I was so excited for the release of this book, because it addresses questions I often consider. How do we discern between essential and non-essential doctrines? How should we contend for sound doctrine while seeking unity with those we disagree with? How can we cultivate strong convictions and deep humility?
Ortlund addresses all this and more, building a compelling case for “theological triage.” For the sake of the Church’s unity, faithfulness, and witness, it’s an important book to read.
The character of the gospel is complex. It contains both truth and grace, both conviction and comfort, both hard edges of logic and deep caverns of mystery. It is at one moment as bracing as a cold breeze and the next as nourishing as a warm meal. Faithfulness to the gospel, therefore, requires more than one virtue. We must at times boldly contend and at other times gently probe. In one situation we must emphasize what is obvious, and in another we must explore what is nuanced. (27)
Those who completely wall themselves off from other genuine Christians will not flourish. Within the body of Christ, we need each other–and often we especially need those Christians who lean in a different direction than we do. (36)
Jesus alone is worthy of our ultimate commitment, and all other doctrines find their proper place in relation to him. As we return to Christ himself for our deepest placement and identity, he will help us hold our convictions with both confidence and grace. (43)
If we isolate everything outside of the gospel as a matter of indifference, we end up trivializing the majority of what God has communicated to us… A casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitude about theology is totally incompatible with how we are to receive the word of God. (50)
Doctrinal minimalism and doctrinal indifferentism have no backbone. (58)
Some first-rank doctrines are needed to defend the gospel, and others to proclaim the gospel. Without them the gospel is either vulnerable or incomplete. (76)
Although many differences in the realm of secondary and tertiary doctrines boil down to differing interpretations among those who uphold the authority of Scripture, the acceptance or rejection of a first-rank doctrine is often part and parcel of the acceptance or rejection of Scripture itself (whether this is admitted or not). (85)
We must not reduce gospel witness to a generic niceness that is accommodating in every circumstance. There is a time to fight. There are certain hills that must not be surrendered, even if the cost is losing our lives.” (94)
Some worry that too much focus on humility will make us wishy-washy. But humility is not the antonym of strength. On the contrary, those who tremble at God’s word are those most likely to stand against human opposition. (148)
When we are standing before the throne on judgment day, what battles will we look back on and be proud we fought? (150)