This post is the fourth in a five-part review of Evangelical Theology by Michael Bird. I received a review copy in exchange for participating in a blog tour and offering a review here and at Amazon.
To be part of this blog tour for Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology, we had to tell which of the eight parts of the book we’d review. Because even for a free review copy no one wants to promise to read all 900 pages.
I picked the section on the Trinity because, well, because it’s a delightfully challenging subject. And because I’m the guy who once asked a small group, “So, who is your favorite person of the Trinity?”
Bird structures the whole book around the Gospel. For him, the Gospel, the evangel, is the center of an evangelical theology. One of his summary definitions is this:
The gospel is the announcement that God’s kingdom has come in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord and Messiah, in fulfillment of Israel’s Scriptures. The gospel evokes faith, repentance, and discipleship; its accompanying effects include salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit. (52)
In that summary, Bird alludes to the Trinity, but is focusing on the story. In Section Two of the book, he turns the focus around for a moment. Bird says, “The gospel is God revealing the mystery of himself to his people. In the gospel God himself draws the curtain back so we can see into the mysterious things for God: his person, perfections, power, and plan” (89). And then he discusses these four things in the six chapters in the section:
- God and the gospel
- Getting an affinity for the trinity
- What is God like
- The God who creates
- The God who reveals himself
- God’s purpose and plan.
Throughout these chapters, Bird shows the ubiquity of the Trinity. (Sorry. I had to mimic his wordplay.) He shows how all three persons are involved in creation, both the first creation and the second at the end of time. He shows how all three persons are involved in the process of self-revelation. (For theology people, Bird talks about natural revelation (nature), special revelation (Scripture) and Christological revelation, what he calls extra-extra special revelation. I’d heard of the first two; he make a compelling case for the third.) He distinguishes between God’s purpose and His plan for accomplish that purpose–and shows the work of all three persons in both.
In short, Bird works to make sure that the relationship that is God is clearly reported from Scripture, if not clearly understood. Because, as he says in a discussion questions at the end of the section,
“What do you think of Augustine’s statement that ‘whoever denies the Trinity is in danger of losing his salvation; whoever tries to understand the Trinity is in danger of losing his mind’?”