TGC contributor Gavin Ortland got into a big of a fracas over the last few days, after he followed along with the #BigEva playbook and took a couple of swings at Christians who believe what he calls “conspiracy theories” in the course of defending a recent David French article about how churches were sowing the seeds of political violence.
According to WokePreacherTV, where the rest for this comes from:
I remembered he just released a book on “theological triage” or discerning what are the “right hills to die on” in various debates.
Ortlund was defending David French about something or other and then got into this bit of fearmongering about evangelicals/Deplorables. The implication is people who are on the right in current U.S. culture wars are a dangerous threat to the nation.
I’m gonna go through some highlights of an interview Gavin did with Remnant Radio about his book, where he nuances to death issues like Christians affirming gay marriage and universalism. The question is: how does such a Thoughtful Person fail to extend similar grace in politics?
These clips all go in chronological order. First, Gavin defines his four categories to rank issues:
1. They set the boundaries of orthodoxy
2. Distinguishes denominations
3. Important but shouldn’t divide us in any way
4. Not important at all
“Calvin talks about how sometimes we divide not because we love the truth but because of pride. And he talks about how we need to distinguish the issues that are really essential to the gospel versus things that are in our flesh that we that make us feel superior.”
Reminder, just setting up background here. The hosts start a “lightning round” for Gavin to rank various controversial positions.
“I will reserve the right to say like 2.5 or something like that…I say in the book, something can be like a number 2 but it can be like a number 2 almost pushing into 1…”
Q: “Human sexuality”
“If we’re talking about, for example, does a person affirm a traditional definition of marriage…I would see it as kind of 2, but very solidly into 2…I have friends who disagree with me on that. I’m not willing to say they’re not a Christian.”
There’s an important caveat here, that we should not judge prematurely, that God will judge with more knowledge than we have, that some people may hold false beliefs out of ignorance rather than sin. I agree with these in principle: Luke 12:47-48, 1 Cor 3:12-15 governs my work.
But there absolutely is accountability for those who have been corrected on a false position and continue to hold to it in rebellion. Gavin is willing to say that people he has contended with on queer affirmation, who refuse to repent, are still somewhere within orthodoxy.
Next issue is universalism (long discussion, many clips). To preserve context, I’ve included the end of his remarks on annihilationism.
“That’s certainly moving into the 2 category in my mind, but there’s people I know who are universalists that I can’t say they are not saved.”
“Just because we might fall short of putting something at the rank of 1 or using the term heresy does not mean it’s like no big deal. It just means we’re not going all the way to that full level. And some of the issues here depend on how we use the term heresy…”
Further quotes from this clip ^
“There are differences in terms of the spirit with which a view is held. There are people who advocate for, maybe universalism or maybe another view, in such a way that really does become more destructive and corrosive…”
“…But I’ve, and so, we have to just kind of leave room for the complexities of real life, because I’ve just known other people who don’t advocate for it in that way. And it doesn’t seem to me like this is, ‘Oh, they’re the enemy of the gospel.’ I don’t feel that way about them.”
One’s tone helps determine the level of error?
I agree with the distinction that some are deceiving + some are being deceived, and those merit different responses (2 Tim 3:13, Jude 22-23), but I can’t co-sign this. The Bible has harsher condemnations for winsome false teachers.
Host says he’s solidly in the “universalism is heresy” camp and asks Gavin to explain his thinking a little more. The meat of his answer is in the next clip.
“There are passages they, that I think a good-faith person could be persuaded by in error. In other words, I don’t think the only way you exegetically get there is just if you’re just tearing pages out of your Bible because you don’t care what it means.”
Final clip: “There’s just too many people like a Gregory of Nyssa…There’s too many people in that category that just seem to me like, ‘that’s heresy’ is not the right category for that person. I disagree with them. I’m just, I wouldn’t put it at that level.”
So, again, how does this kind of Very Thoughtful Person, who sees a good-faith exegesis behind universalism and perhaps even queer affirmation, get to the point where questions about the 2020 election, vaccine hesitancy, and suing school boards = likely QAnon terrorists? For context, this was the week’s David French article. Ortlund was swooping in to defend this rhetoric, then had to clean up some zealous language likening French to the prophets of Israel.
In Gavin’s view, there is some permissible, agree-to-disagree approach to advocating queer affirmation or universalism within Christian orthodoxy, but not for challenging public school mask mandates?
That’s a very, very big problem.
Editor’s Note. This is a very long thread captured using the threadreader app, written by WokePreacherTV. That point is enough for our purposes, but to see the rest, click here where he concisely and succinctly responds to Ortland. Also post was lightly edited for clarity and formatting.
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