The Ten Commandments, Manual for the Christian Life Hardcover – 1 Dec 2012
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About the Author
J. Douma was professor of Christian ethics at the Theological University in Kampen from 1970 to his retirement in 1997. Among his publications is The Ten Commandments.
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Douma starts looking at the context in which the commandments were given: Israel was freed from slavery in order to be free to obey him. Thus always is the state of God's chosen people: and what we need to understand is that true freedom comes not from doing whatever we please, but in obeying God within the context of, and by the empowerment of, his grace.
The body of this book considers the implications of the Ten Commandments for sincere Christians in today's world, in different perspectives:
- How these apply in a society not ruled by Mosaic civil law;
- How these apply in a society with modern technology, entertainment, etc.
- How the principles of the 10 commandments are worked ont in related topics throughout scripture
The treatment of the commandments must go beyond a world of ancient olive groves and manual wine presses (though let us never defame God's blessings of olive oil and wine!) Douma considers each commandment thoughtfully, and elaborates on its implications and subtleties rather than jumping to quick and easy but inadequate answers.
As an example, on "Honour your father and your mother...", Dr. Douma spends about 45 pages to discuss:
- the role of parents
- the relationship between this and freedom
- the nature of the associated promise
- what it means to 'honour', including how that relates to choosing a spouse in western society
- limits and style of obedience
- implications for other forms of authority, within the family and of the state; including thoughts on revolution and civil disobedience.
Gratefully, Douma's consideration avoids the frequent digression into extemes of pietism (treating one's religious observance as a purely private affair) or theonomism (treating it as purely a matter of state).
My one incompleteness in reading this book is that I did not come away with an adequate handle on how the Sabbath commandment applies today, which I fear is the most misunderstood and unobeyed of the commandments (through misinterpretation of a subset of Paul's comments about it that disregards his other comments and practices). He does point out the inaccuracy of some common teaching on the topic. I appreciate Dr. Douma's insights, and plan to pursue some of his references for further reading on this topic.
Dr. Douma reminds the reader that the Decalogue was given to Israel after God freed them from bondage. And when God's effectual grace saves the believer and liberates him, the proper response of the liberated is obedience to God's Law revealed in the 10 Commandments.
The astute author discloses the right application of the Decalogue including:
- the social and civil application of the Mosaic Law
- family and marriage
- obedience to God-ordained authority
- sanctification of the Christian
- and much more thoughtful and powerful personal and corporate application
The Ten Commandments are necessary for the moral development of the individual and a nation. James Madison stated:
"We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments."
All Christians and their children should have at least the summary of the Decalogue memorized:
1. Have no other gods.
2. Have no idols.
3. Honor God's name.
4. Honor the Sabbath day.
5. Honor your parents.
6. Do not murder.
7. Do not commit adultery.
8. Do not steal.
9. Do not perjure yourself.
10. Do not covet.
The warnings, promises, and sanctions within the 10 Commandments are essential aspects of the law and should also be memorized and applied.
Dr. Douma's exposition on honoring parents (and all rightful authority) is extensive and enlightening; great for parents and pastors.
See the New Book that contends for the existence of God using Moral absolutes by Mike Robinson:
There Are Moral Absolutes: How to Be Absolutely Sure That Christianity Alone Supplies
or additionally see the dynamic new book on apologetics:
[["The Necessary Existence of God: The Proof of Christianity Through Presuppositional Apologetics"]]type in the ASIN:1419620355