Christian Triage

If, as I asserted previously, there is discernment of hills to die on and ones to die to, I’d like to offer this pattern which mirrors the thoughts of Gavin Ortlund in his book “Finding the Right Hills to Die On” about issues that chronically divide the Church.   Summarized by Challies : In theological triage, Ortlund identifies four ranks of doctrines:

  • “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.”

I would like to suggest Ortlund’s ideas can be applied to the intersection of faith and politics as well. This is incredibly important for any Christian trying to live his or her faith in the public square, being in the world but not of it. Or as Scripture says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– His good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).

It’s important because we’re not supposed to be keeping the aquarium clean but fishing for men.  That happens only when we engage with others who do not know Jesus…and that’s the public square.

Our faith should not be private since that’s not the Gospel way.

Our first priority should be what is essential… the character of God, the Gospel’s meaning, and the Great Commission of Jesus Christ (free proclamation as His command).  Without these the Gospel is meaningless and our faith is in vain.

Our second priority should be those items urgent to the Gospel meaning and proclamation as a human endeavor, our witness itself.

Our third priority are items of importance to Christians but aren’t necessary to fulfill the Great Commission.

And our fourth rank might be those things unimportant to Gospel witness and for earthly social benefit alone.

Pairing those ideas with what I wrote in 2013 about Understanding the Christian Right, Understanding the Christian Left, and Bad Company, I’d like to suggest that we read 1 Corinthians 15:1-19 in light of “First Things.”

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them– yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Lord Jesus, thank You that our hope is not in vain.  We praise You for the Gospel of Your saving grace, the redemption of mankind by Your shed blood.  Keep our hearts focused on items of first importance, for Your glory’s sake.  Amen.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on January 29, 2021

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