About Gavin Ortlund

About Gavin Ortlund

Dr. Gavin Ortlund is a pastor, author, speaker, and apologist for the Christian faith. He is a husband to Esther, and a father to Isaiah, Naomi, Elijah, Miriam, and Abigail. He serves as President of Truth Unites and Theologian-in-Residence at Immanuel Nashville.

Gavin has a Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary in historical theology, and an M.Div from Covenant Theological Seminary. He is the author of eight books as well as numerous academic and popular articles. His Why God Makes Sense in a World that Doesn’t won numerous awards. For a list of publications, see his CV.

Gavin is a fellow of The Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics, a fellow of The Center for Baptist Renewal, a fellow of Credo, a member of St. Basil Fellowship of The Center for Pastor Theologians, and a Visiting Scholar at Reasons to Believe. He regularly speaks at churches and conferences around the country.

Gavin runs the YouTube channel Truth Unites, which seeks to promote gospel assurance through theological depth. Truth Unites has a dual purpose as both a theological resource to the church as well as an apologetics voice to our culture. In its inward-facing role, it seeks to serve the church with theological education. It especially focuses on historical retrieval and theological triage, seeking to buttress and unify evangelical theology amidst its current fragmentation. It also produces content in defense of Protestantism. In its outward-facing role, Truth Unites seeks to provide a winsome and credible voice to the culture for the existence of God and the resurrection of Christ.

"I do not try, Lord, to attain Your lofty heights, because my understanding is in no way equal to it.  But I do desire to understand Your truth a little, that truth that my heart believes and loves.  For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand.  For I believe this also, that 'unless I believe, I shall not understand.'"
Proslogion, chapter 1

Truth Unites is a ministry of Renewal Ministries.


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  1. Gav,

    If Facebook is an accurate indicator, word on the street has it that you may be considering doing doctoral work on Anselm. That’s pretty rad.

    The interplay between absolute divine simplicity and trinitarian doctrine have recently become an interest of mine, and I’d like to have someone to bounce ideas off of. Perhaps you could cook up some posts on Anselm and we could get some back and forth going.

  2. Hey Gavin,

    I just got here through Mere-O. Matt is a good friend of mine. Are you informed by the fact that Anselm was building on Augustine’s use of the word Soliloquy? Have you heard the Mars Hill audio interview of Thomas Hibbs on the exhibit of the work of Georges Roualt and Makoto Fujimura – called Soliloquies? It really gets into the relational quality of a soliloquy and its role in leading towards dialogue.

    Anyway. It’s a great tradition and Soliloquium is a great title for a blog.


  3. Hey Chris,

    thanks for the comment! I’ll definitely check out that interview – sounds interesting. I’d be curious of any passages you know of where Augustine draws out the term soliloquium. He certainly had a massive impact on Anselm, but I’ve not explored his influence with respect to that particular term before. Thanks,


  4. I had breakfast with Mark Labberton last week and he told me he had read some of your blogs and said you were a good writer. I read your recent post on Samuel Rutherford’s book, The Loveliness of Christ. You are blessed to have parents who have enriched your life as they have. I’m going to get the book because it resonates with my life right now. Thanks Gavin.

  5. I read your article, “Wholly Other or Wholly Given Over? What Van Til Missed in his Criticism of Barth,” and I believe you fundamentally missed the mark of understanding of Van Til’s understanding of Barth. Van Til’s fundamental disagreement is based is actualism and dimensionalism- that God is only his acts, and the theological Kantian distinction of the noumenal and the phenomenal. Barth often does appear to express perfectly sound Reformed, evangelical theology but these are based in an actualistic and dimensionalistic understanding of who God is. Apart from this basis I would agree that Van Til’s comments on Barth are just “pot shots”. But once you understand the root problem, his criticism make perfect sense.

    1. Hi Rob, thanks for commenting. The focus of my article was on Van Til’s charge of Kantianism in Barth, and the notion that God is only in His activity (Van Til uses the term “activism” which contrary to some of his defenders is not the same as actualism, which is a broader term referring to a particular ontology). So I agree with you about what is at the root of Van Til’s critique. The problem, in my opinion, is that Barth never said that God is only in his acts, and in fact said just the opposite at great length and most vigorously. I therefore find the charge to be simply inaccurate. If Van Til or others feel that, contrary to all appearances, Kantianism/activism is IMPLICIT in Barth’s theology, they have the responsibility of showing how and why. Saying, “Barth may have said X, but what he really meant was Y” requires evidence. Otherwise its just putting words into someone’s mouth.

      I have no undue loyalties to Barth, but I feel we should treat others with greater attention to what they actually said when engaging in theological criticism.

  6. Greetings, Somehow or another, I just came upon your blog. Very nice. I’m not a HT, but I read Anselm’s Proslogion a few years ago; loved it. So reverent and richer than how we write theology. So too Augustine’s Confessions. The quote you have here from Anselm brings Jn 6:45 to mind where Jesus is interpreting Isaiah 54. Do you know if Anselm appealed to that verse or did anything with 1 Cor 2:10-16? Grace & Joy

  7. Came across your post on listening well. Good stuff! Are you by any chance related to Ray and Anne Ortlund? Ray was on our ministry board (Asian Access) for many years. Cheers!

  8. I am a member of a reformed congregational church in Brazil. It is very comforting to know that there are still Reformed congregational churches in America. I’ve read your article about John Owen and Congregationalism. Very good! I’m trying to translate the book “the true nature of a gospel church and its government” to Portugues. It’s a huge challenge for me because I’m not a expert in english yet. God Bless you pastor!

  9. Hi Gavin,

    I’m considering a Th M in Church History with an emphasis on Anselm. Which area(s) of his life and thought might make for a good thesis topic?

    1. Hi Drew, great to hear of your interest in Anselm!! There are many possibilities, and I believe much depends on your personal interest, but two areas of massive neglect are (1) Anselm’s doctrine of (spiritual) friendship (his letters could be particularly useful to study this) or (2) Anselm’s devotional writings/influence, particularly his Prayers and Meditations. In Anselm’s own day he was widely known not just as theologian but as a spiritual adviser and director, but today this aspect of his legacy is often overlooked. One other idea, if you want to study Anselm’s theology, would be his doctrine of heaven—this is also very neglected but important. Of course, there is a massive stream of literature on his view of atonement if you want to get more specific and interactive, rather than being a trailblazer. Let me know if I can help you anymore. Blessings on your studies.

  10. Gavin – I’ve been considering ordination in the 4Cs for some time now. Our church is technically affiliated with them. I had been pursuing ordination in a Presbyterian denomination. Can you give me some perspective on being ordained in the 4cs? Thanks!

    1. Hey Peter! The CCCC has been a good home for me. They are solidly evangelical, but open on secondary issues like millennial views (this was a factor for me since I an amillennial, and some denominations require premillennialism). It was also a good fit for me given my church context during the ordination process. Email me if you have more specific questions, I’d be happy to try to help.

      1. I found your YouTube videos Saturday and I love watching them. I’ve been praying for deep teachings.
        My two question are : Why didn’t God make the Bible so clear and exhaustive to where there wouldn’t be any misinterpretation?
        2. Why didn’t God send the devil and all the rebel angels to hell from the start? We would still have free will and dealing with sin is bad enough. Looking forward to buying your eBooks Thank you.

  11. Wow. And I thought I was the only one. Well, at least I know I am part of the 2%(-)! Thanks for sharing your journey and struggles with theology and your willingness to conform to the will of God. Not many are willing to take that final step.

  12. Hi Gavin,

    I have benefitted greatly from your resources on baptism. I am a first year student at Reformed Theological Seminary, and I have been wrestling with the debate between believer’s baptism versus infant baptism a great deal. A question that I have, which is secondary to much of the debate but I find very important, is if children are not in the covenant, then how are we to raise them? Of course, we would want to raise them to pray and worship God, but if we are saying they are not covenant members, how are we to teach them to pray and worship in good conscience? Perhaps I am seeing an issue where there is not one, but I guess the tension I feel is whether we are to raise them as pagan, unbelievers or as little Christians.

    Related to this, I also have questions concerning how someone in the covenant can also be a covenant breaker under the baptist schema, especially in relation to Hebrews 10:28, “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

    Any response would be helpful! Thanks!

    1. Great to hear from you. Glad you are engaging this issue. Heb. 10:28 is a tough passage that I cannot give a good answer to in a blog post but I know some of the Baptist books out there address it. My feeling about the child-rearing issue is that surely it is possible and reasonable to have a middle ground between “assuming they are regenerate” and “pagan.” There are different kinds of relationships people can have to the church. Many people stand in a relationship to the church in which they are blessed by the church but not yet members of it — for instance, when a wife becomes a Christian, and the husband is attending a church but not yet decided — he is not really a “pagan” and you would treat that situation on its own terms. This is the sense of “sanctification” that I think is in view in I Cor. 7:14, since it includes both unbelieving spouse and the children in that verse. I think it is possible to raise children with a sensitivity to the unique kind of relationship to the church that they represent — neither hostile nor alien to it, but not yet members either. I am sure Baptists would approach the specific issues of prayer and worship differently, but I for my part do not have a hesitation in encouraging children toward a kind of prayer and worship that is appropriate to their situation, with the hope (of course) that this would ultimately result in an act of receiving the gospel. That is how I see it, anyway. Hope this helps.

      1. Gavin, thank you for the helpful response. It is very helpful to work through the issue in conversation with someone who has already thought through these issues. I have one more question for you (I promise, as not to turn this into a Q&A message board). Concerning your article “Can We Reject Paedobaptist and Still Receive Paedobaptism,” do you think that some of the justification for closed membership falls apart with a definition of baptism that take the focus off the human action of faith and on the heavenly action of God’s work in uniting us to Christ? In a sense, could we say that the baptism of an infant is valid – while not proper – because God acts to do the work of confirming the faith when it occurs in the life of one baptized as an infant? I understand if due to the recentness of this debate online you did not wish to respond to this, but it would greatly aid me as I seek to work through this issue and articulate it. Thank you, again, for you willingness to respond!

      2. Hmmm. In general, I think open membership and a greater emphasis on the objectivity of the sacrament go together well — but this is a broad generalization that I would not want press very firmly, and I would suppose there are exceptions to it.

    2. Hi, I thought I would just chime in with a quick thought on Heb. 10:29. There is a question as to whom the pronoun in the second half (… the covenant that sanctified him/them) refers. I like the NIV, but keep in mind that this pronoun is singular. Is the antecedent of this pronoun the “someone” or the “Son of God”? Grammatically, it is an open question. Many Baptists, including myself, believe that in Heb. 10:29, it is the Son of God who was sanctified by the covenant, or by the blood of the covenant; not the person who has trampled the Son of God, etc. Even John Owen took this view, citing John 17:19. For me as a Baptist, this makes much better sense of the verse, and it’s such a simple and natural reading of it.

  13. Hi Gavin!

    I am in my last semester of undergraduate studies at Messiah College, and have been wrestling with some questions about the reformation and the history of the doctrines that were rediscovered then. I know a few friends in my life who became Orthodox because of the lack of historical rootedness in evangelicalism in America, and they have challenged me on points that I have not been able to respond to adequately. But I have been helped greatly by some of your recent posts: “5 Myths about the Reformation” and “Why Evangelicals Need Theological Retrieval” (I am excited to read your book!). I would love to connect with you briefly over email to ask your direction as I try to navigate these discussions with my Orthodox friends, as well as point my fellow evangelicals towards a greater appreciation of the tradition we inherit as evangelical Protestants.

    If you have the time and are willing, I look forward to hearing from you. Either way, Lord bless you brother– thank you for helping me through your scholarship and writing.


  14. Hi Gavin

    I am currently volunteering at Know My Faith ministries- A New Zealand organisation that has launched an app named ‘YESH’ that pairs Israeli travellers in New Zealand to Christian hosts who open their homes for accommodation, enabling them to share the gospel with the travellers.
    For promotional and spiritual growth purposes for the hosts, Know My Faith is looking to publish a newspaper.
    I am contacting you because we would love to include some articles of yours in our newspaper. I have seen that you have many great articles relevant for everyday Christian life and a deeper understanding of the Word of God.
    ‘Know my faith’ believes access to articles such as your own will help better prepare the hosts for sharing the truth about Jesus Christ to the Israeli travellers. As well as this, exposure of your material and name to the saints in New Zealand would be beneficial for the promotion of your website.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    God Bless
    Tom Leslie

  15. Hi Gavin,
    I was impressed with your recent article on the relationship between circumcision and infant baptism in Themelios. I was wondering whether you are familiar with Robert Boyte C. Howell’s book on “The Evils of Infant Baptism”? (http://www.ourbaptistheritage.org/uploads/8/1/0/2/81023264/robert_howell_the_evils_of_infant_baptism.pdf) The title might be a put-off, but the book is worth its weight in theological gold, imo. Chapter 5 about types is worthy of being framed in its entirety. :) Blessings to you.

  16. Happy New Year, Gavin. I am a Catholic Christian from Mexico. I love biblical scholarship, theology, apologetics and Church history. Although I may not agree with everything you present on youtube, I can tell you that you are one of the finest and most respectful Protestant apologists I know of. I can tell you that I follow some good Baptists like William Lane Craig and Rick Warren (his best-selling book ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ is fantastic). I also respect the life of Billy Graham, also a Baptist, from whom I have read his autobiography ‘Just as I am’. God bless you and your family (Numbers 6:24-26).

    1. Thank you for this kind blessing, Miguel. It is wonderful to be acquainted, and I pray God’s blessings upon you. I appreciate your kind words.

  17. Hey man I really appreciate all the work you’re doing. I was wondering if you would be willing if you’re not already on discord, to jump on the discord and have some discussions with Catholics that we’re going to be having some discussions with this upcoming Saturday? If so please send me an email. Thanks man.

  18. The Manifold Beauty of Genesis One, co-authored with OT/Hebrew scholar Kenneth Turner, will be released by Kregel Publications in October. Based on your articles and blogs I have read, I believe this book will be of interest to you – enough so that I would ask you to consider an endorsement. Though most of my writing has been on the intersection of science and the Bible, this book focuses entirely on the theological beauty of the creation story. Let me know if I can send you more information.

  19. Hi Dr. Ortlund,

    I had a question I wanted to ask you but for my question to make sense I first need to know if we share the same Christology. Do you believe in the nature/person distinction as far as the hypostatic union is concerned? In other words, one person and two natures (one divine nature and one human nature). Do you believe that the one and only person in the hypostatic union is the divine person of the Son (in other words, there is no human person in the hypostatic union)? This, to my limited understanding, seems to be pretty standard orthodox Christology. Do you also agree that as one of the church fathers said that when it comes to to the incarnation “the unassumed is the unhealed”? In other words the Son assumed full human nature to completely heal human nature. Assuming we agree. Here is my question. When Jesus died at the cross, did a human person die at the cross? If, yes, we seem to have Nestorianism. If we say, no, which I think would be the orthodox answer, then how is the human person saved/healed at the cross given that the second person of the Trinity did not assume a human person?

    My apologies if this is not the best way to contact you.

    Thank you and may God bless you and your family,

    1. Hello, and happy to be connected to you! My best way to parse this is to say that the Son of God died with respect to his human nature, but not with respect to his divine nature (I don’t think this distinction necessarily becomes Nestorian), and the union of these two natures is such that it effects salvation. Confused yet? Haha, me too. I cover this a (little) bit in the chapter on Tolkien in my retrieval book. Hope this helps,

  20. Dr. Ortlund,

    Very happy to connect as well! Your “Truth Unites” videos have been a great blessing to me.

    Going back to my question, what I am trying to say is that to the best of my understanding a human person did not die at the cross. To say that a human person died at the cross would be to say that there were two persons in Christ a human person and a divine person (hence Nestorianism). So how is my human person redeemed if Christ did not assume a human person and hence a human person did not die at the cross? I understand how my human nature was redeemed at the cross because Christ assumed a human nature and therefore a human nature (namely Christ’s perfect human nature) died at the cross. Maybe I’m being too rigid in trying to find an exact one to one mapping. However, isn’t that part of what’s behind the concept of substitutionary atonement and the phrase the “unassumed is the unhealed”?

    By the way, I completely agree that the divine second person of the Trinity experienced death only with respect to his human nature. However, I don’t think that’s what my question is trying to get at. I’m more concerned about the human person not the human nature (that’s why I reference the nature/person distinction in my earlier post).

    Blessings once again and my God continue to give you wisdom and guide you by His Holy Spirit.

    1. Hey Omar, thanks for clarifying — okay, yes, I see what you are getting at. I think we simply cannot find an exact parallel because Christ by definition is not just a human person, but a person with two natures, both human and divine. It seems to me that this doesn’t necessarily obliterate the “what is not assumed is not healed” principle, since Christ IS assuming our nature and dying. By virtue of the fact that he is the God-man, there must be points of disanalogy as well, it seems. Does that make any sense?

  21. Hi Dr. Ortlund,

    Thank you so much for your response. I believe that in your response you meant to say that Christ is a divine person. Christ is not a human person (at least that’s my understanding).

    Your response makes sense to an extent. I have some thoughts about this based on my studies over the years. My thoughts are nothing novel since I’m not smart enough to come up with my own ideas. I’m not a good writer so I’m working on a concise way to communicate this to you without wasting your time. I’m an Evangelical/Protestant but in my opinion our soteriological scheme (I know I’m generalizing) does not fit well with a few Biblical passages. I think this is because there are some Christological nuances we may overlook.

  22. Just listened to your Gospel coalition video on the meaning of music. I am a violinist who has pondered philosophical thoughts about music and God for decades. It’s nice to hear somebody draw conclusions and contrast Christian and atheistic conclusions.

    Thank you.

  23. Hi Dr. Ortlund,

    I wanted to say thank you for the work you have been doing through your YouTube channel recently. I’m a Protestant fresh out of college who has been working through my first true examination of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy in recent months. I’ve discovered and taken down a lot of strawmen positions that I’ve held against those beliefs which, while I believe is a good thing, has also been quite difficult. It has brought challenges to my own faith that I haven’t contended with before. Your videos have really been a blessing to me in working through it all. I am more confident now that to be rooted in church history is not to cease being Protestant (despite what countless YouTube comments have told to me). I still have further studying to do, but I wanted to thank you for your help so far.

    If I did have any new difficult questions come up, would it be alright if I sent you an email asking for your thoughts? Absolutely no worries if not.

    Thanks again,

    P.S. I just downloaded “Finding the Right Hills to Die On” from the Gospel Coalition’s free weekly offer, and am looking forward to going through it soon. Oh, and your videos on divine simplicity and math proving God are some other favorites of mine.

    1. Thanks very much! Yes, feel free to email, though it may be some time for me to respond as I am traveling and then swamped through the end of summer. So glad my videos have been some use to you!

  24. I enjoyed your sermon at corner stone church
    I was wondering if you are related to Ray and Anne I loved the Catalina analogy we are taking a group of friends and family there this summer for our 50th

  25. I just finished your book “Finding the right hills to die on” and appreciated the thoughtfulness in addressing many topics. I wanted to specifically ask whether belief in the doctrine of hell, specifically an eternal conscious hell, is a matter of primary doctrine. In addition what advice would you give to a church attendee once they become aware that the senior pastor is “not ready to affirm such a view” (upon discussions with him and elders).

  26. Hi, can you explain the difference between ordinance and sacrament, are they to be used interchangeably? Why do some Baptists refer to only Communion and Baptism as ordinances and not sacraments. I was raised Catholic and was taught these acts where sacraments and that they imparted some additional grace upon the recipient. If we call them sacraments it seems to distract from the grace God imparted through his son Jesus alone.

  27. Thank you for your work on Evangelicalism on Orthodoxy. Currently at an aussie Baptist church but raised in an aussie Church of Christ (think evangelical Disciple of Christ), so was raised with a mixture of evangelical, restorationism, ecumenicism. Oldest son is interested in Orthodoxy largely through some mates at his inter-dom Christian school and disillusionment with our current Baptist church. Although I read some early church writings, your have helped me with directions to read and pray through with him.
    As an outlier who believes in “effective” credo-baptism, I wonder if you have read British Baptist Wheeler-Robinson on baptism or even Baptist Bruce Milne in “Know the Truth”? I am aware of the tension in my belief (or maybe contradiction!), I believed I was in some sense saved when I publicly committed to disciple of Jesus but also that my baptism (2 weeks later) was for the remission of sins and union with Christ. I just didn’t see them as separate things but one followed from the other.
    The biblical example I would look to is the exodus, Israelites left Egypt through both the passover (faith?) and passing through the Red Sea (baptism), when they talked of the exodus both these were seen as God saving them, as one Exodus event.

    1. Thanks for this Shawn! Glad the videos have been of use. Interesting view on baptism — I think you will find my next dialogue with Jordan Cooper (comes out in a week or so) of interest….

  28. Gavin, I wanted to say thanks for your work on Truth Unites. I have really appreciated your kind and irenic approach. Keep it up! I am interested in reading your book on the Proslogion but, when I look it up on Amazon, its’ prohibitively expensive. Is there a place to buy the book at a lover cost that you’re aware of?

    1. so sorry! I really wish it wasn’t so expensive. I’m afraid I don’t make a dime off it, and there is nothing I can do. I am told that perhaps in a few years there will be a cheaper paperback version.

  29. Hi Dr. Ortlund,

    Have you read “On Faith and Works” by St. Augustine? Is it compatible with the reformers view of salvation by faith alone. I’ve read several quotes from the book which indicate it is not compatible but I wanted to get your opinion. May God Bless you!


  30. Hi Dr. Ortlund! I’ve been really blessed by your YouTube videos and they’ve really sparked an interest in church history and the church fathers. I was wondering if you had any recommendations to start off in these areas? Also your last video on intercession greatly encouraged me in my faith, so thanks for the work you put in. God bless you and your family

  31. Gavin,
    Thanks so much for your excellent work on theological retrieval. The necessary task of mining the great tradition of the church should be part of every theologian’s goals.

    My question relates to retrieval and modern reformed systematic theology texts. I’m thinking of the recent work of Douglas F Kelly (3 vol.), Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley (3 vol.), and Robert Letham. Do you think there is a resurgence in these works of doing good theological retrieval for the sake of the church?

    What are the main differences/similarities between older works such as Berkhof, Bavinck, and Turettin and modern reformed ones in terms of theological retrieval?

    Spencer Cummins

    1. hey Spencer! Yes, it does seem like there is a resurgence of retrieval work being done right now … an encouraging sign! In a way, it is very similar to older classical Protestantism, but different perhaps from earlier 20th century work that was more historically short-sighted. Thanks for commenting and God bless!

  32. Hey Gavin, I’ve been listening to m your historical theology content and you’re one of my top sources for navigating the early church and Catholic dogma. Thanks for your work!

    I have a question that I’ve heard from Catholics as an apologetic and wondering if you plan on responding to it.

    How does a Protestant navigate Eucharistic miracles that supposedly are well documented and only happen in the Roman Catholic Church?

    1. “How does a Protestant navigate Eucharistic miracles that supposedly are well documented and only happen in the Roman Catholic Church?”
      He does so by becoming Catholic.
      Same question applies to Lourdes and Fatima miracles. Flood the ballast tanks and do a deep dive, I guarantee you’ll never be the same.
      Ave Maria!

  33. Hi Gavin, Thank you for your fine work. I have recently starting watching your YouTube videos and have been enjoying them very much.

    I have a question about the doctrine of divine simplicity as it relates to the RCC’s teaching about transubstantiation. (Forgive me if the substance of the question appears twice. I wrote the question and then submitted it, but then was asked to log in. After I logged in, I could not find the question, so I am re-posting it.) Anyway, I am not as familiar with RCC teaching in this area as I would like, and so my question is somewhat uninformed and may even be foolish or non-sensical. Anyway, please keep in mind that I am a novice in this area. Here’s my question:

    It seems to me that the RCC teaching on transubstantiation entails a denial of the classic doctrine of divine simplicity. This seems to be the case because in my limited understanding it appears to me that the RCC teaches that the substance of the elements in the Eucharist changes–but the accidents do not change–into the true substance of the physical body and blood of the Lord. This seems to me to involve a communication of divine attributes to the human body and blood such that the body and blood are theoretically infinite in quantity and incorruptible in nature. But isn’t such a communication of divine attributes impossible according to the doctrine of divine simplicity, and according to the confession regarding God as being “single” and “indivisible”?

    If I have understood this correctly, then I have a second question regarding the Lutheran view of consubstantiation. Would this view be open to the same criticism?

    Trying to understand. Thank you and God bless you,

  34. G’day Dr. Ortlund,

    I hope that you are well. While I don’t affiliate with a particular denomination at the moment, I feel that Apostolic Succession and the necessity of being in communion with a bishop who institutes the sacraments are binding on my conscience.

    I watched your video on Apostolic Succession, and believe you made a compelling, sophisticated case on the contrary to what I have previously heard from those representing the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

    What I want to ask is, what particular sources informed your understanding of the necessity (or lack thereof) of Apostolic Succession, and the various nuances regarding the term “bishop” in Scripture, the Church Fathers, and how it is understood today?

    I want to do my best to follow Christ, and I’m open to hearing all sides of the discussion.

    May God bless you,
    Quinn Larnach-Jones

    1. hello! Carefully reading through the apostolic fathers was very helpful. Francis Sullivan’s From Apostles to Bishops gives a reasonable case for the Catholic view and demonstrates the challenges as well. hope this helps!

  35. Dr. Ortlund,

    I’m a seminary student working on a research paper on the imago dei (because I’m foolhardy) and found your paper on the genealogies of Gen and Luke fascinating! It has raised more questions though. It seems that sonship was lost in the fall while the image was retained? Conversion is pictured as being adopted into God’s family while the continued presence of the imago dei is given as warrant for the death penalty and not cursing people. I can definitely see the relationship you point out between the imago and sonship but they seem to be used differently by the NT authors. I know you’re a busy guy but any thoughts or reading recommendations would be appreciated!

    Drew Hettinga

  36. Dr. Ortlund, thank you for your ministry it has truly been a blessing to me. I attend a Baptist church and several of the members, and quite a few on the web, adhere to Baptist successionism and put a lot of stock in the Trail of Blood “book”. They claim that we aren’t Protestants. I have only taken a very shallow dive, but it appears Carrol takes liberties on many of the groups that don’t follow Catholic teachings and attempts to claim them as our own going back to John. I think some of the groups might even be Gnostics/dualists. What are your thoughts? Thanks again!

  37. Hi Dr. Ortlund. I’m a Catholic who really enjoys your debates. I am trying to contact a few of my Protestant brothers in Christ to ask a question that means the world to me. My husband, a non-denominational Calvinist, believes when we got married I should have immediately given up my Catholic faith and adopted his purely because he is the head of the house. I was Protestant for 29 years and learned a lot about my faith in college. I feel I was called to the Catholic Church and I live my faith with love and joy. It is my hearts true home. Should I truly give up my Catholic faith instead of living the calling Christ gave me??

    Thanks so much for your input.


    1. Lindsey,

      No, you should humbly pray for your husband that the scales would drop from his eyes. My husband and I are both joining the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil. We both come from a Pentecostal background. At first my husband said he would never be a Catholic, but as we studied church history together and got another look at John 6, where else can we go? I’ve watched many of Dr. Ortlund’s commentaries against Catholicism in my searching and studying, and I still came to the conclusion that being Catholic is the closest we can come to worshiping in similar manner to the early church. He often makes comments about “The church this” or “The church that” when referencing Protestantism, but my question is which Protestant church? There is no central authority? I saw his debate with Trent Horn last night. Great dialogue. I always love how respectful Dr. Ortlund is. Seems like a genuine guy, but ultimately, he did not talk me out of becoming Catholic. If you sincerely ask the Lord to show you how to worship in spirit and in truth, He’ll reveal it to you (PS. It’s the Eucharist)

  38. Dr. Ortlund,
    Thank you Sir. Your service to our Lord has inspired me to be more irenic in my many conversations regarding theology, which was much needed. God bless you and your family.

    a fellow servant attempting to emulate the faith of the early church,

  39. Dr. Ortlund, I am a recent “follower” having discovered your video dialog with Dr. Cooper over baptismal regeneration. I am a minister of the Gospel, Southern Baptist, and have been in dialog with a couple of friends who have recently left the Baptist tradition and become Lutherans. After spending quite a bit of time in dialog with them, I came across your video and larger body of work. Your position on baptism is nearly identical to my own. I will be reviewing more of your work and I appreciate your graciousness in dialog on these issues. Thank you for your service!

    1. great to be connected! I have done numerous dialogues on baptism, with Trent Horn as well, hope they could be useful to you!

      1. Dr. Ortlund, have you considered much around the connection between water baptism and baptism of the Holy Spirit namely, that water baptism is the symbolic representation and sign of the promised gift of the Spirit? It seems you alluded to that at one point in your dialog with Dr. Cooper but I’m wondering if you’ve developed that in more detail…? It seems to me that the prophetic promises surrounding the new covenant point that direction, and then John the Baptist as that link from the OT prophets to the Messiah explicitly says he baptizes with water but one is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and power – and all 4 gospels mention this. We then see that in Acts and Paul seems to make reference to this in 1Cor 12:13 as well.

        Of course, some consider baptism of the Holy Spirit a separate special “filling”. But it seems to me most likely those references are to the initial indwelling as we’re washed and regenerated by the Spirit upon our believing which is then symbolized and confirmed in water baptism. Do you have a resource where you’ve dealt with this specific issue in more detail? Thank you!

  40. Gavin,

    I have been enjoying the various discussions you have engaged in on the topic of papacy with Joe Heschmeyer.

    I know it’s been over a year since that discussion but I wanted to share what I thought would be an interesting rebuttal to Joe’s argument regarding Irenaeus and Roman doctrinal supremacy/single bishop succession (@ minute 39 of your dialogue with him on the Gospel Simplicity channel).

    1) Whatever Irenaeus believed about the need to be in harmony with Rome, such sentiments did not restrain him from correcting Victor (Ecclesiasticus 5.24).

    2) When Irenaeus corrects Florinus, his appeal to the presbyters of earlier generations and ultimately the apostles seems to focus on the nature of the teaching which they passed down, rather than their authority: “Such notions the presbyters of an earlier generation, those taught by the apostles themselves, did not transmit to you” (Ecclesiasticus 5.20). This appears to be an application of 2 Timothy 2:2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” Here, what is being passed on is a fixed/established teaching that must be preserved, not an authority/office to make novel pronouncements.

    2.1)Joe characterizes Irenaeus attitude towards Rome (as the preeminent authority) by saying, “It’s theologically important that you be in harmony with the Roman church.” Yes, it was theologically important that Christians be in harmony with the Roman church. However, the importance lies with the fact that Rome has a well attested chain of presbyters who can trace their TEACHING back to the apostles. This appears to be Irenaeus’ reasoning when he tells Florinus that he did not get his views on God/Evil from his teachers, specifically Polycarp. As was the case with the appointment of Matthias in Acts 1, preeminence is given to those who are/were closest to source of the Gospel (Christ).

    2.2)Interestingly enough, Paul’s own appointment as an apostle bears the marks of this authority by proximity to Christ in Galatians 1:12.

    I don’t assume that you don’t already know these things. However, given your platform, I didn’t want to assume the opposite and leave you without what I think is a helpful contextualization of Irenaeus’ view of Rome.

    Thank you so much for your teaching ministry. May our gracious Father bless you with renewed hope and understanding everyday as you teach his church.


  41. Hi Gavin,

    As a Buddhist, I really enjoyed your talk on YT about Buddhism. You made an earnest effort to understand Buddha Dharma in its own terms rather than desultorily flinging it right on a Procrustean Judeo-Chrislam bed, which never leads to any interesting contemplation or discussion.

    I heartily agree with your conclusion – the solution to existential hunger is to either get fed for eternity (Christianity) or uproot the conditions for hunger in the first place (Buddhism), roughly speaking. Obviously the latter is for me, but I can fully understand the allure for and empathize with one’s predilection for the former.

    One of my teachers, Ajahn Thanissaro, a monk out of the San Diego area, stated something like the difficulty with inter-religious dialogue is that different faiths don’t just have varying answers, they are asking different questions in the first place… a fascinating exploration.

    A trope in Ajahn Thanissaro’s prolific writings as well as a motif in the strategies he teaches for meditation practice is the art and skill of asking questions.

    I’ll bet you would find these very interesting, and I would enjoy hearing your responses. You might even find some application for this paradigm in your ministerial work.




    ? ??

  42. Hey Dr. Ortland, I don’t want to bore you with the details of my journey over the past few years. I just wanted to thank you for the time and energy that you’ve put into your content on YouTube, and for participating in some very important Theological dialogues through the years, which have helped me remain Protestant. Of course I can’t give you all of the credit since there was a lot of prayer on my part, ergo, intercession of the Holy Spirit.

    Thanks again and may God bless you and your family.

  43. Dr. Ortlund, Have you done much work on the history of Eternal Security in the Church? I am looking at different articles and wondering if you have any book recommendations for its development and if it truly was some kind of reformation “novelty” as is often stated. Thank you!

  44. Hi Gavin,
    Do you know about Martin Boos, a Roman Catholic priest who had a Luther-like conversion experience, but chose to remain in the RC church? Written by Johann Gossner: ‘The life and persecutions of Martin Boos’ You can find it for free on google books.

  45. Hi Gavin,
    Have you ever heard of Martin Boos? He was a RC priest who had a Luther-like conversion experience. But he remained in the RC church after his conversion, and was fiercely persecuted. Johann Gossner has written a memoir, which you can read for free on google books: ‘The life and persecutions of Martin Boos.’

  46. Hi Gavin,

    I recently stumbled on your YouTube channel and really appreciate your work. I was wondering what your thoughts on Mark 9:38-41 in regards to the church hierarchy discussion with Catholics and Orthodox? I haven’t heard the argument used on the Protestant side, but it seems to me Jesus is telling the Apostes, “hey, people are going to do things differently than you, but if they’re following me, they’re ok.” Would love your thoughts on this.

  47. Hi Gavin–I hate to insert this where it may not fit. I’ve authored a few books and have been a fairly frequent contributor to TGC. Given your tone and irenic heart I wonder if you’d be interested in seeing my new mini-book, The Communion Truce: How Holy Communion Addresses Our Unholy Conflicts. endorsed by (among others) Brett McCracken and Jonathan Dodson…I can send…if you’re interested. Sorry if this is an inappropriate request in this space, but I’ve not been able to find how to contact you directly!

  48. I am so thankful for your contribution to the Unbelievable podcast with Justin Bierly. You were such a voice of balance and wisdom. And it was clear that you had read and fleshed out Jonathan Edwards work on revival. Thank you again.

  49. Pastor Ortlund, I don’t really understand Christianity. I think Monergism, as you hold to, can be very helpful (both Synergists and Monergists are commanded to trust Him–Monergists have better footing for doing that, though the arguments they use to arrive at that trust just are not true). I don’t have peace. My prayer life is not what it ought to be. I already know Jesus is the only Truth, but the way forward is not clear. Maybe you will tell me to go to a local Church. I have gone and asked many pastors many questions, but your approach reminds me of my own so I thought maybe I could ask what you think a way forward might be.

  50. Hi Dr. Gavin,

    I don’t see your email, but I would love to invite you on my channel. I’ve had several great scholars on recently — Bill Craig, Andrew Loke, Mike Licona, JP Moreland, Lydia McGrew, et al. I would love to bring you on to discuss Sola Scriptura! I love your deeply scholarly yet charismatic approach! Praise the Lord!

  51. Dear Pastor Gavin,

    I have been very blessed of late to come across your videos on YouTube. Your irenic, straightforward, scholarly research into various aspects of the ancient Christian Faith has been of inestimable value to me, since you are speaking as a believer/pastor, and not just an academic. My background is that of Roman Catholicism in my youth, then almost 30 years as an Eastern Orthodox monk. I have only in the past 1-2 years come to embrace Baptist beliefs as the most faithful to Holy Scripture. Nonetheless, to this day, I feel the need for better explanations to balance out or disprove the Orthodox claims that everything in that Church is the same as it has been from the times of the Apostles and Church Fathers. Your talks are the first that I have found to be so in-depth, thorough, very well-researched and sincere. God bless you!

  52. Hey Gavin,

    I’m new to your content, and I am learning a lot listening to your podcasts! You are unquestionably a very intelligent man, and I greatly admire that, but what I admire most about you is your heart! It’s the thing that separates you from many of your peers, and it’s the thing that will win people over to Christ. I often reflect on 1 Corinthians 13. I bet you do as well. :) God bless you and your family!


  53. Would you consider writing a book on historical Christian belief – specifically what the Church has reached consensus on (doctrine by doctrine) and what it has not reached consensus on? As a Reformed, Charismatic-leaning, Conservative Protestant who accepts that there are believers in all three branches of Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant), I see more consensus than I ever used to believe possible. It usually takes persecution for this to become clear (Russia under communism), but a book that does this may be well received in our current climate – where evangelicals Protestants have more in common theologically with Catholics (at least on creedal beliefs like the Trinity and Virgin birth) than with liberal Protestants. I’m not about to cross the Tiber or propose watering down what the Reformers rediscovered/fought for. But I read a book like this years ago (“A Faith For All Seasons” by Ted M Dorman) and would love to see what you could do with an approach like Ted Dorman took – where all the major doctrines are discussed (not just a few examples).

  54. Hello Gavin,

    I have watched many of your videos and have been really edified by them especially the ones on Catholicism.
    I have been a Christian for about 4 years now having been a nominal Catholic all my life.
    I still struggle to find where I fit in all this. I think in our modern day technology , we are bombarded by an overload of information and as much as it is a blessing, it could also be a curse. For me , it gets overwhelming and confusing to find the “truth”.
    Recently , I stumbled across a channel called “MythVision podcast “ of a former Christian ( Derek ) who deconstructed and he had another former Christian ( Jen Fishburne) who did the same a few years ago. I must admit her arguments were so solid and convincing….Help ! She is a very very informed woman who has studies the bible extensively. She was very devout Christian herself at one point. I am so lost and being such a critical thinker and a nerd for information and learning, I’m in anguish and so scared to loose my faith.
    I keep praying that the Lord would keep me and I don’t loose my mind and give up.
    Could you please do a review about this video ?
    I’m sure you can find it on YouTube. You can even find her video about why she left Christianity.
    That would help so much.

  55. Hi Gavin,

    Your videos on YouTube and your book on theological retrieval have been so helpful to me in discerning between protestantism and catholicism. I’ve been convicted by a lot of your videos that I was wrong about many things, but especially about saints and Mary in regards to intercession. However, the rosary was something I was drawn to for a long time because the rhythm helped me to slow down and really spend time with God in prayer while meditating on the life of Jesus. But I don’t want to make something potentially idolatrous commonplace in my prayer life. Do you have any resources on contemplative or meditative prayer for protestants, or any advice on how I might find other more appropriate ways to meditate on God’s work? I really struggle to have a consistent prayer life as a protestant, and Catholic spirituality was appealing in that it provides some structure.

    Thanks for all the work you do and God bless your family!

  56. Hey Gavin,

    My name is Eric and I’m apart of an ecumenical ministry (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants) as a Reformed Protestant. What you do is something on my heart as well; helping Protestants navigate the landscape and form good biblical convictions in order to land well in a good Church. I would love to meet (if you have the time) and ask you a lot of questions and to talk about your ministry, hopefully among other things. I have enjoyed a lot of your videos and have found them quite helpful, and your 7 part series you did on Catholicism sort of mirrors a talk series I did for Protestants in my ministry. Would love to chat if you’re up for it!


  57. Dear Gavin,

    Recently came upon your channel thanks to Youtube. Thank you for your insightful work, humility, and fairness as it relates to the Catholic-Protestant divide.

    For the record, I’m a Roman Catholic who was raised (happily) in the Reformed Presbyterian Tradition and then did my doctoral work in theology & leadership at Duke Divinity with an emphasis on evangelization. My favorite theologians tend to be from the Protestant side (Barth, Wright, Hauerwas) even if I side with the Catholic Church in theological-scriptural matters. Go figure.

    I write to you because I wanted to be one Catholic who wasn’t angry with your work :) When I was at Duke, one of my cohort brothers was raised Catholic (happily) and then became Reformed Presbyterian. We had many talks about switching sides – all amicable. What I found (and as you mentioned in your last video), there are smart, intelligent, faithful, generous, and prayerful people on all sides of the Christian spectrum.

    With this in mind, I tell my students to not fear other non-Catholic theologians (and, conversely, with Protestant students to not be scared off by Catholic scholars.) To do so is to have a degree of cognitive dissonance – fear of healthy and holy engagement to better oneself and one’s position in truth. The goal, of course, isn’t to win an argument but to draw people to Christ, beauty, goodness, kingdom, and the church body.

    Thanks for all that you do. God bless.

    David Bristow

    1. thank you David! Wonderful to make contact with you, and I share you appreciation of the good people on all sides. God bless.

  58. I love love LOVE your Youtube channel! Your videos are not only informative, they are so well done and clearly have a lot of thought and preparation put into them! I am very interested in apologetics and your videos have helped immensely with talking through big, difficult ideas within apologetics and Christianity. I was curious, if you/your family have any connections with Classical Conversations? I was part of their homeschool program until my graduation a couple weeks ago. Some of the things you talk about (especially your knowledge of latin!!) and the way you approach certain information and topics seem to be closely related to some of the discussions I’ve had and ideas I’ve been presented with through my years of education with CC!

    1. Thanks, so glad you enjoy it! I don’t have much knowledge of CC, but it sounds like there are lots of common interests! :)

  59. Hi Gavin, I really appreciate your ministry. I live in Spain, and I follow you from here. Thanks for your work; it greatly helps me in my “roman catholic” culture. However, I wanted to ask you one question. I searched books about the theology of the church fathers, and there is a lot, but If you have to recommend some books (the best ones, in your opinion) about the church fathers’ theology, which books do you recommend?

  60. Hello Mr. Ortlund

    My name is Arthur, I work with translation and proofreading. I proofread the brazilian translation of Gentle and Lowly, Prayer by Night by Tish Warren, and some others.

    Your ministry really warms my heart and give me strength to love my brothers in doubt. I have a proposal to make to you. If you find fitting, I would like to offer myself so translate the subtitles of you YouTube videos to portuguese (for free, of course). I would do it in my spare time, so it would take some time. But I believe we have to spread the good message of Christ in most languages possibles.

    If you are interested, please email me at atguanaes@gmail.com and I will be glad to hear from you and to clear up any doubts.

    God bless your family, your ministry, and make you great in his presence.

    In Christ,
    Arthur Guanaes

  61. Hello. I have some questions I was hoping you could help me with. I sent you an email at truthunitesemail.

  62. G’day Gavin,

    I hope you are well. I’m a Catholic and an area I am really interested in learning more about at the moment is “utraquism,” (a belief held by some Christians that the Holy Eucharist must be received by the laity under both forms: the bread and wine). I think you’ve described it in a couple of your videos. If you ever have the time, could you please point to me where I can find some Scriptural/Patristic evidence that this is the case?

    If you haven’t checked it already, I thought you might be interested in what St. Thomas Aquinas had to say in the 12th Article of Question 80 in the Summa, where he touches on this exact issue:


    Thank you so much, and God bless you!


  63. Hey Gavin, this is Benny from Germany. I’ve sent you a direct message via twitter, but to make it short I’m in Ventura for the next few weeks and would love to invite you for coffee somewhere in Ojai and chat for an hour. If that doesn’t work, no problem!

  64. Hi Gavin, I’d really like to send you an article to get your thoughts on it and how you would respond to the claims on it. Is there any way to privately contact you (like email)? Thanks and God bless!

  65. To answer your question about “can God be unjust”?The premise is that we mortal sinful humans can define what is just, and what is not, as it relates to God.
    When God instructed His people to accomplish genocide on the Canaanites, killing every man, woman, child, and stock animal, was that unjust? Did the Germans commit sin trying to exterminate the Jews? The answer is yes, the Germans were wrong, because they are not God. In God’s case, He was, and is still righteous killing all the Canaanites. Why? Because He is God. He creates, thus it remains His to destroy.
    In the book of Job, there is a question God asked…. “ does the clay pot say to the potter what are you doing”? Do you as the created have a leg to stand on questioning ANYTHING the Creator does? The answer is of course no. Just shut up and continue living. Even the tragic death of a child dying from some dread disease, breaking the heart and soul of the parents, does not give them leave to point the finger at God, accusing Him of being unjust. Remember, Job lost 4 children. How heartbreaking was that? Yet in the end, Job submitted to the will of God, and his faith saved, and restored him.
    The church has forgotten this very important kernel of truth.
    G. Wright

  66. Incredible that so many people still believe all this stuff and are prepared to spend time and money promoting it. Heaven and Hell are not real places, but Bible Prison certainly is. Bottom line: nobody survives (or will survive) their own demise. Dying is an irreversible process or event, consistent with the provisions of evolution, entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Physical laws and processes are universal and consistent. It’s just the way things work.

    No amount of faith can bridge the gap between make-believe and reality. The Bible really is 100% man-made. Yahweh really does exist only in people’s heads, just like every other deity in the human experience. The whole edifice of Christian beliefs, so far from being built on the rock, is but a house of cards. It should be so obvious. There is not just one elephant in the room, there are a hundred.

    Christianity is mind-control, and where the mind leads, the rest is sure to follow. Systematic indoctrination, vested interests – largely financial – and social pressures are the big drivers. Humanitarian involvements (disaster relief, upliftment schemes, soup kitchens, etc.), praiseworthy in themselves, are cover-ups: certainly not exclusive to Christianity. Honest and diligent search for the truth (reality) leads the seeker out of Christianity, not into it.

    Extensive resources, old and new, are available to assist in transitioning from a supernatural (unhealthy) to a naturalistic (healthy) worldview. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (book + TV series) is unsurpassed for its breadth of vision and holistic approach: well recommended as a corrective to, and amplification of, the error-riddled Biblical account. YouTube e.g. Harmonic Atheist for insightful personal testimonies of the growing number of people for whom the penny has dropped; or MindShift, where Brandon peels back the layers of Christian apologetics and winnows fact from fiction, truth from falsehood; or Kristi Burke, who patiently and without malice exposes the fallacies of Christian doctrine, thereby helping those who are deconstructing from their faith to find validation and confidence in their journey. Or consider The Clergy Project, which reaches out to religious professionals who no longer subscribe to supernatural beliefs. And there are many other such resources geared towards helping people to heal from religious trauma and to re-align their moral compass.

    Please circulate widely (or keep well under wraps). People deserve better than what they’ve been getting, and they have a right to know that they have been hoodwinked for two millennia. Life is very precious, very fragile and very short: do not sacrifice it to a dressed-up mythology. Sorry to be so blunt. As Daniel Dennett says, “There’s simply no polite way to tell people they’ve dedicated their lives to an illusion.”

    1. And you’ve dedicated your life to? Never mind, it doesn’t matter in your worldview. You see life as empty, hollow and short. Death as a finality. But you seek to save people from hope, charity and love. All things which have zero meaning (except your own illusion, of course) in your worldview. You speak of a moral compass, but why? What is guiding that? What is its purpose if we’re all just the product of evolution and randomness? There isn’t one, except for the illusion you’ve subscribed to. Whether you realize it or not, you’re in a belief system yourself, and it’s a pretty bleak one. I know that’s blunt, but see what you quoted. There is hope from your bleak world, friend. There is rest to be found in Christ. I pray that your heart of stone will be rolled away and you accept Him for eternal life, lest your worldview become self-fulfilling

  67. Are you Gary Eastman?

    You are being asked to login because gary178@gmail.com is used by an account you are not logged into now.
    By logging in you’ll post the following comment to About:

    Dear Pastor Gavin, thank you for all your excellent YouTube videos, which have been such a help to me in my faith walk from Eastern Orthodoxy to that of a Baptist Christian. Your talks are always so well-documented and researched, balanced and fair and charitable in the true spirit of Christian love.

    May I highly recommend that you read Christianity and Homosexuality Reconciled: New Thinking for a New Millennium! by Rev. Joseph Adam Pearson Ph.D., published over 20 years ago by this Evangelical pastor. [Available at Amazon for about $15]

    He has a very clearly presented, Scripturally-based, in-depth look a this question. All too often pastors who consider themselves faithful to the Bible misunderstand this matter, driving away people with innate same-sex attraction, going so far as to insist that gay people cannot even be Christians (!). In doing so they contradict their very own stated beliefs on how one does become a Christian, confusing salvation, justification and sanctification, but only when it comes to people born homosexual.

    Having watched many of your videos I am fully certain that if you read Pastor Pearson’s work you will come away very impressed and spiritually enriched. You have a God-given gift for imparting your knowledge of the truth of the Gospel in a unique way that has blessed and will continue to bless many over time.

    Thank You for listening. God bless you richly +


  68. Pastor Gavin,

    I just listened to your YouTube video on Indulgences — excellent! Of course, the Eastern Orthodox Church has never had a teaching re this, but it surely has penitential canons! The huge Pedalion or Rudder contains with commentaries all the canons to which all Orthodox Christians are supposed to adhere. In our times it seems that oikonomia or leniency is often applied to these canons, depending on the discretion of the bishop or priest. Some canons, indeed, seem out-dated or very difficult not to breach (eg., the prohibition against Christians utilizing the services of Jewish physicians).

    It is clear from church history that such canons were adopted very early on in the Church. My question is why? If the death of Jesus on the Cross (tetelestai) is enough to forgive all our sins, past, present & future, then why would penances or epitemia, as the Greeks call it, ever be ‘a thing’? Why would ascetic practices (or monasticism itself) ever be adopted if the Gospel as Baptists, Evangelicals and most Protestants understand it, with Biblical support is true?

    It is obvious that salvation by works would seem to be behind all these canons and penances.

    John Climacus’s 7th C. work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, contains a chapter called The Prison. I hope you can read it sometime. In it the author, Abbot John, goes to visit a community of monks living in extreme penance for their ‘grievous sins’. These monks looked more like corpses, he says, due to their extreme fasting, wasting away with grief and sorry, burning their eyelashes off with hot tears, moaning, lamenting, wondering if they will ever be forgiven by God. He went away praising their zeal but returning to his own monastic brotherhood and seeing their less than self-tormenting life as a stark contrast to what he has experienced at The Prison.

    How on earth could Christians universally come to believe that they needed to do such ascetical works, basically tormenting themselves physically, emotionally and psychologically and then still wondering if God could ever possibly forgive them for one sin? This seems so amazingly in contrast to the Good News of salvation in the Gospel and the writings of Paul.

    I would love to hear a YouTube video by you addressing all this. You are so right in saying that almost no one is addressing these things. That is why your videos are so extremely valuable and important in presenting from a historical point of view the distortion of Christianity and its restoration or rather preservation in Baptist belief.

    Thank you for listening! God bless you +

  69. For anyone interested in why Eastern Orthodoxy is in error concerning many things, there is a superb video on YouTube called ‘The Failure of Eastern Orthodoxy’.

    It integrates Biblical truth with historical fact and has an amazing insight into the real essence of where and why the Orthodox have departed from Gospel and Biblical Truth.

    Through honest study and scholarship it shows how things such as veneration of icons and the Virgin Mary, monasticism/asceticism, political intrigues. ignored facts, foundationless traditions and baffling obfuscation all combine in the most Byzantine of ways to produce what we currently see as the Eastern Orthodox Church.


  70. Dr. Ortlund,

    I am a student of theology and I am writing a research paper. My chosen topic is on The Lord’s Supper and I’m compiling a list of references to cover Eucharistic church doctrine from 1st century to present.

    My research question is:
    “Did the Protestant Reformation commonly remain true to early church consensus on the Lord’s Supper, and is there evidence of a departure from traditional Protestant beliefs in modern Protestantism?”

    Sir, I would like to include you as a modern theologian in my research paper if you would be okay with that. You have been very influential in my studies and are one of the two modern scholars that led me to return to school for theology. Would you mind providing me a reference of your own words on your views of The Lord’s Supper that I can include in my paper? I would love it if you would refer me to a book you’ve written that touches on this topic, or even better if you would be willing to talk with me and offer an “interview” of sorts (15-20 minutes of your time). I would be glad to take whatever you’re willing to offer.

    My goal is to take your own thoughts on the Eucharist and beliefs on doctrine and quote you directly as a primary source. I am not looking for research that you’ve done on other’s views.

    Thank you so much for your work!

    1. so glad you are exploring this topic! I have not published in this area, but you could cite my youtube dialogue with Brett Salkeld on Gospel Simplicity’s channel — let me know if you cannot find it! :)

      1. Thanks for the reply!

        I will definitely use your recommendation.

        Would you be willing to comment on this as a primary source? I can offer a list of questions in advance. It’s a work in progress but I have a general idea of the line of questioning.

        Something along the lines of:
        What are your views on the Eucharist?

        What are your beliefs on Transubstantion vs Consubstantiation?

        While “literal presence” is translated to mean physical, God is defined as Spirit. Can God’s real presence be spiritual presence? And why would this not be “literal”?

        How do you interpret key passages on this topic such as John 6:61-64?

        And if it doesn’t muddy my research too much with my own opinions; if I explained the premise that when the church prays to the heavenly fathers in the Son’s name Christ is present and the church will receive what they ask for, and if the church prays to bless the elements of the Eucharist (consecration), then should we maintain faith that it is done?

        I’m still working on this last question as you can see. I think what I’m wanting to convey is, we are assured numerous times that God is present, Christ is present, the Holy Spirit is present etc… why would that presence not be profoundly acknowledged during the Lord’s Supper and therefor not simply symbolic?

        Thanks again for taking the time to respond! I greatly appreciate it!

  71. Dr. Ortlund

    I am YEC, and it is with some trepidation that I attempt a response here. Sorry it’s so long. If it may be of some relevance, I hold a BSc. in Chemistry and a teaching degree besides. I find unity with you in your concern for the lost, and I wish to express the opposite view when considering this subject. Stated straightforwardly, I believe that OEC is the greater impediment to the gospel in our age. For the number of those who abandon faith on the excuse of Young Earth absolutism, I contend that there are dozens who never give God a second thought on the excuse that God is unnecessary due to the explanation offered by Old Earth Evolution. Simply tagging “God” onto this (admittedly modern) theory is massively unconvincing to those whose real desire is to avoid God. Foundationally, I believe both to be excuses, as I have so labelled them. People do not come to God or abandon him because of this theory or that. They do so because they either desire to come to God (on his terms) or desire to leave him (on theirs).

    None of this is a judgement on those who wish earnestly to come to God and find YEC a stumbling block. I’ll admit that I have not understood the OEC position for most of my life, and I appreciate your contribution to the conversation as I have never heard the other side address the concerns I have (mostly just people mocking the YEC position – i.e. The Holy Post). You have already picked out the questions I have and committed to addressing them, so I very much appreciate that. What I have come to learn (through no small effort) is that there are very few stupid people in the world and that many people who are very intelligent and well-thought-through disagree with me. Your attempt at theological triage is exactly what is needed to meet this challenge. Sometimes others are wrong and sometimes I’m wrong. If I want to address where I’m wrong, I need a place where the discussion can be had. I also need both sides fairly presented.

    I know that Ken Ham is the virtual prophet of YEC, and rightly so, but I don’t think he is the best presenter for this type of conversation. I haven’t listened to him in a while, but I can hear your concerns and appreciate them to some extent. I do not think that Ham would say that an OEC person isn’t saved. I certainly wouldn’t say so. This is not a first order issue. That said, I agree with Ham that this belief has first order implications. It is a belief that often coincides with other forms of doubting the reliability of scripture. One primary doubt, next in line as it were, is of a historical Noah and global flood. I am very new to the idea that an OEC believer may believe in both of these, because most of the weight of the disagreement between the sides has much more to do with this event than the creation week. You mentioned the seminal work of YEC, “the Genesis Flood”. The title says it all.

    As I am an Evangelical who is very new to the study of the church fathers, I’d appreciate clarification on which of the long list of men you offered in this video would question Noah. I have a feeling the list would be much shorter. You take great pains to show that concerns about the Genesis 1-2 account are pre-modern and within the text. Does this happen for Noah? You also admit that the primary driver of your own belief to be what you consider to be overwhelming scientific evidence, confirming Ham’s concern that he has addressed with Ali-Beth. Most of said evidence revolves around either a billions of years terraforming of the planet (Uniformitarianism) or a sudden terraforming in the form of a global flood. Reading with my own scientific background, I have personally found the evidence for a global flood overwhelming. I believe the historical Noah conversation (including the local vs global issue) is much more central to the debate over against the simplistic Old vs Young divide. I also believe that a historical Noah naturally dovetails with the Young Earth position, but other views are evidently plausible.

    Back to the salvation concern piece. I get the feeling that many people would rather that YEC people didn’t exist, like that eccentric aunt that just embarrasses the family. I would like both sides to be able to offer grace. I’ll admit that Ham is eccentric. I don’t think he’s antagonistic and I do think many people who have no ability to go toe-to-toe with the overwhelming consensus of modern secular science find refuge in the simple fact that a calm guy with a real PhD in real science can hold a Young Earth position rationally (and not just him, but many others). I wish I could find the quote, but I’ve heard it said that the higher level science degree a Christian has, the more likely they are to favor the Young Earth perspective. That just made sense to me. Science is often one-sided and often makes mistakes. The whole endeavor is supposed to be proving past certainties wrong (even the greats like Newton and Einstein). When science gets political (see Covid, Climate Change, Gender, etc.), the real scientific method is ditched and various coercive measures (mockery, ad hominem attacks, even straight up force) are employed to maintain the demanded narrative. As a science teacher who believes in YEC, I feel the weight of being classified as a “science denier”, and have to be very careful who I talk to about what I really believe. They don’t want to discuss evidence, they want me to toe the party line. A “diversity of opinions” is not acceptable.

    I guess that’s my own pain, and what I would offer to those who land where you do. We’re not dumb. I don’t think you are either. Please engage with us – don’t settle for mocking us and wishing we would just go away. That’s not likely to happen anyways. We’ll just hide a little deeper in our proverbial closets and let Ken Ham take the abuse.

    Thanks for listening,
    -Nathan Freeman from Canada

  72. Hi Gavin!
    I teach world history at a Classical Christian school. We cover the Reformation in 7th grade and I am deeply convinced that solid teaching on these events as a young person is critical to shaping their Protestant faith in the future. However, I wasn’t prepared for the challenge of tackling all the hard (and great) questions my students asked. Your work has been so helpful! Any other recommendations for resources that might help guide young people through this topic? Last year was my first year, so this second year I’m hoping to come to the table better prepared!

  73. Dear Dr. Ortlund, I see that on a video on YouTube you claim that the early Church discouraged the veneration of holy images, but without citing any supporting evidence for the claim (perhaps you provide that elsewhere and I just missed it). Would you mind sharing what evidence you believe supports this claim?

    Thank you!


    1. I am not sure how could say I didn’t cite any evidence. Are you referring to the short? If so, it links to the hour-long video. Hope that helps.

  74. Hello, I have some questions I was hoping you could answer for me.

    What is your view of monasticism, and is it biblical? I ask because some Protestant churches, including some Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists, have monks and active monastic communities. I’ve also seen some Reformed Christians who support monasticism, but I’m yet to see a Reformed monastery. Are these denominations and people incorrect? Why do some Protestant churches have monks when others don’t?

    I’m also confused about why Lutherans seem more open to monasticism than other Protestants, especially Reformed Christians since they both emerged from the Reformation and share certain fundamental beliefs. I also thought Luther opposed monasticism.


  75. Hey Gavin
    Love your content but more importantly your heart to see the church unite (in sound doctrine and a spirit of love). Just wondering, as an idea, if you could do something on your views regarding discipleship. When the writer of Hebrews talks about milk and solid food I am once again astounded at the metaphors chosen to represent God’s revelation. Milk is essentially a food that in a sense is regurgitated by the mother through her breasts, and so in another sense second hand. But new babes need it, just as new believers need instruction (from others) in the word. However it seems to me mature believers should primarily rely on their own study and meditation in the word, rather than relying on the revelation and teaching of others. Today we are constantly going to books (other than the Bible) for insight and revelation. I believe that we as a church have become lazy and with the advent of the internet even more so, as now we can sit back and just listen to the revelation of others (which isn’t a bad thing, however for most of us it has become our primary source of revelation/communion with God).

  76. Hello Gavin,

    I am familiar with some of your videos and I happened to stumble across your Spiritual Deconstruction: How My Faith Survived video, and was it was truly timely on where I am at in my spiritual journey. I admire your approach when it comes to asking questions to refine your understanding on your faith. There was a specific part in the video that resonated so well with me and it was how alone, dark, painful, and confusing this pathway can be. Apologies, I know this is probably unorthodox, but I was hoping I could get in contact with you to possibly discuss more in-depth about this deconstruction path. Any guidance on how to best navigate through this would be greatly appreciated.

    God Bless

  77. Hey Gavin,
    I really enjoy your videos and appreciate all the good content you make. I was wondering if you could do a video on the doctrine of eternal generation. I can’t find any good videos or articles on it. I would like to know your view and if it can be supported by scripture.

    Thank you,
    Aaron Tran

  78. Hey Gavin,
    In the recent episode on entertainment thoughts from early church fathers, I appreciated the word from – I believe it was a professor of yours – who said, always emphasize the actual word/law of God, and not the peripherals to stay away from legalism. I would like to read more about that. Or to hear more about it. Any resource you can point me to? Enjoying and benefiting from your work, brother!

    1. Thanks Roger! That is going to be come up a lot in a video releasing soon called “Clerical Celibacy: A Protestant Critique.” Blessings, brother.