What Is Theological Triage?

When I (Brian) worked as a paramedic, we did triage in the field. Here is what I mean. We used tags in four different colors to mark the severity of a person’s injuries. A black tag was used for someone who had already deceased. A red tag was given to someone who had experienced serious trauma and was in critical condition. A yellow tag was a more significant issue. An individual marked with a yellow tag needed to get to the hospital, but the situation might not be as urgent. Green tags were for those we called the “walking wounded;” we might be able to treat and release them with a first aid kit. 

Because of that time I spent as a paramedic, the term theological triage has always resonated with me. Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Seminary, is classically given the credit for developing the theological triage metaphor. It’s a way of thinking about theology—a heuristic for students, ministers, and parishioners—that gives different weights to various levels of theological doctrine.