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What is the Theological Sausage Maker 3000? Michael Bird Explains

Categories Theology


Does the name Ron Popeil mean anything to you? How about the Veg-o-Matic or the Chop-o-Matic? The Pocket Fisherman anyone? Popeil is an American inventor and marketing personality best known for his appearances in infomercials selling handy home contraptions. While it wasn't part of his gadgetry line-up, the Theological Sausage Maker 3000 should have been.

Surely you've head of the Theological Sausage Maker 3000 before. Michael Bird introduces us to this gadget that's often used by evangelicals in his new Evangelical Theology book. As Bird explains in the video below, "Theological Sausage Maker 3000 is the default setting that many evangelicals have for doing theology," which as he says in the book "amounts to a type of naive biblicism." (77)

According to Bird Theological Sausage Maker 3000 works thusly: "You take the Bible; you stick it into this theological sausage maker; you grind it all up, all the narratives and the law codes and prophecy and apocalypse; and out magically comes propositions for us to believe."

Bird insists that there are a number of problems with the Theological Sausage Maker 3000:

  1. You can't do theology as if all you need is a Bible and a concordance
  2. You can't do theology as if church history is something that happened to other people
  3. You can't do theology just to get propositions to believe

Simply accumulating head knowledge by combining the NIV and a concordance is not enough, Bird says. "We need to be transformed by the gospel so that we can be agents of transformation in the world around us."

Unfortunately the Theological Sausage Maker 3000 doesn't quite have the "But wait, there's more!" cache of Popeil. Because as Bird notes, in the end this method "[does] Scripture a disservice if we attend only to it. It is Scripture understood in light of the regula fidei that will enable us to bring together the Christian canon and the Christian community in fruitful exchange." (80)

Watch Bird explain his concerns with the Theological Sausage Maker 3000 and then consider how you yourself do theology.

(Can't see the video? Watch it here)

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