Last week when I came home from Virginia, I was greeted with several packages. One of them had arrived shortly before me (and hence had eluded our faithful mail gatherer) and was none other than Michael F. Bird’s anticipated Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction. As if I did not have enough systematics, now this one has been added to the mix. However, it has the distinction of being written by a NT scholar, and one with a sense of humor and scholarly-yet-playful writing style as well.
While this is a systematic theology (and so organized according to certain topics), it is also biblical (and so more interactive with the text of Scripture than with what other theologians have said), and more significantly it is evangelical (which Bird uses to mean “gospel-centered”). So, yes, it is another systematic theology (and published by Zondervan at that) but his aim is distinct from Horton, Bray, and Grudem, 1 in that he wants to write a systematic that is centered around the gospel (yet helpfully without all the buzzword type language).
As I was diving right into the book this past week, I decided to do a progressive review. Partially this is to allow me much more time to work through it. Also, it is because I really enjoy Bird’s writing and I think much of his material will be useful in the my current 11th grade Bible class. That being the case, consider this a brief introduction to an upcoming review series that will roughly follow this table of contents:
- Prolegomena: Beginning to Talk About God
- The God of The Gospel: The Triune God in Being and Action
- The Gospel of The Kingdom: The Now and The Not Yet
- The Gospel of God’s Son: The Lord Jesus Christ
- The Gospel of Salvation
- The Promise and Power of The Gospel: The Holy Spirit
- The Gospel and Humanity
- The Community of The Gospelized
No promises on how long it will take to go through this, or how frequently I’ll post. Each of these bullets is a section in Bird’s book, with subsections rather than chapters dividing up the material. Some sections have as few as 3 sub-sections, some as many as 7. I’ve already read the first section, so I might be able to give you that next week. Like I said though, no promises.
One thing to notice before my next post. Look at how the typical “-ologies” are oriented differently. The first section dives right into first issues, but Bird doesn’t let us get out of it without laying out the gospel (since it is the centering motif after all). Then, he deals theology proper, eschatology, and Christology in succession, before soteriology, pneumatology, and only then getting into anthropology. He finishes with ecclesiology, giving the book a practical flourish at the end.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this all unfolds, and if the first section is in indication, it should be a joy to read!
- You can read my review of Horton here. Bray is doing something similar to Bird, but is not attempting an evangelical theology. Also, Bray was so heavily biblical that he only footnotes Scripture references. Grudem is also a NT scholar writing a systematic, but he is doing so in a way that Bird actually criticizes. You’ll have to wait for my next post to see why ↩