* COMMANDMENTS FOR TODAY(from a recent Sunday bulletin of Grace Lutheran Church, Sleepy Eye, Pastor P. Fleischer)
In a sermon a few weeks ago your pastor made reference to how lightly the ten commandments — and sin in general — are taken by many in our day. Here is what was said: The writer of a book called ‘The 2nd Ten Commandments’ parodied the ‘bossy language’ of the original commandments like this: “Thou shalt not steal, but creative work on your tax return is OK. Thou shalt not kill except during any of the trimesters or if the Pentagon says you must. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods, except in the sense that our whole economic system depends on the power of envy and wanting more. Thou shalt not commit adultery, except if thou art unhappy or if personal fulfillment points thee toward the new secretary in thine office. . . .”
Lately we came upon another person’s not-so-lighthearted view of ‘commandments for today.’ A writer in Christianity Today magazine tells how the rector of an Episcopal church in Ohio has proposed a new set of Ten Commandments based on his observations of our culture: 1. Have a good day. 2. Shop. 3. Eliminate pain. 4. Be up-to-date. 5. Relax. 6. Express yourself. 7. Have a happy family. 8. Be entertaining. 9. Be entertained. 10. Buy entertainment. The writer then adds: “He forgot 11. Get in touch with your feelings.”
All of this would be humorous, if it weren’t so serious a matter as talking about how the will of the almighty and holy God is offended and trivialized by many today. But that very fact suggests that making light of the original (“Thou shalt . . . Thou shalt not”) Ten Commandments stems from an even sorrier situation — the failure to know God, who He is, and with that, failure to take Him and His Word seriously. Likewise it is all but a reflection of mankind’s failure to recognize his ultimate accountability to the God who created, redeemed, and would sanctify him now and forever.
In a culture which willy-nilly trivializes and profanes that which is holy and sacred to Bible believers, it is incumbent on Christians (parents!) to pass along to the next generation an holy awe and fear (respect) for the Lord God. As Luther begins his explanation of each of the original ten: “We should fear and love God . . . .” Such fear and love can and will rule in the heart only to the extent that the Word of God (His holy Law and saving Gospel) is the basis for godly discipline, training, and instruction.
“I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word” (Ps. 119:15f). All of Psalm 119 would be well read in this connection.
* THIRTY YEARS LATER
Checking our past issues from thirty years ago, we found the article “What Is A Theologian?” by Prof. E. Reim (see p. 6ff). We had decided to reprint it even before the following episode which shows how timely the sainted professor’s words are.
Here is only a portion of what Pastor Michael Roehl, St. Paul’s, Bismarck, ND posted as information on the “CLC Slinger” (E-mail): Pastors from time to time receive ads in the mail for ‘preaching aids.’ These ‘aids’ routinely claim to be “scriptural’ and “exegetical.” I’m really beginning to wonder just how many ‘Bible scholars’ know what these terms mean. I usually toss this stuff without opening it, but this week I got a copy of the Biblical Preaching Journal, and the text caught my eye: John 3:1-17. . . . I was curious as to how well they treated the beautiful, crystal clear Gospel message of John 3:16. The fact is the sermon never mentioned it. Not once. . . . The comments speak for themselves. It is religious mush, philosophical dung concocted by the mind of man and formulated so as not to offend.
Pastor Roehl proceeds to quote some longer excerpts (we’ll spare you the “mush”!) from the “Biblical Preaching Journal” — excerpts which, to our mind, support his harsh indictment of the offered material. And yes, the author is doubtless considered a theologian by many, for he is described as a Professor of Homiletics at The School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.
As Prof. Reim suggests in the conclusion to what he wrote thirty years ago, our readers know many a Christian child who is more a “Man of God” than this Tennessee “Biblical Scholar.”