Tuesday Review: Birds of the Air

In Birds of the Air, Mike Bull puts all of his familiarity with the Bible to show in a single book. This book is primarily inspired by both Jesus and Solomon. In their time, they made pithy statements that challenged, confronted, and comforted their hearers. The back tells us that “Those who indulge in murder and adultery are often the first to insist upon table manners, which is why God sends a Jeremiah to smash the pottery or an Isaiah to preach naked in the street.” These tweets are created in the same vein: to challenge and confront opponents of today’s church in digestible chunks.

The book is a collection of “tweets”, or theological tidbits all in bits under 140 characters each. Each chapter contains around 200 tweets. These tweets are understandable on their own, with no prior knowledge of Bull’s previous works in the Bible Matrix trilogy. A few tweets may not make sense entirely, but these are few and far between. In this sense, this is an easy way to get acquainted with Bull’s thinking.

“Based on Hebrews 6:1-3, I’d say we are still in the early Church. We don’t even have the basics down yet.”

The book is chock-full with Bull’s theology of the Bible, theological furniture, and typology. Every once in a while, you hear James Jordan poke out in a text. Bull’s working familiarity with the Bible and great theologians like Leithart and Jordan shines here. Those who cannot describe succinctly probably do not understand the topic they’re discussing. If this is the case, Bull’s succinctness shows us just how well he does understand the topic at hand.

The book lends itself to be re-read for a few different reasons. The Proverbs are easily understood on their own, but they invite further reflection in light of the canon. Each tweet, being understandable on its own, invites further reflection. Some tweets may only inspire a bit more thought, but some tweets may be easily expanded into their own chapters or books.

“The e in eBook does not stand for elegant.”

This book is also worth re-reading for those acquainted with, or who wish to be acquainted with, Bull’s other works. Readers of the Bible Matrix should notice that his chapters are divided into the seven-fold structure (creation/division/ascension/testing/maturity/conquest/glorification) developed in the first book. Careful readers can connect dots easily between the tweet and the broader theme (discussions on evolution in chapter one, discussions on Jesus’ debate with the Jews in chapter 5). Some are not as easy to connect as others, inviting readers to come back and re-wrestle with the thoughts therein.

As I’ve said before, this book is designed to challenge and confront. These challenges are issued on the ways we think about liberalism, Islam, feminism, social justice, paedobaptism, and more. In general, polemics can sound like nails on a chalkboard, attacking others for the sake of attacking others. Thankfully, the whole of the book is open to the grace of God for anybody to change. And the broad range of people taking the brunt of these jokes makes it feel like less of an attack and more of a challenge, with the hope of changing minds.

“If the Psalms feel out of place in your worship service, imagine how Jesus feels.”

All in all, Bull’s Birds of the Air is a fun read for the first time. At the end of the first reading, though, the book invites us come to back and read it yet again, just as the Bible does.

I received a copy from Mike, but my review is my own. I was not given the copy for the sake of a good review. You can buy the book on Amazon, but also check out the Bible Matrix website. You may be surprised who you find there.

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