Posts Tagged ‘10 Commandments’

Redefining Fruitful Bible Study

April 1, 2017

peppersvegetable_94065_pepper_green_half-mMy daughter was working on her first grade class project about fruits and vegetables. She chose one of her favorite vegetables to study, the bell pepper. Come to find out her beloved vegetable was in fact a fruit. Which lead to the discovery that cucumbers, eggplants, sunflower seeds and others are also fruits. Simply defined, fruits are the seed bearing part of a plant. My salad has never been more confusing. I have been misled my entire life.

Often there are three responses to new information:

1) We will lose all faith in those who gave us misinformation, even if it wasn’t their fault or intent.

2) We will not accept the new data as true, holding fast to our old tradition.

3) We adjust our lives according to the truth.

Of course, all three options might have you going through the five stages of grief.

184112978For my family, this information excited and encouraged us to dig deeper into botany. Did you know there are some plants that can figure out the type of caterpillar eating its leaves by the saliva, and send out an effervescent distress call to insects that like to eat that particular species of caterpillar? That would have been cool to learn in school! A botanist on one of the nature shows said concerning plants being able to communicate, “most people will say I’m crazy; most scientists will say I am wrong and crazy.”
nixvhedden.001And then I read that in 1893 a unanimous Supreme Court decision concluded that for import tax purposes a tomato was a vegetable even though it was proven botanically a fruit. At that time fruit did not have an import tariff
whereas vegetables were taxed at about 10%. The court dismissed empirical evidence instead relying on the popular ordinary word usage and (I’m not making this up) that they were usually eaten during the main course of the meal and not as a dessert.

That got me to thinking about Bible study. How do I process new information either from the study of language, culture, history, etc. or from reading devotionally? Do I become forlorn, dismayed or even angry with my past spiritual teachers? Do I dismiss it in favor of the court of public opinion? Or do I embrace God’s revelation, dig deeper and, reform my thinking and living in light of this new discovery?

The 1950’s changed our understanding of covenants after the discovery of a treasure trove of ancient tablets. We now know that the ten commandments were small stones which do not resemble tombstones. And there were two stones, not to bifurcate the list into two categories but to act as a carbon copy one for each party.

shutterstock_222869548I hope we keep discovering and learning and reforming in our theology without being dismissive or lose faith. Keep reading your Bible, and when God speaks may we have receptive ears. Who knows when that, “still small voice” might become a, “crushing clamorous sound” calling us to redefine our beliefs.

Don’t Just Let the Rocks Cry Out

October 10, 2015

Recently two public displays of the Ten Commandments have been removed from the public square. One located in Connellsville, PA, the other in Oklahoma. Both were removed because the defendants would not justify the cost of the lawsuit, acquiescing to the better-funded minority voice. These are part of a larger trend to distance Judeo-Christian ethical influences on society.

The Decalogue expresses the central tenets of civility. It identifies the universal truths of the selfishness of mankind and provides the guidelines for a better society. The world needs to be reminded of dignity, courtesy, honor, and respect for all life.

The Commandments are not laws but they are the principle themes from which law is derived. Let me enumerate briefly the base values of civil law from a non-religious reading of these stones.

It begins with the principle of deference. Each person must not be self-serving. We must submit to an ideal beyond ourselves (for Christians that is the Trinitarian God). Where Maslow says our greatest need is self-actualization, we say a just society begins with self-sacrifice.

Idols are forbidden which speaks to the heart of how we bond in our society. We have a need to set up false securities, create propaganda, and feel the illusion of control. Idols are used to manipulate powers to work on our behalf. We must accept that we cannot control as much as we desire.

The overuse of the divine name causes devaluation. The proliferation of anything causes desensitization. Desensitizing increases apathy. The more we see the less it impacts us for change. Just take the 24-hour news cycle, or violent shows and games for examples.

Sabbath demands we value all our resources. It speaks of earthly ecology humane treatment of organisms and dignity towards all persons. It expects us to work, to be compensated and to not be enslaved.

Honor and respect of parents, elders, and leaders (who are most likely appointed over us rather than chosen by us) is another central tenet in need of reinforcement by our society.

The preservation of life in any known stage of development or regression is expressed in the term murder. It is the proactive stance to aid, sustain, and nourish persons whether family, friend, or foe.

Adultery and stealing cover the rights of an individual and their property from physical or psychological abuses.

Lying sets the fundamental principle of truth. And coveting says our problems are primarily internal mindsets over external actions. Greed allows us to read the facts in our own way and use a version of the truth to expedite our own agenda.

But now we cannot rely on these stones to persuade society. The stones have been rolled away. Good. Instead of relying on silent stones the Church must enter the public forums and proclaim them loudly by our belief in action. It is our responsibility. Don’t let the rocks cry out for us. Be the Church acting out our faith in the public forum to change, challenge, and christen the culture.

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