Thursday, April 15, 2010

This time ... I mean it!

Okay folks. As a Reformed Evangelical I am naturally concerned about the state of the Reformed Evangelical church all over the world. But lately I have spent too much time offering my commentary on debates in conservative circles in the USA. I've tried to be a peace maker and a defender of those who are in my opinion wrongly criticized over secondary issues. But truth be told, it is bringing out the worst side of my personality when I'm in defensive mode and I find myself engaging too polemically when it is me or my friends who are the subject of discussion. I want to be known for what I'm for, not who I am against. Moreover, I'm also outside of the American context which could mean on the one hand that I approach these issues with fresh insight, though it could also mean on the other hand that I have an ignorance of the dynamics and culture of these people and places. In addition, I'm probably not achieving much. People who were already evangelically broad will like my evangelical breadth, while for those who are more conservative my posts only succeeded in keeping their disgust fresh. But there's no point preaching to the choir or kicking the goads. So thanks for the emails encouraging me to stand up for a moderate and catholic evangelical position. Sorry for the offense I've caused to anyone else. I shall refrain from all future commentary and remarks about the situation in the conservative reformed churches of the USA. Save this last one, go and read Gal. 6.15, "But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another" (ESV). I'd like to formally apply for associate membership in the EPC and AMiA if they'll have me. From now on I'm sticking to biblical studies, theology, and the life of the pan-evangelical Christian churches. And this time I mean it!


Dunc and Als said...

Dear Michael,

It's good to see you applying your friend's recommendation to read Proverbs 26:17.

While you have immense talent and a phenomenal mind (combined with a warped sense of humour ... which partly explains our friendship!) it is also good to recognise your limitations and your fallenness.

May a renewed focus on areas closer to home be a blessing to you as you seek to encourage and challenge Christians whom you have closer contact and a more intimate understanding of their issues.

I know your desire for the broader evangelical community and I think you have normally written very well and graciously but your self-imposed break appears a wise decision.

I look forward to seeing you back in Aus before too long.

In The Son,


Matt said...


can I just say that I have enjoyed your posts. It's been refreshing to find a scholar who speaks his mind a little (or a lot!) more directly. I think your comments have reflected well how frustrating the Reformed/evangelical scene can be.

In my opinion, we need more scholars who'll shoot straight from the hip when it comes to the bitter infighting and name calling that goes on.

My take on your comments:
"Some persons are likeable in spite of their unswerving integrity" - Don Marquis.


G. Kyle Essary said...

And I thought you were a Baptist?

William said...

Dear Professor Bird

I have read your blog with great profit up to now but I have to confess this last post just reads a bit like: it's my ball and I can take it home if I want to!

Isn't there a lack of perspective here - this is JUST A BLOG after all! Don't take yourself so seriously or your critics so seriously. Why do we think we're achieving much by blogging at the best of times never mind in our polemical moments?


William James.

Craig said...

As someone who is an American evangelical Christian of Reformed persuasion, I love this blog. I applaud your willingness to speak your mind (and I have not found the tone to be bitter or vindictive, but forthright). Of course, I also very much appreciate your work in biblical studies; that's how I originally discovered this blog, and I won't be disappointed if that is your focus.

But I do want to say thanks for having a go at a difficult balance: Speaking the truth that needs to be heard while at the same time working for peace among God's people. You maintain that balance very well (your book on righteousness in Paul is a prime example), and for that all your readers should be grateful.

Craig Higgins

Bruce J. Russell, Sr. said...

Personally, I'd like to know you warts and all...wait, are those beauty marks?

Mr. Brown said...

Doesn't this mean bin Laden wins?!

Mich said...

I think your comments have been spot on and irenic. The Evangelical right wing in the US has way to much invested politically to view your comments and those of the OT scholars mentioned in any open dialog. By scripture alone for them has come to mean By scripture alone as We interpret it. Period.

DeeCee said...

Dear Michael,

I also need to add to the chorus urging you to keep saying what you're saying. I'm also a Reformed Evangelical in the US who often feels alone as someone of Reformed evangelical persuasion who is also trying to "reform fundamentalism" and continue toward forms of these expressions that are simultaneously catholic, irenic, prophetic, and doctrinally sound. You are in a unique place as an insider-outsider of the American Reformed polemics and we need voices of disinterested but impassioned reason like yours.

Your defense of InterVarsity and N.T. Wright several months ago was much needed, just as your defense of Enns and Waltke is (while you didn't shirk from saying you might disagree with some things, too).

The fundamentalist resurgence may not be worth dealing with beyond a certain point (I wonder how much Scot McKnight is still willing to deal with).

I think you need to add the Christian Reformed Church to your list if you're going to put the EPC on there, though!

Calvin Chen

Ryan Hamilton said...

I agree with what everybody else has said. Your commentary on certain streams of American Reformed Christianity has been spot on--dare I say prophetic. You aren't ignorant of the situation. You've analized it better than the American evangelicals have--I would know, I'm one of them. So if you ever decied to recant this blog post (and I hope you do), I won't hold it agaist you. But regardless, I enjoy your blogging. Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

The principle issue in the debate was not theistic evolution. The sacred, inviolable principle was the intent of the apostles and prophets. I might have overlooked it, but I have not seen you make a distinction between Drs. Enns and Walke, with refernce to their positions in this dialogue, knowing that the latter does not ascribe to the hermeneutics of the former.

You have painted an unfair picture, I think. I was surprised at that.

Southern Baptists, during the late 80's, had to confront this issue in the ecclesial-academic context. Presbyterians, since Warfield, Machen, and Van Til, have been holding the conversation about inerrancy. Some of the most influential American Christian institutions (Wheaton, Gordon Conwell, Southern Baptist Sem.) think inerrancy (or something like it) is important for their faculty.

Theistic Evolution, again, is not the issue. The issue is the overruling of authorial intent.

pdj06 said...

As a non-Reformed Christian from the US (I am a Wesleyan) I applaud your comments about Waltke, Longman and theistic evolution--except that I do not agree that it is an exclusively "Reformed" problem. We American evangelicals (of all denominational stripes) behave like spoiled children when it comes to Creation/evolution issues, and it doesn't harm us to be scolded from time to time by you guys on the other side of the pond.

Tim Ricci said...


We in the EPC would love to have you!!!