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

By Gavin Ortlund, Foreword by D. A. Carson

... Show All

"This is a wise and needed book.”
Russell Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

In theology, just as in battle, some hills are worth dying on and others are not. But how do we know which ones? When should doctrine divide, and when should unity prevail? Just as a medic on a battlefield treats the severely wounded first and then moves on to the less serious injuries, we must prioritize doctrine in order of importance. Pastor Gavin Ortlund implores us to cultivate humility as we prioritize doctrine into four ranks—essential, urgent, important, and unimportant—so that we will be as effective as possible at advancing the gospel in our time.

Published in partnership with the Gospel Coalition.

Read Chapter 1


Gavin Ortlund

Gavin Ortlund (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) runs the popular YouTube channel Truth Unites and is the author of several books, including Humility; Finding the Right Hills to Die On; and Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals. Gavin and his wife, Esther, have five children. 

Product Details

Category: Theology
Church Ministry
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 176
Size: 5.25 in x 8.0 in
Weight: 6.86 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-6742-3
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-6742-1
ISBN-UPC: 9781433567421
Case Quantity: 60
Published: April 21, 2020

Table of Contents

Foreword by D. A. Carson

Part 1: Why Theological Triage?

Chapter 1: The Danger of Doctrinal Sectarianism 

Chapter 2: The Danger of Doctrinal Minimalism

Chapter 3: My Journey on Secondary and Tertiary Doctrines

Part 2: Theological Triage at Work 

Chapter 4: Why Primary Doctrines Are Worth Fighting For

Chapter 5: Navigating the Complexity of Secondary Doctrines

Chapter 6: Why We Should Not Divide over Tertiary Doctrines

Conclusion: A Call to Theological Humility
General Index
Scripture Index


“A timely and well-written book on a vitally important subject. Ortlund reminds us that Christian theologians must see themselves first and foremost as servants of the Great Commission. He shows us how much of the Christian academy has been divorced from the gospel mission. The Bible is a theological, pastoral, and evangelistic book—and those must never be separated, lest one become malformed. I am immediately using this book with our elder and pastoral team!”
J. D. Greear, Pastor, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

“Gavin Ortlund is a scholar and leader who both wields the sword of the Spirit and exhibits the fruit of the Spirit. He not only stands up for Jesus but also stands with him in love, holiness, and mission. In a sadly contentious time, this book shows us how to love each other and stay on mission together even when we see some nonessential doctrines in different ways. This is a wise and needed book.”
Russell Moore, Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

“To put it simply: this is an important book. With a 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.”
Jared C. Wilson, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Author in Residence, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, The Imperfect Disciple and Love Me Anyway

“Some seem to think that faithfulness to God is measured in how much we argue about things. I am so grateful for Gavin Ortlund’s book, which reminds us that faithfulness can be defined in far more biblical ways. Ortlund does not pretend that he has the answers to end all church arguments, but he helps us understand that failure to distinguish critical matters from secondary and tertiary concerns is an abandonment of the pastoral prudence that is essential to Christ’s mission. Even Jesus said, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’ For pastors operating with the care and courage of Jesus, patience is not compromise, kindness is not weakness, and Christ’s mission supersedes our personal victories. Ortlund honors Christ’s manner as well as his message in this fascinating and challenging book.”
Bryan Chapell, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church in America

“There are few needs today as urgent as the one Gavin Ortlund so ably addresses in this wonderful book. Healthy theological perspective and poise are all too absent in an age of immediate escalation and rage. This book could transform our thinking, our capacity for fellowship, and our witness to the world. I pray it is read widely and heeded deeply.”
Sam Allberry, Associate Pastor, Immanuel Nashville; author; speaker

“Gavin Ortlund helps us think well as brothers and sisters in Christ on where we must staunchly defend the truth and draw immovable lines. He also helps us know where to extend grace and lovingly disagree while working together for the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the building up of the Lord’s church. This book is much needed in our day. May our Savior use it for our good and his glory.”
Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“In this age of theological infighting and compromise, Gavin Ortlund issues a clarion call for wisdom. You don’t have to agree with him on everything to appreciate his sane and clarifying advice. This is an important book for our time, helping the church as we struggle for both faithfulness to God’s word and a proper Christian unity.”
Michael Reeves, President and Professor of Theology, Union School of Theology, United Kingdom

“As best I can tell, this is the first book of its kind and is long overdue. Gavin Ortlund has done the church a tremendous service by providing a clear, irenic, and well-reasoned (not to mention biblical) perspective on the comparative importance of our many Christian doctrines. Some in the church today have waged vigorous war and ‘died’ needlessly on virtually every hill, while others, in the name of unity, don’t find any hill worth ‘dying’ on. To both, and to everyone in between the two extremes, I say, ‘Read this book!’”
Sam Storms, Founder and President, Enjoying God Ministries