Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction  -     By: Michael F. Bird
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Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction

Zondervan / 2013 / Hardcover

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Biblical scholar Michael F. Bird contends that the center, unity, and boundary of the evangelical faith is the evangel, that is, the gospel, as opposed to a particular doctrine 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 the foundation, this text presents an authentically evangelical theology, as opposed to an ordinary systematic theology written by an evangelical theologian. The gospel holds together doctrine, experience, mission, and practice. Some systematic theologies lean so heavily toward a discussion of historical theologians that the Bible is barely mentioned while others so ignore the historical development of the Christian faith that the theology is only a collection of proof texts. Bird attempts to bridge the gap and avoid each extreme as he pulls together the canonical and the creedal.

According to the author, theology is the act of making the gospel shape one's thinking, praying, teaching, and every other aspect of life. Evangelical Theology 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.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 912
Vendor: Zondervan
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 1.10 X 6.10 X 11.10 (inches)
ISBN: 0310494419
ISBN-13: 9780310494416
Availability: In Stock

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Author Bio

Michael F. Bird (PhD, University of Queensland) is lecturer in theology at Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission, The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies on Paul, Justification, and the New Perspective, Evangelical Theology, Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts: A moderate Case for Gender Equality in Ministry and editor of The Apostle Paul: Four Views.   He is also a co-blogger of the New Testament blog "Euangelion."

Endorsements

It is rare for a biblical scholar to produce a systematic theology of the breadth and depth of this book. Robustly biblical, doxological, and woven through the breadth of the evangelical ecclesial traditions, this theology takes no shortcuts in offering an evangelical theology that has everything to do with the gospel.
-Jason S. Sexton,
USC's Center for Religion & Civic Culture

Unique among the current crop of one-volume systematic theologies. While championing the expositional realities of the biblical text, Bird also keeps a keen eye toward the creedal inheritance of the church and the contributions of the theological tradition. Broadly Reformed and self-consciously evangelical, BirdÂ’s accessible and conversational style will be sure to win him a wide reading among students, pastors, and teachers.
-Michael D. Williams,
Covenant Theological Seminary

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  1. California
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    A great tool for evangelical churches
    November 13, 2013
    Dr Nicholson
    California
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute (www.desertbibleinstitute.com).

    Michael Bird has endeavored to (and has been successful in) create a unique system of theology that is highly applicable to his specific audience in his newest book Evangelical Theology. Dr. Bird received his PhD from the University of Queensland and is a theology lecturer at Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission and The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies on Paul, Justification, and the New Perspective.

    It ought to be noticed, before we as reviewers go too far afield, that Bird wrote this book for the benefit of a specific audience. The intended student or pastor using this text was meant to be from the evangelical churches that embrace the general patterns of belief and practice of the cardinal points of evangelicalism. Bird refers to the examples given by Alister McGrath as the basis for this premise:

    -The supreme authority of Scripture in leading a Christian Life

    -Jesus Christ as incarnate God and the Savior of humanity

    -Lordship of the Holy Spirit in a Christian's life

    -A need for personal conversion

    With these points of interest, audience, and delimitations Bird has developed a well formulated treatise. What he sets out to do, and accomplishes, is to strike a balance between biblical exposition and the on-going theological debates on Christian-living and application. In a genre filled with topical or author based analyses and highly specialized exegetical writing, Bird finds a happy middle. Now I am uncertain if he has truly written a work that is totally accessible to the layman unless his definition is limited to college (if not graduate) level readers . He does indeed breakdown his ideas very clearly and in a logical manner, but the language and structure of the book is far more oriented towards an academic reader.

    What I perhaps appreciated the most is how Bird attempted to be the middleman to the growing population of evangelical churches who embrace the worldly views to such an extent that they actually bend scripture around the values non-Christians already have. One such position is the "come as you are" motif that has become popular especially through some branches of emergent or hipster churches which sometimes take the grace of God and turn it into an excuse to live life however they prefer giving more glory to themselves than to God. While it seems unlikely that he will bring such churches to a fundamentalist viewpoint, he has given them some solid ground with which to make biblical decisions.

    For those of his readers who which to delve further into the topics he is delineating, Bird has provided copious footnotes to both explain challenging concepts and to offer other avenues of knowledge. In addition to this, Bird has offered some top-shelf works as further readings to many of the major sections of his book. In his attempt to strike a median between academic and mainstream, Bird has fallen heavily on the academic side. He has presented it however in a fashion that will stretch (but not break) the enthusiastic, well-educated lay-reader.

    Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.

    Desert Bible Institute, President

    Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert Bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson's blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.

    The book for this review was provided free of charge by Zondervan Academic through NetGalley.com. This book was provided without the expectation or requirement of a positive response. Thank you to both the publisher and NetGalley.com for the opportunity to both read your advanced copy and to provide this unpaid evaluation. All opinions in this review reflect the views of the author and not DBI, NetGalley.com, or the publisher.
  2. Upstate NY
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A New Evangelical Theolgoy
    September 4, 2013
    Floyd Johnson
    Upstate NY
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Michael F. Bird's Evangelical Theology is a readable yet scholarly examination of the theology that has defines the church. His thesis is that good theology will have its "content, structure, and substance singularly determined by the" Gospel. Rather than being a Reformed, Baptist, or Wesleyan commentary, the author has attempted "to construct a theology of the gospel for people who identify themselves as gospel people, namely, the evangelical churches."

    The text is grounded in scripture yet attempts to avoid some of the theological pitfalls that have tended to divide the church. For example, given that "sanctification" has multiple meanings within the church, Bird has chosen to focus on the "transformation" of believers. He does not avoid discussing "santification", providing a discussion of its multiple uses within the church, he prefers the term "transformation" to "encompass the aspects of regeneration (the impartation of spiritual life), sanctification (positional and effectual holiness) and the stages of glorification (conformity to the pattern of Christ)."

    Though not included in the pre-release copy of the book provided to me, the finished book is scheduled to include a Scripture Index, a Subject Index, and an Author Index. Because these tools are not available, this review cannot speak to their effectiveness in the final version of the book.

    The book is accessible to the student, the scholar, and the knowledgeable layperson. Used along side a good Bible translation, the book will provide a solid foundation in the theology of the Evangelical Church. I will hope to add a copy of this work to my library when it is released later this year.

    ______________

    This review is based on a free electronic copy of this book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
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