian. This may be in part its age. Bird is a most welcome replacement for Grudem.

I have attempted to summarise some of the differences between Grudem and Bird in the table below.

Other than Spykman’s sadly out of print Reformational Theology I can think of no better summary of theology.
( )
  stevebishop | Apr 2, 2016 |
Evangelical Theology by Michael Bird is a book that will grab readers early on and will not let them go for 800 , rich pages of theology, humor and worship. Bird hooked me early. From the outset, he cannot help but show his love for the church catholic and historic, freely citing authors from all walks of the Christian faith, from throughout two millennia of Christian history. His implicit focus on the fellowship of the saints in studying theology made it feel like, and really become, a worshipful and communal event.

Hearing a bit of who Michael Bird is encouraged me even more to dive into this text. He lays his “ecclesial and theological cards on the table” and shares a bit about himself early on.

"On the church side of things, I did not grow up in a Christian home, but I came to Christ through a Baptist church in Sydney, Australia. I also attended a Baptist seminary (Malyon College) and have been a pastoral intern and itinerant preacher in Baptist churches. I taught for five years in an interdenominational theological college committed to the Reformed tradition in Scotland (Highland Theological College); more recently I spent three years teaching at an interdenominational college in Brisbane while being on the preaching team of a Presbyterian church (Crossway College). I am now a lecturer in theology at an Anglican College (Ridley Melbourne). Strange as it sounds, I would describe myself as an ex-Baptist postPresbyterian Anglican."

Bird considers himself a “mere evangelical” and attempts to write his systematic from that perspective.

One of the things you will note in Evangelical Theology is the tone. Bird writes deeply and lightly, using humor freely to make points and disarm the reader. Is his use of humor good or bad? It is hard for me to say, but I am sure that some readers will be put off by it and some readers will benefit from it and enjoy it greatly. His tone makes this immense volume immensely readable but may leave it with a short shelf life due to pop culture references and whatnot. Will it stand the test of time? Who knows. But, it does allow a broader range of believers to access his work and be ministered to by it here and now, so for that reason I tend to view his tone and humor as a benefit of the book.

Bird starts his text off, after a proper prolegomena, with the Trinity. He makes some valid points as to why the Trinity should be the launching point for theological study rather than Scripture.

"Whereas the medieval theological tradition began with the Triune God as the starting point for theology, it was the Second Helvetic Confession (followed by the Irish Articles and Westminster Confession) that broke the mold by putting the doctrine of Scripture first in the order of topics covered in theology. This Protestant move is understandable, opposing as it does the medieval Roman Catholic view of authority; yet it was a misstep that ultimately led to a shift from theology beginning with God-in-himself to theology beginning with human reception/perception of revelation. It was inevitably that Protestant theology, in some quarters, would move from theology to anthropology as the measure of religious truth."

Bird rejects the Bibliolatry that many Evangelicals can, and do, slip into and labors the supremacy of the incarnation as God’s ultimate revelation. In his section on revelation as Bird argues for the “extra extra special revelation” of the incarnation, he writes:

"I am not denying the supremacy of Scripture as our witness to Jesus. Jesus himself said that the Scriptures testify to him (e.g., John 5:36 – 39; 7:38). Nor do I want to minimize the necessity of Scripture for knowing Jesus. Yet the Bible does not have a monopoly for giving us access to knowledge about the incarnation and the salvation that it brings. You can apprehend knowledge of Jesus Christ through the proclamation of the gospel, by the experience of him in baptism and Eucharist, and through catechisms and creeds that summarize the teaching of Scripture."

Bird writes to his current audience. He knows the culture and mindset that we, as Evangelicals, live in and writes a systematic theology to address our current age. Bird addresses possible positions fairly and fully and then expounds on the position he holds to be true. He does not come to the task with a back full of straw and mean names, ready to engage in a battle of fallacies in hopes of being shown to be smarter, righter, holier, or better than those who would propose a different position than he. Rather, he engages arguments at their strongest point and even allows room for his own error or possibility of differing, yet correct, interpretations and positions.
Bird spends time looking especially at doctrines that are being shaped and debated currently in our Evangelical world, and does so with his typical humor and relevance.

As he discusses the differing views on the atonement he summarizes the Christus Victor position with a line from Getty and Townend. “Perhaps the best way to summarize the Christus Victor view is with a line from the wonderful modern hymn “In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townshend and Keith Getty: 'And as he stands in victory, Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.'” That is simple enough, even for me!

When speaking of penal substitutionary atonement and our quickness to bypass the Gospels for Paul’s writings, he says:

“Routinely students run to Paul’s letters or to Hebrews in search of proof texts for penal substitution. They completely bypass the Gospels like tourists from Florida detouring around Philadelphia on their way to New York. How much I enjoy the surprise when students learn that the gospel of the cross actually begins with the gospel according to the Evangelists. Even more gobsmacking is when they learn that you actually can preach the gospel from the Gospels! Who would have imagined!”

When speaking about the atonement being about both penal substitution and Christus Victor Bird writes,

"I do not wish to disparage Jesus’ death as an atoning, vicarious, substitutionary, and penal sacrifice for sin. May I be anathematized — or even worse, may I be tied to a chair, have my eyelids taped open, and be forced to watch Rob Bell Nooma clips — should I ever downplay the cruciality of Jesus’ sacrifice for sinners. However, I am convinced that Jesus’ death for sinners on the cross is part of a bigger picture that is laid out in redemptive history, visible in the very shape of our canon, apparent in biblical theology, ubiquitous in historical theology, and explicit in Pauline theology. The doctrines of penal substitution and Christus Victor do not compete against each other, for the former is clearly the grounds for the latter. What binds together new exodus, new creation, Jesus’ ministry, the cross, and the mission of God’s people in the world is the victory of God in the substitutionary death of Jesus."

I cannot express how many “aha” moments I enjoyed in this book. Bird allowed me to understand how a Lutheran could legitimately hold to consubstantiation in his discussion of the communication of divine attributes.(I still do not hold to the view, but it is real nice knowing that my Lutheran brothers and sisters did not just pull the idea out of nowhere!)

Bird also allowed me to gain some insight on Karl Barth. To this point I had not progressed much in my understanding of Barth other than “Barth=bad”. Bird spends some time addressing Barth; his theology, his legacy, his infamy, how to pronounce his name…and left me with a more sympathetic view of the man and a curiosity to learn more about his thought and life.

Bird’s leaning towards Biblical Theology shows up in section 5.2, Redemptive History: The Plan for the Gospel. If you want a beautiful text on the Gospel from cover to cover of Scripture, a section to study and enjoy, this is for you. I will personally be returning there over and over because to see the Gospel throughout all of Scripture is a wonderful thing.

His section on ecclesiology was especially interesting. Bird discusses the eclectic and often-anemic nature of Evangelical ecclesiology.

"Evangelical ecclesiology has always been a bit of a conundrum. That is because there is no standard 'evangelical ecclesiology,' nor can there be in the strict sense. You can have an Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, or Presbyterian ecclesiology. Such ecclesiologies prescribe the confession, order, structure, discipline, governance, worship, sacraments, and ministries of these respective denominations. But there is no prescriptive evangelical equivalent because evangelicalism is a theological ethos, not a denominational entity. While evangelicals might agree on certain ecclesiological principles, like Jesus Christ is the head of the church and the church is the body of Christ, the general agreements largely break down when it comes to the specific ordering and structures of the church. Yet this has not always been a negative thing. Precisely because evangelicalism has no prescriptive ecclesiology, it can accommodate itself to virtually any form of church order. Evangelicals have implied an ecclesiology more than worked one out."

Bird maintains that Evangelicals have an ecclesiology, but the emphasis on it is well short of where it should be.

“(S)omething seems to be lacking in evangelical ecclesiology. I do not see anywhere near the same excitement, emotion, resolve, and passion for debates about ecclesiology as, for example, soteriology. I doubt that many American Presbyterians get riled over Tom Wright’s ecclesiology as they do over his soteriology. “

Bird sees a few culprits, all valid, but I intensely agree with him on the culpability of hyperindividualism as a reason for Evangelicals poor and self-centered ecclesiology.

"For some folks the gospel is an iGod app that enables a person to get a wifi connection with heaven (where the one mediator between God and Man is Apple Inc.). To use another metaphor, the church is reduced to the weekly meeting of Jesus’ Facebook friends. The locus of Christianity becomes God and me rather than God and us. One could contrast two slogans: 'I believe, therefore I am saved' with “We believe, therefore we are God’s people.” Evangelicals tend to prefer the former rather than the latter as the default setting for their ecclesiology."

Bird’s discussion on “The shape of the church” edifying and challenging. Bird shows the church to be a community that is eschatological, Trinitarian, diacanol, holistic, and fellowshipping. The importance of these truths is spelled out nicely by Bird and I echo his sentiments on their importance.

The “What to take home” sections are immensely helpful and flashcard worthy. Bird does well in summarizing large chunks of information and leaving the reader with a page to take away from each chapter.

Bird takes positions I am not comfortable with, he quotes people I am not comfortable with, he approaches things in a way that sometimes leave me scratching my head…and this is why I love this book. He challenges me. He attacks, like a surgeon attacking a tumor, my small-town, American, evangelical, YRR, Puritans Piper=perfect mentality on things. He does not do so maliciously or self-righteously. He does so in a manner that makes me want to grab hands with people I differ with on secondary issues and live out our common faith together, as brothers and sisters bonded together in Christ.

This book was challenging and encouraging and just a fun read. I recommend this to anyone with a love of the Gospel and an interest in Theology. I encourage you to read and re-read…as I will be doing.

I couldn’t figure out how to work this quote in to the review, but I loved it and just thought I would tag it on the end. Bird writes beautifully and God used him to lead me in worship throughout this book.

"The gospel declares the victory of the Lord Jesus over death by deposing death of its power (i.e., evil) through the cross and by robbing death of its prize (i.e., human lives) through the resurrection. As a famous Greek hymn says: “Christ has risen, trampling down death by death, and giving life to those in the grave.” Death, armed with evil and law, was no match for the Prince of Life. The gospel is not simply about how God deals with the individual’s personal sins, a transaction of sin and righteous ness to clean the slate; yes, that is true, but the gospel declares so much more, namely, God’s victory over the personal and impersonal forces of evil: the world, the flesh, and Satan. The gospel is an invitation to live in fellowship with Christ rather than to suffer under the tyranny of evil. The gospel means emancipation from the slavery of evil to the freedom of a new and authentic humanity. The gospel of Christ blesses us with the news that a world ravaged with evil is not how it ought to be, nor how it can be, nor how it will be. The gospel whispers to us that Jesus means freedom."


**I received a review copy of this book to provide an honest review. I purchased my own copy when it came out because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
( )
  joshrskinner | Jul 30, 2014 |
In Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction, author Michael F. Bird gives the church another single volume systematic theology, one explicitly rooted in the gospel. Bird describes the purpose of writing this book, saying "my goal has been to construct a theology of the gospel for people who identify themselves as gospel people, namely, the evangelical churches" (11). His desired broad evangelical audience is reflected in his own theological journey, as he calls himself an "ex-Baptist post-Presbyterian Anglican" (23).

**Structure**

Unlike most systematic theologies--which place discussions on eschatology near the end--Bird places this nearer the beginning of the book; a reader finds Part Three between the theologies of God (Part Two) and Jesus (Part Four). Bird lays out his reasoning for placing eschatology so early in the book, saying the theme of kingdom and redemption is central in understanding the Bible, and even understanding God and Christ Jesus. We understand history and how God works in it through the lens of eschatology: "the whole sweep of redemptive history is driven by the conception of God as both king and yet becoming king" (235). Essentially he is suggesting we keep the end in mind as we read; all other doctrines are rooted in the hope that God will redeem and restore all things.

In Section 3.1 Bird introduces the reader to the kingdom of God, noting both its importance and role in the gospel message. He highlights the already/not yet tension we find ourselves in today: "God is king and becoming king in the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ" (236). As Christians we find our hope in the victory of Christ over sin and death, a victory which will be consummated in the end. So we study eschatology so we can encourage the church, passing on this future redemptive hope to both the church and the world.

Section 3.2 discusses several eschatological views held by those throughout history. Bird notes the basic human struggle with Christ's coming kingdom: Jesus never set a timetable! Some have viewed Christ's promise to have failed because the kingdom didn't appear in his lifetime; others view Christ's kingdom as a reality today, but without the hope of future consummation. Bird, in turning to the New Testament, sees the kingdom of God as starting with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and the start of the church. In describing how the implementation of the kingdom is so transformative, Bird writes: "The final pages in a story of rebellion and death have been torn up and replaced with a different ending written by the Father, who is the author; Jesus is the protagonist, who saves his bride in the tale, and the Holy Spirit is the ink on the page. We read the story, and yet we are the story." (256)

After showing that the kingdom of God has a future reality, in Section 3.3 Bird turns his attention to the return of Christ (or parousia), which will "consummate what he began at his first coming" (258-259). He is correct in stating the Old Testament does not contribute much to the discussion of Christ's return; thanks to progressive revelation, the relevant passages are found in the New Testament. But Bird holds that not all the passages traditionally viewed as referring to the parousia--specifically those in the Gospels--are actually related to Christ's pending second coming. Instead, Bird argues that some passages--like the Olivet Discourse--are referring to the events surrounding the destruction of Herod's temple in 70 AD by the Romans. Since Jesus makes these prophecies, their fulfillment would prove Jesus was a real prophet; moreover, his followers--now gathered into the early church--would be the new temple of the Holy Spirit. Bird acknowledges this is a controversial view, and that it even might come across as preterist; fortunately, he does see sufficient evidence in both Christ's teachings and the rest of the New Testament for a second coming of Christ.

In Section 3.4 Bird deals with three different views of the millennium. First, however, he notes that debates on the millennium are of secondary importance and should not divide believers. Then he provides a concise, fair summary of the postmillennial, amillennial, and premillennial views. For each view Bird offers a helpful illustration diagramming the belief; he also quotes generously from proponents, allowing them to defend their views. But, based on his readings of the relevant passages, Bird explains that he rejects the first two views in favor of premillennialism.

In the second half of this section, Bird dives further into premillennialism so he can properly place the parousia: either before the tribulation (dispensational view) or after the tribulation (historic premillennial view). Again he provides a fair presentation of both views, quoting from proponents of each. In the end he defends the historic premillennial view. His handling of the rapture is brief, occupying a sidebar not even two pages long; he provides alternative interpretations for the relevant passages, and maintains a posttribulation return of Christ.

Section 3.5 looks at the final judgment of both believers and unbelievers. This final judgment is an "extension of the judgment of God executed at the cross" (301). It brings glory to God by showing the victory of Christ at the cross, and it provides consolation for suffering believers. Bird notes the modern theological trends to describe God's justice as restorative instead of retributive; he convincingly argues that both words are necessary in accurately describing God's justice (305). He ends this section by giving a (too) brief pastoral plea to the church: in light these future truths, Christians are to demonstrate justice by supporting the oppressed.

With Section 3.6 Bird continues into individual eschatology, describing what happens to humans between the physical death and judgment. He walks readers through all the various biblical terms for the intermediate state. Through all of this, he notes the inherent challenge in charting the details and nature of the intermediate state. He concludes by reinforcing the promise to believers: "Whatever life is ahead in the eschatological future, interim and final, it can only be a "life in Christ"" (325).

In the concluding section (Section 3.7), Bird provides a biblical description of heaven, hell, and new creation. He correctly distinguishes between heaven and the new creation. Heaven--the throneroom of God--he describes as a "glorious interlude, not the final destination" (328), whereas the new creation is when heaven comes down and the dwelling place of God is with man. The temple and garden imagery of the new creation is described in detail, showing how this future glory is the fulfillment of these important biblical themes. Hell is briefly mentioned, as Bird defends its everlasting nature against the view of Rob Bell.

**My Thoughts**

Michael Bird has written an accessible systematic theology that will be of great benefit to the local church. He writes in a conversational, easy to read tone, causing the reader to often forget he is reading a systematic theology! He is careful in using technical theological terms, even providing readers with a list of defined key terms pertaining to the discussion (257). Also aiding in the usefulness of this book is the continual gospel-driven applications scattered among the text; he writes as a scholar, but with a pastoral heart for encouraging the church and reaching the lost. As a bonus, he includes illustrations rooted in popular culture; I mean, how many systematic theologies include references to a zombie apocalypse (274) or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (310)?

I appreciate that Bird seemed to represent all opposing views fairly and accurately. I am especially encouraged by his statement about almost changing his view on the millennium while writing this book (280). To me, it means he came to research with an open mind, not seeking to support his personal view. It also shows that, while he would have preferred to move to the simpler amillennial view, his view of Scripture (namely Revelation 20) prevented him from doing so. That type of openness is rarely seen in scholastic writing.

While I agree with Bird as to the centrality of the kingdom in Christianity, it seemed out of place to debate the various views on the millennium, the intermediate state, and hell prior to studies on Christ, man, sin, and salvation. In other systematic theologies there is a logical progression: Trinity, Man, Sin, Salvation, Eschatology; this sequence mirrors redemptive history. In Evangelical Theology, readers have to deal with the consummation of the kingdom--and the victory of Christ--before dealing with the life and works of Christ. In a sense, the rule and reign of God is intimately connected to the gospel--a point Bird acknowledges (47)--so the kingdom discussion will move beyond Part Three and permeate all other topics. But the consummation of the kingdom, the final victory of God and the particulars of how that happens, is best left to a later position.

In Evangelical Theology, Michael Bird has offered the church a great tool for training gospel-centered theologians. This will likely become the first systematic theology book I refer to in my studies. I can see this being used by seminaries, pastors, and even small groups in the local church looking to root themselves in the truths of God. I thank God for this tool, and pray that he will use it to further his kingdom.

I received a complementary copy from the publisher through the Zondervan Koinonia blog, in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  njvroom | Dec 6, 2013 |
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Evangelical Theology is a systematic theology written from the perspective of a biblical scholar. Michael F. Bird contends that the center, unity, and boundary of the evangelical faith is the evangel (= gospel), as opposed to things like justification by faith or inerrancy. The evangel is the unifying thread in evangelical theology and the theological hermeneutic through which the various loci of theology need to be understood.   Using the gospel as a theological leitmotif--an approach to Christian doctrine that begins with the gospel and sees each loci through the lens of the gospel--this text presents an authentically evangelical theology, as opposed to an ordinary systematic theology written by an evangelical theologian.   According to the author, theology is the drama of gospelizing--performing and living out the gospel in the theatre of Christian life. The text features tables, sidebars, and questions for discussion. The end of every part includes a "What to Take Home" section that gives students a run-down on what they need to know. And since reading theology can often be dry and cerebral, the author applies his unique sense of humor in occasional "Comic Belief" sections so that students may enjoy their learning experience through some theological humor added for good measure.

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