1 What’s the origin of the phrase, "Let the Bird Fly," and simply stated, what does it mean?

The phrase is taken from a few places. Gerhard Forde uses it in one of his essays, and the imagery also shows up in an early Lutheran hymn and Psalm 124. The basic idea is that we let the Spirit do the Spirit’s thing. We are thankful that we have been set free through the gospel and that the Spirit works through that same gospel for others. “Let the Bird Fly” is an expression of confidence in the power of absolution and God’s love for humanity in and through Christ. It is also a reminder that the same God is at work in a first article way through us for our neighbor. It has both a first article (vocational) and a second article (saving) sense.

“Let the Bird Fly” is an expression of confidence in the power of absolution and God’s love for humanity in and through Christ.

2. What initially prompted you to write this book? What type of person are you hoping to reach with this book?

The book came out of building a new course for the college students I teach. My initial audience was my students, but I also wrote it with a more general audience in mind. I hope it has something to say for both Christians and non-Christians. I hope it helps provide Christians with some lenses for understanding life in a world given back to them. And for non-Christians, I hope that the book gives them a better understanding of what Christianity really is at its core (Christ-centered), and how Christians strive to live and love in this life.

3. In the introduction, you talk about how the Christian is an optimist. How is the optimism of a Christian different than the optimism of a non-christian?

The optimism of a Christian extends beyond the deathbed and has its origin in a historical event without historical boundaries. The Christian sees more at play in daily events, in his or her vocations, and in his or her neighbors. The Christian is not merely optimistic about what might happen, but about what has happened and what certainly will happen because of Christ.

4. You also mention that the Christian needs, “not only to understand what law and gospel are but also to have law and gospel done to them.” Can you elaborate on the difference?

The Christian faith is more than intellectual knowledge. Law and gospel are experienced. Law and gospel do things. Paul told us faith comes from hearing. God is at work on and in us through the preached word. Christians don’t just believe things. The faith in which Christians believe does things in and through them.

5. In your chapter titled, “Stepping Outside the Fortress,” you point out that we live in a very polarized world, country, and community. What words of encouragement does your book have to the person who feels hopeless in this current climate?

Christ is still crucified and risen. Times change, technology changes, ideologies change, but Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We often complicate things more than we ought. We have God and our neighbor, and both of them through and in Christ. The Christian faith is no less tenable today than in the past, either. The message of the gospel has no expiration date. Whether people realize it or not, the death and resurrection of Christ are still game-changers. That being said, we do well to grow in our ability to defend and share what we believe in language our neighbors can understand. This includes listening in order to realize where they are coming from and how their stories intersect with the story of our Savior.

6. Is there any advice or thoughts you would share with the reader as they approach this book?

I simply hope they give it a fair hearing and find something in it of value. I’ve tried to write it in an accessible way, and I pray that it will resonate.

The optimism of a Christian extends beyond the deathbed and has its origin in a historical event without historical boundaries.

“Let the Bird Fly” is written by Wade Johnston (1517 Publishing, 2019), and now available for preorder.