Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBTJ 18:1 (Spring 2014) p. 167
Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction. By Michael F. Bird. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013, 912 pp., $49.99.
Writing a systematic theology has to be among the more difficult scholarly tasks. The breadth of disciplinary competence needed is staggering. Add to that, especially in the case of a single volume text, the need to condense, summarize, emphasize, and omit, and inevitably, the result is not only a text that is understandably not exhaustive, but one that reflects the strengths and weaknesses attending those authorial and editorial decisions. This is one of the reasons that I believe the writing of systematic theologies will and ought to continue. For my part, having the ability to consult multiple systematic theologies affords benefits on par with the ability to consult multiple commentaries.
There are some unique, though certainly lesser, challenges that attend the attempt to provide a succinct review of a systematic theology as substantial as Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology, which, lack of exhaustiveness aside, still weighs in at over 900 pages! Clearly, such a book is too lengthy to summarize in any detail. So, rather than trying to focus on everything in it, I want to: 1) give a brief bit of background on the author, 2) point out a few of his conclusions to give a flavor for where he comes down theologically, 3) and then interact with Bird’s primary premise for the book.
Bird is a lecturer in theology at Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry in Melbourne, Australia. He writes with great wit, often in a conversational tone that is easy to follow. His principal scholarly training has been in biblical studies, where he has already published several volumes. His application of redemptive history to the study of systematic theology is one Bird’s recurring strong suits. Additionally, in Evangelical Theology, Bird demonstrates a strong historical grasp that can at times be underemphasized in single-volume systematic texts. Bird opens the book with some comments concerning his theological and denominational pilgrimage, which has left him at the point of being a “Reformed type” attracted to the evangelical catholicity of the Anglican tradition (23-24). His self-proclaimed intent in
SBTJ 18:1 (Spring 2014) p. 168
this volume is to position his theology opposite the extreme left and right wings of the theological spectrum (22-23).
Noting the following features of Evangelical Theology will help to sharpen the reader’s grasp of Bird’s theological description. For starters, it is always encouraging to hear a biblical studies scholar say he believes that, with a sufficient self-criticalness, it is possi...
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