3. Life Hack
What does the term “a hill to die on” come from? The origin of that term can be explained this way: “An allusion to the military practice of capturing/holding a hill (high ground), no matter the cost or (lack of) benefit…” This phrase, has become a metaphor for taking a stand for something that is worth the greatest of sacrifices.
During the last three Sundays, I have preached on how we are to relate to one another when it comes to the non-essentials of the Christian faith. The non-essentials do not mean “non-important,” but, rather, they are the issues where there is freedom to form “differing opinions” (Rom. 14:1). On the other hand, the essentials are the “hills to die on” in the Christian faith.
How do we decipher between essentials and non-essentials? A book recently came out entitled “Finding the Right Hills to Die On” by Dane Ortland. Tim Challies, on his blog, gives it a strong review and shares some excerpts from the book. Here is a part of the review and an excerpt from the book that forms an helpful way to view various levels of opinions:
“What’s demonstrably true about Christians is that some tend toward fighting over everything while others tend toward fighting over nothing. As the old saying goes,’“There is no doctrine a fundamentalist won’t fight over, and no doctrine a liberal will fight over.’ ‘This book,’ he says, ‘is about finding the happy place between these two extremes—the place of wisdom, love, and courage that will best serve the church and advance the gospel in our fractured times. In other words, it’s about finding the right hills to die on.’
[Here are the four gradations of opinions/convictions that Ortland assesses:]
- 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.
Thus the four gradations are essential, urgent, important, and unimportant. He clarifies, of course, that no doctrine is unimportant in and of itself; rather, some doctrines are unimportant when it comes to cooperating on our God-given mission. This begs the question: What kinds of doctrines fall into each category. First-rank doctrines would include the Trinity and the virgin birth; second-rank doctrines would include baptism and the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit; third-rank doctrines would include the timing of the millennium and the age of the earth; fourth-rank doctrines would include musical styles or the kind of instrumentation for corporate worship.” (Here is the full blog article: https://bit.ly/
These rankings help us sort out what is of utmost importance, what is not ultimately important, and everything in between. The “first-rank” doctrines are the essentials – the hills to die on. All the rest, in varying ways, fit into what we have been learning from Romans, chapter 14. In rankings 2-4, where individuals may differ on convictions, we are to be welcoming and not create stumbling blocks. Or, as the famous quote says, “In essentials, unity – in non-essentials, freedom – in all things, charity.”
For more details, I highly recommend reading the classic article by Al Mohler on how to decipher what is essential and what is not.
Here are some helpful links in light of today’s devotion:
A Call for Theological Triage by Al Mohler:
This is a fantastic article going into greater detail about what is essential and non-essential when it comes to our Christian faith. Let it stretch you. Read it more than once.
“When Should Churches Reject Governmental Guidelines on Gathering and Engage in Civil Disobedience?” by Jonathan Leeman
This is a great summary article of when and when not to comply with the government regarding religious freedom. This explains why OCC and most churches are choosing to hold “services” via livestream.
God’s Good Gift of Government by Tim Challies:
Here’s a another good article from Challies. This is a positive reminder in all the negativity that is currently “out there.”
Are you as an individual, couple or family being purposeful with your time and how you spend it together? As a couple or family – are you setting aside time for a family devotion, to play a game together, talk, etc? As a single person, are you staying connected through appropriate channels with friends, family and church? It is easy for our days to slip by and “just happen.” The point is are you being purposeful with your time? Make the most of this time.
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