New WEA book Applying the Ten Commandments Today
WEA senior theological advisor Thomas K. Johnson has co-edited with William S. Barker a provocative new book in the WEA World of Theology series. Called The Decalogue Project: Disciples from Six
Continents Engage God’s Ten Commandments, it contains 18 original essays by Christian leaders. We asked Dr. Johnson to explain the importance of this book, which will become available online this
Why should Christians in the 21st century, living in hundreds of nations and lands and speaking more languages than we can count, engage an ancient text from more than 3,000 years ago, written in a script that feels strange to our eyes? Because as disciples of Jesus, we must engage with and respond to God’s commands as Jesus did.
By the distinct way in which Jesus arranged the setting of his Sermon on the Mount, as well as by the themes he addressed, Jesus called our attention to the similarities and differences between the Ten Commandments, given to Moses at Mount Sinai, and Jesus’ definition of discipleship as preached by the Sea of Galilee. At Sinai the people cried, ‘Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore, we shall die’ (Deut 5:25). They did not all die immediately, but Moses went up Mount Sinai to represent the people and receive God’s law. In stark contrast, God incarnate sat down with his friends in Galilee. ‘For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (Jn 1:18). But when Jesus began to teach,
he said, ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets’ (Mt 5:17). He then corrected destructive misunderstandings of God’s commands, pointing out how they were always addressed to the deepest desires of our hearts.
In this book, as our team of 18 scholars, pastors, ministry leaders, and experts in different fields discusses God’s commandments, there is constant interaction with the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.
The diversity of callings among the authors leads to a variety of writing styles, and the wide range of themes in the Ten Commandments lends a certain comprehensiveness to the project. Our entire team recognizes that our embrace of God’s law can never be separated from trust in his gospel of forgiveness. The contributors to this project were recruited by Dr. Sam Logan, retired director of the World Reformed Fellowship (WRF), as a gift to the WEA Theological Commission. All the authors have some connection to the WRF, but there is still significant denominational variety among them. We discuss the classic topics raised by the Ten Commandments, but with significant new wrinkles, such as how the church deals with addiction to pornography, abortion and the abuse of women.
We call this book a ‘project’ not just because it was a significant undertaking for us, but because we believe God’s people should be continuously engaged in the life-long project of relating God’s Word to God’s world. May this book help you do so.
Soli Deo Gloria