Dr. Michael Bird is no stranger to regular readers of Kingdom People. I’ve interviewed him twice (once about Jesus’ messianic self-awareness and once about Paul and his theology). Mike has a terrific sense of humor to match his theological credentials (see the YouTube videos below), so I was glad to get his take on the meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society last month.
Trevin Wax: What was the funniest moment of the week for you?
Mike Bird: I saw a guy at the ETS book stall wearing a T-Shirt saying, “Jacob Arminius is my Homeboy”. I offered him $1 to go over to the Crossway bookstall and do a crazy little dance on top of one of the tables while pointing to his T-Shirt. He declined the offer.
Trevin Wax: Most surprising moment of the week?
Mike Bird: Tom Wright saying that “on the basis of works” is meant in an evidential sense of “according to works”. I have long suspected that this is what Wright has always meant, but many of us (including myself) often grind our teeth in frustration when he refers repeatedly throughout his books to “justification on the basis of a life lived”. I think what Wright said went a long way towards assuaging some of his critics.
Trevin Wax: Most theologically satisfying moment of the week?
Mike Bird: At IBR (not ETS) the historical Jesus sessions with Bock and Webb were very good. There is still life and energy in historical Jesus studies yet.
Trevin Wax: What was your overall impression on how the Wright-Thielman-Schreiner debate and discussion took place?
Mike Bird: It was great. Some key differences remain, but I thought it was a good exchange that brought clarity to the positions and showed that these guys are fairly close on most issues. The highlight of course was Schreiner saying that Wright was like a rocket leading us up into the stratosphere, we just want to change his trajectory a tad.
Trevin Wax: Has progress been made in our understanding of justification?
Mike Bird: I don’t know if I’d use the word “progress”. There wasn’t a lot of new stuff that I haven’t heard before. What I took out of it was the gracious and conciliatory nature of the discussion. I like all three authors and genuinely learnt from what each one had to say.