Michael Bird may not know it, but he’s hit a bit too close to the truth for a lot of us former Southern Baptists:
Instead of thinking of “conservative” evangelicalism as defined objectively by holding to the historical faith of the church defined by the creeds and confessions, I think some bastions of American evangelicalism define “conservatism” comparatively by a relative position to everyone else on the map. So when certain people or groups edge to the right to claim the label, “I’m more conservative than thou,” then every else responds by leap frogging over them in a race to the right. You end up with a denomination or seminary becoming far right just because they don’t want to be the least conservative group on the block. It also means you can end up being called a liberal just by standing still and refusing to follow the rightward drift.
Of course, those who just stood still may then be tempted to do the same leapfrogging dance in a leftward direction, just to prove they’re not like those other blighters. But that’s a topic for a different post.