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Finding the Right Hills to Die on: The Case for Theological Triage

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In theology, just as in battle, some hills are worth dying on. But how do we know which ones? When should doctrine divide, and when should unity prevail? Pastor Gavin Ortlund makes the case that while all doctrines matter, some are more essential than others. He considers how and what to prioritize in doctrine and ministry, encouraging humility and grace along the way. Usi In theology, just as in battle, some hills are worth dying on. But how do we know which ones? When should doctrine divide, and when should unity prevail? Pastor Gavin Ortlund makes the case that while all doctrines matter, some are more essential than others. He considers how and what to prioritize in doctrine and ministry, encouraging humility and grace along the way. Using four basic categories of doctrine in order of importance, this book helps new and seasoned church leaders alike wisely labor both to uphold doctrine and to preserve unity.


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In theology, just as in battle, some hills are worth dying on. But how do we know which ones? When should doctrine divide, and when should unity prevail? Pastor Gavin Ortlund makes the case that while all doctrines matter, some are more essential than others. He considers how and what to prioritize in doctrine and ministry, encouraging humility and grace along the way. Usi In theology, just as in battle, some hills are worth dying on. But how do we know which ones? When should doctrine divide, and when should unity prevail? Pastor Gavin Ortlund makes the case that while all doctrines matter, some are more essential than others. He considers how and what to prioritize in doctrine and ministry, encouraging humility and grace along the way. Using four basic categories of doctrine in order of importance, this book helps new and seasoned church leaders alike wisely labor both to uphold doctrine and to preserve unity.

30 review for Finding the Right Hills to Die on: The Case for Theological Triage

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    The Ortlund boys keep delivering this year! I loved this book. Every seminarian and church-leadership team should read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jared Wilson

    Was able to read a pre-release copy of this in view of providing an endorsement, which I was glad to do. Here's my blurb: "To put it simply: this is an important book. With an historian’s insight, a theologian’s precision, and a pastor’s wisdom, Gavin Ortlund has given the church an invaluable handbook for navigating our ongoing doctrinal challenges and for healing our ongoing doctrinal divisions." Was able to read a pre-release copy of this in view of providing an endorsement, which I was glad to do. Here's my blurb: "To put it simply: this is an important book. With an historian’s insight, a theologian’s precision, and a pastor’s wisdom, Gavin Ortlund has given the church an invaluable handbook for navigating our ongoing doctrinal challenges and for healing our ongoing doctrinal divisions."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brice Karickhoff

    Remarkable read on such an important topic! Thx for the find @EanSnell!! This book is essentially about how Christians ought to disagree on theology. It provides a solid critique of doctrinal sectarianism (arguing and dividing over every issue) and doctrinal minimalism (neglecting theology and discernment in the interest of keeping the peace). It then provides an explanation of several tiers of doctrines that each should be handled in a different way. This book is written with such humility, whi Remarkable read on such an important topic! Thx for the find @EanSnell!! This book is essentially about how Christians ought to disagree on theology. It provides a solid critique of doctrinal sectarianism (arguing and dividing over every issue) and doctrinal minimalism (neglecting theology and discernment in the interest of keeping the peace). It then provides an explanation of several tiers of doctrines that each should be handled in a different way. This book is written with such humility, which is crucial, because the primary call of the book is for the reader to adopt an attitude of humility. This is way up there on my list of books that Christians should read. Especially young adult Christians who are in a unique stage of theological development. I didn’t agree with Ortlund on everything he said, but the beauty is that I don’t have to! When I did disagree with Ortlund, the disagreement had a tinge of love and constructivity, which testifies to how impactful the book was even as I read it! If you do happen to read this book, please tell me your thoughts. Great book to read, even better book to talk about.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Kassing

    This is the best book I've read on how to navigate doctrinal differences. I couldn't recommend it highly enough. This is the best book I've read on how to navigate doctrinal differences. I couldn't recommend it highly enough.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jon Pentecost

    Important, accessible work on a crucial tool for pastoral ministry (and just being able to live with other Christians in unity without requiring uniformity). Part 2 is the meat of the book. Discussion on first and second rank issues was careful, clear, and charitable. Discussion on third rank issues felt (perhaps appropriately) rushed and less developed. The gist that that chapter left was 'if you disagree on these kinds of issues, don't talk about it' which is not what Ortlund would actually say Important, accessible work on a crucial tool for pastoral ministry (and just being able to live with other Christians in unity without requiring uniformity). Part 2 is the meat of the book. Discussion on first and second rank issues was careful, clear, and charitable. Discussion on third rank issues felt (perhaps appropriately) rushed and less developed. The gist that that chapter left was 'if you disagree on these kinds of issues, don't talk about it' which is not what Ortlund would actually say. Good work in helping Christians understand how to believe robustly without wrongly judging fellow believers. Sits in the same category as Naselli and Crowely's Conscience in terms of a short book about an important and (nowadays) sorely underdeveloped tool.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Manchester

    This is both the type of book I yearned for years ago and the type I was worried about being written today. SUMMARY This book is about theological triage, organizing our beliefs and responses to beliefs in a (mostly) four-tier system: primary issues, secondary issues, tertiary issues, and things that aren't issues at all. However, don't miss the subtitle: a case for theological triage. I will get to this more later. THE GOOD There's a lot to like about this book. It strikes a beautiful tone i This is both the type of book I yearned for years ago and the type I was worried about being written today. SUMMARY This book is about theological triage, organizing our beliefs and responses to beliefs in a (mostly) four-tier system: primary issues, secondary issues, tertiary issues, and things that aren't issues at all. However, don't miss the subtitle: a case for theological triage. I will get to this more later. THE GOOD There's a lot to like about this book. It strikes a beautiful tone in balancing the importance of all doctrines (particularly those of a secondary nature) and the need for the church to be unified and loving with each other, despite our views. In fact, I would say most of this book is devoted to secondary (maybe even tertiary) issues such as baptism, preterism, evolution, young earth vs old earth, and complementarianism vs egalitarism. This is the book I've been wanting for years on how to respectfully disagree with someone yet tier categories that would lead to more unity rather than division. THE CHALLENGES This part is really hard for me and is why I struggled writing this review. I don't want to critique a book for issues it wasn't written for. However, that is the source of my problem: this book is missing a sequel on works triage. One of the things that make me say that is that this book is missing anything related on beliefs on racism and misogyny. When reading it, especially during what is happening right now in our country (Spring 2020), these subjects are huge holes in the book, and not just as examples. These issues bring up the practical living side that theology alone doesn't address. Note: I understand that books are written before events but both racism and misogyny have been clearly and publicly shown and talked about for years now. I believe this is a fair criticism. Example: What do we do with a brother in Christ who says "I'm not a racist" and can quote random doctrines of creation and equal worth, yet say other clearly racist things and participates in actions that are racist? Is that a primary issue? Is that a secondary issue? Should I be in close friendships with people who commit racist actions and say racist words but state they have the right belief structure? How do I navigate those waters? This is easily the biggest issue I had with the book. It comes off partly tone-deaf and too simplistic. CONCLUSION I love the author's purpose in this. I want to see the church more unified as well. I enjoyed the attention and focus the author handles secondary issues. I was reminded that, while they are not primary issues, they are still very important. This is a book I would hand every new semanarian in their first class. Maybe I'm holding a book to a standard the author wasn't focusing on reaching, but I need a sequel to this book about when issues and categories aren't as clean-cut and easily defined. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    THIS. BOOK. Wow. The most necessary read for anyone engaging in theological discussions of any degree. I would even go so far as to say that it could be helpful for even engaging well in discussions OUTside the theological realm. It’s last chapter really took us home with the main point of the whole book: Humility. Talking about how humility is the most crucial, important & needed piece of engaging in any type of topic, so as to make it a dialogue as opposed to a debate. I’m just gonna start sli THIS. BOOK. Wow. The most necessary read for anyone engaging in theological discussions of any degree. I would even go so far as to say that it could be helpful for even engaging well in discussions OUTside the theological realm. It’s last chapter really took us home with the main point of the whole book: Humility. Talking about how humility is the most crucial, important & needed piece of engaging in any type of topic, so as to make it a dialogue as opposed to a debate. I’m just gonna start sliding this underneath the metaphorical door of everyone’s houses that I know. So good.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Harris

    Does it matter what we believe about the Trinity? Does it matter how we articulate the Gospel? Does it matter how a church practices Baptism? Does it matter what we believe about the tribulation? Does it matter how we define the Nephilim?... And are these questions of the same importance? Ortlund explorers and clarifies the subject of this last question, as he encourages us to find the right theological hills to die on.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David J. Harris

    Required reading for all serious Christians who care about learning and communicating theologically. Most excellent.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fredy Orozco

    A quick and easy read on an incredibly important topic. Disagreements are inevitable when it comes to doctrine. How we dialogue, the distinctions we make, and the theological frameworks we hold all play a role in this. Ortlund reminds Xians that we ought to all be honest and humble, as we hold to our convictions, but seek to build up the unity of the church!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Todd Miles

    This is a hugely important book. Theological triage is absolutely necessary in the church, especially in our age of outrage. Ortlund's call for unity in the last part of the book is vital for the health of Christ's people. Ortlund presents a three level taxonomy - primary doctrines, secondary doctrines, and tertiary doctrines. In class, using the taxonomy my received from Gerry Breshears, I present a four-level taxonomy: Doctrines to die for, doctrines to divide for, doctrines to debate for, and This is a hugely important book. Theological triage is absolutely necessary in the church, especially in our age of outrage. Ortlund's call for unity in the last part of the book is vital for the health of Christ's people. Ortlund presents a three level taxonomy - primary doctrines, secondary doctrines, and tertiary doctrines. In class, using the taxonomy my received from Gerry Breshears, I present a four-level taxonomy: Doctrines to die for, doctrines to divide for, doctrines to debate for, and doctrines to decide for. The significant difference is that I divide Ortlund's tertiary doctrines into two categories: Those worth debating in the context of one local church, maybe even with passion but never divisively, and those not even worth arguing about - you just decide; I don't care. I am looking forward to talking with the author, Gavin Ortlund, on our Podcast, Food Trucks in Babylon.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christian Barrett

    In this short book Gavin Ortlund calls out two types of people. Those who have no hills to die on and those who die on every hill possible. Through this book he briefly walks through primary, secondary, and tertiary issues and how to navigate each one. Why he does give examples of each, his work with them is not exhaustive. The book concludes with a call to theological humility. This book was a helpful reminder about keeping the main thing the main thing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wes Van Fleet

    This book may be one of the most important books written for the church as it traverses the choppy waters of conflict. Ortlund teaches about the importance of unity and love in the midst of theological distinctions and disagreements. Not only was a audibly saying “Amen” while reading, I ended up ordering the book for all our elders and leaders in the church. If people, myself included, were able to apply half of this book, the church may just become that visible apologetic of the gospel that Jes This book may be one of the most important books written for the church as it traverses the choppy waters of conflict. Ortlund teaches about the importance of unity and love in the midst of theological distinctions and disagreements. Not only was a audibly saying “Amen” while reading, I ended up ordering the book for all our elders and leaders in the church. If people, myself included, were able to apply half of this book, the church may just become that visible apologetic of the gospel that Jesus taught in John 13:34-35. The book is not just important, but is clearly written, hopeful, and has a host of useful tools throughout.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Shirkman

    This book is helpful, humbly written, historically engaging, and practically lays out steps for dealing with theological differences within the church. Above all else: practice theology humbly. Ortlund practices what he preaches throughout the book. We’re at a time where our Western culture says every single thing is worth fighting over. Christians should know better. But some things are worth fighting over, and it’s worth thinking about what those things are.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Clear. Timely. Important.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Ever since Al Mohler wrote about theological triage (https://is.gd/nIizF4), I've wanted someone to write a book about it, especially accessibly written. Gavin Ortlund's book is so helpful as he models how (and when) to wisely and charitably disagree over doctrine. And when you do disagree, “Go above and beyond to show love to Christians who have a different view and to express your own view with humility and grace” (116). This book is one of my favorite reads of 2020. Here are some questions, fr Ever since Al Mohler wrote about theological triage (https://is.gd/nIizF4), I've wanted someone to write a book about it, especially accessibly written. Gavin Ortlund's book is so helpful as he models how (and when) to wisely and charitably disagree over doctrine. And when you do disagree, “Go above and beyond to show love to Christians who have a different view and to express your own view with humility and grace” (116). This book is one of my favorite reads of 2020. Here are some questions, from Gavin's book, I found helpful: “1. Is there anything in my heart that takes pride in my view or feels superior to Christians who are on 'the other side'? If so, how can I direct my heart back to the gospel as the only source of my identity and 'rightness'? 2. Is there anything in me that is disrespectful or dismissive of the importance of this issue? Do I appreciate why Christians have been willing to die for their differences over this issue? Do I feel superior to, or exasperated with, those Christians who elevate this issue more highly than I do? How can I better understand their concerns and thereby move toward them? 3. Have I taken seriously the urgency of Christ's prayer for the unity of the church (John 17), and am I looking to take whatever steps I can to pursue the realization of this prayer in my own life? 4. What is the right context for me to flourish both in maintaining my own convictions . . . and in pursuing genuine fellowship and partnership in the gospel with those who differ?” (107–108) Reviews: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/... https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/re... https://www.challies.com/book-reviews... https://www.9marks.org/review/finding... https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/bl... Interviews: https://secundumscripturas.com/2020/0... https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/ar... https://servantsofgrace.org/gavin-ort... https://jasonkallen.com/podcast/preac... https://ftc.co/resource-library/podca... https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/... Related articles: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/ar... https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/ar... https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/ar... https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/ar... 20 quotes from the book: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/ar... Discussion questions: https://gavinortlund.com/2020/06/15/d... Favorite quotes: “We should never think that avoiding a fight is a sign of weakness. So often, in life and theology, it is the exact opposite—to avoid a fight takes a deeper and nobler strength than to engage in one.” (144) “The divisiveness surrounding a doctrine involves not merely its content but also the attitude with which it is held. The greatest impediment to theological triage is not a lack of theological skill or savvy but a lack of humility. A lack of skill can simply be the occasion for growth and learning, but when someone approaches theological disagreement with a self-assured, haughty spirit that has only answers and no questions, conflict becomes virtually inevitable. Therefore, we must engage those with whom we have theological disagreements with humility, asking questions to make sure we understand, remembering that we don't see things perfectly, and always seeking to grow in understanding where we may have blind spots." (147–48)

  17. 5 out of 5

    David Steele

    Too often, theological discussion generates more heat than light. Even doctrinal battles in churches that are theologically conservative rage, causing division and a general lack of unity. Such a concern led Gavin Ortlund to write Finding the Right HIlls to Die On. The author is not only concerned with the lack of unity in the body of Christ; he is zealous to show Christians who disagree how to leave in peace with one another. The author contrasts doctrinal sectarianism with doctrinal minimalism Too often, theological discussion generates more heat than light. Even doctrinal battles in churches that are theologically conservative rage, causing division and a general lack of unity. Such a concern led Gavin Ortlund to write Finding the Right HIlls to Die On. The author is not only concerned with the lack of unity in the body of Christ; he is zealous to show Christians who disagree how to leave in peace with one another. The author contrasts doctrinal sectarianism with doctrinal minimalism and demonstrates how these extremes are not only damaging the church; they invite the watching world to look upon the bride of Christ with disdain. Ortlund writes, “When we notice the unhealthy symptoms of doctrinal sectarianism in our hearts, we need to return our deepest level of emotional loyalty to Jesus himself.” Ortlund’s excellent work helps level the playing field and shows how followers of Christ who disagree can live in harmony despite their differences. Finding the Right Hills to Die On is an invitation to unity and a admonition to live in a way that serves of Christians and glorifies God in a simultaneous manner. The great strength of Gavin Ortlund’s work is the promotion of humility. Readers familiar with Ortlund will confess that he is a theologically robust man who is intent on glorifying God in all things. The author adds, “The great impediment to theological triage is not a lack of theological skill or savvy but a lack of humility.” This is a man who has strong convictions about theological and is unashamed to proclaim it. Yet at the same time, he is eager to encourage Christians to pursue humility. This sentiment is found throughout the book and should be etched onto the hearts and minds of every reader. Finding the Right Hills to Die On forges a gospel-centered path between commitment to the truth and concern for our brothers and sisters in Christ. It strikes the biblical balance between truth and grace. It is a book that was deeply meaningful to me, personally. I trust it will have the same effect on many other people.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    "Is that a salvational issue?", "Can't we all just get along?" These are questions I'm all to familiar with and used to use myself in the cause of unity. Because, on the other hand, I had seen people dividing over the silliest things. But over the last few years I've finding this framework somewhat inadequate. That's where Gavin Ortlund's "Finding the Right Hills to Die on" comes in. Ortlund confirmed my suspicions that my previous framework was inadequate. He proposes a four-stage model instead: "Is that a salvational issue?", "Can't we all just get along?" These are questions I'm all to familiar with and used to use myself in the cause of unity. Because, on the other hand, I had seen people dividing over the silliest things. But over the last few years I've finding this framework somewhat inadequate. That's where Gavin Ortlund's "Finding the Right Hills to Die on" comes in. Ortlund confirmed my suspicions that my previous framework was inadequate. He proposes a four-stage model instead: 1) matters of orthodoxy 2) matters of local church unity 3) important matters that shouldn't be divided over 4) unimportant matters. He devotes a chapter each to the first three of these covering: guidelines for determining whether an issue fits into the category, a few examples of issues he would place in the category, and advice on how to handle these types of issues with love, courage, wisdom, and humility. Overall the book is definitely a product of Ortlund's personal experience. In fact, he spends most of the third chapter telling his own story in regard to theology and division. I also noticed his personal perspective come out in the issues he chose as examples and the way he approaches them (especially in the chapter on tertiary issues where a lot of his arguments for unity are aimed at those on the opposite side of his personal stance). That being said, he approaches the entire topic with enough nuance and humility that the more subjective nature of his work adds to rather than detracts from the book. In fact, it is this nuance and humility that I am especially grateful for. He reminds readers that context matters--what might be considered a second-rank doctrine for someone in leadership or for regularly attending a church might be third rank for attending a retreat. He challenges readers to think about not just the issue itself, but how it is approached. And in all things he calls for humility. The book does not so much give answers as it does direction for the questions. His framework is not a simple decision-tree, but rather a set of questions to think about as we approach theological triage (how related is this to the Gospel, how clear is it in the Bible, how has the church handled it in the past, what are the practical implications, etc.). Gavin's framework is definitely one that I will try to integrate into my own thought process as I continue my journey in theology, using the analogy of triage to decide which hills are really worth dying on in my context for the sake of the Gospel. Recommended for anyone who engages in theology and Christians in general.

  19. 4 out of 5

    C.T. Eldridge

    I don’t make this kind of claim often, but this book should be required reading for every incoming seminary student or also for bible college students starting to study theology. I see two main reasons for this: 1) Theological triage is something that all of us do, but very rarely do we give much time thinking about the nature and practice of this triage work. I completed a three year MDiv and worked at my seminary an extra four years, and never did I receive instruction on theological triage. Th I don’t make this kind of claim often, but this book should be required reading for every incoming seminary student or also for bible college students starting to study theology. I see two main reasons for this: 1) Theological triage is something that all of us do, but very rarely do we give much time thinking about the nature and practice of this triage work. I completed a three year MDiv and worked at my seminary an extra four years, and never did I receive instruction on theological triage. This lack of instruction is a pity because theological triage is an incredibly practical and relevant need. Even before a pastoral student starts applying for pastoral roles, he already has to have decided what kind of churches he’ll apply for, ones that hold certain convictions over others. Then once the pastorate starts, the need for theological triage never stops. As theological controversies arise or questions are posed, a pastor has to engage in theological triage to determine the nature and severity of the issue. The purity and unity of the church is at stake throughout. Will we divide over this issue? Should we exclude members for holding that doctrine? etc. After only being in pastoral leadership for four years, I can already attest: the skill of theological triage is a constant need for pastors. 2) Theological humility is a desperate need right now. There is a constant temptation toward theological arrogance (i.e., being overly self-assured and confident in our theological acumen and positions), but social media seems to have exacerbated this problem to an even greater degree than normal. Young theological students are often more prone to this kind of arrogance (e.g., so called “caged Calvinists”). And practicing theological triage is directly tied to our theological humility (or lack thereof). Are we making a mountain out of a mole hill? Are we choosing the right hills to die on? In this book, Ortlund provides a practical and biblically informed process for discerning our ways through those questions.

  20. 4 out of 5

    NinaB

    I’m not sure how to rate this book. The parts that were good were so good. If I just rated this based on the conclusion, I’d give it a 5-star. However, the very advice the author gives in the end on how to deal with others, i.e., graciously and humbly, with different theological beliefs, he ignored. He chose to address specific theological beliefs (cessationism, young earth and premillennial dispensationalism) and even attack (in a non-angry way) those who believe them. I may be taking this more I’m not sure how to rate this book. The parts that were good were so good. If I just rated this based on the conclusion, I’d give it a 5-star. However, the very advice the author gives in the end on how to deal with others, i.e., graciously and humbly, with different theological beliefs, he ignored. He chose to address specific theological beliefs (cessationism, young earth and premillennial dispensationalism) and even attack (in a non-angry way) those who believe them. I may be taking this more personally because I believe the very things he claims are not worth holding on to. He says explicitly that if you’re a pastor and put the pre-mil stance, at least, on your doctrinal statement then you’d be in sin. I belong to a church and was sent off by a church who hold to these beliefs and include them in their official church doctrines. My pastors came to these convictions after a careful and long study of Scripture. They did not merely copy someone else’s beliefs. These churches call them doctrines that they teach, meaning these are the tenets of faith they will teach from the pulpit and discourage different stands from being taught with authority. This does not mean they consider others in sin or that they wouldn’t fellowship with them. I hold to those doctrines, but wouldn’t consider them hills to die on. I believe my pastors would do the same. His claims on why cessationism, young earth and premillennial dispensationalism are not worth arguing over are old arguments that have already been addressed by those who stand by them. He should’ve also treated non-cessationist, old earth, amil and preterists the same and argued why it’s equally wrong to die on those hills. There are misguidedly passionate people on both sides, but the author seemed to focus on my side because he doesn’t believe them.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robin Langford

    “The greatest impediment to theological triage is not a lack of theological skill or savvy but a lack of humility.” This sentence from the conclusion of the book is a great summary of its tone. I appreciated the care taken to explain the different “levels” of importance various doctrines hold. I was grateful for the personal insights Ortlund shared. They felt practical and tangible. The final chapter “Conclusion: A Call to Theological Humility” felt worth the price of the book to me! His heart f “The greatest impediment to theological triage is not a lack of theological skill or savvy but a lack of humility.” This sentence from the conclusion of the book is a great summary of its tone. I appreciated the care taken to explain the different “levels” of importance various doctrines hold. I was grateful for the personal insights Ortlund shared. They felt practical and tangible. The final chapter “Conclusion: A Call to Theological Humility” felt worth the price of the book to me! His heart for the unity of the Church—Christ’s heart for the unity of His Body—was loud and clear. I think I was waiting for even more specifics...perhaps lists of various doctrines he deems primary, secondary, tertiary. But this might be me not wanting to do the work of triage myself. That said, jumping off places are helpful. Recommend!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carlin

    Wow. What an important book for these times. I really appreciate his emphasis on striving for unity in our disagreements. Even if you don't agree with where he differentiates doctrinal "ranks", you will certainly take away practical tools in distinguishing them yourself. An awesome book that I'd recommend for every Christian. Wow. What an important book for these times. I really appreciate his emphasis on striving for unity in our disagreements. Even if you don't agree with where he differentiates doctrinal "ranks", you will certainly take away practical tools in distinguishing them yourself. An awesome book that I'd recommend for every Christian.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris Kidwell

    A must-read for every minister and elder. This book will teach you how and over what to disagree, even if you disagree with Ortlund's ranking of doctrines... which is kind of the point. A must-read for every minister and elder. This book will teach you how and over what to disagree, even if you disagree with Ortlund's ranking of doctrines... which is kind of the point.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Evan Staffieri

    Wow... I believe this book has taught us to know and cultivate humility and understanding what theological triage is. We should not part ways with believers who have differences with us in secondary issues. Gavin Ortlund does a great job explaining theological differences and how they all differ in weight when placed up against first, secondary, third, and fourth case issues in the spectrum of theological triage. I highly recommend this read for all believers and it has already hit me hard in the Wow... I believe this book has taught us to know and cultivate humility and understanding what theological triage is. We should not part ways with believers who have differences with us in secondary issues. Gavin Ortlund does a great job explaining theological differences and how they all differ in weight when placed up against first, secondary, third, and fourth case issues in the spectrum of theological triage. I highly recommend this read for all believers and it has already hit me hard in the sense of my pride in doctrine, theology, and love for believers in Christ. "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." –Ephesians 4:1‭-‬3 ESV

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carter Galloway

    As someone who is generally quick to defend my theological viewpoints, this was a great book to read. Ortlund breakdowns doctrine into three categories: First rank doctrine (Directly involved in the Gospel, I.e. the Trinity), secondary doctrine (related to how we articulate or uphold the gospel, I.e. spiritual gifts), and third ranked/tertiary doctrine (I.e. Relating to the millennium). Ortlund explains why first rank doctrine is worth fighting for. Why debating secondary doctrine requires wisdo As someone who is generally quick to defend my theological viewpoints, this was a great book to read. Ortlund breakdowns doctrine into three categories: First rank doctrine (Directly involved in the Gospel, I.e. the Trinity), secondary doctrine (related to how we articulate or uphold the gospel, I.e. spiritual gifts), and third ranked/tertiary doctrine (I.e. Relating to the millennium). Ortlund explains why first rank doctrine is worth fighting for. Why debating secondary doctrine requires wisdom and balance, and why a church should not divide over tertiary doctrine. He explains there is a spectrum to where some doctrines lie based on context. In the end, Ortlund explains that what is most important with regards to the act of “theological triage” is humility.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Danny Joseph

    It is always a delight to find a marriage of careful and practical. Ortlund is both theologically precise and immensely practical. He starts the book by riding the middle path between being sectarian and being a theological minimalist. After showing the dangers of both sides, he applies his categories of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rank issues to issues that churches today face. This book would be especially helpful in thinking about anything interdenominationally, but would also be helpful in diffusing s It is always a delight to find a marriage of careful and practical. Ortlund is both theologically precise and immensely practical. He starts the book by riding the middle path between being sectarian and being a theological minimalist. After showing the dangers of both sides, he applies his categories of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rank issues to issues that churches today face. This book would be especially helpful in thinking about anything interdenominationally, but would also be helpful in diffusing struggles in the same church.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: There’s an old saying (I can’t remember where I heard it): “There is no doctrine a fundamentalist won’t fight over, and no doctrine a liberal will fight over.” Strictly speaking, that’s not quite fair to thoughtful liberals and fundamentalists. But we can probably recognize these two instincts. Most of us have a tendency in one direction or the other—to fight over doctrine too much or too little. I loved, loved, loved FINDING THE RIGHT HILLS TO DIE ON by Gavin Ortlund. The premise First sentence: There’s an old saying (I can’t remember where I heard it): “There is no doctrine a fundamentalist won’t fight over, and no doctrine a liberal will fight over.” Strictly speaking, that’s not quite fair to thoughtful liberals and fundamentalists. But we can probably recognize these two instincts. Most of us have a tendency in one direction or the other—to fight over doctrine too much or too little. I loved, loved, loved FINDING THE RIGHT HILLS TO DIE ON by Gavin Ortlund. The premise is simple: Are there theological doctrines worth fighting for? (Yes) Are all theological doctrines worth fighting for or fighting over? (No.) How does one distinguish between the doctrines worth fighting for and the ones not worth fighting for? How does one discern which doctrines are so fundamental and essential to understanding, proclaiming, and believing the gospel...that they must be fought for and preserved...and which doctrines are secondary or even tertiary? Theological triage is the practice of discerning and deciding these matters. "Ortlund usefully develops four tiers in his theological-triage system: (1) doctrines that are essential to the gospel; (2) doctrines that are urgent for the health and practice of the church, such that Christians commonly divide denominationally over them; (3) doctrines that are important for one branch of theology or another, but not such that they should lead to separation; (4) doctrines that are unimportant to gospel witness and ministry collaboration." There are dangers in the two extremes: The first extreme being people who refuse to fight for (stand up for, defend, protect) ANY doctrine; unity must be preserved no matter what. The only absolute perhaps being UNITY AT ALL COSTS. All other absolutes can be whittled down, thrown out, reinterpreted, given a new spin. The weakness of the first extreme, in my opinion, is that every opinion counts or matters--except the Voice of God. The Bible has lost authority, lost status, lost a place. Perhaps that is the extreme of that extreme. Perhaps that is the worst case scenario of that extreme. But certainly when a denomination values being in step with the times, with the culture, with the world, with unbelievers and sinners, with majority-voted morals and virtues, rejecting the idea of absolute truth, etc., they are essentially throwing out the Word of God and saying we know better than God. The second extreme being people who are willing to fight for (stand up for, defend, protect) ALL doctrines. It doesn't matter the doctrine, if you don't agree with me--then we're at odds and can't work together or be unified. You're my enemy and Christ's enemy if we're not 100% in sync with one another. Neither extreme is healthy or ideal. The second extreme has SO MANY PERCEIVED ENEMIES that their focus tends towards being right, being proved right, getting the best of others. Little room for love, lots of room for hate. The weakness of the second extreme Ortlund writes, "If our identity is riding on our differences with other believers, we will tend to major in the study of differences. We may even find ourselves looking for faults in others in order to define ourselves." As Christians live their lives--during the week and on Sunday--they will encounter those who disagree with them. How does one react? How does one live peacefully? How does one come to terms? Which disagreements are worth speaking up about, fighting about, fighting for, defending. And which ones are best avoided and pushed aside? He writes, "Most of the battles you could fight, you shouldn’t. And I’d go so far as to say that the majority of doctrinal fights Christians have today tend to be over third-rank issues—or fourth. We deeply need to cultivate greater doctrinal forbearance, composure, and resilience." Ortlund quotes from others who have written about this subject. (It hasn't always been called triage, but Christians have been calling for discernment and defense for centuries.) "Erik Thoennes offers a helpful list of criteria: 1. Biblical clarity 2. Relevance to the character of God 3. Relevance to the essence of the gospel 4. Biblical frequency and significance (how often in Scripture it is taught, and what weight Scripture places upon it) 5. Effect on other doctrines 6. Consensus among Christians (past and present) 7. Effect on personal and church life 8. Current cultural pressure to deny a teaching of Scripture." "Wayne Grudem provides a list of questions that churches and organizations should ask when considering whether to draw a new theological boundary: 1. Certainty: How sure are we that the teaching is wrong? 2. Effect on other doctrines: Will this teaching likely lead to significant erosion in other doctrines? 3. Effect on personal and church life: Will this false teaching bring significant harm to people’s Christian lives, or to the work of the church? 4. Historical precedent: Is this teaching contrary to what the vast majority of the Bible-believing church has held throughout history? 5. Perception of importance among God’s people: Is there increasing consensus . . . that this matter is important enough that the false teaching should be explicitly denied in a doctrinal statement? 6. Purposes of the organization: Is the teaching a significant threat to the nature and purposes of the organization? 7. Motivations of advocates: Does it seem that the advocates of this teaching hold it because of a fundamental refusal to be subject to the authority of God’s Word, rather than because of sincerely held differences of interpretation based on accepted hermeneutical standards? 8. Methods of advocates: Do the advocates of this teaching frequently manifest arrogance, deception, unrighteous anger, slander, and falsehood rather than humility, openness to correction and reason, kindness, and absolute truthfulness?" I would say primarily this book might be best suited for pastors, elders, church leaders, teachers. But I think all Christians could benefit from reading this one. Quotes: Do we have a “warm corner in our hearts” for every single true Christian, even if we strongly disagree with him or her on various issues? A good prayer to pray is this: Lord, give me a “warm corner in my heart” for other Christians, especially those I am tempted to reject or despise. I know that I cannot solve all the divisions in your church, but show me what the next step might be for me personally to pursue and cultivate and honor the unity of your bride. The Bible itself commends an attitude of eager responsiveness to God’s word in its entirety. Confusion may be an understandable response to some passages, and grief to others; but indifference should not be our response. A casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitude about theology is totally incompatible with how we are to receive the word of God. Its contents may call for trembling and tearing of clothes, but never shrugging. The truth is unchanging, but culture is constantly changing; so there will always be points of friction between truth and culture. The gospel is simply too controversial, too disruptive, not to be attacked. Therefore, there can be no effective, long-term ministry of the gospel without a corresponding willingness to engage in its defense.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    An essential read or listen for every mature Christian. 👍🏻

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brandon H.

    As someone who values harmony and being accurate in one's theology, I found this book refreshing! It can be a narrow line to walk! When it comes to harmony, I sometimes wonder if it is even attainable these days. It doesn't take much before believers are accusing each other of being idiots, let alone heretics or wolves in sheep's clothing. In my youth, I often heard unbelievers ask, "If you Christians are right in what you believe and teach, why are there so many different denominations among y As someone who values harmony and being accurate in one's theology, I found this book refreshing! It can be a narrow line to walk! When it comes to harmony, I sometimes wonder if it is even attainable these days. It doesn't take much before believers are accusing each other of being idiots, let alone heretics or wolves in sheep's clothing. In my youth, I often heard unbelievers ask, "If you Christians are right in what you believe and teach, why are there so many different denominations among you?" I don't hear that as much today but I can't help but wonder if the world watches how we argue and debate with each other online and dismisses us as being no different than them or any other group. Have we forgotten that Jesus said that they would know we were His disciples by the love we have for each other? (Jn 13:35) He didn't say that they would know we are His disciples by having all of our theological t's crossed and i's dotted. And yet the latter seems to be the gold standard in some minds today. This is not to suggest that what we believe isn't important. It IS important! Unfortunately, it is also what leads to a lot of conflict among us. But that isn't always bad. So, what doctrine is worth fighting over and what isn't? That is the subject of this helpful book. In this book, Gavin Ortlund lays out when we should divide, and when unity should prevail. He categorizes the different degrees of importance among doctrines, and as a result, which ones are not only worth separating over but also worth dying over, if necessary. The categories include - First-rank doctrines are those that are essential to the gospel itself. Second-rank doctrines are urgent for the health and practice of the church to such a degree that they tend to be the cause of separation at the level of local church, denomination, and/or ministry. Third-rank doctrines are important to Christian theology, but not important enough to be the basis for separation. Fourth-rank doctrines are unimportant to our gospel witness and ministry collaboration. Contents of the book - Part 1: Why Theological Triage The Danger of Doctrinal Sectarianism The Danger of Doctrinal Minimalism My Journey on Non-Essential Doctrines Part 2: Theological Triage at Work Why Primary Doctrines Are Worth Fighting For Navigating the Complexity of Secondary Doctrines Why We Should Not Divide over Tertiary Doctrines Conclusion: A Call to Theological Humility I thought the author did a great job drawing out the danger of both doctrinal sectarianism and doctrinal minimalism. He also did a great job of stressing the importance of seeking harmony amongst ourselves as well as being doctrinally accurate in what we believe. Both matter! It was well written and easy to follow. I think it should be required reading for church membership everywhere! A couple of quotes I liked - "...we must distinguish between confused sheep and active wolves." "Some Christians are eager to defend sound doctrine. Well and good. But is the unity of the Body of Christ one of those doctrines we jealously guard?"

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kirk

    The heart and tone of this book is graciousness and humility. Sadly, as Ortlund notes, these two qualities are sometimes deemed as weaknesses, and inevitably some will view his call as liberal, ecumenical, and soft. Admittedly, I probably would have done so twenty years ago. But Ortland warns against the two extremes, theological sectarianism (which my younger self would have leaned into) and theological minimalism (which I sincerely want to avoid as well). The author advocates standing firm on The heart and tone of this book is graciousness and humility. Sadly, as Ortlund notes, these two qualities are sometimes deemed as weaknesses, and inevitably some will view his call as liberal, ecumenical, and soft. Admittedly, I probably would have done so twenty years ago. But Ortland warns against the two extremes, theological sectarianism (which my younger self would have leaned into) and theological minimalism (which I sincerely want to avoid as well). The author advocates standing firm on first-order doctrines (the Trinity, the virgin birth, etc.) and compassionate disagreement on others. I did cringe a bit when in the course of an otherwise sound conclusion, Ortlund called readers to stay "true to their conscience" considering that the conscience can be fallible, but I believe that the author hit the balance that he was looking for overall in the book. Indeed, I needed the rebuke not to elevate myself above my brothers and sisters with whom I disagree. As a brief aside, for a book to be written in 2020, appealing to Christian readers to love one another in the midst of differences, that only mentions President Donald Trump one time, and that in passing, is a minor miracle. Impressive. One last feature of this book that I greatly appreciated were the examples from the Historic Church and the many disagreements over the centuries. Too often we get so wrapped up in modern issues that we forget to learn lessons from the past. Church History does not replace God's Word, but it can help us find our bearings. Again, Ortlund seems to strike the right balance (although even more historic context wouldn't hurt all that much). I could find myself wandering back to this book again, especially the early chapters. Recommended.

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