Dr. Michael Bird, Academic Dean at Ridley college in Australia, visited Denver Seminary on November 29, 2022. He gave a presentation entitled “Living as a Christian in a Secular Age.” He also recorded answers to questions from guests and to questions submitted by The Gospel Initiative. Dr. Bird is the author of thirty books, including “Religious Freedom in a Secular Age: A Christin Case for Liberty, Equality, and Secular Government” (Zondervan, 2022).
This event was co-sponsored by The Gospel Initiative and the Biblical Studies Division at Denver Seminary on November 29, 2022.
Video answers to Questions with
What are some of the cultural privileges that Christians in the United States enjoy, yet might need to give up, to protect their religious freedom?
What do you consider important for Christians to affirm about the rights of sexual and gender minorities, and what to you consider important for Christians to defend about the right to practice their faith? Can you offer examples of when these rights might come into conflict with each other, and how a Christian might navigate these value conflicts?
If a Christian’s refusal of service to an LGBTQI+ person on religious grounds caused a low degree of detriment, does this exercise of religious liberty advance the gospel? What principles might a Christian need to think through in considering how to leverage their religious liberties for advancing the gospel?
If a Christian can legally discriminate against someone, such as a sexual minority, does this practice advance the gospel?
What does a Christian response look like in cases where enacted legislation is used to curtail religious liberties?
How would you describe ‘nationalistic civil religion’ and why do so many fail to distinguish this from Christianity?
You distinguish between benign secularism and militant secularism. Can you explain these distinctions and why they are so important for a faithful Christian to understand?
You write that religion is “supremely useful in preventing people from investing politics with the entirety of their moral energies.” In what ways can you foresee Christians working together with those of other faiths to ensure that government secularism does not become an absolute cultural value?
Is freedom of religion something for Christians to pursue only on missional grounds? In other words, is the main reason to pursue religious freedom to keep Christians legally free to proclaim the gospel and to practice it? If not, what is wrong with this thinking?
How does secularism, properly understood, guard against a government tendency toward “civic totalism?”
How should Christians go about asserting the goodness of secularism when so many Christians understand secularism to be unbiblical and the enemy of the gospel?
You suggest that on the political spectrum of western democracies where the poles are “civil religion” and “civic totalism,” the ideal middle is “confident pluralism.” How might Christians be a blessing as civil servants by advocating for “confident pluralism?”
How can Christians both advance the gospel and help society by advocating for freedom of all religions, not just Christianity?
You mention that “good apologetics requires an account of why religion is good for the world.” What is a winsome way to articulate this, while remaining honest about realities such as Christians who attack abortion facilities, church sex abuse scandals, sexual minority discrimination and hate crimes committed by Christians?